Project Management

Set up a Project to win: By Kenn Milton

Project Management, the harmonization of processes.

General Knowledge & Insights

Project Management requires focus and attention to details to ensure, that the project plan is constantly updated and stays on the right path. It is the tool to use to inform all relevant stakeholders when a task is due, and when to make resources available to avoid delays in the critical path.  An effective Project Plan can flag potential obstacles and allow people to proactively mitigate these risks and issues before they occur

A Project Plan is needed when introducing a controlled implementation, audit remediation.  A project plan can indicate to stakeholders that the team has the correct knowledge of the expected actions required and is capable of making a controlled implementation. A good project plan can make the difference whether the project gets the funding or the suggested actions to remediate audit findings in timely manner are accepted or not. 

Assessing Opportunities 

There are many tools available on the market for Project Management and several Project Methodologies have been introduced over the years. There is not one methodology which fits all types of companies and all types of projects. Therefore, larger companies use often 3 or more different methodologies depending on scope, compliance areas and size of projects.

The risk of using an offline project management tool, is that it most likely will never get updated after the initial project plan is approved. Thereby the value of good project management will never be harvested. I will recommend using an online tool, with dashboard and indicators where everyone in the project and internal stakeholders can monitor the project status.  Even though, it will show the brutal truth as there is full transparency of the projects, it can be a positive tool to enhance  sharing of knowledge and encourage collaboration. Hereby you get the opportunities to learn and share information before other colleagues are running into similar scenarios of risks and issues during project implementation. 

Business & Leadership

In order to set up a project to win, the leadership must motivate and inspire the team to deliver the expected result, at the right time, within budget and in the expected level of quality.   One of the expectations of Quality Management is to make  the required resources available (tools and systems) to ensure business efficiency.  In some companies, despite the wish to do so, this might be a challenge due to the current system landscape.  Companies which are still in a position to make smart decisions should take advantage and build a company quality culture around the business’ optimal infrastructure. Equally important in a company is peoples objectives settings.  Each employee, contractor and consultant, must have the same common goal across the organization and departments.  It is important that all people have a focus on all three constraints: time, money and quality. When people in different departments are having different objectives, it creates a unharmonized collaboration and the result is a less effective business.

Industry Specific

The expectations in Project Management are industry independent. However the same focus and attention to details are expected in larger and complex projects no matter which industry you are in. The Project Plan must include the tasks which is relevant to implement a solution which is fit-for-intended-use. In the non-regulated environment, documented information is important from a business criticality perspective. In an organization which is committed to customer satisfaction the documented information is important to achieve the certification.

In the Life Science industry Document Management is a requirement. Tasks associated with Quality Management activities amongst others could be; understanding the business process, writing a plan for the goal of the implementation, collecting the stakeholders expectations and requirements, verification of the solution against expectations and a final statement of the objectives set out by the plan are met. In this context tools like SIPOC and PDCA can be utilized. These tools are being described in the Quality Management Insight.

Managing a project includes balancing the constraints: Time, Budget and Scope, which on an individual basis does not necessarily give the expected level of Quality. I am convinced that balancing Time, Budget and Quality gives the agreed Scope. To be competitive in the market today, I believe that ‘quality’ is the parameter that you cannot compromise, but it is the parameter which can be tuned (optimized) the most.  If quality activities were made easier, simpler and effective for the business they wouldn’t need to compromise any of the constrains or the final result.  The company who has the best approach to quality management has the business advantage.

Project Management Today

Many larger companies have already established their own project methodology based on standards as PRINCE2, Waterfall, Agile, Six Sigma, as well as, other methodologies. I believe that people looking for advice within the area should take advantage from the know-how available online shared by experts, that have years of experience in the industry’s best practices. Assess the information and guidance that is relevant for you and your business. Align your activities with stakeholder-expectations, whether they are end-users, company management, legal or regulatory. 

A Project Plan develops over time, which means no matter how perfect it was when you started the project, the plan will not look the same when the project is finnished. A project plan will always be dynamic because of sudden adjusted deadlines and modifications to certain situations or perhaps a changing scope. 

Today, the majority of Project Plans are currently made at best in offline project management tools, and afterwards uploaded on a shared drive somewhere in the company.  The project plan is often updated on a weekly basis, which takes time and makes it difficult to be proactive and support others where it matters the most. It makes it difficult for the resources to plan their time properly and to be available when tasks are due.

Companies should choose to benefit from introducing tools where the project plan is automatically updated, and tasks are flagged with visual indicators of ‘on time’, ‘needs attention’ or ‘off track’.  Visual indicators enable transparency, governance and project plan maintenance.  Each individual user will have their own task list and receive notifications of expected actions that are updated based on previous activities which are delivered in the project plan. This allow users to not only be available when a task is due but also to be proactive, supporting and provide project guidance. 

Future prospects of Project Management

Futuristic online tools are soon going to be available and it will be much easier to get an overview over current tasks. Some online tools are already on the market. 

However, note that Project Management tools are only as good as the information that is entered into the given system. Collaboration should be encouraged, and mistakes should be viewed as “lessons learned”,which should be submitted immediately and automatically.  Risk and issues can be mitigated by getting computerized suggestions to solutions from “lessons learned” in similar projects. 

It is important for all business to proritze harmonization of processes, now and in the future, to get a standa  standardized result. It is important that no matter who is running a project, the same high level of quality is delivered to the internal reviewers so that approval becomes a pure formality.

Mining the data of project implementations, can also help assess and forecast the resources, personnel, scope, time, budget and quality for future projects. Monitoring and Evaluating projects at a greater scale gives the company an opportunity to learn from good and bad experiences to avoid making mistakes in new projects or projects running at the same time. These experiences must be implemented into the templates so each new project will be based on a better foundation to achieve success.