SIEMENS ARGO PROJECT : Success story upon “Project Healthcheck”

SIEMENS ARGO PROJECT : Success story upon “Project Healthcheck”

SUMMARY:

SIEMENS Turkey initiated a companywide project management skills development program Argo, earlier in March 2014. The main purpose of this program was to increase the awareness of Siemens staff on key concepts of world-class project management techniques, as well as equipping them with fundamental project management skills. It was expected that this program would also set the foundations for developing a “Project Management Discipline Skillpool” within Siemens Turkey and form an alternative career development path for some of the staff.

Program’s name “Argo” comes from an mythological Greek ship, which was built by a shipwright named “Argus” as the first ship for high sea voyage, and believed that its crew were specially protected by the goddess Hera. From a Learning & Development, as well as Program Management point of view, program’s name Argo is a good fit for its intended purpose; to inspire Siemens staff to take the challenge to embark on long and complex projects, while equipping them with the right set of skills.

GBMC Consultancy was asked by Siemens Turkey to support the ARGO program and to lead the Learning & Development side of this journey. Firstly, Program Steering Committee was established to provide guidance and necessary leadership support (resources, budget, strategic direction etc). Following an internal scouting campaign, 10 project groups applied with their prospective projects for endorsement by the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee narrowed down project groups to 5 different teams by considering 4 main criteria for their selection; potential market size, competition & profitability, capabilities and impact on existing business. After the selection of well-defined projects, GBMC provided both training & mentoring program for the selected 5 project teams as part of the Argo program. As a result, all five teams went through the journey of developing a project development and execution plan under strict deadlines and dynamic circumstances. Another key benefit of this “on the job” learning and development program was the fact that it was not just a simulation but the winning project was to be funded and implemented, this was one of the key enablers in keeping project teams focused and motivated.

In conclusion, 32 of Siemens staff went through an enjoyable but tough journey in a period of 5 months. The key success factors of this program were leadership, team commitment and program design. First of all, the fact that Siemens Turkey’s Leadership Team understood the value locked in advanced Project Management skills for their business, this has enabled them to commit to such a program. Secondly the design of the Learning & Development program by GBMC; not only providing class-room training, but implimenting it by on-site mentoring and monthly field- implementation support.

 

  • Selection process:

 

  • Gap Analysis: To carry out a Gap Analysis, first identify prospective project’s objectives this is the “future state.” Then analyze the current situation, making sure that you gather information from the right sources. Finally, identify how the gap can be bridged between the current situation and the desired future state.
  • Staffing balance is another concern on team formation. It is recommended and urged that team members should be chosen from different departments and background. Team size is in between 5 and 7 group members.
  • Leadership responsibilities: Sharing leadership makes the team formation more complex, in addition the team’s unity and ability to communicate become more important than a single leadership model.
  • Project Team hierarchy is not emphasized. However, each team has a project sponsor for potential open issues & necessary directions during the course of the project.
  • Culture of the firm is very suitable to deploy entrepreneurial, well-defined, client focus projects, a single senior sponsor is responsible for achieving the goal.

 

  • Training program:

 

In this stage, GBMC concultancy held 2 different training sessions with the participation of whole program team. 2 training modules were applied respectively, “Art of Project management” & “Change management in projects”.

 

  • Mentoring program

 

Developing the Project and Program Management approach is important but not enough, therefore our aim is to emphasize the business model of management by projects. To do this, we mainly focused on below items during the mentorship sessions;

 

-Producing a Workable Schedule

-Measuring time-to-market, cost-to-market, and quality-to market.

-Occuring a fact-oriented culture

-Determining the right balance for the organization

 

The main benefits of managing projects in both training & mentorship program are as follows:

  • Good discussion and debate ambient without organizational hierarchy
  • Manage communications with program-level stakeholders. Develop the program communications strategy. Ensure an integrated change approach across the program
  • Manage shared resources within the program. Manage program-level team members, and project managers
  • Develop an overall business case, with program-level costs and benefits
  • Agree on the overall program plan, including project plans at the milestone level and the program critical path. Monitor progress against the high-level plan
  • Manage integration points between the projects within the program
  • Assign independently project managers and documentation responsible and other key project team members
  • Team has a single presentation delivery structure

 

3.1) 1st Mentorship:

 

All project group could use the same structure since some PM template had been submitted to the team timely before. We have focused on prerequisites and contents of a “Project Charter” for project success during the first mentorship session. These are:

 

  • Explain set of objectives
  • Definition of problem and benefits
  • Well-understood expectations
  • Well-structured methodology
  • Scope / Out of scope
  • Team roles and responsibilities
  • Milestones and deliverables
  • Team management processes

 

All project team wrote down a clear “project charter” which defines below points:

 

  • Explain set of objectives

 

Goal: What is the “as is” and “to be” state of the project? What are we trying to achieve? Team listed their project’s objectives and prioritize them, where possible.

