Archive for the ‘Standards’ Category

Governance Frameworks for Public Project Development and Estimation (Klakegg et al., 2008)

Montag, November 3rd, 2008

 Governance Frameworks for Public Project Development and Estimation (Klakegg et al., 2008)

Klakegg, Ole Jonny; Williams, Terry; Magnussen, Ole Morten; Glasspool, Helene: Governance Frameworks for Public Project Development and Estimation; in: Project Management Journal, Vol. 39 (2008), Supplement, pp. S27–S42.
DOI: 10.1002/pmj.20058

Klakegg et al. compare different public governance frameworks, particularly the UK’s Ministry of Defense, UK’s Office of Government Commerce, and Norway’s framework. The authors find that „the frameworks have to be politically and administratively
well anchored. A case study particularly looking into cost and time illustrates how the framework influences the project through scrutiny. The analysis shows the governance frameworks are important in securing transparency and control and clarifies the role of sponsor“ (p. S27)

Their analysis starts with the question of „Who are governance relevant stakeholders?„. The authors show two different general approaches to public governance stakeholders – Shareholder Value Systems and Communitarian Systems. The Shareholder Value System is based on the principle that only shareholders are legitimate stakeholders – a system which is used in the US, UK, and Canada. On the other hand the Communitarian System is based on the idea that all impacted communities and persons are relevant stakeholders – a system typically found in Norway, Germany, and numerous other countries. A secondary line of thought is the difference between Western and Asian stakeholder ideas, whereas the Asian idea is underlining the concept of family and the Western idea is underlining the relationship concept.

To pin down the idea of public project governance the authors draw parallels to corporate governance with it’s chain of management ↔ board ↔ shareholder ↔ stakeholder. The APM defines project governance as the corporate governance that is related to projects with the aim that sustainable alternatives are choosen and delivered efficiently. Thus the authors define a governance framework as an organised structure, authoritive in organisation with processes and rules established to ensure the project meets its purpose.

The reviewed governance frameworks show interesting differences – for example in the control basis, reviewer roles, report formats, supporting organisation, and mode of initiation. The principles they are based on range from management of expectations, to establishing hurdles to cross, to making recommendations. Focus of the reviews can be the business case, outputs, inputs, or used methods.

The PM_BOK Code (Whitty & Schulz, 2006)

Donnerstag, Oktober 23rd, 2008

 The PM_BOK Code (Whitty & Schulz, 2006)

Whitty, S. J.; Schulz, M. F.: The PM_BOK Code; in: The Proceedings of 20th IPMA World Congress on Project Management, Vol. 1 (2008) , pp. 466 – 472.

The bold claim of this article is that project management is more about appearance than productivity.
Whitty & Schulz argue that our hard-wiring for memes and the western culture have turned project management (in it’s special representation in the PMI’s PMBOK) into a travesty.
The western culture is synonymous with the spirit of capitalism combined with the meme of the corporation, which has been disected many times most noteably by Achbar, Abbott & Bakan.

The authors compare the everyday madness of projects to nothing else but theatres. Keeping up appearances. They draw similarities between the theatrical stage – think meeting rooms and offices, costumes – think dark suits or funny t-shirts, scripts – think charts and status reports, props – think powerpoint, and audience – think co-workers and managers. Whitty & Schulz that the big show we put up everyday is to appear in control and successful.

Project management is the ideal way to represent western culture. Being flexible, ready for change, constantly exploiting new opportunities.
On the flip side, the authors argue, that project management kills creativity and democracy. It fractionalises the workforce, thus driving down productivity.

The way out of this predicament is to „reform […] the PMBOK® Guide version of PM in a way that elieves practitioners from performativity, and opens project work up to more creative and democratic processes“ (p. 471).

Making a difference? Evaluating an innovative approach to the project management Centre of Excellence in a UK government department (O’Leary & Williams, 2008)

Donnerstag, Oktober 23rd, 2008

Making a difference? Evaluating an innovative approach to the project management Centre of Excellence in a UK government department (O’Leary & Williams, 2008)

O’Leary, Tim; Williams, Terry: Making a difference? Evaluating an innovative approach to the project management Centre of Excellence in a UK government department; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), No. 5, pp. 556-565.

The UK has rolled out the ambitious programme of setting-up IT Centres of Excellence in all its departments. Focal point of these Centres of Excellence are Programme Offices.

The role of these Programme Offices has been defined as: Reporting, Recovering & Standardising.
The objectives for the programme offices are monitoring and reporting the status of the IT initiatives in the department, and implementing a structured life cycle methodology. This methodology ties in with a stage-gate framework that needs to be introduced. Additionally hit-teams of delivery managers have been set-up to turn-around ailing projects.

O’Leary and Williams find that the interventions seem to work successfully, whereas the reporting and standardisation objective has yet to be fulfilled. Moreover the authors analyse the root causes for this success. They found that the basis of success was:

  • Administrative control of department’s IT budget
  • Leadership of IT director
  • Exploitation of project management rhetoric
  • Quality of delivery managers

Preparing project managers to deal with complexity (Thomas & Mengel, 2008) and Preparing the mind for dynamic management (Hartman, 2008)

Dienstag, Oktober 7th, 2008

 Preparing project managers to deal with complexity (Thomas & Mengel, 2008) and Preparing the mind for dynamic management (Hartman, 2008)

Thomas, Janice; Mengel, Thomas: Preparing project managers to deal with complexity – Advanced project management education; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), pp. 304-315.

