Project Management, the key for successful companies

"Trying to manage a project without Project Management is like trying to play a football game without a game plan!"

During my eight years old career, I have moved between several positions within different organizations, which gave me a rich experience that led me to land in the Project Management world. However, being a Project Manager, especially in Information Technology, can impose several challenges unless you make sure you fall in the right cubicle.

Should I rely on my experience in Information Technology and wish to start listing the major challenges in Project Management, I may only be able to list the most important points such as managing distributed and matrix managed teams, resource management, prioritization and synchronization, while closing the projects on time, on budget and with respect to the agreed upon deliverables.

Having managed projects in the banking sector for the past two years at Data Consult, and since this market is very demanding and dynamic, I have always faced several difficulties in maintaining the consistency of the projects, from last minute resource allocation demands, to surprising design changes, tight deadlines and unexpected obstacles.

I can still remember on one of my projects for a major bank in Lebanon, we faced a tight deadline that was not communicated ahead of time. Major design changes were introduced at the last minute for integration purposes (going back again to the dynamism of the environment). Meanwhile our resources were newly introduced to the technology adopted for this project and we had to respect the deadline otherwise we might risk facing penalties. I had no choice but to refer to Data Consult internal channels to minimize any risk in delivery. What we did proved to be very useful in this type of situation. My action plan was the following:
  • I communicated the imposed constraints and challenges to Data Consult management to help in prioritizing the projects and resources' allocations.
  • I communicated within the Project Management Office with my fellow Project Managers and the Professional Services Managers for the best resource allocation plan. 
  • I discussed with the Solution Architects a way to manage the design changes and align them with the newly imposed requirements.
Obviously, there was no magic wand to solve the time restrictions so we compensated with long overtime hours and we managed to deliver both projects on time. True our PMO department was put under huge pressure, but it was mostly related to communication and how well we could convey the challenges at hand to all stakeholders. Once your team and collaborators understand well  the big stakes at hand everyone will go the extra mile because they have a clear vision of what is needed to be done. Despite the pressures and challenges you can always finish on top with a good game plan. 

1.       Well-organized structure

Within the above described challenge, Data Consult structure could enforce the communication and coordination between all the teams, vertically and horizontally. By vertically, we could easily align with the management bottom up and top down, while horizontally, we could coordinate between all the teams of the same hierarchy.
This allowed every single resource/project team member to have a clear understanding of his duties, responsibilities, and deliveralbles in a way to keep them aligned with the project scope and the company's overall vision.

2.      Well Defined Project Management Office

When you work in a relatively big organization, with different technologies, teams, clients and projects, it is mandatory to act as one piece of an overall puzzle. Having said so, the presence of the Project Management Office helped in managing the projects inter-dependencies, resource pools and priorities to meet the company strategic goals.

3.       Well set continuous learning process

Life is about experiences! This, does not only apply to our personal lives, but also has an impact when it comes to business. Setting up a learning process ensures business continuity and maintains a steady path for enhancement. This requires, again and again, clear communication channels to help all the teams share their experiences, before, during and after project closure to meet the set goals. By adopting this process, a successful company works on improving its expertise at all levels, starting from its resources and moving up to the overall business handling process. 
Now that the crisis is over, and we delivered both projects on time, we went back to the round table for a Lessons Learned meeting where we decided to:

  • Train more resources on the newly introduced technology to enlarge our resource pool.
  • Work on improving the coordination with the customers to avoid last minute surprises.
  • Enhance the internal process by filling potential gaps discovered during project implementation.

A Project Manager's mission is interesting to say the least and it becomes even more enjoyable when you are working in a well structured environment, within a well defined framework of a PMO Office. Key to the success of every Project Manager is making a good use of all the lessons learned, so when it comes to game planning, your chances of winning are always high.

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