A case study
reengineering project delivery in a multicultural environment
This paper focuses on the reinvention of an existing project delivery organization to successfully implement projects in a fast-paced culture and economy. It is based on a long-term engagement where many types of cultural barriers were encountered. Implementing a successful Integrated Project Management System and reorganization of the project delivery team were the key deliverables. The assignment, the client's objectives, challenges, and key focuses and approaches to the engagement are components of this paper. Also examined will be the process utilized to implement the system and transition it to the owner, hurdles along the way, success factors, and where the system stands today.
A substantial multinational industrial gas supplier established a presence in Taiwan during the latter part of the 20th century and continued a consistent growth through the first decade of the 21st century. We will call them “our client” in this paper. Headquartered in Europe, our client has operations around the globe and is very familiar with multicultural environments. Due to growing industrialization, this country has a demand for our client's gas molecule products in their manufacturing environment. Although there are many microelectronics producers on the island, there is one substantial manufacturer. We will call this manufacturer the “large customer” in this paper. Success with this key player is important for our client to sustain their regional reputation and continued growth in the Taiwan market.
Our client needed to successfully execute projects in Taiwan to meet its internal performance requirements, while using local resources and working in a variety of languages. At the same time, and often in conflict, our client needed to create a high level of customer service and satisfaction for this large customer who expects projects to be managed in a specific way and who has a reputation for being one of the toughest clients in the microelectronics manufacturing sector. Our client's opportunity for success with the large customer was huge, and so were the associated risks.
The original problem statement and question from our client was simple: “Our project managers are not successful when they operate outside of their “technical” engineering expertise. Can you help us add some project management tools to improve the project managers’ success when delivering any type of project?”
ORCAS Project Controls was engaged as the consulting firm to assist our client with the desired improvements. At first, this appeared to be a straight-forward issue that could easily be solved by adding some solid tools to their project management toolbox. Because of our long-term relationship supporting many projects across various locations for our client, we were confident that their needs could easily be addressed over a relatively short period.
We learned through discovery that the challenges were much deeper and more complex than originally understood. The “end game” deliverable transformed into a complete reengineering of project delivery in a multicultural environment over a period of more than two years.
There are many acronyms used throughout this paper. For quick reference they are as follows:
- PED project execution department
- PRG project realization group
- PCS Project Controls section
- IPMS Integrated Project Management System
- PMI Project Management Institute
- PMP Project Management Professional (PMP)®
- PMs project managers
- PCs Project Controls personnel
- CMs construction managers
- PEs project engineers
- CPM critical path method
- WBS work breakdown structure
- KPI key performance indicator
- SOP standard operating procedures
- ISO International Organization for Standardization
SUMMARY AND CHRONOLOGY
Reengineering the project delivery took more than two years. It started in late 2009 and finished in early 2012. The following introduces the overall chronology.
ORCAS conducted an assessment of our client's project delivery capabilities and methodologies in late 2009. We determined the organization had little or no shared tools, concepts, and project management practices to execute projects once they were transitioned from their Sales and Business Development units for implementation to the project execution department (PED). Our client's executive management decided to embark on a program to change the way projects were delivered by creating methods to reduce project risks and foster consistent and repeatable results from project to project.
The Integrated Project Management System (IPMS) resulted from this decision. The IPMS is an integrated set of project management and project controls tools, best practices, procedures, concepts and training that are geared to enable its users’ sound project management practices in a general framework, and specifically as they relate to Our Client's business needs.
The groundwork for the IPMS was put in place during 2010. This included developing and testing basic tools, restructuring the PED to better deliver projects, conducting training for executive and senior management who were focused on supporting the frontline project managers (PMs), and conducting PMI’s PMP® training for all of those in the PED who were involved in implementing projects. The restructuring included creating the project realization group (PRG) and Project Controls section (PCS) within the PED to be the vanguard for executing projects. Initial staffing for the PCS was also accomplished during this period.
The first half of 2011 was focused on staffing the PRG with key positions, filling additional slots in the PCS, developing the IPMS content detail, continued project management training, and moving our client's organization towards complete ownership of the IPMS. Full success of all the changes with the IPMS, restructuring, and training could not be fully realized until the newly appointed PED director and newly created PRG officer were fully engaged in their positions. ORCAS’s key consultant for this project served as the interim PRG officer into the third quarter of 2011.
