Getting It Done PROJECT
How one organization developed a
culture of self-learning.
By Stefan Bokander, PMP, and Håkan Olsson, PMP
Organizations looking to improve their project management may invest enormous efforts in two areas: training project managers and establishing effective processes. Often, they’re surprised when these don’t
generate the expected benefits. But focusing on
just these two areas overlooks an important factor
in improving project management: creating a self-learning environment.
Tetra Pak discovered this truth the hard way.
In the 1990s, the packaging and food processing
equipment company realized that too many large
projects were not realizing their benefits. It needed
both a renewed focus on quality for new products
and more accurate estimates of how long projects
As part of the solution, management undertook
A TRANSI TION PERIOD
a massive project to develop project management
processes for the company. This involved assign-
ing global process owners and creating extensive
guidelines and templates for each project type. Gilad Lev-Shamur, PMP, is a program man- ager at Intel, Haifa, Israel.
Allow yourself and your supplier a sufficient
transition period. Usually this period is three
to five months, but it’s highly dependent on
the maturity of your organization, the geographical area and the industry.
Reject any request to start operating under
the new contract before completing the
transition. During the transition, allow your
supplier to adjust and finalize its organization
structure and refine the program’s execution
plans. The supplier also needs time to make
sure all the systems are operating, all the
procedures and templates are written, and
everyone in both organizations is trained on
the contract and program.
You cannot manage what you do not measure. The program’s performance indicators
need to be defined during contract negotiations. The metrics should help to define what
success looks like, bring to light project or
program risks and focus attention on what
actions can solve any problems that emerge.
The right set of indicators will open the door
to a professional discussion while keeping people from both organizations aligned
around the same agenda and program vision.
A word of caution: It is tempting to add
additional indicators over time. However, this
can turn into a major burden for the supplier,
creating scope creep. If more indicators are
needed, make sure they are reasonable and
It is a mistake to think that hiring outside
project management services is all about templates and reports. Successful outsourcing isn’t
contingent on having the right paperwork and
processes. What really matters is that both par-ties stay flexible and view the engagement as a
long-term relationship requiring steady investments of time and energy. PM
the spirit of
and what you
are trying to
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