Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A Philosophy of Projects and Products (Part 1 of 3)

Ron, the IT Director, was meeting with his managers.  “Phil, what is the status of the SAP implementation?”  “The PWC consultants are on schedule and on budget.”  Ron, looking across the table at the manager over the imaging applications, then asked, “Allison, how is the new fax/OCR product?”  “Ron, I wish this Brand X consulting firm we selected was half as good as PWC at schedules and budgets, then it would almost be worth it to continue using them. I’m going to have to continuously monitor their progress, but we should probably plan for a 100% overrun,” she replied.  Finally, to Dave who manages the finance applications, he asked about that status.  “We’re staying ahead of the vultures, but the primary focus is keeping the lights on and responding to the support calls.  We are running about normal on resourcing for maintenance and enhancement requests,” replied Dave.
This begins a three-part blog series on a rarely discussed but rather significant split in the way to look at project management.  The first two entries will take a look at PM from two common perspectives, then the final entry will address the impact and significance of this subject.
The PM environment I’ll discuss in this entry I’ll call Product Delivery (more accurately, Product & Service Delivery).  This is the classic craftsman model where process (and people and tool) maturity is used to enhance and optimize delivery of products and services.  This model is evolved from the journeyman, for whom every new creative effort is a original challenge.  By applying knowledge from lessons learned, best practices and risk management, delivery becomes more consistent, reliable, and predictable.
The core skill of the Product & Service Delivery (P&SD) organization is managing the product or service, their priority is product and service availability, and metrics focus on the product or service (i.e., PM practices are measured to produce more products, faster, for less cost).  Other characteristics of P&SD include a preference for milestones over deliverables, generally prioritizing scope over schedule or cost, resources (including PMs) are valued for their domain knowledge, and resources are generally shared between projects (new development) and maintenance/support.
Most IT organizations, for example, operate with this model and call what they do Project Management;  after all, they use processes and methodology modeled on the Project Management Institute’s (PMI’s) A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK).  They may even have a Project Management Office (PMO) to drive PM best practices. 
The maturity model best aligned with Product and Service Delivery is the Software Engineering Institute’s (SEI) Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI). 

1 comment:

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