Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #167

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

People, Process, and Technology - Project Kickoff
by Craig Bailey, in collaboration with Mark Hall, William George Associates, Ltd.

We continue with our series on People, Process and Technology. In our initial installment, we reinforced the importance of balancing people, process and technology in continuous improvement initiatives. This can apply to Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and numerous other initiatives. In this article, we leverage this proven strategy towards the effective deployment of an Enterprise Project Management solution.

As discussed in the prior article, a client of ours performed a pilot of MS Project Server resulting in a number of issues and concerns to be addressed to ensure success of the project. Based on feedback from key stakeholders, a launch strategy was defined which included:

  • Defining a very focused scope
  • Senior management sponsorship

  • Addressing the question: "What's in it for me?"

  • Clearly defining "table stakes" or critical success factors

Focused Scope

Like most businesses, our client has a diverse set of customer-facing and internal groups that will benefit from an Enterprise Project Management solution. Due to the various nuances of each group, it became important to narrow the focus of the initial launch. To do so, a discrete group of project managers, resource managers and personnel was identified that would participate in the first phase. This group was brought together for the project kickoff, at which time the project framework was communicated.

Senior Management Sponsorship

During the kickoff meeting, senior management sponsors shared the vision and objectives, key concerns being experienced with plenty of "color" around the importance of doing this project, and finally the ramifications of not doing it. One of the most compelling statements was something to the effect of: "You won't be a project manager at this company if you don't adopt the project management methodology and leverage the tool that results from this initiative."

Now that is a pretty clear statement of sponsorship.

Addressing the question: "What's in it for me?"

It was important at the kickoff, and will continue to be important throughout the project, to reinforce how the initiative benefits each stakeholder. At a very high-level, this includes, but is certainly not limited to:

Senior management/Company overall

  • Improve visibility/access to project information
  • Increase and simplify collaboration on projects

  • Bottom line: Increase the number of projects successfully completed in the shortest amount of time with the fewest resources possible

Project managers

  • Provide tools to efficiently define and manage to a baseline project plan which serves multiple audiences (both internally and externally)
  • Provide a method for team members to share detail-level break down of tasks and status updates

  • Improve visibility and management of exceptions

Resource managers

  • Better understanding of how personnel are being utilized
  • Forecast of demand on their resources

Project team resources

  • Improve the definition of tasks, commitments and deliverables
  • Reduce time spent in routine status meetings

Table Stakes

One of the most important aspects of the kickoff was to review and ensure buy-in to the critical success factors, by all stakeholders. For this particular initiative and client, we defined the critical success factors as:

Program Managers

  • Adhere to a defined yet flexible process
  • Create tasks at the appropriate level of granularity so

    • Team-members can be held accountable to discrete tasks
    • Project commitments, risks and exceptions can be managed and dealt with in a timely manner
    • Time worked and work remaining (or % complete) can be entered against each
  • Commitments are negotiated with team members and/or their managers based upon the following parameters (need 2 of 3):

    • Timeline (when does the task need to start/end)
    • Level of effort (how many hours/days would it take assuming continuous effort?)
    • % utilization (what is the resource's availability and/or time requirement during the timeline we are discussing?)

Team members/managers

  • Ensure ALL time is accounted for in the resource pool
    • Administrative time (training, vacation, holidays, etc.)
    • Other job-related duties (support, sustaining engineering, etc.)
    • Projects
  • Engage with project managers to establish project/task-level commitments.

Team members

  • Update tasks by recording time spent, % complete and/or time remaining
  • Add detail level tasks (within summary tasks) where appropriate

Senior Management

  • Provide air support and honor resource commitments
  • Project prioritization - Consciously decide and communicate when previously established commitments must be revised; avoid putting this (project prioritization) on the shoulder of individual resources (or their managers)


  • Ensure a single point of entry for time and cost (materials and labor) information

In summary, the successful outcome of this initiative requires 100% adoption from all stakeholders, each of whom has something to gain.

At this stage, the project scope has been clearly defined, stakeholders have bought-in to the critical success factors, senior management sponsorship has been clearly established and a team has been formed to embark on the next steps.

In future editions, we will continue to explore how to effectively deploy an Enterprise Project Management solution, by covering topics such as:

  • Defining the process and methodology while ensuring the "right dose" of rigor
  • Business requirements to technical configuration

  • Assessing the Project Management capabilities, leading to training, training and more training

  • Ongoing support of your enterprise solution

If your firm is embarking on a critical initiative, or struggling with one that seems to have gone off track, feel free to contact us. We'd be happy to discuss your situation, share pointers, and determine if there are opportunities to more formally assist you with our Project Management services.

About William George Associates Ltd.

William George Associates Ltd. (WGA) is a leading provider of comprehensive Project Management, Lean Six Sigma, and Innovation consulting, training, and staffing solutions. Since 2002, WGA has served New England's largest organizations and mid-market companies in the High Technology, Life Sciences, Financial Services, Education, and Energy industries.

As New England's only Microsoft Gold Certified Enterprise Project Management Partner (Project Server 2010, Microsoft Project 2010, and SharePoint 2010) and a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P) for the Project Management Institute, WGA is uniquely qualified to design and deliver solutions tailored to the specific needs of our diverse clients. WGA has successfully trained over 3,000 professionals to get their PMP and Lean Six Sigma credentials.

Of particular interest to clients who develop new products and technologies, WGA offers Innovation Consulting Solutions for the development and protection of Intellectual Property using our Patents and Trademark process.


+ People, Process, and Technology - Project Kickoff


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