Bringing project management into the future
the integrated enterprise management systems
Dale Potter has been with Cincom Systems, Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio, for fourteen years, and is currently general manager of Cincom's planning and control system (CPCS). Having been involved with all areas of information systems for over 30 years, his responsibilities ranged from programming to consulting. He has presented on many management issues and needs and has served on the board of directors of organizations providing solutions for information systems.
Theodore Levitt of the Harvard Business Review says:
Most managers manage for yesterday's conditions because yesterday is where they got their experiences and had their successes. But management is about tomorrow, not yesterday. Tomorrow is concerned with what should be done, not what has been done. This “should” is determined by the external business environment— what competitors (old, new and potential) can and might do, the choices this will give customers, the rules constantly being revised by governments and other players, demographic changes, advances in generalized knowledge and technology, changing sentiments, and other related factors.
In short, the future is about change.
One change offering immense potential for project management is the growing realization that the enterprise itself must be re-engineered. Since information systems are becoming the center of the cerebral as well as the circulatory I systems of modern enterprise, positioning project management as the way to integrate these systems into a unified whole is the opportunity we must seize.
In the January 1993 “In Focus” section of PMNETwork, John Tuman, Jr. issued a challenge of project management:
We need to re-engineer project management. Specifically, we need a new model for project management, we need a new mission, and we need simpler and smarter tools.
This “new model” of project management is available today. The trouble is that the software is ahead of the paradigm. Many people do not realize this environment is I possible or even ideal. The actual challenge is in changing people's mindset to accept this new paradigm.
In the 40 years since project management was introduced as a valuable tool for “accomplishing an undertaking unique to the regular business of the corporation” (as stated by Tuman), the rules have changed. At this time in the corporate environment, due to the evolution of technology, we have eliminated an entire level of resources (“managers”) in order to bring decision makers closer to their customers.
Today, everyone has a “project management” system, some offering different features than others. The pieces are available; what is needed is a way to bring these pieces together into an integrated whole. Away that everyone can benefit from the information available throughout the organization at any given time. Cutting across former hierarchical boundaries, this information must move up as well as down, from the individual level to the project, department, and unit level. And this new model must go even further and relate all these pieces to the entire organization.
The package or the tool we use to accomplish this is not important. The key to success today is the ability to empower individuals with whatever technology they can (and will) use. This enables the decision maker to manage the enterprise proactively, not reactively. This process is what is important.
One factor of the new corporate paradigm is integrated open systems. In the August 16 edition of Open Systems Today, Sally Atkins wrote:
Nine times out of ten when rethinking processes, it makes sense to think cross-functionally. This calls for integrating information across the departments of a company. Product development, manufacturing, marketing, human resources and distribution functions need to open up and share information. Open systems is the only philosophy that supports cross-functionality.
Project management systems of today must take this into account.
Additionally, project management systems must allow people to use whatever tools they already possess. All current tools must be able to be incorporated into the new integrated enterprise management system. This allows people to build upon their current knowledge and does not require that they immediately learn something new.
Today, speed is essential to decision making. The world is moving so quickly, the person (or enterprise) who says, “It can't be done,” is often overrun by someone doing it. Therefore, the ability to gather scattered corporate data into a meaningful, integrated picture with current, up-to-the-minute information is crucial to timely decision making. Vivid graphical capabilities enable each person involved to visualize the results of their actions.
In a typical assignment problem, project management systems have assumed that all skills and resources are available at all times. That is not reality. The truth is that people have multiple skills that must be utilized and plotted for the project. For instance, in real-time, the following must be identified:
- Everyone that meets the skills needed for the project
- What their current workload is
- If this person is selected for the project, the likelihood of completing this particular project on time
- If this person is selected, the impact on other projects relating to the entire organization
It is of paramount importance to know in reality what resources are currently available at all given times.
The standard three-step model of project management— planning, scheduling and control—was originally designed to typically manage one project at a time. Today, the need is often to manage multiple projects simultaneously and to analyze the impact of each upon the other (and therefore, upon the entire enterprise). This is the way people actually think and this is the way an enterprise actually operates–on many different levels at once. Taking this concept much further, there is a need to manage not only multiple projects, but multiple people with multiple skill levels and even the network with multiple hardware and software platforms, in addition to the interconnectedness of all the above.
The ability of a system to achieve these goals will bring project management out of the fragmented “esoteric instrument” arena and make it an integral part of corporate goals and functions. A process such as this allows the decision maker to better understand the real impact of change.
These “simpler and smarter” systems are available today. Our mission is to realize that project management must move into this new paradigm-the open world. Empower people with whatever tools they can and will use. Give them not only data, but the complete knowledge they need to act. And do it quickly. That's the paradigm of tomorrow. We cannot protect the past and the sooner we get to the future, the better.
Cincinnati-based Cincom Systems is celebrating its 25th anniversary. We have earned a reputation for anticipating industry trends and developing software solutions that keep pace with future needs. We offer feature-rich, high-performance solutions for process, project and resource management as well as application development, manufacturing and financial applications, relational client/server database and text management. We are presently developing knowledge-based, multimedia and object-oriented technologies that will be necessary for future applications.
Cincom software operates across multiple platforms, including IBM, Digital, Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu, Sun, NCR, and UNIX. Cincom has clients in 72 countries, more than 60 offces in 20 countries and an increasing number of distributors serving other parts of the world.
We are moving project management into the future with CPCS, an enterprise management and guidance system that brings all the “pieces” together into a unified whole. It functions in an online and real-time environment, allowing users to retrieve information from the host, modify it, select resources, and display and print graphics all from a PC, thus allowing timely proactive management.
CPCS incorporates data from other project management packages, thereby enabling people to build upon their current knowledge base. Interfaces are provided for other project management packages on PC, mini and mainframe computers.
We provide the power to integrate all existing corporate data into knowledge that illustrates the real impact of change, thus empowering people to act.