Improving project delivery and resource utilization
Project Management in Action
Jagdish R. Dalal, Vice President IM Applications
Suzanne M. DeSarra, Manager Human Resource Development, Methodologies, and Productivity
David M. McEneany, Manager Strategic Deployment
David M. Nowak, Manager Project Management
Xerox Corporation, Rochester, New York
Xerox Corporation has achieved gains in efficiency and productivity by applying its heralded Leadership Through Quality Process to project management within its Information Management organization. Using its continuous improvement techniques, the United States Customer Operations (USCO)-Information Management organization at Xerox has put in place a framework and the facilities to plan, track, manage and evaluate its projects and resources. This effort is part of an overall program to optimize business results and achieve world-class recognition in the Information Management community.
Like many Information Systems organizations, Xerox USCO Information Management (USCO-IM) looks for ways to continuously improve software development and productivity through standardization, simplification and automation. Improvement has most recently been obtained through the implementation of a single work management process and system across the entire organization.
By utilizing standard templates to plan and manage systems development and maintenance activities, USCO-IM has achieved a 10 percent gain in productivity. This increase is based on a Cost of Quality assessment—a Xerox Quality Process measurement technique. In addition, Xerox's implementation marks one of the first links between project management software and a metrics measurement system. Project status information linked with additional business metrics will help Xerox assess the performance of development projects.
Standard work processes provide a consistent method for summarizing project and resource information. This repeatable and predictable process enables USCO-IM to continuously monitor, improve and control Project Phase Task Activity project and resource tracking. This is especially important in light of the recent reorganization toward profit centers.
Project Management is a key Business Process for all IM Applications. Its deployment is critical to our ongoing success. It provides us with information and data to make Management by Fact decisions. Most importantly, it helps us successfully deliver projects on time, within budget, and meet our customers’ requirements.
The work management system implemented by the organization to automate the work process stores all USCO-IM project information in a single central database organized within a Work Breakdown Structure. This project repository enables Xerox to aggregate information for management reporting. Tasks and phases of projects can be “rolled up” to any level of detail to provide summary views at the project-, department-, and organization-wide levels.
Information Management Focus on the Business
Xerox Information Management applies the Leadership Through Quality Process to significantly improve its project management and delivery processes.
“A new way of working, an increased focus on the customer and quick response to market needs will move us rapidly toward our vision of being one of the most innovative, productive and admired companies in the world.” This is the promise of the Xerox 2000 vision as stated by Paul A. Allaire, Xerox chairman and chief executive officer.
These words represent a commitment to the customer, to quality and to continuous improvement in all aspects of the document business.
Xerox Corporation, committed to fundamentally change the way it conducts business, recently created nine self-contained business divisions. Each one is a complete “end-to-end” business with an income statement and balance sheet. The United States Customer Operations (USCO) organization is responsible for support of all activities for the divisions that relate to the customer in the United States. Within this organization, Information Management provides the data and software support to help the business divisions make management-by-fact decisions.
BENEFITS FROM IMPROVED PM
Beyond improved efficiency obtained from the automation of project management, the system offers these benefits:
- It communicates project status between project team members and managers and between USCO-IM and project sponsors, helping to manage the expectations of end users and to eliminate surprises.
- It improves project planning and estimating. Through the use of project planning templates, the speed of planning has been increased and the accuracy of level-of-effort estimates has been improved. Existing plans provide histories that can be used to help estimate durations and effort for new projects. Xerox has created templates for maintenance, enhancement, production support, classic lifecycle development and information engineering projects. These templates serve as the basis for all project plans.
- It increases productivity through improved time and resource management. Productivity improvements are reflected in:
- Reduced training time for employees who move from job to job (since standard work processes are spread throughout the organization)
- Reduced time to develop complete project plans through templates and project histories
- Reduced time to replan
- Improved ability to take corrective action through early warningof project slippages and cost overruns
- Standardization provides for cross-project analysis and consistency of use. Utilization of lessons learned, templates and learning from history enables continuous improvement.
The mission of the Human Resources, Development Methodologies, and Productivity organization is to deliver significant productivity tools and skills level improvements within USCO Information Management. Our vision is to be recognized by our internal and external customers as the industry benchmark organization in developing a continuous learning environment and culture for the application of Information Technology.
The Project Management process, system and associated skills are key components of our Professional Career Ladder approach. They provide a support structure for workforce empowerment and self-managing workgroups. Our organization has already begun this culture change with Project Management by implementing a Standard Process, Activity Level Planning and Time Reporting. We will continue to use this platform as the foundation for continuous improvements in Project Management skills.
SHOPPING FOR A CONTROL SYSTEM
In 1989, the organization that is now Xerox USCO-IM recognized the inefficiencies, loss of productivity and the costs associated with a multitude of people-dependent processes. Propelled by these factors, USCO-IM investigated ways to streamline, standardize and automate work processes through an integrated set of control functions. Standardization included automated time reporting; project planning and tracking; resource management and management reporting.
