getting out of the inferno!


Thomas Zimmermann, Project Leader, Motorola SPS

Sherri Yohe, Project Leader, Motorola SPS

Joel Defarge, Project Leader, Motorola SPS


In a global development environment efficient program management is key for success. Ad-hoc and chaotic situations are often enough dominant and a controlled process is missing. Available tools help to deal with scheduling and resource management or other operational problems. However, process and methodology automation, team communication, project portfolio management, risk and issue tracking also become extremely important in an enterprisewide and global organization to be successful. Dante is a Web enabled program management support infrastructure to help getting out of this inferno. It automates methodology and process and it provides a global repository of program management data including comprehensive risks, issues and action tracking capabilities. Dante is a tool for project collaboration and communication. Interfaces to commercial scheduling and resource management tools are included. Introduced in 1997, Dante is now successfully used in Motorola’s Semiconductor Product Sector to manage projects with today more than 7,000 active users and 2,500 registered projects. Within this paper, references to a project also apply similarly to a program.


The global marketplace has become extremely complex and the rate that technology is changing is ever increasing. Customer expectations and dependency on world-class cycle times have accelerated dramatically. The commitment to time to market must be clearly visible to everyone in the process. A program management culture must be developed and supported such that each contributor and role in a project has the visibility and knowledge about how they impact the new product development schedule.

In an industrial sector, such as semiconductor, which is operating on a global basis in terms of marketing, sales, development and deployment, it is important to keep track of all project activities and also maintain a project portfolio register. This enables global analysis of project activities and allows better identification of redundant activities as well as also globally combining project efforts to strengthen the market position.

In addition, one must have the ability to plan future tasks and give the proper priority and resources. Due to this need for change and to maintain our competitiveness, Motorola’s Semiconductor Product Sector (SPS) developed and deployed a Program Management Methodology to kickoff making this significant change from a functional structure to a heavyweight project management culture. In addition, SPS created and is continuing to enhance a software infrastructure to automate and support the project management process.

This solution is known as the Program Management Information System (PMIS). PMIS consists of a several components and Dante is the backbone of the system. Dante will be presented in detail in this paper.

Dante Overview and Architecture

In an environment, where virtual teams are collaborating and developing on a worldwide base, efficient program management is key. A common methodology provides the framework and ensures consistent terminology and processes. Efficient support for process automation is an enabler for this success and greatly improves communication. Dante provides a Web enabled repository for methodology and process automation using a relational database management system, which stores project process specific information. Dante provides efficient tracking, escalation and roll-up of risks, issue and actions associated to programs, project and subprojects and it fully automates the SPS Program Management Methodology. It incorporates a phase approval system and includes interfaces to 3rd party tools to accommodate for schedule and resource information.

Dante includes the following features and capabilities:

A Web enabled Graphical User Interface to capture project process data using standard project reporting templates.

A Relational Database Management System to store program management information.

A global, searchable project portfolios register supporting complex data queries and data analysis.

A business process driven flow control system including phase approval and phase gate management (a phase gate is considered as a decision checkpoint allowing phase transitions supporting the project process).

Support of project roles defined in the SPS Program Management Methodology and support of role delegation.

Interfaces to 3rd party scheduling and resource management tools to upload and download relevant information.

Exhibit 1. SPS Program Management Methodology Overview

SPS Program Management Methodology Overview

A reporting engine creating standard project reports, such as status summary reports and risks/issue/action tracking reports available for archival and ready for presentation.

An integrated link with a corporate document repository to maintain project books and folders for additional project associated documentation.

Quality auditing capabilities and archival functions.

Support for Roll-Up metrics and associated reports.

E-mail notification and a project specific action tracking system.

Dante’s backbone is a relational database, which is storing all project information entered into the system and which is also ensuring data integrity and process control. Accessing Dante is performed via a regular Web browser. Dante is only available on Motorola’s intranet and general access is controlled via X500 password authentication.

Motivation and Benefits

Why do projects fail? There are a number of known reasons that cause project failure. Beside traditional technical problems and implementation capacity issues, several other reasons impact successful project closure: Poor definition of objectives and missing alignment to business strategies, poor baseline management, inefficient risk management, too many uncontrolled changes (scope creep) as well as insufficient team communication. These and other factors negatively influence on-time and on-budget project completion but can be addressed and overcome through a well-defined Program Management Methodology. Methodology and defined processes require acceptance and deployment before they can positively impact. This is where a global supporting infrastructure greatly helps and is required to accomplish that.

