What is project management? Most of you probably answered development. In many cases, the answer is “project”. In most other cases, the answer is “management.” The latter was not given because you can’t manage a project, you can only manage a product, and that’s development. Some things are indeed better and more complex than others. There are many management definitions, but it answers a question – how does one manage a project? A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to produce a unique product. It can be a new product, a modification of an existing product, a new process, or anything else, all of which can benefit the end-user.
This brief presentation is all about process management, which we will keep talking about in this article. It’s important to realize that solutions to the ultimate problems are individual solutions to a question, not a DMAIC ( caching – airborne, effective, and efficient) project solution that may exist somewhere down the road. There are various processes in an organization, and they are essentially the same.
Most processes fall into the following categories: business process outsourcing, product process outsourcing, portfolio process outsourcing, process Repeatability (re)engineering, process forklift implementation, and Process Development – custom (or custom automation) requirements. Business process outsourcing (BPO) is when an external entity does the work traditionally done within the organisation. For example, because BPO involves an external entity, such as a call centre, a separate entity called a human resource (HR) handles that work. This extension of your own physical and intellectual capabilities is the most extensive business process in a sense and is used now or will be used in the future. Without HR, you need to continue to perform those functions, eyes and (some belief) ears, so to speak, that is typically done within your back-office. Product process outsourcing (PPO) is when another entity (an outside supplier or service provider) performs a particular process for you. This is also known simply as vendor specialist or contracting process.
In many manufacturing companies, we find that they are outsourcing to the manufacturer for engineering and give-away services if they do not have a current process in-house of doing so. In an organisation, most guys and gals, at one time or another, are reaching out for help when their old ways of doing things are no longer performing, at least no more than one of us seems to have forgotten how to reach “the top.” When you use PPO, it forces yourself, the CEO or senior manager or director of your front-line, to learn a new way of doing things and ultimately outperform your (or resembles) the competition. However, understanding and engaging in PPO is not enough. A good PM will know how to take and manage processes, ensure proper development, measure recent and ongoing success, create a suitable downstream feedback loop and ensure the success of an agreed development schedule. Process forklift implementation is perhaps the most complex process within each “development cycle”. It involves both the all-business-consuming technical development, pre-development and pre-production engineering and development, supplier selection, contract administration/implementation and operational/project support.
It is almost a given in many organisations to have a single “elder create” for each process. However, experiencing a Jose Zenda journey is a learning experience for me and teaches me that a good PM is not a specialist but a multitude. A good PM will attend PRINCE2 training, with good people skills, to travel through several different processes and not lock up in any one type of procedure. The PM should be in tune with the organization, its operations and its people. The underlying philosophy here is – “athermance”, and the PM can help the team develop their process to give them a good foundation as they decide the best development methodology. Functions are essential. Without them, many of those who get things done through others cannot manage the project, are left to do the “strategic” work, or cannot understand the “social” side of a project. Organisational improvement is all about doing what your competition is not doing.
Yet, in many organisations, project and portfolio managers are relatively unskilled and unacquainted with the necessary processes to take their group, the department or the function from the lower maturity Tiger jurisdiction to that of a forward-thinking “X” organisation. Very little professional training and funding are allocated to the development of essential processes. New practices are emerging rapidly among those who find themselves tasked with adopting new ways of doing business, but development processes are often overlooked.