Project management office workbook--establishing a "successful" methodology

Abstract

Bayfront Medical Center has established a project management office to facilitate, educate, and demonstrate project management principles and methodologies. Bayfront Medical has realized the benefits of putting work into projects within the organization; however, the large number of projects and their complexity has resulted in difficulties around collaboration and communication. The organization, which has transformed itself from a reactive organization to a proactive organization in order to realize efficiencies and cost savings to meet the needs of an evolving marketplace, has created certain tools. As a result, the project management office workbook was born. This paper will discuss the following six benefit-driven points:

  1. How to communicate effectively across project teams using a project workbook,
  2. How to have project contact information documented,
  3. How to have project milestones documented,
  4. How to document issues that arise during a project,
  5. How to document training and go-live schedules, and
  6. How to introduce team members to project management methodologies.

The project management office has a portfolio of over 287 projects with a 95 percent rate of being on time and on budget.

What Is a Project at Bayfront Health Systems?

At Bayfront Health Systems, a project is a “temporary” endeavor (consisting of greater than 40 hours of work) undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result (i.e., install new technology or upgrade or change existing technology). Projects are marked by a definite beginning and end date and are defined in terms of cost as any amount higher than $15,000. All technology projects undertaken within Bayfront Health Systems are initiated and sanctioned as outlined in Exhibit 1.

Bayfront Health Systems’ project process

Exhibit 1: Bayfront Health Systems’ project process

The current Bayfront Health Systems’ environment encompasses versions of different application systems, with various automated and manual interfaces between the systems. These systems are defined in Exhibit 2.

Application systems used in the current Bayfront Health Systems environment

Exhibit 2: Application systems used in the current Bayfront Health Systems environment

Proposed project profile document

PART 1 : Profile Identification and Registration

1.1 Profile/project title

1.2 Profile control number

The project management office will register the proposed project profile (PPP) in the project control system.

1.3 Profile preparation team

Name Position Specialty
     

1.4 Profile completion date

1.5 Business/clinical case

(1) Refer to an early-stage service outcome cost

(2) Strategic direction or action steps

(3) Budgeted for capital year (yes or no)

PART 2: Proposed Project Description and Outline

2.1 Project scope

2.2 Project objectives

2.3 Project background/linkage

2.4 Project assumptions

2.5 Project classification

2.6 Recommended project start and completion dates

PART 3: Proposed Project Management Plan

3.1 Project manager

3.2 Project management team

Name Position Specialty
     

3.3 Project phasing

Project phase-workload estimate table

Phase Work Package/Activity Recommended Schedule Recommended Resource Estimated Cost
         
         

PART 4: Project Evaluation and Validation

4.1 Project objectives

4.2 Project risks

4.3 Project structure

4.4 Hardware requirements (if applicable)

Scope Statement

In order to build the draft, solicit input from each member of the team. For example, because of company growth, ABC Company needs to implement an automated time and attendance system that

Accepts inputs from:

  • Payroll system
  • Internet timesheets
  • Client server timesheets
  • Time clocks

Includes the following outputs:

  • Payroll system interface
  • Feeds to current reporting database
  • Real time interface to billing system
  • Formatted flat file feed to contract company

Defines responsibilities as follows:

  • HR will be the business point of contact
  • Application will be hosted by vendor
  • IT will support the technical interfaces

Includes the following key functionalities:

  • Ability to track different pay and time rules for each division
  • Manage vacation and sick time accruals
  • Distribute labor hours across multiple departments, divisions, and projects

Project Structure

Project Organization

One of the key foundations of this project is establishing an effective project structure. Success requires the Bay front's IT Leadership's commitment to thorough planning and regular review and approval of the project. An experienced, knowledgeable and committed project organization must be assembled and certain members designated as leaders. The formal project structure will be comprised of the following key organization: Steering Committee: The role of the Steering Committee is to provide executive direction and approval to the project team and ensure the direction of the project team is consistent with Bay front's goals and objectives.

The Steering Committee is responsible for:

  • Initial review and approval of the Project Definition Document and prioritizing of projects.
  • Final review and approval of deliverables produced throughout the project.
  • Determining project priorities.
  • Resolving issues beyond the authority of the project team.
  • Ensuring commitment of resources throughout the project.

The purpose of the steering committee meeting is to provide executive direction to the project team, verify the project is meeting Bayfront's business objectives, and resolve issues that are beyond the authority of the project team. Additionally, project deliverables are presented as they are completed for review. The steering committee will verify the deliverables meet the business requirements of Bayfront. These meetings are conducted at key project milestones and/or monthly, with the results communicated to the project team.

Project Deliverables

The key deliverables for the project are as follows:

  • Visualize the final product
    Build a visual of the implemented application by posing the following questions to the team:
  • When the system is in place, what will it look like to you?
  • What does the application have to do to meet your critical business requirements?
  • How will information get into the system?
  • How will that information be updated, used, modified and distributed?
  • What technical capabilities are essential for your environment?
  • Will the system have to interact and/or integrate with other systems? If so, how will that occur?

