Project Management at times seems to be a well researched and stable discipline. The techniques used reflect the best work practices of its many authors and decades of continuous improvement. However, as with everything in life, one size does not fit all. By learning about different approaches to the art and science of project management, we can identify techniques that can improve the execution of our own projects.
The Project Management Institute® originated in the United States and reflects much of western culture's approach and attitudes toward projects. The desired result is a completed project, on time and on budget. The Project Manager plans the work, evaluates risks reports the progress and generally "drives" the team forward to keep them focused on completion.
These approaches seemed to work well, but there was just something lacking. To adjust these methodologies to fit the way that they approach projects, the Japanese have created "Project and Program Management for Enterprise Innovation" (P2M). P2M was developed in 2003 by the Engineering Advancement Association of Japan (ENAA) with funds provided by the Japanese Government. ENAA's goal was to build a project management methodology from the ground up, that reflected the Japanese culture's approach to projects.
P2M is managed by the Project Management Association of Japan (PMAJ). PMAJ's mission is to promote professional project management practices through P2M and to certify professionals as proficient in these techniques. Download a free copy of the P2M Guidebook at http://www.pmaj.or.jp/ENG/index.htm.
P2M is Evolutionary
The ENAA team began with the evolution of modern project management. It was felt that the first generation project management was focused on time, cost and scope (the end result). This methodology worked well and was necessary for completing large scale projects within the cost and time described in contracts, and still provide a profit for the company.
Second generation project management builds on the first generation's "hard skills" with predefined processes standardized across the organization. Communications management expanded to accommodate a wider range of stakeholders. Business process reengineering used continuous improvements is used to keep the project management processes in sync with ever changing business environments.
P2M represents the third generation of project management. The third generation is marked by its holistic view of project management that includes broad visions and value consciousness. P2M uses zero-based thinking by the project team to generate break-through ideas for resolving project problems. It encourages "broad spectrum" thinking and the use of all available intellectual assets to create innovation within a project. This inclusion of everyone in the solution creation is in line with the Japanese cultural approach of achieving consensus prior to an important action.
A central theme of P2M is the concept that programs and projects exist to create value to both the company and to society. The idea of "value" is the same as "benefit" or the creation of something. Examples of value are status reports, user documentation and of course, the service or product provided.
A complementary idea to value creation is that the project causes no harm. Therefore a successful project is in harmony with society, creates something useful and avoids creating something harmful (such as with detrimental environmental impact).
P2M Defines Twelve Templates for Project Management
P2M's specific techniques for project and program management are found in its 12 templates. Each template is a flexible process for how to do manage some aspect of a project or program, such as identifying and managing risks. Included in some of these processes are many familiar first and second generation project management practices. Since the P2M Guidebook is a standalone methodology, it also includes some business school basics, such as an explanation of how projects are financed. Anyone who has worked in project management will find these templates provide a different insight into aspects of their subject, such as scope or risk management.
Projects Create Many Things of Value
Project Management is the application of people, methods, tools and money to create something of value. The "creation of value" is the basic concept of why a P2M project exists. A project executes a specific mission within the context of a program's strategic mission. The application of P2M templates enables quicker solution of problems.
Project managers extract from the project's specific mission its essential requirements. These are further broken down into their objectives and required actions to achieve these objectives. The project sponsor reviews the project planning to ensure it fulfills the desired value creation. Then the sponsor commits the necessary resources and funds.
Every P2M project creates new value through the insights of the many project participants. This enriches the result through novelty and innovation. Japanese industry bases its strength on four terms which P2M uses to drive project teams to produce unique ideas and a positive work ethic:
- focus on customer satisfaction
- work-front first
- team work
- perfection orientation
- start with a Scenario
The project scenario bridges the present to the future. It is a story that describes how something should be, based on a review of how it is today. The project plan is how we move from "what it is" problem description to the "will it should be" solution scenario. Scenarios serve many purposes. One is to form a consensus among stakeholders. Another is to identify the many deliverables necessary to create the vision. Stakeholders can advise on what they want to see in the value of each deliverable. Major points in a scenario are:
- issue identification - what problems this project solves
- solution implication - the various values the solution will provide
- roadmaps - how the project will be executed
- methodologies - various techniques to be used
- performance - how performance will be measured and reported
- Value to Society
P2M projects create value for its stakeholders. The project manager harmonize considerations of all stakeholders with the project. P2M prides itself on the identification of all stakeholders of a project and including them within its development. Each stakeholder has their own view of the project's value. Over the life of the project, this view may change according to changes in their business circumstances. When decisions are made, the goal is to ensure that the greatest value is still provided to the widest range of stakeholders.
