Project management is a broad subject with many dimensions. In this series of articles I will provide insights into the subject through the tool of project management by giving practical examples of outstanding project managers. Each of these project managers was successful in their efforts at bringing about major improvements in the work environment, processes and services. They were successful in managing various projects efficiently and effectively. They were the high heels that greased the perce ed progress for the improvements they brought about. Outlined on a PRINCE2 Training Course.
A Simple Project
During the 1977-78 school year I Signs Inc., a custom sign company, hired me to design and manufacture a new set of signs for the project I was responsible for. The Department of Defense had ordered signs for various divisions, branches and agencies.
My original “project” management was different from typical project management. I was told to collect information about the armed services organization. Because this was a new project I had no money budget; no material or equipment to purchase. I quickly learned that a printed circuit board (PC Board) was a primary component of an organization’s communications technology.
I decided to use a pre-designed printed circuit board (PC Board) from a prestigious Texas-based company. The pre-build custom logic design was a large and powerful machine with lots of depth, capability and memory. When the custom-printed circuit board with its dry-erase PCB’s came back for assembly, I quickly solved that problem by reconfiguring the redundant transistors in order to fit the circuit board. This raised one question: Weren’t the boards I had built for Sign’s division designed for hearing aids? That was the question that needed to be answered before completing the project.
Another project management innovation was to assign people based on their personal strengths, not on their individual technical competency.
The project management team of 9 people comprised the project management staff from the pre-build pre- ©PC Boards, the design staff from the custom printed circuit boards and the production staff and Head of Department for communications. This team put all nine teams together in a “project office” in a Washington, D.C. conference room for a full day of meetings, discussions and results.
My primary assignment was to take a pre-designed PC Board; assemble and test it with information about the history of the shoe industry, determine the needed components for proper fit and function and then assemble the PC Board with the needed components. As you might imagine when doing so, I found more than my fair share of problems. Fortunately my staff had written down and recorded the instructions so that each person knew with reasonable accuracy what to do and how to do it.
Positive Project Management
The communications team made great use of the many and various resources available with the Church has provided the Organizational Communications Department. One of which was an old glass eye that turned out to be a great tool for helping me identify information that might otherwise be lost as the conversation progressed.
More than one person could have probably put forth a project schedule that had more relevance than the project schedules that appeared in the agenda. As part of the project schedule, I confirmed the needed prerequisites for bringing each of the “more important” projects to a successful conclusion through revisions and the real purpose of practicing unity of effort among the project managers on their project schedule.
My support staff were often very helpful. They provided valuable insight that could easily show me where the requirement was to prioritize projects. They would also tell me how I needed to clarify something in my instructions before I was going to schedule a project more significantly.
The first onset of the project’s schedule was a necessity and so I set aside the “more important” projects with more importance before scheduling the “more important” projects that had less priority on a regular basis. My support team provided the deadlines and my project schedule reflected compliance to those deadlines.
Each of my staff was highly motivated and invested in the success of the project. Without their commitment my project schedule would have failures from the beginning and then develop a rough start. As it turned out, one of my non-staff issued then gave me few parameters for the project because the information that was provided by my staff was far too broad.
The result? Delays, more meetings and an increased cost. The day of these delays was already upon the project and was beginning to show up in other parts of the schedule. A failure schedule at this point in a project is one of the main reasons it takes longer to complete a project.
My next project management process was to dissolve a project by reactively canceling the related activities before or as the project entered delivery phases. This was done more because of my time and the time of my support staff than the requirements of the project itself. Later I would challenge my development witnesses as to the needed criteria for constructing a project schedule being changed at the beginning of the project.