The project milestones are the key deliverables.

Project Administration

Project monitoring and control procedures document the process and mechanisms for tracking the project. Proper monitoring of the project is dependent upon excellent communication throughout the project organization. Tools to be used to monitor and control the project are detailed next.

Project Work Plan

The project work plan is used to control the progress of the project on a day-to-day basis. The project work plan contains the detailed activities and tasks required to develop the project deliverables, to monitor progress compared to plan, and to assign tasks to project team members. The overall project work plan is updated weekly based on the accomplishments communicated at the project status review meetings, documented in project status reports, and discussion with project team members.

New Project Work Breakdown Structure:

  • Project kickoff
  • Acquire resources
  • Requirement definition
  • Detailed design
  • System configuration
  • Acquire and install system
  • Application development
  • Data migration
  • System documentation
  • Testing
  • Training
  • Production implementation
  • CLOSE-DOWN

Project Status Review Meetings/Project Team Management Meetings

Project status review meetings convey status, identify issues, and detect scope changes to the overall project. Additionally, these meetings serve as a tool to record and measure team progress and performance and ensure project objectives are being met. These meetings are conducted on a weekly or bi-weekly basis and typically include the project team management. The following agenda will be used:

  • Summarize the project to date,
  • Review of open issues,
  • Discuss the previous week's tasks and accomplishments,
  • Review status and update project work plan,
  • Identify new issues, provide resolutions, and record the project's issues on the project log forms and assign as appropriate,
  • Assign new tasks and action items for the next week, and
  • Summarize the results of the meeting, record activities and distribute minutes to the project management team. (Team leaders are responsible for communicating the results of these meetings to their sub-teams.)

Project Subteam Status Meetings and Work Sessions

The project sub-team will meet as often as the current work plan tasks dictate, usually weekly or bi-weekly. As with the team management meetings, these meetings will serve as a tool to monitor subteam progress, identify issues, and provide an opportunity for collaboration between subteam members. The following agenda will be used:

  • Summarize the project to date,
  • Approve minutes,
  • Review open issues,
  • Discuss the previous week's tasks and accomplishments,
  • Discuss progress,
  • Assign new tasks and action items for the next week,
  • Determine other areas that need to be discussed according to the project subteam or work plan, and
  • Summarize the meeting results, record activities and minutes, and distribute minutes/results to the project sub-team, project director, and vendor project manager.

Project Documentation

Project documentation is any material related to the project that provides an audit of the project. This includes the formal deliverables identified in the project work plan, as well as project status reports, project and steering committee reports, supporting notes and memos, key decisions forms, meeting minutes, and other informal documentation kept by project team members to support their work and deliverables.

Project documentation may be maintained in electronic form in designated project file directories, with those project documents requiring approval printed for distribution and signature. Project team leaders will maintain team documentation, such as meeting minutes, in electronic and/or paper form and supply key deliverables to the project director when completed.

Security/Confidentiality

Data in all its forms (electronic, paper, or other) and throughout its life cycle (creation, entry, storage, processing and disposal) is protected from unauthorized access, modification, destruction and disclosure, whether accidental or intentional, at Bayfront Health System as follows.

User access controls: One of the key ingredients of information protection is user access controls over who can access the information and how they can access it. To ensure appropriate levels of access, security measures will be instituted for this project.

Security will be controlled by menu design as well as security levels attached to individual items: A complete analysis of existing application access and security will be done and adjustments made to ensure all existing users have access specific to their job requirements.

Password management: Passwords are not displayed when entered.

Employee awareness programs: monitoring/reporting.

Change Management

Change management is the process of managing changes to previously agreed upon areas of the project. Changes can affect many areas: the project resources, the project deliverables, the cost and time frame in which objectives must be achieved, and even the project priority. Change will be viewed positively as long as its purpose is to ensure Bayfront's business needs are met. Change management documentation preserves the integrity of the project definition document, provides a mechanism for handling change requests, and provides a means for retaining historical change/issue information to enhance future project management efforts.

The following process is adhered to when a change to the schedule, budget, or scope of the project is required:

  • Identify the change: Determine if the change is within or outside the scope of the project.
  • Record the request: Complete the change request form and submit it to the project manager.
  • Evaluate the request: The project team will review the proposed change and make a decision to approve, disapprove, or alter the change request. The steering committee will be contacted if a decision requires approval at a higher level.
  • Implement the change: If it is determined the change should be incorporated into the project, the project work plan will be updated to reflect the change in tasks, resource requirements, deliverables, and/or time frames.
Scope Change Request Form

Exhibit 4: Scope Change Request Form

Issue Management

An issue is anything that arises if left unresolved, could delay, or have an impact on the success of the project. All issues are documented on the project issue form. Each issue is prioritized, assigned an owner, and documented on the project issue log. Issues the project team is unable to resolve are escalated to the project team management for resolution or submission to the steering committee for resolution. Outstanding issues are reviewed at the project status review meeting.