At our recommendation, a gap analysis was conducted in June 2011 to assess the difference of a fully functional IPMS, and where it stood at the time. The report was issued in July 2011 and became the catalyst to engage the PED director into assuming the full duties of his role, and to spark our client to release the newly appointed PRG officer from day-to-day project management duties so that the PRG officer would be able to concentrate fully on the demands of the PRG officer role. These were key factors in our client's assuming full ownership of the IPMS, along with its new project delivery methodology, systems, and organization. The gap analysis also provided a detailed 34-point action plan to bring the IPMS up to the expectations of a fully operating system.
The IPMS was further populated through the end of 2011. With almost everything in place, the team managed projects from December 2011 onward without ORCAS’s external support.
ORCAS returned in February 2012 to review progress on the 34-point action plan established during the July 2011 gap analysis and to identify any other areas of improvement for the team to fully adopt the IPMS. At that time, our client's executive's and senior management's opinions were positive regarding the effect that the IPMS was having on project delivery. It was also determined that the IPMS document development to support implementing the tools was about 75% complete, and that it required more rigor from the team to complete the process.
As of September 2013, the IPMS continued to provide the framework to deliver our client's projects. All of the best practices and procedures were developed, and approximately 98% of them have been migrated into our client's corporate set of ISO-compliant standard operating procedures (SOPs). The PED, PRG, PCS, and associated departments are more confident in project results. These departments continue to invest in regular PM and PC training every 2 to 3 months, annual PMI PMP training for new PED and PRG team members, as well as training for those in related departments who directly participate in project execution. Our client also continues to audit PMs on a regular basis to ensure that the IPMS are being used in a consistent and effective manner.
DISCOVERY AND ASSESSMENT
Our discovery and assessment process is typically a discrete one-time endeavor for these types of improvement projects. For this engagement, the overall process included:
- Reviewing relevant documents,
- Targeted questionnaires and interviews,
- Documenting and summarizing the findings, and
- Delivering the discovery and assessment document
Because the goals of the project dramatically changed and expanded over time, it was necessary to perform multiple assessments to review the status, refine goals and direction, and fine-tune the desired results. This section focuses on the original discovery process and findings.
The initial discovery was conducted by reviewing selected project execution documents, discussions and interviews with a number of our client's team members, and meetings with the large customer. The first part of the discovery process involved reviewing existing project documents and project management tools. There were approximately 27 different types of documents which included, but were not limited to, schedules, daily reports, meeting minutes, and change orders. Each was examined to understand its purpose, who used it, where it was stored, its language, and how it supported project delivery.
The next major step in the discovery process was conducting team member interviews. This process for the original discovery and assessment was comprehensive, from the executive management to the PMs and support team members. The interviews had specific focuses for the different team members and their respective roles. For executive management, the emphasis was to understand the overall vision and goals, and gain a better understanding of the people, key cultural differences, expectations, and internal/external requirements. At the management level, the goal was to gain an overall understanding of our client's local operations and methods, their business, and types of projects and approaches to project management. The focus of the interviews for PMs was to learn how they individually managed projects and which project management tools they used. Various other support groups were interviewed to understand how and with what tools they supported projects. The large customer was also interviewed to understand their recommendations on how our client could improve future project delivery.
The final step in the discovery process was to deliver a Discovery Session Document to our client to summarize key findings and provide details discovered during the process. The key findings were consistent with the original problem statement that “Our PMs are not successful when they operate outside of their “technical” engineering expertise.” Further, it was discovered our client was not able to meet the expectations of the large customer with regards to project performance on their recent projects. The primary project management issues learned during the discovery process included:
- Project management methodologies, training, and skills were minimal;
- PMs were performing technical functions instead of focusing on project management;
- PMs lacked sufficient local technical support;
- Schedules were not developed utilizing acceptable standards of practice, and generally were not logic sequenced;
- Cost control was focused on commitments while not looking at actuals, nor forecasting cost-at-completion;
- Workflow processes were not standardized and not tracked to understand who was responsible and when action was due;
- Document control tools were minimally used to manage project functions such as issues/actions, change and procurement, and document storage;
- Organizational and ethnic cultural differences played a role in the results of project delivery.
The road map was developed with the understanding that successful project delivery necessitates consistency and standards to realize the vision of “no surprise” projects. Roadmap requirements included:
- Desire of team members and management to utilize the tools;
- Tools are effective and efficient for both our client and its customers;
- Tools ensure consistency and repeatability;
- All project participants have visibility; and
- Tools and resulting IPMS consider cross-cultural differenced and how to eliminate their barriers.
