Members of the
Customer Centricity team and the First Baptist Church of Hudson, NH are
again headed to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, to build and/or refurbish
homes with Habitat for Humanity. This year the team is traveling during
NH school vacation (week of April 25) to enable teens to experience the
blessing of helping others in need through hard work.
slammed into the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, destroying property and
killing hundreds. Less than a month later, on September 24, 2005,
Hurricane Rita also made landfall on the Gulf Coast, extending the
devastation even further. All told, more than half a million homes were
damaged or destroyed.
Six years later
Habitat for Humanity still engages coastal Mississippi families
struggling with run down temporary shelter and poor housing conditions.
If you are
interested in supporting the cause or would like to learn more,
click here. The team of volunteers and, more importantly, the people
in need thank you in advance for your support.
We continue our
series on People, Process and Technology focusing on a case study
involving the deployment of an enterprise-wide Project Management
solution. While the topic is focused on project management, the
principles relate to any enterprise-wide solution (i.e., CRM, ERP,
prior installment, we reinforced the importance of an effective
project kickoff to quantify and reinforce the fact that each stakeholder
has something to gain. This is absolutely essential to ensure 100%
adoption and will be reinforced throughout the project lifecycle.
Another important ingredient is ensuring that the “right dose” of rigor
is defined during process and methodology development. In terms of a
project management solution, this can include, but is not limited to:
project resources updating tasks / entering time
To be clear, these
items are NOT things that a system would enforce. Instead, they are
foundational process-level agreements to be established to ensure the
right level of rigor is implemented to achieve the anticipated outcome.
That is, if these (and other) parameters are “too tight” early on,
relative to a company’s project management maturity level, then it (the
solution) will seem far too burdensome and will not be used. As such, it
is important to begin to create boundaries for such parameters but allow
flexibility as team-members begin to “move in” to this new operating
Task level granularity
A common axiom for project management is that the larger the duration of
a task, the higher the risk of deviation from plan for that task. This
results from the fact that, for many tasks, there is often “some level”
of subjectivity when a project resource reports percent complete. How
often have you been told “we are 90% complete” only to learn (too late)
that the remaining 10% actually equated to far more work than
anticipated resulting in the last 10% taking longer than the original
An effective way to mitigate this risk is to divide large tasks into
smaller chunks. The need and ability to do this can vary depending on
the duration, complexity and risk of the project. For a multi-year /
complex project, an approach to doing so, while maintaining a balance of
rigor and flexibility, would be to establish guidelines such as the
maximum duration of near term tasks (those scheduled for the next 30-60
days) must be 40 hours or less, while tasks further out can have longer
durations. And, as these future tasks enter the near term window, they
must be broken down into tasks of shorter duration. It should be noted
that this is NOT an opportunity to expand project scope or move out
end-dates. It is simply a time to add increased granularity to summary
Frequency of project resources updating tasks / entering time
Key benefits and factors (among others) related to an integrated
enterprise-wide project management solution include:
up-to-date project status information to project managers, project
resources and others with access to project management dashboards
have one place to go to view their assignment(s), observe how their
work fits into the overall plan, understanding how their work is
impacted or supported by the work of others, as well as update their
progress on tasks.
Fully enabling the
above requires that ALL project resources input their time invested and
percent complete for each task worked, on a daily basis.
This will likely be a change for most organizations which have a policy
requiring that timesheets be completed on a weekly basis. However, if
you make it easy for project resources to input their time daily, they
will be more likely to do so. This includes putting in place a single
point of time entry. That is, you should NOT require your resources to
enter time in 2 places (the legacy timesheet system as well as MS
Project Server). Instead, you will want resources to enter time only in
MS Project Server with a feed of their actual hours to the legacy
Parameters for baselining
Let’s face it, as soon as a project plan is cast, reality begins. While
many tasks will start and complete on time, others will deviate from the
original plan. Project schedules and dedicated / committed teams can
often accommodate slight variations to start / end dates without
jeopardizing the overall planned end-date. However, when a significant
variance occurs vs. plan (either to a project phase and/or project
end-date), it is time to rebaseline the plan. That said, ground rules
need to be established for doing so.
Rebaselining the plan should only occur once all stakeholders understand
the reason for the need to revise the plan and alternatives to doing so
have been considered. This ensures that accountability is established,
there are no surprises and there is a “lessons learned” to minimize the
likelihood of the situation recurring in the future on this or other
Once the “air is cleared” after rebaselining a project plan, it is
important not to waste time and energy continuing to rehash deviation
from original plan vs. the new baseline on each and every project task.
To address this, it is suggested that program governance (project
dashboards, progress reports, etc) focus only on deviations between
original plan and rebaseline on major milestones or project phases.
Doing so ensures all stakeholders remain aware of the top-level change
(original vs. revised) on the main components of the plan and allows the
project team to focus on execution against the revised plan based on the
Levels of resource availability
To ensure that your resource pool is as accurate as possible, it is
important to determine the level of availability of your project-related
resources. This can include (at least) 3 factors:
time: This is time that resources spend on non project-related work
such as training, departmental meetings, etc. A company might set a
policy that states all project-focused resources will have 15% of
their time consumed by administrative activities.
activities: This is a category of “real work” that will vary
depending on the resource or department. As such, a departmental
manager may indicate that a particular project resource dedicates
25% of their time towards sustaining engineering or support.
activities: Given the above, the availability of a particular
resource, for project-related work would be 60%.
Just as important
as defining the above and setting company policy is the need to
proactively “police” the resource pool to ensure that there is no
“sand-bagging” when in fact the resource has availability for important
This is an area where it is easy to implement too much rigor out of the
gate. An effective approach to this is to model the following basics:
template mapping to:
gates of a company’s project / product management methodology
accounting structure (project phases which equate to accounting
codes) to enable effective project cost accounting
template ONLY for systematic / recurring / repeatable activities
that seldom deviate from a standard set of tasks and activities
Once you get
started with the above you may learn that is all you need. Or, as time
goes on, you’ll identify other areas that are ripe for “templating” to
further streamline your project managers’ efforts to spin-up subsequent
In future editions, we will continue to explore methods and
considerations to effectively deploying an Enterprise Project Management
solution, by covering topics such as:
requirements to technical configuration
Project Management capabilities, leading to training, training and
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
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.
has provided outstanding service to Hologic (Formerly Cytyc Corporation)
in the areas of process improvement and Program Management. They led
several cross functional initiatives for us that included an upgrade of
our ERP system, implementation of a CRM system, and integration of
systems from M&A activities. They are well respected by everyone they
have worked with.
VP of Information Systems
About Customer Centricity, Inc.
We strengthen overall company performance through
better service delivery and management.
We boost efficiencies in front-line customer service and technical support
teams, order processing, fulfillment, field service, logistics and other
key operations functions.
In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your
customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner