CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT AREAS - Strategic Planning for Project Management

Project management methodologies must undergo continuous improvement. This may be strategically important to stay ahead of the competition. Continuous improvements to a methodology can be internally driven by factors such as better software availability, a more cooperative corporate culture, or simply training and education in the use of the methodology. Externally driven factors include relationships with customers and suppliers, legal factors, social factors, technological factors, and even political factors.

Five areas for continuous improvement to the project management methodology are shown in Figure below and in the following:

Factors to consider for continuous improvement:

Factors to consider for continuous improvement

Existing Process Improvements

  • Frequency of use: Has prolonged use of the methodology made it apparent that changes can be made?
  • Access to customers: Can we improve the methodology to get closer to our customers?
  • Substitute products: Are there new products (i.e., software) in the marketplace that can replace and improve part of our methodology?
  • Better working conditions: Can changes in the working conditions cause us to eliminate parts of the methodology (i.e., paperwork requirements)?
  • Better use of software: Will new or better use of the software allow us to eliminate some of our documentation and reports?

Integrated Process Improvements

  • Speed of integration: Are there ways to change the methodology to increase the speed of integrating activities?
  • Training requirements: Have changes in our training requirements mandated changes in our methodology?
  • Corporate-wide acceptance: Should the methodology change in order to obtain corporate-wide acceptance?

Behavioral Issues

  • Changes in organizational behavior: Have changes in behavior mandated methodology changes?
  • Cultural changes: Has our culture changed (i.e., to a cooperative culture) such that the methodology can be enhanced?
  • Management support: Has management support improved to a point where fewer gate reviews are required?
  • Impact on informal project management: Is there enough of a cooperative culture such that informal project management can be used to execute the methodology?
  • Shifts in power and authority: Do authority and power changes mandate a looser or a more rigid methodology?
  • Safety considerations: Have safety or environmental changes occurred that will impact the methodology?
  • Overtime requirements: Do new overtime requirements mandate an updating of forms, policies, or procedures?

Benchmarking

  • Creation of a project management COE: Do we now have a “core” group responsible for benchmarking?
  • Cultural benchmarking: Do other organizations have better cultures than we do in project management execution?
  • Process benchmarking: What new processes are other companies integrating into their methodology?

Managerial Issues

  • Customer communications: Have there been changes in the way we communicate with our customers?
  • Resource capability versus needs: If our needs have changed, what has happened to the capabilities of our resources?
  • Restructuring requirements: Has restructuring caused us to change our sign-off requirements?
  • Growing pains: Does the methodology have to be updated to include our present growth in business (i.e., tighter or looser controls)?

The five factors considered above provide a company with a good framework for continuous improvement. The benefits of continuous improvement include:

  • Better competitive positioning
  • Corporate unity
  • Improved cost analysis
  • Customer value added
  • Better management of customer expectations
  • Ease of implementation

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