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Topics: Governance, Leadership, Organizational Project Management, Using PMI Standards
How to simplify project management

I've joined my current company fairly recently, and have identified a number of changes to make to the framework my business area use to manage projects and programmes. We are moving towards a more Agile way of thinking and trying to launch some hybrid projects as i speak.

There are some long serving employees in the team and one in particular has a habit of completely over complicating what we do, to the point it doesn't make sense. When I'm looking at revamping templates etc I think about what do I NEED to capture here in the most concise way possible to actually get effective stakeholder buy in. Long, waffling documents impress no one (in my opinion)

Any tips to help bring these colleagues round to a more efficient, fresh way of thinking?
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It really depends on whether there is a defined project methodology in place and whether it is embraced and enforced by management. It also depends on what role do these employees play on the project, are they part of your project team?
In general, there is a minimum set of project documents that need to be managed for each project, number, content and complexity of which increase with project scale and complexity itself.

One suggestion as a new company joiner, try to observe how things work, build good relationship with the team and align with their approach as a first stage and eventually you will get their buy in and collaboration on future projects, then it would become easier to contribute your insights and new ways.

Remember that you have to let the team organize itself. Your job is to coach the team to think differently so they can figure it out. It is not your job to tell them what to do or how to do it. If you try to do so, you can expect resistance.

Remember that what is more efficient for you may not be to another person or team. The exercise I used in change management workshops was to make people more "efficient" by having them sign only every second letter of their full name.

thanks both! Apologies i should have perhaps been clearer - I've been with this company for around 8 months so not 'new' new, but i still feel like a relative baby. Thankfully the leadership within our function are on the same page and are heavily encouraging this freshen and revamp of the framework, it's just frustrating when suggestions that we know are good practice and viable aren't received as well as we would have liked.

It's a journey though - so hopefully as those nor embracing the change see the positives they'll be more receptive.

At the moment I'm purely talking about PM colleagues and the changes to our framework - rolling out to the business and how we actually manage projects in practice will be a much bigger challenge!

I agree that project management documentation for the sake of project management is over stated and unnecessary in many cases. Biggest problem we have is the governance and oversight for various project approvals. We've created unnecessary layers of approvals that have very little added value because the people for the most part sitting on these committees and boards have virtually no project management experience. If they did, our success rate would be much higher. We are in the process of trying to simply some of documentation to make it relevant and as succinct as possible. We are also developing templates so there is more consistency across the organization. For example, of what not to do, our new project approval directive Is over 400 pages! Most people working in PMOs never read the entire document, but it does describe the various processes and steps in detail, but the real issue again is the layer upon layer of approvals projects must go through. So my advice, keep it simple, relevant, and value added. There will always be those resistant to change. To help bring them on board, I suggest a change management approach, and perhaps set up meetings or workshops to discuss the new changes coming and ask them for their input. In that manner they feel engaged, and you can also use that venue to sway opinion if done right. Good luck!

I'd suggest starting by identifying who is actually benefiting from each artifact. You might find some are not being consumed by anyone!

Agree with Kiron. Sometimes we carry over legacy documentation/processes without questioning why we are doing it. What I will do with those remaining is to reevaluate what content is needed. I have always tried to create templates that can cater to a wide variety of situations and that means that it contains a lot of optional section. So you might end up with a template containing 10 sections but one 3 are mandatory, the rest you retain/discard based on your particular situation.

A general comment on how to simplify project management (but unfortunately not something you can formalize) is to do what works. We spend hours, days, weeks and months fretting about our approach and what documentation/ceremonies we should/should not have. We decided on Agile Scrum and now everybody is afraid to sit down or write a sentence longer than 10 words. Understand your project, objectives, and stakeholders and decide what will work. Adapt when needed as you go along.

I was in charge to do that. Question you have to ask yourself: 1-What does mean simplify for you or your organization? When you ask that then start working with focus on the definition. Believe me, you will surprise. For example, after defined it, we use Lean principles to simplify. An remember: simplify something will impact the whole enterprise architecture (business, application, tecnology, security, information layers). 2-What does mean agile for you or your organization? Agile is about to be prepare for unexpected and unplanned changes then is the next step you can take after simplify.

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