Are you a dreamer of managing a Project? If yes, here are some practical tips FROM a Project Manager

Are you a dreamer of managing a Project? If yes, here are some practical tips FROM a Project Manager

Empirical data: State of the art in project management

In this chapter, the empirical findings from the interview will be presented.

Presentation of the Interviewee

In order to connect with reality and to collect updated information on project management practices an interview is conducted with Carina Höyheim. She has worked on projects for over 15 years. She worked on various projects from product development to complex products within IT, telecom industry and insurance. She has experience in project management with PROPS with Ericsson, and has also worked as line manager with responsibility for projects.

She worked as certified coach PDI at Personal Development Institute, 2016 and for several years as consultant in Project Management. Since 2002 she is running her own business, a project consultancy company to train and coach managers of projects. She used to provide coaching on both project methodology and project management. Further to her extensive experience she is also a certified PMP (Project Management Professional) from PMI Project Management Institute, USA. Moreover, she is also involved in teaching the course of PM at Linköping University, Sweden.

Characterization of Project Work

As per the view of Carina Höyheim the project management differs from production management with respect to the aspects of uniqueness and nature of project work. She believes that projects have a fixed start and ending time, and projects often involve activities that need several different competences

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In some of the projects the project sponsor and product manager perform key roles in controlling and evaluating the project progress. The project sponsor decides project delivery dates. According to Carina the delivery date of project is normally negotiated between sponsor and product manager. Project progress is monitored on weekly or monthly basis to see how all sub projects within the main project fit in. In normal practice project evaluation begins with a business analysis coupled with a pre study, to identify the economic benefits and the technical aspects are evaluated by different individuals in organization, depending on individual’s technical knowledge and position in organization.

Value Specification

The customer benefit (value) is very much ignored in projects. According to project consultant often value specification is not very clear, because either of the values does not look to be specified, or it is done quickly as the team is interested to start the project”. Value remain neglected in some projects until the end of project and then project members start discussing what the value to customer was. At the same time she also believes that value specification of project should be done during business analysis, when the long term and short term goals are decided and value is accessed. The steering committee is responsible to analyze the business value and to identify what kind of value the project generates

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Delays are experienced and “one cannot start working until someone else is finished”. In such situations project managers either gives some other work to the succeeding team, or if the succeeding team is skilled enough they may be asked to work with proceeding team. According to Carina Höyheim “waste in the form of waiting times are not stripped in sequential approach”. In contrast, this is done to some extent in agile approaches. In a sequential approach, at the end of each phase the receiving team uses tollgate meeting to verify the requirements and quality of deliverables. The different types of check points used in sequential approach are e.g. stage gate, executive gate, tollgate meetings and approval cycles. These are not seen as waste. However, if these decision point meetings are delayed then these add delays in the project progress and add waste in the form of non-value adding time.

Such delays are observed to be more common in companies that collect key peoples with different knowledge and expertise in one room for decision making. Carina Höyheim explains that there are some companies that arrange such control board meetings only six times in a year. This means that the project manager may have to wait for two months for a decision. In contrast, some companies avoid delayed meetings and prefer flexible meetings to maintain the pace of work. These flexible approaches make it easier to adapt to changes in requirements using frequent control board meetings.

In a sequential approach the process is predetermined and the receiver of a deliverable is clearly defined. However in agile the new features determine who will receive the task. At the same time it is identified that there is not always a clear clarity of process and roles of project teams. This lack of clarity creates frustration among team members, in order to counter that some companies sign a contract which makes things very clear. Furthermore Gantt charts and tollgate meetings inform the project team about the flow and progress of project work.

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