Through benchmarking, extensive research and interviews, project management requirements were gathered and documented. System requirements were consolidated into a 19-page Request For Proposal (RFP), which considered:
- Training of Information Management personnel
- Product maturity
- Maintenance and support
- Ease of use and online usage
- Technical fit to Xerox's system architecture
- Backup and recovery
- Processing performance
- Project planning templates
- Monitoring and control functions
- Tracking and measurements
- Resource processing
- Management reporting
As part of the overall effort to improve work processes and the control infrastracture, the search for a control system resulted in the selection of a mainframe computer-based modem project management (MPM) system.1 The system provided an integrated set of control applications which best fit Xerox requirements. In addition, it offered an open architecture to facilitate interfacing with other accounting, control and metrics software. The system spared USCO-IM from making a major investment in additional hardware. Most important, the system offered a centralized architecture that would facilitate “roll-up” reporting for senior managers and cross-project analysis spanning the entire Information Management enterprise.
PLANNING, MEASUREMENT AND REPORTING
Today, the system is used by 400 employees in the USCO. Feature utilized include project planning via manual, critical path method and network resource scheduling; time reporting; status tracking; and management reporting.
Leadership Through Quality*
… means providing our external and internal customers with innovative products and services that fully satisfy their requirements.
… depends on continuous improvement being the job of every employee.
… builds on competitive benchmarking and employee involvement.
… is achieved by using the problem-solving process and Quality Improvement Process.
Concepts of Quality
- Conformance to customer requirements
- To fully satisfy customer requirements
- Prevent errors by inspecting the process
- Measured by costs increased by not satisfying customer requirements
- The basic business principle.
- Fully satisfy existing and latent requirements.
- Continuously pursue quality improvement.
*paraphrased for brevity
The open architecture of the system has enabled us to build an interface to an internal metrics system. Through the use of standard data available today, project information is measured and analyzed for management revealing trends in product quality and development productivity and identifying opportunities for continuous improvement. For example, the two MTS reports, “Time to Deliver” and “Productivity,” allow us to measure performance across applications.
INTEGRATION WITH THE XEROX QUALITY INITIATIVE
Within IM at Xerox, the selection, implementation and use of the Xerox Project Management Process (PMP) and MPM software to support it was and is based on the Xerox Leadership Through Quality Process. The PMP relates to the Leadership Through Quality Process in such areas as planning for quality, organizing for quality, and monitoring for quality.
We use a quality assessment technique within our Leadership Through Quality Process which indicated that a 10 percent improvement in productivity could be achieved through the application of a comprehensive IM-wide work management system. To implement the MPM system, a project management team used a problem solving process from Leadership Through Quality in order to customize and administer training of users.
IMPLEMENTATION BY TEAMWORK
To help ensure success, a teamwork approach was used involving both support staff and applications personnel throughout the implementation effort. Together they tailored the product and the training to meet organizational needs.
System implementors defined project management standards that require all project plans broken down into phases, tasks and activities; all weekly assignments captured at an individual programmer/analyst level; and all time reporting and progress entered on line. This information updates schedules and feeds reporting for all levels of management. During the initial implementation, project management users were given two days of training covering standard Project Management Process and another two were used for actual training on the MPM system.
Our challenge was to implement standard work process so our managers could focus their attention on “what to do” not “how to do it. ”;
Templates provided a method for organizational learning, standardization and continuous improvement. They established the vehicle to communicate best practices across the organization, This group learning improves productivity and quality for all IM,
MANAGEMENT BY FACT
Timely reports help USCO-IM improve productivity and efficiency by enabling managers to take action in response to identified problems or trends. Senior managers receive regular reports on project status and resource utilization. Project managers receive weekly reports on planned versus actual expenditures for projects; missed activities; timesheets for individuals; completed project activities; and activities by resource. Project managers are also provided monthly reports with milestones; missed tasks; actual hours by project; summary time reports; and other summary reports on resources; applications; and projects. Individual participants are provided standard reports with detailed activities and contributions to a project. Additional reporting is available for project managers in formats such as Gantt charts, project listings, and ad hoc reporting. Reports are generated in batch mode through two reporting facilities provided in the MPM system.
Ideveloped my April release plan for the Field Work Support system using existing templates. During development, I added unplanned activities with no time assigned.
This technique allowed me to highlight previously unplanned activities. I then added these activities to my November plan. The result of this continuous improvement process was a better, more complete project plan that took less time to develop.
An additional fringe benefit of these plans is the ability to identify actual vs. plan activities by resource for performance evaluation and skills improvement.
A WILLINGNESS TO CHANGE
For Xerox, the implementation of an Information Management work management process and system has been a significant undertaking and cultural change. This culture change involves standardization, activity level planning and control, and time reporting. To lower resistance to change, a commitment was necessary from senior management to support a structured control environment. Users must be involved throughout product development to help them understand the benefits of a project management process and system. To win acceptance, we chartered a Quality Team to tailor project training to user community needs. We also established a competency center to impart project management expertise and to implement continuous improvement of the product.
ONE STEP CLOSER TO XEROX 2000
A corporate quality initiative must embrace a standard work management process and standard control system. This provides the framework and facilities for planning and scheduling all work, scheduling resources, monitoring project performance, and evaluating performance and productivity. This quality initiative has enabled Xerox to establish a framework that automates a consistent development methodology, thereby improving the efficiency of product delivery and maintenance support.
Customers have certified that the Xerox Project Management Process enables improved communications, productivity, quality of project management and project planning and utilization of resources.
Or said another way, this initiative improves Xerox USCO-IM ability to support the Business Divisions and take one more quality step toward Xerox 2000.
1. Multitrak Enterprisewide Work Management System was selected. Multitrak Software Development Corporation, 119 Beach Street, Boston, MA 02111, (617) 482-6677.