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Reassessing the Management in Project Management

publicado por Garrett O'Brien

In my last article Performing a Needs Assessment on Project Management, a discussion was presented to look at the effort and resources consumed throughout the project (including the budget). A comparison of these two variables to the project phases provided the following diagrams, using the same timelines…

At the end of the previous article, we posed the following 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 this article, we will discuss

  • some of the interpretations of what is being seen in the diagrams
  • the improvements that can be made that will result in greater flexibility within the project
  • possibly even a lowering project budgets by shifting and honing a few priorities and making some budgetary changes
  • what are we assuming, and what should we be questioning?

These questions are for your consideration and are to get you thinking. The scope of these articles (3 in all, as listed at the end of this article) is to get us to rethink what it is we are doing and looking at project management from a different perspective, from outside the box. The ideas discussed here were born from more than 18 years of HRIS projects. The ability to transfer them to other projects is something that has been already undertaken by some with success. As we already know, there are some aspects of every project that are unique and what worked in one project may not work in another. Truth is the daughter of time and will provide what strengths and weaknesses are still present with the suggestions presented here.

Here, we will discuss the improvements that 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…

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the first diagram…

As seen from comparing this diagram to the project life cycle, a LOT of activity is occurring during the definition and specifications phase. Given the complexity of the setup and implementation of an HRIS system, there is little breathing room from the very beginning – and assures an easy setup for a for a pressured project

  • Does it really need to happen this way?
  • What options do we have to reduce the pressure, stress and pain of an HRIS implementation?
  • Without increasing the budget, what can be done with the effort and resources consumed?
  • Will increasing the effort and resources consumed in the initial phase really lessen the effort and resources consumed in the last two phases? If so, what efficiencies and processes need to be honed to create a positive impact on the project and budget?

The first phase is full of data collection, decisions and thinking. This will domino and magnify once the development phase starts – whether the data collection, decisions and / or thinking were good or bad. Add to this, if the approach to selecting the HRIS system has been made incorrectly, the unknown errors from a bad decision process usually will not become evident until the development and operations phases making it extremely costly to change. Even worse, it could create an environment that needs a higher level of maintenance during the life of the system (many times upgrades just will not do the trick)… it’s enough to ruin any good feelings, celebration or party.

Again, for the legend, the orange boxes in the first diagram above represent the project. The 5 main phases of the project are represented by the boxes within the budget (planning & definitions, specifications, development, validation, deployment). Relatively speaking, the effort and resources consumed for the planning, definitions and specifications is minimal while most is focused on the development, validation and deployment of the HRIS system. The higher the box with in the budget, the more effort and resources consumed. The red box is the critical aspect where development and testing consumes most of the effort and resources. This is typically where projects will lose control of the budget. As you can see from this diagram, there is usually little room for errors – ironically at the most crucial and critical time of the project. By the time the project lock down has occurred, there is an assumption that all the dominoes have been lined up properly, all the ducks have been lined up in a row, all the problem areas have been addressed by this point… Choose whatever metaphor works for you, but in reality there is a LOT of effort and resources consumed here and most of the time the budget and the actual costs of the project clash heavily here. And most will try to trim the remaining portion of the project to minimize the damage or try to arrive on-budget for the project.

Another source of the ideas presented here came from two of my passions. After taking both sailing and airplane pilot lessons, I noticed the two had similarities that could not be avoided. Though the mechanisms are different, the basics are the same…

  • Safety always comes first – period.
  • The more the moving parts, the more likely something is going to break down
  • The surface of the mechanism needs to meet a smooth, clean surface to reduce turbulence – and depending on where the infraction is located, even a small infraction on the surface can create a LOT of turbulence
  • It takes energy to dispense energy
  • Navigation of unfamiliar terrain always leads to mistakes
  • Always have enough humility to reach to others and know how to approach anyone for their thoughts, ideas and input

Now let’s transfer these basics to project management…

  • safety: to reduce risk, safety MUST come first. There are a lot of risks in project management but risks that will threaten the life of any phase of the project are to be avoided.
  • Moving parts = efficiencies: The more data is being moved, handled and mishandled, the more likely efficiencies will break down (operational as well as integrity)…
  • Turbulence = business processes: the flow of information from the source into the system, through processing and provided in reports – the less efficient the business processes, the more time, resources and energy it will take to overcome the ‘turbulence’.
  • energy: automation is good but still requires oversight, management, maintenance, upgrades, testing and honing
  • navigation: at all levels, being in unfamiliar territory while using familiar tools and familiar mechanisms always results in mistakes
  • reach and approach: humility and protocol goes a lot further than genius and will circumvent time needed by learning the same

For a complex system such as HRIS, reducing the pain of the project, reducing the risks of the unknowns and keeping the budget intact are a three-fold necessity. The morale of the project can be levied by these three points very quickly – as well as the degree of success and the relationships developed not only within the project but with those that have contact with the project as well.

In an earlier article, Systematic and Efficient Planning Your HRIS Project, a discussion was presented for the need for a systematic approach to obtaining a system BEFORE undertaking the implementation of such a system. By undertaking this – or any — project with a systematic approach with more questions about your own business processes and performing a more in-depth needs assessment, and doing all this before submitting RFI’s and RFP’s, you will gain the foundation and momentum needed for the later phases. This is the point where most failed – and successful – projects have been made. Knowledge is power but yet many companies try to navigate through a project with as many unquestioned assumptions as possible.

The following diagrams compares the approaches – the Before diagram provides the results of an approach without systematic and efficient planning while the After provides the systematic and efficient results…

Both diagrams are the result of projects without and then with the modified approaches used on two separate projects. They were multiple -provider, multi-line projects. The Before diagram represents the implementation of a PeopleSoft HRMS system with an ADP Payroll system and a Kronos timekeeping system for a client that elected to use traditional project methodologies (making this a multi-provider project). The After diagram represents the implementation of an Oracle ERP, PeopleSoft HR, ADP Payroll, ADP timekeeping, and a couple of organic systems (developed by the client’s IT department) for a client that decided to approach their changes using systematic and efficient approach on top of the traditional project methodologies (making this a multi-provider, multi-line project).

The differences…

  • lower budget – budgets are the driving and not the principal force in a project. The budget is always adjusted to the methodologies in play. Of course, a reduce budget means something is working
    A shift in effort and resources consumed — all initial phases have MUCH more effort and resources consumed while the last two phases are noticeably less
  • lowered risk – the red box, symbolic of the area that is responsible for most over budget projects

The same…

  • timeline – basically the timeline does not change, though finishing earlier has been experienced by many
  • Early development phase – this phase of the project remains unchanged in budget, effort & resources consumed
  • strategically, the same steps of the project life cycle are used, both before and after the modified approaches

Here’s the After diagram lined-up with a project life cycle diagram…

Some questions for the next article…

  • If more effort and resources are being consumed at the beginning of the project, what are they doing that will reduce the effort and resources that are being consumed during the later phases?
  • If the project life cycle is not being changed, what is being changed?

First article of this series…

Previous articles related to this topic…



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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