Project Management in Dynamic Environments

By MHomrich

Some industries’ operational models are built on program and project management tools and processes. Those organizations are well adapted to project management and they reap the benefits. However, many organizations need the benefits of program and project management but are challenged on how to implement project management tools and processes.

I’ve worked with organizations across a variety of industries that have deployed various tools (Teamcenter schedule manager, 3rd party solutions) and processes (Waterfall, Agile, scrum, Six Sigma and others). But of particular interest have been organizations that function in ‘dynamic environments’.

My definition of dynamic environments is where organizations:

    • Operate in highly competitive markets
    • Build and maintain market share via regular new product introduction
    • Must respond to rapidly evolving requirements
    • Optimize their product portfolio via product platforms that can be leveraged for individual customers or markets
    • Are constrained by time, money and skilled resources

There are two common but critical scenarios that emerge during the life of most projects, regardless of the organization’s tools and processes. One scenario is when senior management questions what and when the team will deliver and at what cost. The second scenario is the good old “what if” questions. What if resources aren’t available for the project? What if the requirements change? What if the project has to deliver sooner? What if all three happen?

The need for organizations in dynamic environments to respond effectively to those two scenarios is critical to the success of their business. But many organizations are challenged to do so in a cost effective manner with minimal impact to project team productivity. However, I believe that organizations in dynamic environments can more effectively respond to the two scenarios described above when the project delivery teams (and by ‘delivery team’ I mean engineers, designers, analysts, technician, testers, etc. and not adjunct team members from the PMO, for example) are held accountable for project management and execution responsibilities.

I’ve seen organizations struggle in their efforts to hold project delivery teams accountable for project management and project execution responsibilities. Often times delivery teams defer project management/execution related activities because they view them as non-value added overhead activities or they are reluctant to expose performance data less it be misinterpreted and set off the wrong alarms. And when this happens, the business is at risk and the dynamic environment becomes even more complex than necessary.

My goal in a series of blogs is to discuss how project delivery teams can effectively and efficiently manage and execute projects; topics will include:

    • How team members in dynamic environments plan their work for a given day, week or month; how should that influence how projects are planned?
    • How can teams focus on ‘delivery’ while keeping the plan up to date?
    • What data is required to report the ‘status’ of individual tasks/deliverables and the project as a whole?
    • How should managers and team members respond when a project status is red; how should the team self-correct?
    • How do methodologies such as Agile and Waterfall impact the above?
    • What is expected of embedded project management applications like Teamcenter schedule manager?
    • How do related processes such as program management, change management and portfolio management help or hinder the effectiveness of project teams?

I look forward to the discussion.

About the blogger: “Process” is one of the areas within the Teamcenter product maturity matrix for which my product management team and I are responsible. In particular, I am the product manager for program management and execution. You might know this area as the schedule manager application. In this blog I plan to address project management topics relevant to PLM users.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at