In addition to these overall requirements, it was necessary for the solution to adhere to our client's global industrial controlling standards.
The road map sets-out parallel paths for improvement by assessing each PM’s skill sets and implementing training to standardize their project management levels of expertise to move them from project “engineering” to project “managing”; and by establishing a set of project management and project controls tools that would work successfully with repeatability in the cross-cultural environment.
Implementing the project management road map was recommended in the following four phases:
- Phase 1—Immediate steps to create big wins by implementing basic project management methods and project controls tools with a select group of PMs (Month 1);
- Phase 2—Develop systems to be tested and proven for operations (Month 2);
- Phase 3—Implement and prove all systems function manually (Month 3); and
- Phase 4—Automate systems as necessary and appropriate (Month 4 and beyond).
The project management road map recommended a clear path forward to facilitate improvements for our client's project delivery. The actual implementation followed the road map explicitly for almost 3 months. During this time, the goals of the road map were accomplished, but more importantly, additional information was discovered about the organization, the challenges, and the opportunities to improve across the entire team. During the first month of the process, changes started to develop that would reshape the reengineering delivery for the remainder of our engagement on the project. To manage these changes through the implementation and ensure the team was focusing on the “end game” solution, it was necessary to conduct multiple assessments at key points in the project to ensure the team was heading in the right direction.
In short, the engagement and final solution extended well beyond the initial discovery, assessment, and corresponding road map. The following sections outline the results of the first two phases that transpired in 2009, the changes that occurred, the resulting reassessments that redirected the team's focus and energy, the expanded implementation scope for 2010 and 2011, and the final product.
The first 2 months of the engagement explicitly followed the road map, but changes and new directions quickly became evident. The goal for Month 1 was to create some immediate and measurable wins for the team, as well as for their customers. The first focus was developing and immediately implementing tracking logs and methods for issues and actions, requests for information, procurement, and submittals. The strategy was to select two coachable PMs who would be handling the next large equipment/installation project, and large capital project. It was important to start a pilot program with these two PMs to set them up to successfully use the new tools and provide them with additional mentoring and coaching to enhance their overall project management knowledge. Their success would create the big wins necessary to show the rest of the team that changing the current culture of “how-to-do” is good.
The Month 1 completion briefing, submitted in November 2009, confirmed the phase was positive with these outcomes:
- The two selected PMs were successfully set-up to use the new tracking logs and tools; and
- Each of the selected PMs received more than 30 hours of schedule coaching for their respective projects. They also participated in the schedule WBS development. In addition, interest was shown in the team regarding the success of these PMs.
Month 2 focused on the goals from the road map:
- Finalized development and implementation of the tracking logs initiated during Month 1;
- Started developing and testing the initial project management and project controls tools;
- Initiated discussions to determine effective methods to manage project resources; and
- Started the coaching process to prepare one of the PMs for an upcoming meeting with our client's customer who was purchasing a large equipment and installation project
During Month 2, however, the focus moved away from solely developing the project management tools to supporting current projects and focusing on organizational restructuring and training/coaching. It became clear during this period that the current organization could not effectively support the desired project delivery vision—the PED needed restructuring. The team would also require formalized training as well as an intense level of hands-on mentoring to ensure success. This change was significant and sure to challenge our client's corporate culture, and cross-cultural expectations.
The Month 2 completion briefing, which was submitted in December 2009, confirmed that this phase produced valuable results even with the changes noted above. They included:
- Making initial recommendations for PED restructuring;
- Providing specific third-party training recommendations;
- Initiating development of a cost-forecasting tool;
- Supporting detailed project controls tools implementation for a large capital project; and
- Continuing development of project management tools
As the solution moved from the sole purpose of implementing a basic set of tools to organizational changes and team development, the landscape and challenges grew exponentially. This is where the project changed from a fairly straight forward 3-month implementation of project management tools to a 2-year complete reengineering of project delivery that was bound to challenge many cultural standards and expectations.
Goals and Focus
The changes discovered in 2009 helped to establish the foundation for the work to be conducted in 2010. This included:
- Development and testing a broad range of tools;
- Restructuring the PED to better deliver projects;
- Conducting training for executive and senior management focused on supporting the frontline PMs; and
- Conducting PMP training for those PED members involved in project implementation.
