Continuous Improvement Can Work (Honest!)

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

A number of years ago, I was running a PMO within a large organization. When I first joined it was explained to me that one of my functions would be to chair the continuous improvement committee that was focused on improving project execution. The organization was very proud that they had this program in place, and I was told that the program allowed anyone involved in project execution to submit suggestions as to how projects could be better managed. The committee would then review them and determine which ones to implement.

I was a little skeptical, and sure enough the first month there were no suggestions to review. In the second month there was one suggestion: move status reports to monthly instead of weekly. Things didn’t get any better after that. In the years since that time, I have spoken with staff from many PMOs who have had similar experiences with trying to engage practitioners in continuous improvement programs within their PMOs--and most have given up. However, I think that these programs can work--and that they have an important role to play in helping the PMO to improve project execution.

Why do we need CI?
If an organization does not improve the way that it executes projects, then it will simply repeat the same mistakes over and over. In addition, as the organization evolves, if the PMO’s processes and methodology remain unchanged, then…

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You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, "My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!

- Dave Barry