Stakeholders include the project sponsor and the project team. However, it also includes the people who will use the final result of the project. In terms of harmony, the project stakeholders include the entire company since resources allocated to one project are not available to other projects. Finally, the public at large is also considered a stakeholder so that the project execution and result considers the impact on their safety and well being.
The public viewpoint includes social benefits, public safety, facility safety, social acceptability and environmental conservation. Will the project improve public safety or introduce a new threat to people? Will it pollute the environment or will its environmental footprint be minimal? Even if a project is exclusively internal to a company, its impact on society and the environment must be identified.
The P2M focus on public value is similar to the western approach of corporations reporting on examples of their corporate social responsibility.
P2M activities are expected to execute within all applicable laws. P2M emphasizes ethical business practices at every level. Violating ethical guidelines or laws would mean that the project will not fulfill its commitment of harmony with society. Harmony with society also refers to interaction among individuals, communities and organizations, customs, cultures and manners of communications. This is even more important for international project teams. Communication must always be culturally sensitive to maintain harmony.
- Efficiency Matters
P2M projects are expected to be completed with a minimum of waste. Waste can originate in irrational actions and inconsistency. Projects with minimal waste of resources are also environmentally friendly since they generate minimal waste by products, use a minimal amount of energy, etc.
To achieve this, P2M incorporates the concepts of Lean manufacturing where low value actions are eliminated from work processes. Lean projects achieve their goals with the minimum number of tasks. An immediate benefit is that fewer tasks will have fewer risks to track. Also, the fewer the tasks, the fewer the opportunities to make an error.
A recommended technique for reducing project tasks is reusable objects. Reusable objects enables a project to benefit from products created by other projects (usually from other projects within the same program) and not recreate the same thing from scratch. Therefore, when a project's scenario is broken down into tasks, an analysis is performed to see what available products in the program can be reused.
Projects operate within a complex environment. A comprehensive success requires managing the context within which projects exist. P2M projects operate as a subset of a P2M program. Each program is aligned to specific corporate strategies. Program management provides an organizational and process structure that harmonizes the various projects to ensure innovation, and the sharing of intellectual assets. Most projects within a program will have similar or shared risks and resource. Program management ensures assets are applied to the highest priority projects.
Efficiency is improved if the program manager can detect areas of overlap and save resources by only creating a product once. Program management monitors external environmental forces to minimize their impact on projects or to ensure that all projects involved make the necessary corrections. A significant value of program management from the customer's perspective is the consistency of reports and quality of final products delivered.
PMAJ offers three levels of P2M certification. Certifications must be achieved in sequence with intervening periods of gaining more experience on ever larger projects.
The P2M certification examination is rigorous. Plan for one day to take the essay based examination and a second day for the interview and screening of experience. Fees are non-refundable.
- PMS - Project Management Specialist
The initial P2M certification level is the Project Management Specialist (PMS). The knowledge based written exam uses essay questions so that the candidate can demonstrate the proper application of terminology and techniques. The certification process also includes an interview and a screening of claimed experience. A background in project or program management or participation is not required.
- PMR - Project Manager Registered
The intermediate certification level is the Project Manager Registered (PMR). A PMR is competent to lead all aspects of projects. The requirements for a PMR certification are:
- PMS certification in good standing
- 3 years experience participating in projects of 10 or more people.
- Pass a knowledge-based exam and interview
- Pass a capability-based exam
- PMA - Project Management Architect
The highest level P2M certification is the Project Management Architect (PMA). A PMA certification indicates that this person can lead large company wide programs and significant projects. This person is well suited for leading high risk or company critical projects and programs.
The requirements for a PMR certification are:
- Certified as a PMR in good standing
- 10 years experience working in large projects (or programs) that involve multiple systems across large organizations. Projects should consist of at least 50 people.
- Pass a knowledge-based exam and interview
- Pass a capability-based exam
Lawrence J.Webber has over 30 years of IT experience in hardware and software. He is a Certified Project Management Professional by the Project Management Institute and holds a Masters of Project Management degree from West Carolina University. Larry also holds an MBA and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Rockhurst University. He is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, Master of Business Continuity Planner (MBCP by DRII) and a certified ITIL Service Manager. Larry is retired from the Army Reserve as an infantry First Sergeant.