The restructuring included creating the Project Realization Group (PRG) and Project Controls Section (PCS) within the PED department to be the front line for executing projects. Initial staffing for the PCS was accomplished during this period.
With strong emphasis on restructuring and team enhancement, a plan was developed—the New Project Management Focus—to realign the team's direction for developing the organization. The goals of this plan were to:
- Reorganize the PED to include a PRG responsible for project realization and the associated systems and tools to accomplish their mission, as well as for redefining our client's project delivery methodology;
- Add project management professional resources to include a PRG officer to lead the group, a scheduler, and a cost engineer to the PRG; and
- Initiate a project management education process, conducted by a third- party vendor, for PED personnel.
It was a significant cultural shift for our client to reorganize the PED to include the new PRG. The original PED structure used a complete matrix organization to execute projects. The project section did not have a lead and all PMs reported directly to the PED director. In addition, a project controls function did not exist. These duties were handled by the PMs. The New Project Management Focus document proposed creating a PRG within the PED that would have responsibility to execute and support projects. In addition, this document was intended to restructure the remaining portions of the PED to more effectively and efficiently support its functions within our client's organization. The final restructuring of the PED is illustrated in Exhibit 1. This shows how the PED was organized to execute projects and does not identify the responsible roles within the organization.
The goal for the restructuring of the PRG was to manage and support all aspects of executing projects—from award through completion of project closeout. This included project controls functions, in addition to the active project management and execution positions for projects. This group would also be responsible for ownership and quality use of the project controls tools, project management principals, and overriding systems associated with effectively managed projects. It was expected that the PRG would include project engineers who were dedicated to project execution.
The new project management plan also recommended that our client add key resources to the group. Specifically, the PRG would require three new resource types to properly perform its functions; these were a PRG officer to lead and manage the group, as well as project controls positions to include scheduling, cost and document control.
The PRG officer is responsible for leading the PRG. This role owns the project management tools, procedures, best practices, and overall systems associated with the group's mission. This role is responsible for team training, morale, and supporting each and every team member for success. Our client asked the ORCAS lead consultant to assist the PMs until the PRG officer position could be filled.
By the end of 2009, it became apparent the PED PMs were not trained as PMs. Correspondingly, they did not utilize sound project management techniques nor did they operate within a “project management culture.” The purpose of the third- party training was to use a project management training professional to work with our client's executive team, and the PED project team to create and conduct effective project management training. The intent was to create a new attitude towards project management by looking at the immediate, mid- and long-term needs pertaining to the training aspects of creating a “project management culture” and augmenting the new project management concepts that would challenge many of the societal and cultural norms.
The specific recommendations for training included:
- A 1-day executive workshop to set the stage for how the project teams should be supported;
- An initial 4-day set of basic classes for all PRG team members, with the classes broken into two 2-day sessions with a 2-week break between them;
- Basic classes, followed by a 3-month period to internalize the concepts and put them to practical use;
- An intermediate course for PMs that focused on advance project management concepts; and
- A 6-month to 1-year period to practice and internalize the new project management tools in preparation for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam. The intent of this component was to raise the individual PM’s level of pride and to foster continued education.
It is important to note all of the PMI-certified training was to be customized to utilize the tools implemented at our client's organization. In addition, current or recently completed real life projects of our client were to be used as examples for training workshop case studies.
Our team solicited training proposals from locally based PMI certified companies to provide the basic and intermediate training by Taiwanese, and in Chinese. One of the focuses was for the trainer to discretely address the ethnic cultural challenges this new material would pose to the team. A local company was selected, with the intent that the initial training would be conducted annually, and spread beyond the PED to all related departments within our client's organization. Once the training plan was accepted and the trainer chosen, the plan was implemented. Our lead consultant developed and conducted the executive workshop, which was followed a short time later by the first session of the basic project management training. The use of a Taiwanese trainer speaking in Chinese, who was a successful PM, proved invaluable to the team in learning how to navigate the ethnic cultural norm of age and chronological experience trumping younger innovation and expertise. These were cultural shifts our client wanted to achieve, along with changing the organizational cultural norm of “always doing it the old way.”
