lego car and lego men

Project based organizations and related issues

I am sure that when my daughter built the vehicle in the picture above she had her own project in mind and this is the result of that creative process.  I love that she likes building things with Lego(TM) and at 14 she still likes the madness that is “Sponge Bob”[(C) of Nickelodeon]. But did she have a plan when she started building? Possibly, but when she run into difficulties she asked for help and no way you could say “No, I’m busy now”, you had to go, sit down with her and fix it, whatever it was. Only after you can go back to whatever else you were doing.

It is becoming more and more common for organizations of various size to portray themselves as “project based” companies. And in fairness almost everything man made around us was a project in someone’s head, so I see that point.
This approach is of course commendable, but sometimes unfortunately it lacks substance, funding, tools and resources dedicated to running projects effectively.

Let’s consider what you need to be able to run single or multiple projects (a portfolio or a program):

  1. Well scoped and documented projects with process reviews and functionality required (this is almost free of charge if done in house and is fundamental to start off with the right foot).  A PMO (Project Management Office) would be extremely beneficial in enforcing the rules around scoping, briefing, documenting and forming a well structured project plan. A PMO would also help in determining what projects have the highest priority and the most beneficial impact on the business, driving and supporting the choices that senior management must make.
  2. Identified resource types and project constraints.
  3. Agreed deliverables and out of scope items.
  4. Timeline and potential end date when all constraints are considered and based on – broadly identified – customer needs.
  5. A budget.
  6. Assigned resources based on other projects requested efforts, skills, and location.

A dedicated RMO (Resource Management Office) would be in the best position to evaluate which resources match what is required in terms of skills to perform certain tasks. Of course an RMOmust know what skills inventory is available in the company and how the resources wielding them – I used “wield” on purpose because skills are powers – are currently utilized or planned to be.

The RMO would be in the best position to determine what is feasible with the resources available and how a priority shift will free up certain resources. They will also have the last word when it comes to say “Sorry, you can’t start this project yet, no resources are available”.

Missing a PMO or an RMO or both puts all projects at risk, because delays will creep in, scope will change without notice and approval,  emergency situations in normal day-to-day will stop or hinder project work and then all bets are off. Success will only depend on people’s will to commit extra hours on top of busy and stressful days. You can wish for it, but you cannot expect it and the risk of burning your resources increases dramatically.

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