A reflective journal that addresses the specific questions in Assignment 3 of PMQ501, Project Management Essentials 1, part of the Graduate Certificate in Project Management at Queensland University of Technology
PMQ501 is first unit in the Graduate Certificate in Project management, but it is the final unit for me. Modern flexible and remote learning allowed me to start the course at a time that suited my lifestyle and study the units as they became available. That means I had completed stakeholder engagement, considered the human factors in project management, prepared a Project Plan and taken several passes through the PMBOK Guide before preparing a business case. My result in the assignment reflected this experience. Group interaction is something I need to improve. I was relieved it was absent in this unit. I am detail oriented by nature and painting a business case with a broad brush was an interesting experience. I had to fight myself all the way to prevent the scope creeping into a fully blown Project Plan. Deciding what to leave out and when to stop was the most difficult part.
Reflections on the business case
Previously, my business cases were far less structured and contained far less information. I was privy to the business case that supported the Managed Operating Environment Project for a State government department. It was a short e-mail, less than an A4 page in length. That document justified a project that ultimately cost over $1billion and transformed information technology across the State. At first glance preparing a business case as an assignment seemed easy. As this course proceeded it became apparent the requirements were far more exacting than any I had written before. I will be using the structure of the assignment for my future business cases.
Changing views on the project itself
I chose the topic for Assignment 2 from a problem I am dealing with as part of my job. Preparing the business case made me concentrate on the benefits to be realised rather than just the technical task of buying and installing software. That revealed a knowledge gap that exposed my organisation to risk and closing that gap became a critical success factor in realising the benefits. This forced me to include contracting and knowledge transfer in the requirements, adding complexity and cost that would otherwise have been missed. It made the project seem less attractive but far more likely to succeed.
Reflection on choices
Writing the business plan was a complex interaction that exhibited emergent behaviour. Some aspects of the project were not anticipated before writing the business case. I have a bias toward using in-house talent, but a knowledge gap emerged that required contracting experts. My initial choices in this area were wrong and changed while preparing the plan.
Communication will be an important part of managing this project. Getting it right is especially important as a key employee who must be involved has a history of reticence.
The first step in planning communication is building a comprehensive list of stakeholders. I used a spreadsheet for this purpose. A spreadsheet allows for automation and re-use of information. Documents like this are organisational process assets and can be re-used on multiple projects.
Stakeholders are then analysed and assigned categories depending on their power, influence and interest. The spreadsheet allows emergent stakeholders to be added and changes to existing stakeholders made at any time. It also allows stakeholder data to be imported into scheduling software and desktop publishing software for personalising communication
Planned communication such as briefings, newsletters and e-mail updates can be tailored for specific categories of stakeholder. Integration with scheduling software means stakeholders who actually perform tasks for the project can receive automated reminders.
I prefer to standardise and automate communications wherever possible. A carefully crafted message for each category of stakeholder ensures everyone is informed to the appropriate level and no-one is missed. VIP stakeholders can be flagged and treated as exceptions with personally crafted messages at appropriate times.
Key Human Resources
I identified two critical human resources that must be recruited and integrated into the project team. A Ping Directory consultant and a Unify Systems Integration Consultant.
The Ping Directory Consultant will be identified during sales consultation with the Ping organisation. It is in the interest of Ping to introduce a competent consultant trained in their directory product as part of the sales process. In addition, we have a statutory requirement to advertise the requirement and conduct a competitive selection process. The result will be a qualified consultant who fits the technical and cultural needs of our organisation. Recruitment of the Ping Directory Consultant would commence through our Human Resources Branch as soon as the Project Charter is authorised. Timely on-boarding is a critical success factor.
We have an existing relationship with Unify that includes a preferred supplier arrangement for consultancy. That means we can simply advise Unify of the start date and expected duration of the consultancy and use a pre-negotiated contract. Timely onboarding of the Unify consultant is also a critical success factor.
Our organisation has well documented procedures for on-boarding new consultants. A member of the Operations team will conduct this process when necessary. On-boarding is a routine activity and Operations has sufficient capacity to deal with it with the time constraints in the Business Plan.
My mention of timely on-boarding of human resources proved prophetic. Our human resources department proved too slow in arranging the contract for the chosen Ping Directory Consultant. The person selected accepted another position. Our project is on hold until a replacement can be found.