Some of the challenges during this period included comfort with the “old way,” training, team member adoption, contractor change, and customer acceptance of a new way of delivering projects. All of these had some form, whether large or small cultural challenges, whether from the corporate, familial, or societal environments. An existing project was used to pilot some of the changes in February 2010. The introductory presentation of this change was made to all the PMs in April 2010. In November 2010, the detailed job descriptions were written for the construction manager, document control specialist, and project controls. Many of the organizational changes were not made in earnest until 2011, due to some of the challenges mentioned above.
During this pivotal transition of 2010, a system approach emerged that was an integrated set of tools, concepts, practices and structures to produce effective project delivery by the PED in a safe, sound, predictable, and repeatable fashion, which supported business objectives. The components of this systems approach included:
- Project delivery methodology;
- PED organizational structure;
- Tools and best practices; and
- Project management training
Active Project Execution
One of the key focuses in 2010 was to improve the project delivery of all active projects within our client's project portfolio. ORCAS conducted 16 detailed project assessments throughout the year, which were performed at project locations across the country. The assessments reviewed the extent to which the implemented project management and project controls tools were being utilized to actively manage each project. Findings were documented, and recommendations for improvement were made to each PM. A few of the major projects were assessed two to three times to ensure continuous improvement was achieved and the PMs were benefiting from the hands-on mentoring. One of the main focuses for the hands-on training during this period was working with the PMs to transition to the new tracking and other project execution tools. The results were valuable to changing the organization culture of “doing it the same old way” by these key individuals discovering how new tools saved time and made better project delivery. They were the ones who showed it was okay to change, as well as set examples for others that it was okay to bring new and better ideas to older, senior, and more experienced team members.
The solution continued to be fine-tuned on all fronts. On the organization side, a heavy emphasis was placed on staffing, continued mentoring, and training, in addition to inspiring the leadership positions to take ownership and control of the new system. The IPMS was upgraded to 30 different tools and the team assumed the operations of the system by the end of the year.
The first half of 2011 was focused on the following:
- Staffing the PRG with its key positions;
- Filling additional slots in the PCS;
- Developing the IPMS content detail;
- Continued project management training; and
- Moving our client's organization towards complete ownership of the IPMS
Full success of all the changes with the IPMS, restructuring, and training could not be fully realized until the newly appointed PED director and recently created PRG officer role were fully engaged in their new leadership positions. ORCAS’s key consultant for this project served as the PRG officer into the third quarter of 2011.
By April 2011, positive actions were taken to assign or hire team members to fill key roles and assign corresponding areas of authority within the PED and PRG. These roles were:
- PED director for management concepts;
- IPMS system owner to manage the IPMS and ensure its components are made available to all intended users;
- PRG officer to manage PM cultural initiatives and promote sound use of the IPMS;
- PMs to utilize and manage project management tools and best practices for their projects;
- Project controls manager to provide the project controls section with leadership and manage PC tools; and
- Project controls specialist to utilize and manage the tools and best practices on projects.
In May 2011, the interactions and goals of these roles were defined. Now that the process of jumpstarting the organization to take over control and ownership of the IPMS was well underway, a 3-month plan addressing the following key work fronts was put into place:
- Core team building;
- PRG officer coaching and mentoring;
- IPMS owner coaching and mentoring;
- Project controls manager coaching and mentoring;
- PED internal initiatives; and
- PED external initiatives
In May 2011, organizational restructuring and development was better defined and the vision for the role of the PRG Officer was announced to the PRG, PED, and our client's organization as a whole. Specifically, it was stated the role of the PRG officer in the mission to improve project delivery would be main cheerleader, main supporter, lead creation of a project management culture, lead creation of a safety culture, lead creation of a communication culture, and provider of project management assistance, coaching, and mentoring to all PRG members so as to foster their success.
Even though the PED and PRG reorganization was defined in 2010, the change did not happen overnight. In fact, the full transition took months to take shape.
In March 2011, the team recognized that restructuring was not materializing fast enough to support all of the active projects. Each day that the new organization was not fully implemented delayed the organization's ability to be successful. An analysis was made to look at different options to restructure the group to bring quicker results. The conclusion was to implement the following:
- Immediately assign a qualified Interim PRG Officer.
- Redistribute the PED director's duties to ease pressure by assigning PED resource management, training, and systems ownership to the operations department senior director; charge the Interim PRG Officer with coordinating sound use of the IPMS tools by PMs, PEs, CMs and PCs personnel to execute projects; and the PED director maintain management of engineering, the PCS, internal technical support, customer support and procurement support.