Any issues that result in an increase in the project budget, time estimates, or scope must be documented on the project issue form.

Level I: Issues are resolved and documented by the project team and/or work team. Decision deadline: up to one (1) week.

Level II: Issues that cannot be resolved at the project team management level are submitted to the project director for review with the project team management. Decision deadline: up to one (1) week.

Level III: Issues which cannot be resolved at the project team management level, or which are so sensitive as to require executive approval, will be submitted to the steering committee, for resolution. Decision deadline: up to 14 days.

Level IV: Issues which cannot be resolved at the steering committee level are submitted to the Project Sponsor for review with senior management. In addition, an issue can be escalated directly to Level IV based on issue criticality.

Issues Log

Exhibit 5: Issues Log

Needs Assessment

A needs assessment is a systematic exploration of the way things are and the way they should be. These “things” are usually associated with organizational and/or individual performance. WHY design and conduct a needs assessment? We need to consider the benefits of any project related endeavor before we just go and do it. What learning will be accomplished? What changes in behavior and performance are expected? Will we get them? What are the expected economic costs and benefits of any projected solutions? We are often in too much of a hurry. We implement a solution, but sometimes it is not always the correct one. But we plan, very carefully and cautiously, before making most other investments in process changes and in capital and operating expenditures. We need to do the same for any project.

Perform a Gap Analysis

The first step is to check the actual performance of our organization and our people against existing standards or to set new standards. There are two parts to this process:

Current situation: We must determine the current state of skills, knowledge, and abilities of our current and/or future employees. This analysis also should examine our organizational goals, climate, and internal and external constraints.

Desired or necessary situation: We must identify the desired or necessary conditions for organizational and personal success. This analysis focuses on the necessary job tasks/standards, as well as the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to accomplish these successfully. It is important that we identify the critical tasks necessary, and not just observe our current practices. We also must distinguish our actual needs from our perceived needs, our wants.

The difference is the “gap” between the current and the necessary and will identify our needs, purposes, and objectives. What are we looking for? Here are some questions to ask to determine where the needs assessment may be useful in providing solutions:

Problems or deficits. Are there problems in the organization which might be solved by specific software?

Impending change. Are there problems which do not currently exist but are foreseen due to changes, such as new processes and equipment, outside competition, and/or changes in staffing?

Opportunities. Could we gain a competitive edge by taking advantage of new technologies, training programs, consultants, or suppliers?

Strengths. How can we take advantage of our organizational strengths as opposed to reacting to our weaknesses? Are there opportunities to apply new software to these areas?

New directions. Could we take a proactive approach, applying new software to move our organizations to new levels of performance?

Identify Priorities and Importance

The first step should have produced a large list of needs for development. Now we must examine these in view of their importance to our organizational goals, realities, and constraints. We must determine if the identified needs are real, if they are worth addressing, and specify their importance and urgency in view of our organizational needs and requirements. Some examples include the following:

Cost effectiveness: How does the cost of the problem compare to the cost of implementing a solution? In other words, we perform a cost-benefit analysis.

Legal mandates: Are there laws requiring a solution? (e.g., safety or regulatory compliance).

Executive pressure: Does top management expect a solution?

Population: Are many people or key people involved?

Customers: What influence is generated by team member's specifications and expectations? If some of our needs are of relatively low importance, we would do better to devote our energies to addressing other human performance problems with greater impact and greater value.

Techniques for Investigating Organizational Needs

Use multiple methods of needs assessment to get a true picture. Do not rely on one method. It is important to get a complete picture from many sources and viewpoints. Do not take some manager's word for what is needed. What are the costs of conducting programs to change the situation? The difference determines if intervention activities will be cost effective, and therefore, if it makes sense to implement the proposed software solution.

There are several basic needs assessment techniques. Use a combination of some of these, as appropriate:

  • Direct observation
  • Questionnaires
  • Consultation with persons in key positions, and/or with specific knowledge
  • Review of relevant literature
  • Interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Tests
  • Records and report studies
  • Work samples

Summary

Perform a gap analysis to identify the current skills, knowledge, and abilities of your people and the organizational and personal needs for a new software system. Identify your priorities and the level of importance of possible activities. Then, identify the causes of your performance problems and/or opportunities. Next, identify possible solutions and growth opportunities. Finally, compare the consequences if the software program is or is not implemented and generate and communicate your recommendations.

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.

© 2009 Paul A. Capello, PMP
Published as part of proceedings PMI North America Global Congress 2009 - Orlando, Florida

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