Context & Issues
Indaver is a waste management player, active on the Belgian, Dutch, German, GB and Irish market. For this organization project management is key. Most industrial initiatives are in the form of CAPEX projects and have a huge influence on the future development and profitability of that organization. It is also a way to innovate in this high-tech business. The organization has a classical setup of steering committees and they were currently structuring their project management process (including e-management of projects). The original demand was to train the project leaders in using the project management process and more specifically focus on the change management aspects of project management.
Our Analysis of the issue
After having talked with a number of key stakeholders in the project management process (including top management) it became obvious that the thinking in the organization about key elements of the project management process was still very much ‘evolving’ and there was yet no really vision on a number of issues such as :
- The key outcomes of the defined stages in the project management process
- Role of the project leaders in the different stages
- The approval process (based on what questions steering committees examine a project)
- The project management process was still in evolution
- Portfolio management and budget allocation to projects
At the same time became apparent that different key stakeholders had to be involved if we wanted to really change the ‘behavior’ and the project management process in reality (not on paper). The main stakeholders were the decision committees, the project owners, the steering committees, the hierarchical heads of main business and industrial /operational areas, etc…
The intervention process
So we decided not to go for an isolated training for project leaders, but create an inclusive process in which the other stakeholders were likewise involved around key questions.
We created short workshops and focus groups with the different stakeholders to get the most important issues on the table and used that information to improve the project management process description. Part of this was also a 3 day learning track with the project managers focusing on questions such as :
- What is the key of each of the project phases ?
- What is my role ?
- What is a successful projects and what do we need to do in each stage to contribute to that ?
- What kind of data and analysis we need to create a compelling business case embedded in the strategy of the organization
- What do steering and decision committees need to look at in order to make ‘good decisions’
- How to involve stakeholders throughout the process in order to build support for effective operational implementation and handover to the ‘permanent organization’ in such a way that guarantees business success of the implemented technology or new investment.
We developed also a small ‘toolbox’ that introduced common methodology for stakeholder management, environmental scan, swot and matrix analysis to identify business opportunities, for comparing possible solutions, ask the right strategic questions to project proposals, After Action Review, etc...
Instead of having a ‘training’ for a target group, the decision to involve all stakeholders and co-create with them the way they work in and with projects created companywide behavior change. Project leaders didn’t only change the way they looked at their own role, project owners and steering and decision committees also started to expect other things from them, thus reinforce their behavior.
A few concrete changes are :
- More focus on ‘business revenue’ and less on ‘within budget and on time’
- Project leaders are less seen as ‘executers’ of an idea to implemented, but advisors to the board how to address a problem or a business challenge
- Less focusing on opinions and more on effective data gathering and fact analysis
- Implementation, change and handover to the permanent organization is now top of mind from the start and leads to very active stakeholder management and involvement throughout the live of the project.
This process didn’t stop after the learning track for project leaders. Within the organization a number of issues that were still hanging such as : how to deal with ‘Turnkey’ projects, portfolio management, technical knowledge management, etc…
And recently we started a new learning track for another group of project leaders, focusing on getting those new behaviors on project management deeper into the organization and working further on a number of loose ends that still have to be addressed.