We at Ultra Consultants participate in hundreds of projects a year. A majority of these projects revolve around Business Process Improvement, ERP selection, ERP Implementation and Change Management. But whatever the type of project, we have found that a strong ERP Project Management plan is the most influential factor in separating the successful projects from the unsuccessful ones.
Introducing the Project Management Series
This will be the first in a series of blogs focused on ERP Project Management. At Ultra Consultants, we follow the Project Management principles laid out by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines project management as the “application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements.”[i] It is accomplished through the use of a series of processes such as initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing.
Common Characteristics of Project Management
Project Management is an integrative endeavor where an action or failure to take action in one area will usually affect other areas. Common characteristics of project management include:
- Identifying requirements
- Establishing clear and achievable objectives
- Balancing the competing demands for quality, scope, time and cost
- Adapting the specifications, plans, and approach to the different concerns and expectations of the various stakeholders
- Understanding and utilizing knowledge and skills from the following areas:
- Application area knowledge, standards, and regulations
- Comprehension of the project environment
- General management knowledge and skills
- Interpersonal skills
The Project Manager’s job is to lead the project and bear the ultimate responsibility for accomplishing the project objectives. All of our project managers at Ultra are experienced and have led multiple successful Business Process Improvement, ERP selection, ERP Implementation and Change Management projects while providing valuable support to the internal PM’s of our clients.
Characteristics of the Best Project Managers
Debatably one of the most important skills of a successful Project Manager is the ability to interact interpersonally. In our experience, the best Project Managers exhibit the following qualities:
- Effective in communication – Project Managers must be able to easily exchange information throughout all levels of the company.
- Influential to the organization – Project Managers must possess the ability to “get things done.”
- Leadership – Project Managers must be able to develop a vision and strategy, and motivate people to achieve said vision and strategy.
- Ability to motivate – Project Managers must energize people to achieve high levels of performance and to overcome barriers to change.
- Ability to negotiate and manage conflicts – Project Managers must be able to confer and work diplomatically with others to reach an agreement.
- Problem solving skills – Project Managers must be able define the problem, identify alternative solutions, analyze results and be sound decision makers.
The Basic Structure of the Project Team
Below is a list of team structures we commonly see in our project engagements:
- Steering Team – This group is comprised of the project manager, company executives and the project sponsor. This group oversees the entire project to assure that cross functional improvements work well for the enterprise and fit into the strategic planning framework.
- Core Team Members – These people report either directly or indirectly to Steering Team Members and are responsible for performing project work as a regular part of their assigned duties. Core team members are functional players exhibiting high potential be the steering team leaders of the future.
- Project Management Team – This group includes all parties above: Project Manager, Steering Team and Core Team. The Project Management Team ultimately has a professional responsibility to the stakeholders of the project, including customers, company organization and public, for the overall outcome of the project.
- Project Stakeholders are individuals and organizations actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be affected as a result of project execution or project completion. They may also exert influence over the project’s objectives and outcomes. The project management team must identify the stakeholders, determine their requirements and expectations, and, to the most extent possible, manage their influence in relation to the requirements to ensure a successful project.
Project Management Processes
Projects are composed of processes. A process is a series of interrelated actions and activities that are performed to achieve a product, service or result. The Project Management Process Groups are divided into the following:
- Initiating Process Group
- Planning Process Group
- Executing Process Group
- Monitoring Process Group
- Closing Process Group
In follow-up blogs we will discuss the process groups in more detail and explain how they relate to the nine knowledge areas of Project Management.
[i] A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) Fourth Edition