OLD Vs New Project Management
OLD Vs New Project Management
We have come a long way when it comes to managing a project. I firmly believe that there were strong project management methodologies when the Great Wall of China was built between 771 - 476 BC. The science and art behind the project management and its components have very well been in existence from a long time. The processes of estimating the cost, effort and timeline of a given objective, identifying resources of a given skill set or managing the cost to achieve the given objective has improved since then but the very necessity of these processes in managing a project has not changed. In this article, however, we will focus on the changes of modern project management and how it has evolved over the last century after the publication of Frederic Taylor’s The Principle of Scientific Management in 1911.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) was founded in 1969, waterfall methodology was introduced in 1970 by Winston Royce. A sample waterfall approach is shown in the Figure 1, and in 1984 PMI developed Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification to acknowledge the skills and knowledge of a practitioner in the project management area. PMI published its well renowned and widely accepted Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) in 1996 for the first time which was based on extensively accepted waterfall methodology. As per the standard, the project management processes can be divided into 9 knowledge areas and 5 process groups. In the last 25 years, the knowledge areas and/or the process group have not changed much which demonstrates a strong stability and a robust foundation.
Figure 1: Waterfall Methodology
Towards the end of the millennium, businesses across the globe adopted the waterfall methodology leading to a widespread understanding of the practical challenges posed by this approach. Many scholars across academia and industry and leaders throughout the globe started researching options to overcome the serial execution of the methodology. Businesses were evolving and changing rapidly before the software development was even completed. In other words, by the time software was delivered to the business users, most, if not all, of the processes were either evolved or dropped completely. The consequences were huge including cost overrun, schedule slippage, employee satisfaction, and client satisfaction just to name a few. As a result business units were not performing at the optimum level.
Figure 2: Agile Approach
At the dawn of the new millennium agile “software development” manifesto emerged, describing the need for an alternate methodology of heavyweight software development. The most basic need of timely, responsive and a flexible approach was developed to continuously deliver the product of the project to the business users. The 12 principles of the agile manifesto were meant to overcome the challenges such as the software delivery towards the end of the project, minimize the concept of changes after a certain stage, infrequent software deliverables, work in silos, and others. For the complete list of agile manifesto principles please visit “Agile Manifesto.” The agile software development approach paved the path for rapid development where the business users can see the tangible outcome almost instantaneously. Overall, it improved the delivery of the product, client satisfaction and reduced the development lifespan.
In the last decade or so the project management field within the information technology matured and many organizations and thought leaders started thinking about the repository of processes, artifacts, procedures, and tools for the repetitive use across the projects. The Project Management Office (PMO) though is much more than that but one has to start somewhere. In fact, in 2007-08 when I setup the enterprise PMO (EPMO) for Citi Mortgage, I started the process with a large program with the sole purpose to centralize the status reporting across the 5 projects within the program. PMO within each organization is different, functions differently, have different objectives with different KPIs and different strategies.
Figure 3: Project Management Office - Value Addition
It is obvious that defining and setting a project management office is not piece of cake. When I initiated this process for my current organization some 5 years back I was pushed back vigorously by many of my peers and my supervisor. However, with the blessings of the CEO I set foot on the journey to build the second PMO of my professional life. Unlike Citi Mortgage, I identified the challenges faced by the project management team, defined the functions required to be performed by the PMO, get those prioritized by the project managers – my client in this case, defined the processes, KPIs, risks and other factors. I started with the simplest tasks of centralizing the project status report similar to my work at Citi. Within 2 years of timeframe, I was able to build a strong PMO with 25+ projects and 200+ global resources. The current world of project management without the PMO is similar to the cake without frosting. PMO, if it functions properly, can provide a lot value to the members of the project management team, the organization and the clients.
Figure 4: Emotional Intelligence Model
In 2011-12 while working with BirlaSoft, I devised and implemented an attrition predictability model based on the changes in an employee’s behavior over time such as his commitment level to the tasks, attention details, responsiveness or even informal interactions with their colleagues and friends. Little did I know at the time that I was employing something called Emotional Intelligence (EI). The model helped me bring down the attrition level for that particular engagement from almost 75% to under 25%. The paper “Using emotional intelligence to improve project performance” (Casper, Christine Mockler) provides a detailed view of the EI model that can be used to improve the project performance.
Nonetheless, project management over the last century has evolved in many ways. However, it is imperative to mention that the basic principles of project management remain the same. The usages of emotional intelligence, artificial intelligence, PMO or other methodologies have added a great value in managing a project.
Casper, C. M. (2002). Using emotional intelligence to improve project performance. Paper presented at Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium, San Antonio, TX. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
Published at pmmagazine.net with the consent of Aditya Lal