On the one hand, we were looking for anwers of some questions to make a clear definition of project purpose. What will be the company benefit by achieving the goal? How can we specify quantitative & qualitative benefits ? Who are the beneficiaries ? What is the underlying motivation for starting the project in the first place ?

On the other hand, we were figuring out the projects’ outputs. What are the project deliverables? What are the success criteria, what changes must be made, and what will the result be? How can we refine project scope together with new feedbacks of the related areas.

Clear goals cannot be accomplished without meaningful and informative metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Therefore, all groups determined their KPIs which can be used as success criteria at the end of project.

 

 

  • Definition of problem and benefits

 

During the project selection process, “gap analysis” compared the current situation with the future state that project team want to achieve once project is complete. In this way, gap analysis identified what needs to be done in “preferred” projects. At serial mentorship meetings, project team spent extra time to clarify the losses, problems and missing opportunities to prevent “foggy definition” of benefits.

 

  • Well-understood expectations

 

Team also listed the key constraints, limitations and restrictions that could affect the project. In this case, we were looking for anwers to below questions.

  • What are the necessary conditions to get practical & useful project goal ?
  • What conditions & resources will be necessary for the project ?
  • What do we need to complete activities successfully ?
  • To achieve the purpose, what external factors do we need to have in place?
  • What will be done in order to deliver the required outputs?

 

  • Well-structured methodology

 

Since Siemens has own PM methodology, it is easy to follow how the project will be governed, and who is involved. As GBMC, We additionally described the approval processes for project phase exit and entry, risk & change management strategies and critical project deliverables.

 

  • Scope / Out of scope

 

Scope: Uncontrolled changes were defined and checked in the project’s scope. Long time has been spent to make clear definition on this area by defining the project’s functionality, systems, interfaces, processes, departments, and external stakeholders such as suppliers and customers. Also, each team aligned its scope according to project deadline.

Out of scope : Many fruitful discussions were made while “out of scope” were reviewing with project teams.

We outlined the high-level business case, costs and benefits and identified where we can find more details or the full business case. We strongly discussed qualitative as well as quantitative benefits. In addition, team listed all of the assumptions that we have made in our projected cost and benefit statements.

 

  • Team roles and responsibilities

 

It was very useful to make communication plan and pick up a responsible for managing communication within the project, and for managing relationships with key stakeholders.

 

Stakeholder Management discussion is principally based on:

  • The importance or weight of a stakeholder’s overall influence
  • The relationships between stakeholders
  • Which problems are affecting which stakeholders ?

 

Furthermore, we identified the project sponsor and any other key people who have been involved in initiating the project, such as people involved in creating the project authorization, business case, or strategy document.

 

We agreed the processes for reporting; planning; managing risks and issues, scheduling. Also we identified what we require from each member of project team.

 

  • Milestones and deliverables

 

The project could not be delayed beyond September 19, 2014. We had clearly agreed what we were going to deliver.

 

  • Team management processes

 

Typical team internal meeting frequency is once a week at the office. It is fairly enough to hold Program reviews once a month.

 

2nd Mentorship:

 

During the second mentorship session, we communicated what needs to be done on deadlines, and we expected outputs from assigned people who are responsible of the work packages.

 

Typical next steps for project team members are:

  • Review earlier project documentation such as the project authorization and business case
  • Occur team approach for implementation, and record this in a strategy document
  • Plan the next phases of the project in detail
  • Identify resources required throughout the project

 

Next important discussion point is how to handle challenges, risks, and issues during the course of the project. Project team identified key challenges, risks, and issues that might affect the project and focused on the big items after prioritizing. Aggressive project timelines are well-defined and project team put extra “bumpers” to prevent stay in beyond schedule.

 

Another point is to handle project issues which are more related with resources, equipment, material, or people problems and project status and compliance of third parties. Issues known as problems, gaps, inconsistencies, incompatibilities or conflicts definitely need to be recorded when they happen. Issues log provides a vigorous tool for reporting and communicating to direct the project. This also will help risk management.

 

ARGO team was very succesful to raise their issues. They tracked and assigned responsibility to specific people according to their RACI matrix for each issue. Furthermore, they analyze & prioritize their issues and record them future reference as lesson learned. It enables their consultant to review and monitor overall project health.

