PMI Global Insights

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The Project Management Institute's annual events attract some of the most renowned and esteemed experts in the industry. In this blog, Global Conference, EMEA Congress and experienced event presenters past, present and future from the entire PMI event family share their knowledge on a wide range of issues important to project managers.

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Viewing Posts by Gina Abudi

Best Practices for Creating the Business Process Improvement Project Charter

Develop a document that will help you manage your BPI project!

Creating a project charter for your business process improvement (BPI) projects are a best practice for a number of reasons:

  • Enables you to get your “head” around the scope of the BPI project
  • Enables for clarification of BPI project needs/expectations
  • Ensures a link between the BPI project and strategic objectives

While we all know that, in theory, the project charter is handed to the project manager from the project sponsor, in reality this never happens! The project manager develops the project charter based on information from the sponsor and other key stakeholders. Too often project managers skip developing a project charter and focus purely on the project scope statement. I prefer to use both documents. I use the charter to develop a list of questions that provide me further information about the BPI project, why it is being undertaken, its link to the organizational strategic goals and the overall objectives for the project.

Once finalized and approved by the sponsor, the charter is then used to develop the project scope statement. This charter, as well as the scope statement, enables me to better manage my stakeholders as the project work takes place. I frequently refer back to that charter to ensure we stay on track with the project, pushing back as necessary when the project is taking the wrong direction or is at risk of doing so. It enables me to have better conversations regarding changes to the BPI project.

BPI Project Charter Components

Components of BPI project charters are described in the table below:

Component of Charter

Description

Project manager authority level

What are the responsibilities of the project manager for this BPI project? Will she have authority to source and manage project team members? Is she responsible for securing and selecting external vendors? Can she manage to the budget or must approval be obtained before money can be spent against the budgeted amount?

Business case

Why is the BPI project being launched? Is it to reduce expenses, increase time-to-market for new products, or merge redundant processes within two divisions? There are any number of valid business reasons as to why a BPI project is being planned.

Project description

This section provides a brief 2 – 3 sentence description of the project. For example, enhance internal communication processes cross-functionally to enable for improved transmitting of information about current projects underway within the organization. Included here, if available at the time of project charter development, will be specific high level tasks associated with the project.

Project objectives and success criteria

Denote here the objectives of the project at a higher level, along with what is considered successful. For example, project will be completed within one year of launch or budget will not exceed a specified amount.

Considering the example project description provided above, also included in this section might be a success criterion such as, departments will share information more readily and early on when projects are initially launched using a variety of approved channels.

Expected risks

When projects are launched, there are usually risks that can be expected. Risks might include difficulty in engaging stakeholders, reduced resources to commit to work on the project, or limited time for completion. Some organizations have common and consistent risks associated with every BPI project. For example, engaging the workforce to change might be a consistent risk within an organization if the workforce tends to resist change.

Department involvement and participation level

Early on in many BPI projects you will know who needs to be involved in the project. For example, if the BPI project is to evaluate Accounts Receivable processes, surely the Accounting Department will be involved in the initiative. Their participation level may include providing information on the current process, participating in design of a new process and testing the new process.

Project benefits and business impact expected

List each desired project benefit in this section, along with the business impact expected. Be specific, ensuring goals are measurable. For example, improve collection of A/R, reducing time from 45 days to collect to 30 days within 6 months of new process launch.

Project milestones

Milestones are major events within the project. For BPI projects, milestones may include documentation of a current process, straw model design of a new process, or completion of stakeholder interviews.

Project expenditures

When possible for the project, provide an estimate (or approved budget allocation) for key components of the project. For example, $5,000 may be set aside to interview stakeholders or $50,000 to hire an external contractor to document the “to be” process.

 

BPI Project Charter Best Practices

Here are the best practice steps I take to create a BPI project charter:

  • Compile all of the information I already have for the project based on emails I have received from the sponsor and others, memos I have received and conversations I have had. I add that information to the project charter – filling in whatever blanks I can based on my knowledge of the business and what the business is trying to accomplish.
  • Review the charter with the project sponsor and any other key stakeholders to validate the information I have and fill in the blanks. I have found that by going in to this meeting with a charter that includes not just the information they have provided but also information that I assume to be valid based on my knowledge of the business, I’m able to have better, more productive and efficient conversations about the purpose of the BPI project. The more I know about the project the better I can manage it and share that information with the project team to get them engaged, committed and excited about the initiative.
  • Revise the project charter with the additional information based on my conversation with the project sponsor and other key stakeholders. Incorporate any new information and identify any new questions or concerns for another conversation with the sponsor.
  • Review the charter one more time with the sponsor and any other key stakeholders. Get any additional questions or concerns addressed.
  • Finalize the charter and get sign off from the sponsor.

While this may seem initially like a large effort, it really is not. Spending this time up front to get the charter accurate enables for me to develop strong relationships with the project sponsor and any other key stakeholders. It also ensures that I understand what we are doing with this project and why – which enables me to have better conversations with team members and other stakeholders. You can’t effectively manage a BPI project – and get others committed to it – if you don’t know the business reason behind the BPI project. You notice that in each conversation with the sponsor I have advanced progress on the charter. Additionally, I have taken some steps in filling in the blanks myself based on knowledge I already have. It may not be completely accurate, but enables for far more productive conversations with the sponsor and other key stakeholders.

In summary, create a project charter for all of your BPI projects, to enable for getting your “head” around the project and developing key questions to ask sponsors to ensure you have what you need for project success.