Hartman, Francis: ; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 26 (2008), pp. 258-267.

Complexity is a meme that just doesn’t want to die. I wrote before about articles on the foundamentals of complexity theory and project management, about the use of autonomous cells in project organisations and how they prevent complex project systems from failing, and the complex dynamics of project entities in a programme. Not surprisingly this meme has spread into the coaching and project management education world where there is some money to make of it.

Thomas & Mengel argue that the current project manager education is not suited at all to prepare for complex projects. The focus on standardisation, control, and hard systems thinking stands in direct opposition to the actuality of projects, which show high complexity in roles, high degrees of chaos and uncertainty.
Theoretically Thomas & Mengel base their discussion on three complexity/chaos theory concepts

  • Chaos theory – explaining the behaviour of dynamic and unstable systems
  • Dissipative structures – explaining moment of dynamic stability and instability
  • Complex adaptive systems – explaining behaviour of systems with a large number of independent agents, and organisational evolution and learning

So what does it take to be a Complex Project’s Manager?
Thomas & Mengel propose that understanding the complex environment is far more important than using tools and techniques of project management. Furthermore they outline three key capabilities to manage complexity

  • IQ – possessing the self-knowledge to adapt existing tools
  • EQ – possessing the emotional skills to coach and manage people
  • SQ – possessing the capacity for finding meaning

In their framework Thomas & Mengel see most of today’s project managers as Experts, these are project managers heavy on the IQ side of their IQ-EQ-SQ-Triangle. The authors see two developmental strategies. One is coping with uncertainty by moving towards the sense-making SQ corner of the triangle and becoming a Leader. The other developmental direction is coping with complexity by strengthening the EQ corner and becoming a Manager.

Similar ideas are discussed in the paper by Hartman. Altough he does not call the elephant on the table complex project management but he names it dynamic management. Blink or not Blink – Hartman argues that wisdom and intuition are the two desired qualities in a leader with a mind for dynamic management. Furthermore he identifies three traits absolutely necessary

  • Pattern recognition & decision-making
  • Relationship building & communication
  • Integrity & trust

Project management standards – Diffusion and application in Germany and Switzerland (Ahlemann et al., in press)

Dienstag, September 30th, 2008

 roject management standards – Diffusion and application in Germany and SwitzerlandAhlemann, Frederik; Teuteberg, Frank; Vogelsang, Kristin: Project management standards – Diffusion and application in Germany and Switzerland; in: International Journal of Project Management, Article in Press, Corrected Proof. This article has been published in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 27 (2009), No. 3, pp. 292–303. This article discusses the use of standards and reasons behind that in detail. Instead of going in to these details I want to quickly focus on the more interesting aspects of this article, with three simple questions (1) Which standards do exist in the industry?, (2) What are the benefits of using them?, and (3) What holds us back?The standards used, and as such included in this survey, were

  • DIN 69901 – 69905
  • IPMA’s (International Project Management Association) International Competence Baseline (ICB)
  • ICB’s German cousin the PM-Fachmann, and PM-Kanon
  • ISO 10006
  • OPM3
  • Kerzner’s Project Management Maturity Model (PMMM)

What are the benefits of implementing and using a project management standards?

Better communication/consistent terminology Project stakeholders are able to communicate about project management aspects without friction. They experience that communication about project management issues becomes easier when there is a shared understanding of fundamental project management terms as expressed in a standard
Faster process implementation (Compliant) project management processes can be planned and introduced faster than without a standard
Better process quality Higher quality in terms of cycle times, process failures and achievement of objectives
Transfer of knowledge and best practices Improvements of project management competencies
Better recognition by customers/marketing effects Compliance as a cue of high project management competence for external stakeholders
Cost savings Costs reductions for setting up and running the project management system
Better team play More efficient project teams with better project results
Comparability with other internal organizational units Standards allow benchmarking/comparisons of processes and results with other internal organisational units
Comparability with other external organizational units Standards allow benchmarking/comparisons of processes and results with other external organisational units

What holds us back in implementing project management standards in practice?

Too theoretical Standards are highly abstract and theoretical, such it cannot be understood easily and applied efficiently
Lack of flexibility Standard not flexible enough for the requirements of a specific organization. Adaptation is either not foreseen or only hard to achieve
Not applicable to the specific implementation scenario Standard is generally not applicable since its premises do not match the characteristics of the affected organisation
Costs of change The costs of implementing the standard are too high
Administrational overheads The operation requires too high administrative overhead
Lack of acceptance The standard is not sufficiently accepted by staff members
Inefficient processes/practices Standard requires inefficient processes or practices. Instead of improving process performance, cycle times and process costs rise

The empirical results of this survey show that PMBOK is the most widely used standard in the sample. The second most commonly used standard is the ICB. Whereby the standard is rarely (in only 11% of cases) used as-is. Instead it is mostly adapted to the organisation or used as a pool of ideas.Secondly the list of benefits was tested against expectations before implementing standards and the captured benefits after the implementation. Expected benefits were

  • Improvement of communication regarding project management issues
  • Better process quality
  • Faster implementation of project management processes
  • Implementation of best practices

Of all benefits tested only the improvement of communications was taking place after implementing the standard.The authors identify lack of flexibility and adaptability as the major shortfall of standards. The main reasons for not applying a standard were

  • High administrative overhead
  • Lack of user acceptance
  • High costs