Many tools exist today to address scheduling and resource management issues. An integrated solution to support scope/change management, issue and risk management, project action tracking, metrics based reporting and to globally automate methodology and process is hard to find. This led to the development of Dante. A major motivation to implement Dante was to improve efficiency of team communication and collaboration. To speak a common project management language and to use a formal Project Management Methodology is essential for success in a global development environment. Dante’s intent is also to enable project portfolio management. Dante establishes a world wide, searchable inventory of all project activities in Motorola’s semiconductor sector.

The benefits of such a solution are obvious. Program managers can focus their attention on solving critical issues during project execution. Keeping project information up to date is much easier and faster and projects team members and sponsors can retrieve data very quickly and follow an online review process. Risks and issues are much better understood and reacted upon using a controlled process. In summary, a supporting project management infrastructure provides visibility to opportunities and projects and helps alignment of projects to strategy.

The following chapters will describe the individual capabilities of Dante in more detail. As Dante has been developed to primarily support and automate process steps, it is important to have a basic understanding of the underlying SPS Program Management Methodology, which is described in the following section.

SPS Program Management Methodology Overview

The SPS Program Management Methodology defines processes and procedures to manage all programs, projects and subprojects within Motorola’s semiconductor sector. These processes are not only applicable for new product implementations, but are also available for any type or projects, independent of the product or deliverable type. The SPS Program Management Methodology is generic and is consistent with the PMBOK® Guide. It essentially establishes a decision processing infrastructure with clearly defined roles and responsibilities at each level of the project management process. It is identical for all business areas to ensure consistency. The methodology introduces five generic phases:

Phase 0: New Project Selection

Phase 1: Project Conception and Definition

Phase 2: Project Planning and Scheduling

Phase 3: Project Implementation and Management

Phase 4: Project Closure

In addition to these five phases, six major roles are defined in the methodology: the Program Steering Group, the Program Sponsor, the Program Controller, the Program Manager/Project Leader, the Functional Manager and the Project Team. Each of these roles has specific responsibilities and tasks, which are defined in the SPS Program Management Methodology. Each role has a different requirement how to interact with the Dante system to perform the specific tasks. Dante individually supports all roles of the SPS Program Management Methodology. As an example, the Program Steering Group is the ultimate decision forum and performs prioritization of all active projects as well as sign-off at each phase gate. To support these tasks, Dante gives capabilities to summarize status and priority information of all projects within a specific organization and automates the sign-off process.

Exhibit 1 gives an overview of the SPS Program Management Methodology with its associated phases and approval processes. As already mentioned, the five phases are generic and do not take into account a specific product development lifecycle or development process. The Program Management Methodology provides the framework to embrace specific development lifecycles, which can be incorporated in Dante.

Process Flow and Standard Project Report Formats

Dante supports the SPS Program Management Methodology and project process in all respects. Each phase defined in the methodology includes specific steps (e.g., Stakeholder identification, schedule tradeoff optimization, risk assessment, etc.). These steps have associated reporting templates, the so-called Standard Project Report Formats. These templates provide a consistent and standard way to capture project relevant information across the whole project portfolio. Dante provides a Web based repository to enter project data simply using your Web browser and to view these project reports any time online or to print them as formatted documents.

As part of the methodology, 15 reporting forms are currently available in Dante, which cover almost all areas of project relevant information. Examples of some of the most important are:

Project Initiation Document, which captures project objective, background, deliverables, strategy, benefits and high level resource requirements.

Project Organization Chart to describe people and roles of the project team.

Project Stakeholder List to maintain a list of stakeholders and the required stakeholder management process.

Project risk and issues logs with associated management forms to summarize and to specify required risk mitigation and issue resolution actions.

Project Status Report to report on progress summary, key milestones achieved, key milestones in next reporting period, any new risks, issues requiring escalation, and corrective actions.

Project Change Request to summarize description of change, benefits, cost and impact on schedule, resource implication, priority and additional risks.

All standard report forms can be updated during the project lifetime in different phases. A version control system is available in Dante and access to previous versions of the forms is always possible. Version control supports creation of project history audit trails.

