The Hartford’s enterprise network services division project management 101

the fundamentals of culture change

Introduction

The introduction of project management into a production support organization presents a challenge to even the most experienced of project managers. The major objectives of such an initiative are easily identified as (i) the measurable improvement in the delivery of projects both on-time and within budget and (ii) the increased level of customer satisfaction. However, in order to achieve these objectives, a major cultural change must accompany the effort, be tactfully introduced, and, be adopted by all individuals. This cultural change must focus upon the transformation from a reactive, problem-extinguishing environment to a project-focused, structured environment wherein the principles of project management not only are applied to divisional/major projects, but also permeate all aspects of the organization.

The Hartford Insurance Enterprise Network Services Division (“ENSD”) undertook just such a challenge in 1999. ENSD, an internal division with the Operational and Technical Support Division (“OTSD”) of The Hartford, provides network/telecommunications, voice and messaging solutions, services, and support on an enterprise level to the corporation. The division’s strengths reside in its highly specialized technical resources in the areas of logical and physical network design and support. However, technology alone cannot plan and implement projects.

The demands of ENSD’s customer and the rapid pace of technology served as major drivers for implementing change through project management, with emphasis upon a redefinition of functional/support responsibilities to responsibilities within the scope of specific projects. Project management, an unknown term to a highly specialized technical team, needed to be gradually introduced, practiced, proven and, eventually, accepted.

The objective of this paper is to present the customized approach that was undertaken within The Hartford’s ENSD to introduce, implement, and promote project management as a standard modus operandi. The scope of the paper will include a review of the developed plan, progress to date, and the next steps to be undertaken within the initiative.

The Initial Approach: SWOT

Prior to the development of an implementation strategy for project management within ENSD, an assessment of the current environment and the current approach to projects was undertaken. This “As Is” analysis identified the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the organization, and presented a foundation for the overall approach to project management, focussing upon the inherent culture and how best to address the element of change.

Exhibit 1 presents a summary of the assessment.

This SWOT analysis was used as input into the development of ENSD’s methodology and adoption of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). The five phases of a project as defined by PMI® (initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing) were then tailored to accommodate ENSD (initiating, design, proof of concept, implementation, and closing).

ENSD Project Management Methodology

Overview

The ENSD Project Management methodology is defined by five phases reflecting the ETD project life span. This provides better management controls and appropriate links to the ongoing operations of the performing organization. Each phase is marked by the completion of one or more deliverables reflecting a verifiable work product. This could be a planning strategy, architecture design, or a prototype, etc. Each project phase conclusion is characterized by a review/sign-off of key deliverables and project performance. It is at this point that project continuance is approved or terminated. The phases are:

Project Initiation

Technical Design/Planning

Proof-of-Concept/Prototype

Implementation

Project Closure/Follow-up.

This is shown in Exhibit 2.

Exhibit 1. ENSD SWOT Analysis

ENSD SWOT Analysis
Project Initiation

This is the initial phase, which initiates a project within ENSD. Its description is reflected in its sole major deliverable, a project charter. Some major components include: business requirements, impact analysis, project scope, technology direction, assumptions, risks, major milestones, success criteria, staffing requirements, costs, and benefits.

Technical Design/Planning

In generalities this devises and maintains a workable scheme to accomplish the business need that the project was undertaken to address. It “drills-down” on some of the project information defined to-date.

This phase is the analysis and design to define a system/network architecture solution. This would also include definition of alternatives and rationale for the solution proposed. A good description of this phase is a reflection in the final deliverable, the technical architecture assessment report. Any RFP necessary would be addressed as part of this phase. This addresses the project background, overview, identifies the project team, defines the proposed solution, establishes a baseline project task schedule, highlights issues, cost/benefit/risk assessment, defines training requirements, and defines an implementation approach.

Proof-of-Concept/Prototype

This phase develops a working model, or prototype, of the solution concept to allow the customer and support areas to assess the feasibility of production deployment/implementation. A pilot simulating the production environment is accomplished as part of this phase.