 

3.2) 3rd Mentorship:

 

When the third mentorship session was held, “Project Healthcheck” was the outstanding subject.

 

Conducting a Project Healthcheck: To have a complete picture of the project’s progress, and understand how different stakeholders influenced the project by then. Project Healthcheck was conducted by a GBMC Principal Consultant.

 

 

 

The benefits of health checks that we observed:

  • Getting stakeholders to fullfil to their obligations and responsibilities, and to motivate the team
  • Training new project managers, and identify any changes that the project manager must make
  • Developing action plans to resolve significant & complex issues that can not be handled as a day-to-day project activity
  • Reviving the organization’s motivation and commitment to project.
  • Getting a project retrospectives
  • Making sure that the team is using the appropriate project management processes, systems and tools
  • Identifying present & future risks as well as possible risk mitigation strategies
  • Validate that the project’s metrics are correct and provide meaningful data to the team
  • Identifying lessons learned, best practices, and critical success factors that can be used on future projects

 

When the mentorship program is completed, 5 different team played the 5 different roles considering their attitudes towards the stakeholders. Although team members have different characteristics, some people influence others through power of personality so team behavior is shaped by dominant characters in the team.

 

It is obvious that there is no “winning formula” among various project groups but we can aggregate their collective attitudes under the title of 5 different team behaviors. In the meantime, I happily observed that all groups made ego-free interactions which are key to successful leadership and team spirit. As a company culture, communicating effectively, empowering individuals towards project outcomes and delegate smaller tasks to the team to accomplish goals enough to keep them motivated.

 

 

 

 

You can see in the below table, team behaviors, their background of project ideas, challenges and target focus to understand their resolution plans.

Team Team behavior Idea Challenge Target Focus
A Political team Remove productivity loss Organizational change , Support for “pilot project” Progressing with combination of alternative solution in the current market Awareness, increase customer satisfaction for plug-in model and turn key solutions
B Diversified team Strong feasibility analysis; proactively managing market drivers Dealing with location, time zone and language differences; Support for getting some data Creating alternatives with Multiple inputs, reduce initial investment Attract Investors
C Adaptable team Visibility & tracibility of product & service governmental bureaucracy, outsourcing IT work, More added values by tracking the current systems Pace-setter for new Supportive / adaptive software
D Technically competent team Combining & commonization of of calculation Database comparison ; Support for Software purchase Widen “new method use” throughout company Change current & conservative habits
E Experienced team Saving with simplification & combining No extra-time due to intense routine on site Reduce material & labour with the existing know-how in all segments To extend new way of business for all prospective projects

 

  • Conclusion:

 

The true success of a project is not only making a profit, but also benefiting knowledge of current learning curve for the entire company. I highlighted some points below to explain some best practices during our mentorship program.

 

It is even more important when working globally, Siemens Turkey is able to share best practices and organizational standards. It allows the company to the exchange information upon products, resource management, quality of service, etc.

 

Senior management support is vital to get successful project outcomes when multiple projects are running through the company. Project communication and team response would be smoother with management support instead of reacting to daily emergencies like fire fighting. Management support makes the project team more successful in their client engagements.

 

Developing “quick-wins” is an important motivator especially for generation –Y.

 

Project team’s participation is critical. It is a difficult task to bring all the team members together considering their daily routines. On the otherhand, It is undeniable that different knowledge, experiences and level of authority people will compose a very strong team. Understanding the future benefits of project management will play a key role for willingness of participation.

 

It is significant to debate and agree the key challenges, risks, and issues with the project team during the very early stages of the project. This will underpin team members to engage with the project, and allow them to take ownership of it.

 

Project efforts should be applied with consistency. Mentorship program highly contributed this consistency and people coherence. Level of question and project management maturity increased considerably when they are compared to the beginning of project.

 

Project goals are identified as dashboards by GBMC Principal Consultant. All project tools & history are documented by project team in the project files in order to use like a leverage for similar occasion as the organizational assets in the close future.

 

Project managers make both project and business decisions in the contemporary workplace. Since it is not easy to cope with managing uncertanity in the project world, “mentorship program” will surely contribute to the company’s own employees in hands-on operations on below highlighted points:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • How to manage multiple stakeholders
  • Establishing metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • How to perform feasibility studies and cost-benefit analyses
  • How to develop soft skills (i.e. the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism etc)
  • Conflict management skills
  • Managing complex projects
  • How to forseen project assumptions
  • How to establish communication plan
  • How to combine company’s project management methodologies and business realities

 

 

With my warm regards,

Ercan CIHAN

GBMC Principal Consultant