Posted by Gina Abudi on: October 10, 2017 07:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Are You Ready for Your Next Project?

Before you officially begin your next project, consider whether you can answer the following questions:

  • Are you aware of why the project is being launched? If not, find out! Ask the project sponsor why this particular project is being launched? What is the goal of the project? To what strategic organizational goal is the project aligned? This information enables you to understand the priority level of the project as well as have information that enables for securing resources and “selling” the project to team members and stakeholders.
     
  • Do you have the knowledge to run the project? What are your strengths and weaknesses regarding the project? When you understand areas that you are not as knowledgeable as you might be or may have limited skills, you can use that knowledge to ensure you recruit team members who can help fill in the gaps. You don’t need to be an expert in every area of the project, others will have expertise you do not. Rely on their expertise to ensure a successful project.
     
  • How do stakeholders feel about the project? Are they champions of the project? Are they against it? How do you know? If you don’t know, find out! Ask stakeholders their opinion about the project. Are they excited about it or worried? If worried, dive deeper to understand why so that you can address those concerns and get stakeholders on board with the project.
  • Can the project be implemented as is? If it is a large, complex initiative, you might consider breaking down the project into smaller components to be more easily managed and to enable for quicker successes.
     
  • How will the project “stick” when complete? What reinforcements will be put in place to ensure the project end result “sticks?” Will training be needed? What incentives are necessary? What processes will need to change? Consider what will need to happen to ensure the project sticks so that you can prepare early.

What else do you do to get ready for your projects?

Posted by Gina Abudi on: September 11, 2017 02:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

5 Ways to Engage Employees in Change Projects

Engaging employees in change projects is essential to ensure that the change initiative is accepted and “sticks.” Consider these five ways to engage employees in your next change initiative.

  1. Get employees involved in shaping the change early on. Ask their opinions via a survey or in focus groups. This enables employees to provide their thoughts, concerns and feedback. When employees are involved in shaping the change they are more committed to the change overall.
  2. Ensure a cross representative group of employees who will actually work on the tasks associated with the change project. Since employees will be working with the change, it is important that they serve on the team who is working on the change project.
  3. Ask for feedback throughout the change initiative. As the change project progresses, ask employees to provide their thoughts through participation in pilot group testing, surveys, an internal website, focus group sessions or in one-on-one conversations. Enabling for continuous feedback enables for shaping a change initiative that will work for employees.
  4. Consider creating a stakeholder support committee. This group, comprised of employees from throughout the organization, enables for regular engagement in the change initiative. For complex change initiatives in particular, a stakeholder support committee are your champions on the project and keep others engaged in the initiative through sharing information about the change project.
  5. Once the change initiative is launched, be sure to check in with employees after they have had time to work with the change. This may be through surveys, focus groups, department meetings or in other forums. Use this check in time to determine improvements that may be made to ensure the next change initiative is even better.
Posted by Gina Abudi on: September 11, 2017 02:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Use Brainstorming to Gather Ideas for Business Process Improvement (BPI) Projects

Increase the number of people who contribute to improving a process

Often, when we are trying to improve upon a business process, we want to gather ideas from as many users of that process as possible. This is not always easy to do, especially when we have a larger group of users. Consider using brainstorming as a great way to gather input from a large number of users. Brainstorming works well even when the users are in different locations and it is not practical or feasible to get them together in one location.

Consider these best practice steps to brainstorm with a variety of individuals, across a variety of locations, to gather as many thoughts and ideas as possible:

  1. Put flip charts in a variety of locations in each of the offices impacted by the process improvement initiative. For example, you might put them in a cafeteria, in hallways around departments, in a conference room or any other location that is accessible by employees only. (For one of my clients, we utilize a room that has white board walls and post questions related to the process improvement initiative on each wall in the room.)
  2. At the top of each flip chart page – ask the question or state the problem. For example, The current process of paying vendor invoices is creating delays in meeting our goal of paying vendors within 30 days. What improvements might be made in the process to ensure we pay all vendors within a 30 day timeline?
  3. Hold a number of virtual meetings and send an email around and let people know about the process improvement project and state that you need and want their ideas! Let them know about the flip charts in each office and where those flip charts are located. Ask them to take some time throughout the day over a specific period of time (say one or two weeks to gather ideas) and write down an idea, suggestion, thought, concern or question on a flipchart in a location near them.
  4. Be sure to designate a point of contact or two in each office location who can: check in and tape filled up flips to rooms and ensure that there is always flip chart paper handy for participants to write on as well as markers to write with. This person may also serve as a point of contact if any participant from their office location has questions.

For a two week time period to respond to the question(s) asked, send at least one reminder after the first week. This keeps the initiative fresh in people’s minds and encourages further participation.

At the end of the time period for participation, ask the point of contact at each site to gather up the flip charts, compile the information and share with the business process improvement project team. One central point of contact designated by the project manager should then compile all flip chart data and sort and categorize as appropriate. 

This information will then be used to craft an initial draft (or two) of a new process in order to share back with the individuals impacted to get their thoughts on a potential “to be” process.

I have used this best practice at a number of clients as part of business process improvement (BPI) initiatives and have seen great success in getting significant participation in the BPI initiative.

Remember, we don’t want to limit the number of individuals contributing to improving a process. The more individuals we can get involved, the more likely that we have champions of our BPI initiative who are, therefore, more likely to actually utilize that new process.

Posted by Gina Abudi on: September 11, 2017 02:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
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