Exhibit 2. ENSD Project Management Methodology

ENSD Project Management Methodology

This phase would include some hardware/software acquisition, any networking certification, and pilot activities. Deliverables include prototype sign-off, Production Network Certification Unit assessment report, pilot definition with success factors, and a final pilot result assessment/recommendation for implementation.

Implementation

This phase is the implementation/deployment activities necessary to support the solution developed in Phase 2 and tested (proved) in the preceding phase. It will include a detail project implementation task schedule, Service Level Agreement, contingency/backup plan, support procedures, detail network/system analysis/design, hardware/software/network acquisition and installation, and transition to operational support.

Project Closure/Follow-up

This formalizes acceptance of the project based on previously defined success factors and brings it to an orderly end. It includes completion and settlement of the requirement/contract. The generation, gathering, and dissemination of information to formalize the project completion characterize it.

The Curriculum of Project Management 101

Overview

The actual application of this methodology within ENSD constituted the majority of the “cultural change” within the organization. The introduction of this methodology to both management and staff constituted the major challenge of the initiative and necessitated a “back to basics” or 101 approach. This approach consisted of

The identification of an ENSD’s project management tool

The introduction of an ENSD project management mentor

Training and workshops

Pilot projects

Project interim and final reviews

Marketing and Communications

A clear statement of ENSD’s Management position on Project Management.

Project Management Tool

An integral component within the Project Management Initiative was the identification and customization of a flexible, comprehensive tool. Through the initiative, an in-house developed, Lotus Notes Tool, known as Project Manager Workbench (PMW) was selected as the preferred tool within ENSD. This provided an excellent initial structure and repository of templates with which to introduce the ENSD methodology. Further ENSD specific templates were incorporated within the tool to provide a familiar interface with networking.

Project Management Mentor

Within the Fundamentals of Culture Change, it was essential to introduce the role of the project mentor. The roles and responsibilities of the project mentor were identified as

Enhancement of project performance (success of ENSD projects)

Penalty free/confidential advice/mentoring with project managers

Exhibit 3. The Role of the ENSD Project Manager

The Role of the ENSD Project Manager

Identification and development of the strengths, interests and specific skill areas for improvement for project management (development programs)

Chair of project management initiative within ENSD and OTSD

Mid and final project reviews—Formal sessions identifying problems, resolution activities, lessons learned and project successes. These will also include a project performance vs. schedule and budget, lessons learned, improvement actions

Risk Analysis for ENSD Projects—Provide and objective view of what could go wrong, prior to project launch

Project Portfolio—Assessment of projects, project tracking and measurement

Marketing/application of project management to across all business within an organization (i.e., initiative development, problem resolution, functional responsibilities).

The project management mentor role within ENSD was undertaken on a part-time basis and is still in effect. One of the objectives within the upcoming year is to establish a team of mentors that would assist in the proliferation of project management principles. This includes project surveys, formal reviews, establishment of project measures and metrics and overall application of project management.

Training

A critical component of the project management initiative was training. It was essential for all ENSD (Management, Project Managers, and Project Teams) to receive training. Further, within ENSD a critical element was identified as “technology and responsibility” awareness for project managers. This focused upon the need to provide a knowledge base for nominated project managers in the networking and communications arena to effectively undertake the role of project manager within ENSD. The training included on-site project management training for staff, ongoing workshops for staff and seminars for management.

Pilot Projects

A success criterion of the project management initiative was the “proof of concept” of the benefits and improvements to project implementation. Three pilot projects were identified, monitored and assessed for overall success in relation to methodology effectiveness, tool kit applicability and project completion/objectives. The projects were of varying scope and customer.

The level of success of each project was measured via customer and project team survey, in which the questions focused upon the overall structure and approach of the project manager, communications, and delivery to objectives. It is interesting to note that an increase in customer satisfaction and team satisfaction with the project approach was realized throughout the course of the project management initiative.

Project Reviews

Following successful implementation of the project methodology and project management discipline, a process of project reviews was introduced within ENSD. This included, but was not limited to:

Project Manager participation within monthly PMRS (Departmental)/Project Reviews

Presentations of Selected Project at ENSD Quarterly Meetings

Project Interim and Final Reviews.