- Reassign duties to the PED director as his bandwidth and demands allowed.
- Immediately direct the human resources department to prioritize PED hiring.
Roll-Out IPMS — The Tools
As part of rolling-out the IPMS and training process, the goals and KPIs for measuring the PMs’ performance in 2011 were outlined. A portion of the PM’s performance grades would be based on using the IPMS. This challenged many of the PMs. In the end it was successful, although not always easy, because it showed measuring their performance in an objective manner proved beneficial for their status in the organization, and resulted in stronger compensation benefits.
Further, standardization of the IMPS tools became a heavy focus during the spring of 2011. The core of this was started with a CPM/WBS workshop for the PCS. Its focus was to train the team on a standard WBS concept, and CPM methods to be utilized on all of our client's projects. This set the stage for the consistent use of all tools and KPI measurement across projects. The concepts were then introduced to the PMs and their teams. Part of the standardization process was to assign the responsibility of establishing all project controls tools for every project to the PCS. This included operational budget sheets, baselines schedules, and in-operation tracking logs.
The workshop also addressed cost and its interaction with schedule. This set of meetings was instrumental for the project controls team, as they were all coming together for the first time and understanding their responsibilities in assisting successful project execution. All of the team members came from large conventional engineering and construction management firms, which were steeped not only in their corporate cultures of “do only your small assigned part, and nothing more,” but the ethnic cultural expectations of the patrilineal society where age and years on the job require respect and are outweighed by the knowledge and ideas that anyone—no matter the age—can have. It was a significant challenge to move the PCS team to the point where they could contribute in this environment and treat it differently than when they returned home to their families and participated in their ethnically rich cultures and environments.
In June 2011, the Integrated Project Management System Standard was published in Chinese. This document transitioned the IPMS into our client's document guidelines for consistency with ISO standards. It included the document listing by level and numerical order. The purpose of this document was to set forth the basis of our client's IPMS, and provide a list of its contents. As defined by this new standard, the IPMS became the overriding tool governing transitioning of projects from business development or sales to PED for execution through transition to the owner for operations. In general, this included project start-up, detail design, procurement, construction, commissioning, closeout and transition.
The first IPMS hierarchy of tools was published along with the standard. This document defined three levels of IPMS documents: overall, system, and project management. All IPMS documents were further categorized by their document type, including standards, best practices, and SOPs. This was a good working list of all the different tools because it also identified the three phases of development:
- Drafted — The document is drafted in our client's standard form.
- Converted — The document is finalized with all ISO requirements, which also included translation to Chinese.
- Approved — The document is approved by managers for the levels and departments it affects.
By June, the IPMS consisted of 30 different documents that were listed on the IPMS hierarchy. Unfortunately, this would only be a “preliminary” document reflecting a “preliminary” effort until there was a full level of participation and ownership by leadership of the PED director and the new PRG officer.
Interim Gap Analysis
With full ownership of the IPMS starting to transition to our client, the decision was made in June 2011 to conduct an assessment to determine the gap between the intentions of the fully functional IPMS and where its implementation stood at the time. The gap analysis, issued in July 2011, became the catalyst to engage the PED director into assuming the full duties of his role, and to spark our client to release the newly appointed PRG officer from day-to-day project management duties so he could concentrate more fully on the demands to be a successful PRG leader. Further, the decision was made to establish and fill the key role of IPMS owner. This person's charge was to take over organizing the system, coordinating document preparation and processing for approvals, dissemination for use to the entire organization, fostering its use by all team members, and assisting the PRG officer and PCS manager with its use. These were key factors in our client's ability to take on full ownership of the IPMS and its new project delivery methodology, systems, and organization. This effort was supported and openly promoted by the company president. As a result, the transition to a new organizational culture of project management and embracing the IPMS became substantially easier.
The gap analysis measured the difference between the expectations of a fully functioning IPMS and the current state as of July 2011, and then provided a plan to move the system forward to its fully functioning state. The methodology for the assessment was:
- Define the IPMS fully functioning state.
- Develop a set of interview questions for the system users and managers to determine the current state.
- Conduct the interviews.
- Compile and assess the interview data into the IPMS current state.
- Define the existing gap.
- Develop a plan to close the gap.
