By Karen M. Kroll
This article hit very close to home with me. I chose to review it because I feel that over the last few years I have lived at least a part of each interviewee’s experience. At the manufacturing firm where I am employed, as the only Program Manager, over the last five years (2008-2012) we averaged 116 projects per year at an average revenue value of $5,000. We had very few projects over $20,000 in 2008-09, but have had 20 projects over that amount since June, 2011. In 2008 and 2009 our on-time delivery percentage (meeting stakeholder’s expectations) stood at 48%. I began work there in mid-2010 and by the end of 2011 on-time delivery percentage had increased to 82%, due in large part to implementing project management principles that were based in large part on the PMBOK® Guide. Senior Management also believes the influx of larger revenue projects is due to our exhibited ability to manage and deliver on-time. Most of our projects mirror what one of the interviewees, Ms. Morales, identified as her project plan – establishing the goal, defining the scope, and developing the schedule and budget. This is supplemented by holding two three-hour meetings each week. This is very much the standard outline now where I work, although we hold one two-hour meeting weekly and several ad hoc meetings as the need arises.
The author stipulates that “small projects may not seem all that complicated, but project managers still need to consider planning and process”. She conducted interviews with at least nine professionals, most of whom had attained PMP status. Their small projects were each in different fields. However, they each stressed the importance of the use of project management tools to insure success of the project. I found the comment by Felix Olivares, PMP to be most interesting. He stated “The extent to which you document the project and communicate can change. But you still have to manage every dimension: time, human resources, scope, cost, and quality.” In my specific environment, managing human resources is always an issue. Unfortunately, tool making is becoming a lost art in my industry, as well as others in the United States. We are in constant search for qualified tool makers, especially as our workforce reaches retirement age. If Tool Maker Burns is assigned to a current new project, there is no guarantee that by the end of the day I will discover he was working on repairing another tool that he had previously made so that production can continue. Oftentimes, these repairs cover several days. At that point I need to make an assessment with the Team (including Mr. Burns) as to the impact this diversion will have on the new project. If necessary we will contact the stakeholder (customer) and alert them to a possible delay.
Another interviewee, Mr. Robert Toledo, PMP, made a contribution that is, knowing from experience, well worth practicing with small projects. He stated that he relied basically on three documents: 1. The project agreement that outlines the goal and performs what sounded like a SWOT for the project. 2. A detailed list of expected deliverables, rather than a formal schedule 3. A matrix that shows each team member’s roles and responsibilities
This is very similar to our methodology for tracking projects. For example, we retain one Excel spreadsheet file which will list all the active projects. This spreadsheet is owned by the PMO, but is maintained on a shared network drive to be retrieved and viewed by internal stakeholders and team members. We include customer name, purchase order number, our assigned part number and drawing, the tool build schedule, scheduled ship date, design engineer, tool maker, percentage complete, and fields for other special requirements or comments for the parts to be made from the tool. The fields mentioned above that are italicized are linked to other documents that have been