Dante Phase Gate Approval System

Dante integrates a phase gate approval system. The primary gates are located at the end of each phase of the process. The Dante system allows entry or access to project data for a specific phase. A phase can only be completed if the prior phase has been approved. Phase gates exists for all five phases and a gate is passed as soon as approval has been given to the current phase. The Project Leader or delegate requests a phase for approval. Each phase is named in compliance with the process. The following chapters give a short overview of the support levels per phase provided in Dante.

Phase 0—New Project Selection

An opportunity is identified, this may be for a new product, a derivative product, a new system or process, new manufacturing facilities, business process or one of many others. The opportunity is examined in some detail and is subjected to rigorous selection tests and criteria by the business. Phase Zero is supported in Dante by providing an upload capability of an opportunity analysis justification.

Exhibit 2. Dante Workspace Graphical User Interface

Dante Workspace Graphical User Interface

Phase 1: Project Conception and Definition

The Program or Project team is assembled and starts the definition process through consulting Stakeholders and deriving the objectives, scope and risks associated with the project. Results of these process steps are documented using the tools provided in Dante for this phase.

Phase 2: Project Planning and Scheduling

In Phase 2, the detailed plans are derived and resource needs and availability is identified. Detailed schedule and resource planning is completed using 3rd party scheduling software and planned dates are uploaded on Dante. Dante does not contain capabilities for project scheduling and resource management but it provides interfaces to common scheduling and resource management solutions. As a continuous effort, this phase requires the review of risk logs and the creation of associated Risk Management Forms to document mitigation plans. Dante supports these activities providing the associated forms and utilities.

Phase 3: Project Implementation and Management

Most of the activities to this phase are related to progress update (status and schedule) and risk/issue management. Dante provides features to simplify the creation of a status report. Actual, baselined and forecasted milestone dates will be automatically propagated into the status report and slippage calculation occurs. Similarly, any outstanding issues not yet resolved can be extracted from an issue selection list and inserted automatically in the status report by a simple mouse click. The project leader confirms or modifies previously forecasted dates and documents any changes made. Escalation of a risk into an issue can be automated using Dante. An issue escalation report is optionally sent to the sponsor via e-mail. Upon completion of this phase, a checklist appears to flag the completion of all the deliverables previously specified. This checklist can be automatically sent to the sponsor and Program Steering Group seeking for approval to close the project.

Phase 4: Project Closure

The run down to closure. Dante provides a final list of questions to provide a controlled way to close the project. Finally the program or project is declared complete and the completion certificate issued.

Dante Graphical User Interface

Exhibit 2 shows a screen dump of the Dante main workspace area and shows a project, which is currently in Phase 2: “Project Planning and Scheduling.” The Dante Web Graphical User Interface (GUI) has been designed to be very simple and easy to use. This is important to gain user acceptance. Phase tab buttons in the GUI indicate phases and allow an easy switch from phase to phase. Approved phases are indicated by a change of tab color. A project controller approves a phase on behalf of the Program Steering Group. He or she would see a flashing tab to indicate “waiting for approval.”

When approved the button stops flashing and reverts to a new color to indicate “complete and approved.” This is a typical example how Dante provides different utilities and visual help based on the individual role a user has within a project. A project leader or team member would not see this flashing button. There are many other similar utilities to support the process flow. Dante provides online context sensitive help and also guides the users through the individual process steps required per phase. Project data access protection is an integral part of Dante. This is important to secure project information and has been a major user requirement. Based on the project classification, read access to the information is granted or denied. As an example, confidential information is not available for people outside the project organization. Access control for confidential projects is derived from the Project Organization Chart content.

Dante Project Portfolio Register and Metric Based Reports

Dante registration of projects is required to enter the SPS Program Management Methodology phases. Dante establishes a global project portfolio register with complex search capabilities. This is separated to the individual project workspace but operates on the same database to ensure data integrity. Registration of a project requires the entry of specific information about the project. Each registration submitted, is automatically put into an opportunity phase and also gets an opportunity status flag. Project numbering is automatic and Dante also fully supports a hierarchy of programs, projects and subprojects. An approval of the registration will transition the project into an active status.

Exhibit 3. Dante Portfolio Register

Dante Portfolio Register

Exhibit 4. Example of a Dante Generated Online Report

Example of a Dante Generated Online Report

Exhibit 3 shows an example screen dump of the project registry after a simple search has been completed for all program/projects including number 3323M (in this case it is a simple two level hierarchy of a program with a single project included). In addition to the online register report, printed versions of the registry can be created and are important information to support the decisions made during Program Steering Group meetings.

