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Performing a Needs Assessment on Project Management…

publicado por Garrett O'Brien

In our first 3 articles, we provided an introduction to

As with any methodology, it is inevitable there would be a need to strengthen any weaknesses. Most methodologies and processes evolve in cycles, usually resulting from the needs that grow as the result of new technologies and from evidences that certain aspects of the processes needs improvement. Complexity and change always magnifies weaknesses as well as strengths. The more complex the project, the more the weaknesses and inefficiencies become magnified.

Most of what I have discovered has been born from having worked on a project where 38 systems were being implemented simultaneously with the system of record being a different system for various reasons… the complete and ready for production date for all the systems fell within a 2 week window. If one system was not ready, all 38 projects needed to be restarted and it was estimated it would take another 2 to 3 months to attempt another go-live attempt. No pressure…

Beginning with this article, we will ask questions that look at the whole process of obtaining and implementing an HRIS system. By looking at the weaknesses and inefficiencies of those processes, your own answers will determine what will work for you and if you see a need to modify or change any methodologies… The answers will be different for most everybody, particularly across industries – but some industries will find the answers to be universal…

What is being discussed in this and the next 2 articles does not recreate anything that is already in use. Instead, the questions are focused on refining what is already in use and hone our skills with questions. There is not right answer unless it improves your project – thinking outside the box is not comfortable, but it does shed new light…

Basically, is it really necessary to…

  • change what is working?
  • improve upon what is working?
  • change what is not working?
  • change what is not working well?

Most of the answers, at first, may appear to be obvious. But — are your answers creating inefficiencies later in the project? More specifically, are your answers creating inefficiencies that are resulting in a higher operational cost for the system once it is in production? There are many hidden-costs that have to be taken into consideration – most these hidden-costs will be obvious only after a thorough review of your business processes BEFORE seeking a system… others will become obvious through time and testing…. And not everything will become obvious before the testing phase…

If you find your answer to be yes to the answers above, then what are the risks beyond the obvious? What isn’t working or isn’t working well is obviously something that will be assessed for improved processes.

To measure the effects of any changes, naturally you have to have a standard before the changes. What to measure? Money and time are good as they are most important to the life of the project and have the biggest impact as they become greater… Providing more funding to a project will not necessarily fix a problem – it almost inevitably compounds the problem and leaves a bad flavor in the mouths of those that have to operate the system once it is in production…

There is also a common ailment – for lack of any other word – for all projects and that is pain… Let’s face it, projects involve change, educating those that do not know, seeking resources that already have experience and know-how, unknowns that like to creep up on us like a snake – and striking when we least expect it… All adding to the timeline as well as costs…

To start, this graphic will give us an idea of the effort and resources consumed for the life of a project that is lacking best practices and follows the current model of project methodologies…

Here is what you are seeing…

Orange boxes represent the budget as forecasted…

Definitions & Specifications – the two back boxes represent the two phases

  • Release Planning Phase (left black box)
  • Definitions Phase (right black box)

Development – the three boxes represent…

  • Functional specifications (dark orange)
  • Design (light green)
  • Implementation & testing (red)

Operations – the two boxes represent…

    Implementation & testing (red)

  • Rollout and post-implementation (green)

The higher the box, the more effort and resources consumed. Any box, in real time, that extends beyond the orange box is indicative of project over runs – particularly budget and time.

As with most projects, there is little investment in the front end of the project, the definition and specifications phase. There are many reasons for this – all for the wrong excuse and many times for the wrong reason. As many tend to have a presumption that the information is already available then it is logical to keep the investment in this phase minimal. But here is my question – is the information really already available?

The information for the system is readily available – but the information from the company is not always readily available.

Documented business processes and data flow may not even exist and have to be transferred from thought to document. Same can be said of policies and procedures – most companies have their Human Resource policies in writing, but are the consolidated together to be easily transferred into a technical resource? Someone has to convert words to programming… Other policies that affect the HRIS system involve hire practices, time keeping, eligibilities for various programs and benefits, within the company, administration plans with vendors that have to be transferred to the HRIS system…

Another graphic provides the standard project life cycle, something most of us are familiar with…

There is a LOT of activity up to the project lock down point… The tasks before the project lock down basically determine the direction and success of everything after the project lock down. Yet the budget allocation and efforts and resource consumed is not exactly stellar.

Though the number of general tasks in post lock-down is lower, it does not mean there is less work to do or less effort required… In reality, it is in the post lock-down where most of the problems surface as well as budget and project overruns. Most of the projects I have been involved have almost inevitably pointed to the beginnings of the project and a common phrase, “If we only knew…”

Now, let’s align the two graphics together…

There can be a lot of interpretations of what is being seen here, which I will address in my posting next week – for now, I will leave you with a set of questions…

  • Are the methodologies really working or is just providing the desired results for the moment?
  • For what is working, what results are trickling through the project that are producing less than desirable affects later on? What effects are these having on the resources, timeline and/or budget?
  • When changing or improving what is working – will this trickle over to what is not working without needing to make changes to them (to what is not working)?
  • What can be improved to provide better results in selecting a system?
  • What can be improved to provide a systematic and efficient project?
  • What can be improved to reduce risks and improve results?
  • What can be done to reduce the unknowns that will affect the timeline? the budget?

In the next article, I also will discuss the improvements that can be made that will result in greater flexibility within the project and possibly even a lower project budget by shifting and honing a few priorities and making some budgetary changes…

As always, thank you for your time and attention!



Garrett O'Brien é consultado por implementações SIRH pelas empresas e as empresas (Fortune 100, 500 e 1000) desde 1991. Seus clientes anteriores incluem Lubrizol, ADP, Case New Holland, a Cushman & Wakefield, MAHLE, Honeywell International, Sodexho, e muitos outros localizados em os EUA Garrett é • Editor e escritor de 4 blogs mundiais focada em SIRH e gerenciamento de projetos, que são lidos em 160+ países • Exec VP para EUA CGServices enfocando multi-fornecedor, o sistema de multi-linha para sistemas HRIS • membro do Conselho de Gerson Lehrman Group Conselho, o que ajuda a instituições dos líderes mundiais se reunirem, engajar e gerenciar os especialistas em uma ampla gama de setores e disciplinas. Garrett se concentra em SIRH global Garrett está trabalhando em alguns projetos em Brasil. Um deles é focando as melhorias necessárias na gestão de projetos, especialmente as fases mais iniciais. O outro projeto se concentra no uso de tecnologia dentro do sistema de ensino para melhorar a educação de tecnologia para estudantes e professores. Ambos os projetos serão locais no Brasil, mas será global em perspectiva. Atualmente, o Sr. O'Brien reside em o estado de São Paulo e funciona a partir de Home Office. Não hesite em contactar-lo diretamente no LinkedIn ( ou por e-mail ( twitter: @thehrisworld @hriscareerworld @thw_research @thwrn_news

Garrett O'Brien


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