The rapid increase in technological capability, particularly in the realm of communications, is changing our world and how its business is conducted. At the same time, these changes are adding complexities to projects, large and small, in ways that were not foreseen even three or four decades ago. Not terribly long ago, most projects were done locally (with some notable exceptions proving the rule) – teams were co-located, the project manager had regular and direct access to project team members and most of the other stakeholders, team members worked in one or two shifts, and communications were face-to-face. Today, project managers and directors, even those managing relatively small efforts, face a significantly different project environment. Communications are frequently done virtually; access to global resources allows project work to take place around the clock. The rapidity of technological change places additional burdens on the project manager and their project teams as they try to ensure that their project’s product can provide business value in a changing business environment. In large or mega-projects, complexities are logarithmically compounded.
It is easy to see a large, complex project and become overwhelmed. I am reminded of the recent Dallas Cowboy Stadium that was built near my mother-in-law’s house a few years back and hearing the program manager who led the effort talk about how he successfully manages a megaproject. Basically, it breaks down to a few major concepts: find the best fitting team, let the experts do their best work, and automate as much tracking and reporting as possible. These concepts were keys to my success leading a megaproject for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for many years and although that size pales in comparison to a $5 Billion dollar football stadium, the same concepts scale. The project for the IRS was the development and maintenance of a software program, the 13K+ revenue agents and the large automated batch mainframe processing systems used to calculate, assess, correct, audit, and report on taxpayers. These systems would collect more than $1 Billion in additional revenue for the U.S. government each year, were made up of millions of lines of code, and interacted with dozens of other internal IRS systems. This software was considered mission critical for the IRS and would help them make or break their annual compliance goals, which might bring unwanted attention from Congress or high ranking officials.
Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Hospital Construction Project – A Landmark Healthcare Mega Project in the Middle East. By Mohamed Khalifa Hassan PMP, PgMP, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, MCTS
Named after the late Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah a landmark hospital construction project, is underway in the State of Kuwait. In a region which boasts of many record-setting structures including Burj Khalifa in Dubai (the tallest building in the world), the Kuwaiti government is keen to optimize the utility and lustre of its development projects. It is actively investing in projects aimed at developing world class facilities which maximize welfare services, both for its rapidly growing population as well as visitors. Once in service, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Hospital will be the largest, most modern and well equipped healthcare facility in the Middle East.
Mega Projects – The ideal lab for integrated leadership, communications, and innovation By Dr. Al Zeitoun, PMP
Project management is just starting to be fun. Organizations are getting it! Or are they? How wonderful this reality could be for professionals who have been trying to get to this position for generations. Everything around us has a project at its heart. Creating, changing, improving, and inventing all require distinct and clear missions that are headed by someone who cares and who would see it to completion.
Let’s talk about NOT motivating your teams. Why should you? After all, they are paid to do their jobs, right? This is unfortunately a very common comment from managers who grew up in a culture of strict hierarchies and top-down direction and control. Cultures like these create compliance at best and rebellion at worst. “Well, what’s so wrong about compliance?” you may say. Compliance is great if it is in regard to safety and security. However, if you run a project or a program and need top performance, compliance can be devastating. Imagine giving directions for a task and missing out on a step or two. Compliance means that the task won’t be done to the standard needed, but to the letter of the word, i.e., your direction. Also, compliance means you get what you ask for, and no more.
In PART 1 of this case study, we described the planning of a very personal project involving "downsizing". According to Wikipedia, amongst other interpretations: "Downsizing is being regarded by management as one of the preferred routes to turning around declining organizations, cutting costs, and improving organizational performance."] That sounds like a good description of this project as a case in point.
This article was originally published for the Breakthrough Newsletter.
"You have a choice. You can promote and support adversarial advocacy, politics and division or collaboration, synergy, exploration and excellence.",1
Managing the Stakeholder - the Negative Kind as well as the Supportive Kind - Part 3 By George Bridges, PMP
I have outlined a series of articles to discuss the topic of stakeholder management in a project environment. As we stated in Part 1 of this series; Stakeholder Management can be described by using the following diagram (Figure 1), developed by Dr. Harold Kerzner, Senior Executive Director with International Institute for Learning, Inc:
"I was just assigned my first project! Now what?" By Terry Quanborough, PMP, FCMI, DMS, MBCS, CITP, MNZCS
Congratulations on your assignment. At this stage you are possibly overwhelmed after the initial adrenalin rush. There is so much to consider and this paper provides a few prompts to ensure that you start on the right track and get some traction!
When project managers accept the responsibility for all aspects of project performance, including the technical quality, costs and schedule performance, they in effect put their careers on the line. If things go well, management knows precisely whom to credit. If things go poorly, management also knows precisely whom to blame.
Adapted from Earned Value Project Management (Quentin – Koppelman) pg. 152
- Starting Your New Project on the Right Foot! A New Project Manager's Interview with their Mentor By George Bridges, PMP
- The Green Project Manager By Jacqueline Dennis, PgMP, PMP
- Twenty Common Mistakes Made by New or Inexperienced Project Managers By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D., PMP
- Risk Doctor: Asking the Right Questions By Dr. David Hillson, PMP, FAPM