The search capabilities of the Dante registry allow complex queries of project information across the complete hierarchy of thousands of projects. Queries can be easily specified and saved for reuse. Metrics are established to audit projects based on the register and other status information maintained in Dante. These metrics can be used to validate performance improvement and project cycle time reduction. As an example, Dante provides graphical report capabilities to report on number of projects in a specific phase or on project slippage, including information about baseline status. These online reports also provide drill-down capabilities to retrieve more details. Exhibit 4 shows an example.

Dante One-Pager Reporting

Efficient project summary reporting is important during review meetings. Dante provides capabilities to create one-page status summary reports. These reports assemble information about the project from the different sources in the database and combine them on a comprehensive one-page report. The report layout is designed in a way ready for immediate presentation. A one-page summary report contains generic information about the projects objectives, sponsor and leader. It also includes current risks, issues and associated action status. Information about achieved and future milestones as well as any delta to the baseline date is displayed. The one-pager report is customizable. Risks, issues and actions can be selected by the project leader to appear on the report. This gives focused attention to the most critical and high priority problems during review discussions.

Additional Utilities

Dante provides additional utilities to improve the efficiency of project work:

A project decommissioning process is provided in Dante. This process is available from a phase independent tab and provides a controlled and documented process to cancel an active project any time. The decommissioning process provides a checklist to document reasons for cancellation.

Dante provides the facility to add any Hypertext/URL links. This is important to establish cross-references to other sources of information such as additional project documentation (requirements documents, configuration management plan, etc.) maintained using additional documentation management systems.

A project status meeting administration facility is available to create automatic meeting invitation and to allow online capture of meeting minutes.

A simple but very efficient project specific action tracking system is available. Actions associated to risks, issues or any other project action can be tracked using Dante.


Dante’s development is not completed. Future enhancements will include the support for product development processes, issue and risk roll-up features, improved opportunity selection and stakeholder management. The inclusion of requirements management, cost measurement and control as well as offline capabilities is requested by the user community. Dante is the backbone of the Program Management Information System and must support other component such as enterprisewide resource mapping and timesheet-based effort tracking currently under development. Dante will continue to be enhanced to provide a full set of metric report generation and more comprehensive project audit capabilities.


Dante has been in successful use for more than two years within the Semiconductor Product Sector and now accommodates more than 7,000 users and over 2,500 registered projects in 126 Locations and 27 countries. It evolved over several years of development and was modified only driven by user requirements. Its usage is now on an extremely increasing trend. Dante provides an environment for global project collaboration and is improving communication in and between project teams. It establishes the program management infrastructure for SPS and is mandated to be used by all project teams. It enables the alignment of programs to business strategies, to empower project teams and to provide them with online visibility of all relevant project information. This allows the right decisions to be made at the right time following defined processes and procedures.

Motorola SPS is embarking on a comprehensive approach to program management implementation. Key focus areas include business process and methodology, career path, Program Management training program, Program Management consultation, and software tools to enable the Program Management process. This systematic approach to Program Management implementation has led to developing the Dante system and has resulted in a tool that is quickly becoming part of the cultural fabric!

Conclusion and “Are We Getting Out of the Inferno?”

Just providing data in Dante is not what’s important; it is the thought process and the work necessary to get the answers to the questions asked. What Dante brings about is common practices and methodology. Team members don’t have to learn new language from project to project and a common system helps to move from a silo mentality to a global mentality. We are making the trip back out of the inferno instead of going deeper into it. We have made significant strides in understanding where are projects stand and the root causes of the chaos we have felt in the inferno. Yes, we have still some way to go but with Dante today we believe we have the support tool to allow us to take the journey all the way out of the inferno!


The authors of this paper are part of Motorola’s SPS program management implementation team. Special thanks to all members of the team for their contribution and feedback, particularly to Trevor Young for his advise on the SPS Program Management Methodology and to Don Walker for his continuing support and sponsorship of the Dante system development.


Royer, Paul S. (2000, March). Risk Management: The Undiscovered Dimension of Project Management. Project Management Journal, 6–13.

Project Management Institute Standard Committee. (1996). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). Upper Darby, PA: Project Management Institute.

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



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