Improving the quality of project management

    My experience in the project office suggests that the combination of methods gives the best result for the development of project managers. Adding some techniques to this system gives a multiple increase in the result.

    A large consulting company, in which I then worked, thought how to increase the success of projects, meaning by this the increase in profitability and the completion of projects on time.
    Obviously, the success of the project largely depends on the work of the project manager. Therefore, it was decided to improve the skills and organize their work through mandatory procedures and methods. Something worked well, something to a lesser extent. I will not describe the whole story, I will focus only on the key points.

    1. Project Monitor

    First, we launched a project monitoring procedure.

    Every week, the project manager filled out an online “health monitor” project. For this, he evaluated the project in eight ways:

    • Deadlines - to what extent is the project schedule safe?
    • budget - the forecast for the cost of the project corresponds to the plan?
    • scope of the project - is the change in the scope of work coming out of control?
    • product - is the customer satisfied with the results of current activities?
    • resources - is the project team sufficiently staffed?
    • Customer's obligations - is the customer doing his part of the work?
    • relationship with the customer - are there any conflicts, are the relationship constructive?
    • interaction with third parties - is everything in order with subcontractors?

    The rating was in the form of a traffic light: "Green", "Yellow", "Red". Plus comments, mandatory for "red" ratings, optional for the rest.

    This made it possible to control the overall picture of the projects and draw the attention of managers to what is in the unfavorable zone. For projects in the red zone, as well as for all key projects, we regularly review the department director.

    2. Training project managers

    The project office has developed courses and put on a regular basis the training of the ER. First of all, it was training on working with the project schedule, risks, budget. Conducted round tables on the exchange of experience. Recorded videos and online courses.

    There was nothing fundamentally new in this, the regularity and atmosphere of the new opportunities created by the trainers were important. We tried to make very compact and practical courses that conveyed experience from the best leaders to less experienced ones.

    3. Audit and project support

    What was really new was the participation of the most experienced staff of the project office in current projects.

    Participation was expressed in two things.

    The first is project auditing. We investigated the state of project management, according to the documents, interviews with the project manager, and gave recommendations on what needs to be corrected.
    The second, more labor-intensive - this is project support. If someone from the RP needed help, the project office employee would become a “playing coach” and help correct the situation.

    For example, we, together with the current RP, sat down and together finalized the project plan both from the substantive point of view and from the point of view of the rules for its compilation. Or discussed the priorities of current tasks. Or tried to come up with options for resolving issues on the project team.

    Sometimes it was necessary to talk with the customer. We presented this as an internal audit aimed at improving the quality of project management. The very fact of the appearance of a new person who will listen attentively, relieve tension and give extra time and the ability to restart.

    The main difference of this interaction from the usual training is that the RP has learned to use the tools for managing the project of a combat situation, having already stuffed some cones. The effectiveness of this work is much higher. Managers with whom we worked in this way recruited qualifications an order of magnitude faster.

    In a combination of advanced training methods, support during practical work plays a special role. This can be done by the practice leader or another experienced RP. Coaching methods and quality feedback work wonders, complementing formal training and regulations.

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