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Trends and Emerging Practices

Project managers now use automated and visual tools for project integration. Knowledge management has gained importance. The responsibilities of the PM have increased. Hybrid methodologies (mixing predictive and agile) has gained popularity.

Project needs are assessed based on programme or portfolio before performing project scope management. This facilitates requirements, solutions and implementation. Business analysts (BA) are assigned to focus on requirements activities while PM still retains accountability for the requirements work, their timing, cost and value. In such a case, collaborative partnership between BA and the PM becomes important.

Application of Kanban to scheduling, that is similar to pull system from lean manufacturing, is helping to limit work in progress to balance demand with delivery capacity. This is done by pulling work from backlog or queue as soon as resources are available.

The traditional EVM (Earned Value Management) approach has been extended to include ES (Earned Schedule), wherein EV (Earned Value) is replaced by ES, and AC (Actual Cost) is replaced by AT (Actual Time). In this approach, SV (Schedule Variance) = ES-AT > 0 means ahead of schedule, SPI (Schedule Performance Index) = ES/AT which is efficiency of work achievement. Compare this with traditional EVM formulas for SV and SPI.

In the quality world, customer satisfaction has become key, continual improvement techniques like PDCA (plan-do-check-act) cycle, TQM (total quality management), six sigma or lean six sigma are being applied. Management responsibility for quality and mutually beneficial partnership with suppliers are helping to achieve quality goals. It is important to note that there are 5 levels of quality management, with the lowest level mentioned first below:

  • Customer finds defects

  • Detect defects before the customer finds them

  • Quality assurance for process analysis and correction

  • Quality planning for project and product

  • Quality culture for processes and products

From a resource management perspective, collaboration is taking precedence over command; optimized utilization of resources has become important. Resource management methods like JIT (just in time); Kaizen (a philosophy of improvement), TPM (total productive maintenance) and TOC (theory of constraints) are being used. TPM is Japanese approach for minimizing operational issues in production via automatic and regular maintenance, improvements, quality, training, safety, equipment management, etc. In TOC, some aspect of work needs to be maximized in order to remove or reduce a key constraint. EI (Emotional Intelligence) has become important for people managers, which includes inbound (self-management, self-awareness) and outbound (relationship) management. Team EI is also important. Agile teams are self-organizing, with the PM giving support and building trust among team members. Agile teams have generalized specialists rather than subject matter experts, for the team to adapt to customer demands. Virtual/distributed teams have become common.

Reviewing project stakeholders during project communications planning and including them in project -stakeholders are facilitating project progress. Social computing has gained importance for building working relationships. A multifaceted approach for communications is essential.

Apart from the usual event risks, the following concepts have gained importance in risk management:

  • Non-event risks

    • Variability risk - uncertainty about a planned event/decision/activity, which can be addressed using Monte Carlo simulation.

    • Ambiguity risk - of future due to imperfect knowledge, can be addressed by defining gap areas, filling them via benchmarking and stakeholder inputs or via incremental development, prototype and simulation.

  • Project resilience – this should be established for emergent risks (unknown unknowns) via budget and schedule levels, flexible processes, strong change management, team empowerment, frequent reviews of early warning signs and stakeholder inputs.

  • Integrated risk management across program, portfolio and organization with risk escalations.

Procurement has made advances in tools (for example, BIM building information model which is now mandated in engineering to save time and money and to reduce claims). Advanced risk management wherein accurate assignment of risks to different contracts is being practiced. Changing contracting process, for example in case of megaprojects, contractors work closely with client to get discounts and use International forms. Logistics and supply chain management has become time dependent based on industry with requirement for backup resources and stipulating minimum purchase from local vendors. Changing technology and stakeholder relations have led to scrutiny of public funded projects, webcams at sites showing progress, storing of video data for claims. In trial engagements, work is done on paid basis initially, then an evaluation for contract commitment while work progresses.

In the stakeholder area, involvement of regulators, lobby groups, environmentalists, financial organizations and media have become common.