Through the interviews conducted as part of the gap analysis, it became clear that the IPMS made a significant difference in improving project results and visibility. It was also clear that much work was still needed to bring the system up to a fully functioning state. Tracking logs, schedules, budget tables and monthly reporting were the most common and valuable tools being used on the projects. The major gaps included the following:
- The IPMS had not been introduced as a whole to PED and PRG team members;
- The document control system did not function well;
- There was a disconnect between business development/sales and PED, with respect to the transition of projects with reliable scopes, cost, and schedules;
- The PED and PRG were understaffed;
- Approximately one third of the IPMS tools had not been drafted;
- Schedules were used mostly for reporting and not as an active management tool.
The Gap Analysis resulted in a detailed 34-point action plan to bring the IPMS up to the expectations of a fully operating system over a 10–12 month period. The three phases that were defined to facilitate the work were:
- Phase 1 focused on the 13 actions that were most critical to bring an understanding of the IPMS to the PRG, eliminate the backlog of change orders, and start reducing risks generated during the business development phase.
- Phase 2 focused on the 11 actions that were to provide an understanding of the IPMS to related department personnel and also those actions that would move the system development forward to allow it to be more productive.
- Phase 3 focused on the 10 actions that were designed to keep the IPMS current, as well as those items that assisted in optimizing the IPMS performance.
The IPMS was further populated between July and December, based mostly on the results from the gap analysis and the corresponding 34-point action plan. It continued to be a living system, changing as requirements dictated and morphing for improvement.
Beginning in December 2011, our client's team began managing their projects without ORCAS’s external support to deliver their portfolio of projects.
After 3 months of operating the IPMS without the contributions of ORCAS, it was time to conduct an assessment to truly determine where project delivery stood after all of the resource investment. ORCAS returned in February 2012 to review progress on the 34-point action plan and identify any other areas of improvement for the team to fully adopt the IPMS, as it was intended. Our client's large investment into the IMPS required answers to the following questions:
- Was the team using all of the tools?
- Was the team using the new project delivery system to reduce risk and improve the overall success of projects?
- Had the team taken true “ownership” of the system and implemented it with the level of rigor required to make a real difference on their portfolio of projects?
- Was there better visibility of the project issues and successes for management to improve their decision making?
- How many of the new tools were ISO-compliant?
- Did they know where their projects stood?
- Did management have their “finger on the pulse”?
After the assessment, our client's executive and senior management general opinions were positive regarding the effect the IPMS was having on project delivery. It was also determined that the development and drafting of the IPMS procedures and best practices were about 75% complete and that more rigor was required to complete the process.
The as-built IPMS as of February 2012 (Exhibit 2) looked very different from the original request back in 2009. The initial IPMS tool box only included the following:
- Document and drawing management log,
- Submittal log,
- Transmittal log,
- RFI log,
- Procurement log, and
- Action log
In 2012, the IPMS was a manual system consisting of simple logs, procedures, processes, and best practices. The software for the IPMS was based on the standard Microsoft® software, including Word, Excel, and Project. The goal was to implement simple “tools” with rigor and deliver repeatable project results.
As of September 2013, the reengineering of project delivery and the accompanying IPMS continue to provide the framework to deliver our client's projects. In summary, the following were accomplished:
- All of the best practices and procedures have been developed;
- Approximately 98% of the IPMS has been migrated into our client's corporate set of ISO-compliant standard operating procedures (SOPs);
- The PED director and PRG officer have assumed the full responsibilities of their leadership positions;
- The PED, PRG, PCS, and associated departments are more confident in the project results;
- Our client continues to invest in project management and project controls training on a regular cycle (every 2–3 months for PRG led training, annual PMI PMP training for new PED and PRG team members, including training for those members in related departments who directly participate in project execution.
Our client also continues to audit their PMs on a regular basis to ensure that the IPMS is being utilized in a consistent manner.
It took several years to realize the full vision of project delivery for this team. Although there were incremental successes over the life of the project, as illustrated throughout this paper, it took time for the project organization, cultural change, and new set of tools, processes, best practices, and procedures (IPMS) to fully mature. Project delivery was optimized when the organization and IPMS reached a parallel level of maturity. It was at this time that the vision for project delivery was realized.
Exhibit 1 – Project Execution Department Organization Structure
Exhibit 2 – IPMS Toolbox Diagram
©2013 Barry Meyers and Stephanie Thatcher, ORCAS Project Controls
Originally published as a part of 2013 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – New Orleans, Louisiana