This provided the designated project manager an opportunity to develop presentation skills and to discuss various successes/concerns within active projects. Simultaneously, this provided an opportunity for project information exchange and the documentation of lessons learned within ENSD.

Customer Marketing and Communications

A vital link within the success of project management within ENSD was the direct communications with internal customers. Each customer area was advised of the new approach to projects and the necessity for ENSD involvement within the planning phases of customer projects. This marketing and communications effort focused upon:

The primary roles and responsibilities of the project manager as the single point of contact throughout a project

The establishment of clear project objectives, deliverables, completion dates and SLAs, where applicable

The definition of customer expectations with respect to delivery to involve ETD in management initiative (project kickoff).

The single point of contact concept illustrated in Exhibit 3 was emphasized (and still is!) throughout ENSD’s customer community.

Statement of ETD Management Position

Within the ENSD environment, a number of issues and considerations existed prior to the introduction of Project Management 101, which introduced risk into the overall project management initiative. These issues and considerations addressed overall management position and support of project management within the organization and included:

Role Definition of the Project Manager and Project Team

Exhibit 4. ENSD Project Management Maturity Assessment

ENSD Project Management Maturity Assessment

 

Accountability vs. Responsibility

ETD Management Support of Project Management

Staff Buy-In to the Concept of Project Management

Resource Commitment/Priority/Level of Effort

Common Understanding of Critical Path

Scope Management vs. Project Change Control vs. ETD Change Control

Production Status Transition

Cultural Change.

A statement of position was issued by Senior ENSD management, endorsing the application of project management, incorporation of project management within objectives and continuation of the project management initiative on a corporate level. The position should continues to be periodically restated and reemphasis to the staff to ensure acceptance and success within future projects.

Maturity Assessment of Project Management 101

Overview

An assessment of Project Management 101: Fundamentals of Culture Change following the initial year was undertaken in accordance with PMI’s Maturity Model. This shows that ENSD is at Level 2. This assessment is conducted as part of the monthly ENSD customer meetings with The Hartford’s business lines. The mission of Project Management 101 is to see the organization to Level 4. (See Exhibit 4.)

The Benefits of Project Management 101

Short-Term Benefits

The short-term benefits of the project management initiative included:

Improved project planning and organization through the advanced coordination of activities, identification of risks and contingencies, documentation and communications, and identification of responsibilities and accountabilities

Establishment of on-schedule and on-budget ENSD projects profiles

Collaboration of effort through ENSD project teams.

Long-Term Benefits

The long-term benefits of the project management initiative include:

Creative approaches to ENSD projects

ENSD’s visibility to customers and within The Hartford’s organization

Increased customer satisfaction through the advanced identification and agreement of project/customer expectations

Accelerated realization of project cost savings

Quality ENSD project implementations

Reduction of “reactionary” projects (approximately 40%).

Lessons Learned

Many of the lessons learned from the initiative were documented within the individual project reviews undertaken within the initiative. From an overall initiative perspective, however, the major lesson learned is that the introduction of project management within an organization such as ENSD requires time and perseverance. Cultures are more difficult to change than network infrastructures and require more planning and effort than any major network implementation.

If the initiative could be undertaken from the beginning, the one difference in the approach would be to identify and dedicate and project management team solely focussed upon the assessment, implementation, mentoring, and continuous improvement of project management within ENSD. Many initiatives have resulted from Project Management 101, including:

The proliferation of project management for the definition of individual unit missions, including but not limited to network management and network performance

The use of project management in the development of a 3-year network strategy plan

The introduction of a Project Management Development Plan for individuals, combining both internetworking and project management development and culminating in PMI® certification

The efforts under way for the establishment of a local PMI® Chapter in Hartford, Connecticut

The beginnings of a corporate project management initiative within the IT organization of The Hartford

ENSD’s greatest challenge—becoming a services organization!

It is anticipated that Project Management 101: The Fundamentals of Culture Change will be used as a model for the implementation of a network services organization within The Hartford, providing internal design, consultancy, and support to respective business lines.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium
September 7–16, 2000 • Houston, Texas, USA

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