What’s your current job title and what does that mean in practice?
My official title in Crescendo: Attaché project beheer at Belnet. When looking at the P3O definitions, my function can be described as Project and Programme Officer. I support not only our Programme Manager (head of the Project Management department) but also our Project Managers. In practice, this means keeping our portfolio database up-to-date, organization of the project board, resource management and overall support to all programme and project managers. If needed, I can also perform some Project Management activities.
How did you end up in the world of Project, Programme and Portfolio management?
I was originally hired as a member of our purchasing department. As soon as I started working at Belnet, I was detached to work on a big project. My job in that project was to follow up on the delivery of all the orders. This big project was the catalyst to create an official Project Management Office within Belnet. Being able to witness the approach to this major project and the creation of the PMO firsthand, and simply liking the work I was doing, I asked if I could remain on as a permanent member of the new Project Management department.
What’s the biggest issue/change you see in your network at the moment regarding PM?
Project Management is sometimes (too often) seen as a ‘last resort’. Requests to start up a project often originate from an issue with planning and coordinated action. Due to this, projects have to be started very quickly and there is not always the opportunity to plan and document everything as it should. This then results in unexpected turns and possible delays during the course of the project.
What’s your advice on how to face the above mentioned issue?
The PMO has picked up some slack in the past years, with an overall positive outcome. Our work was appreciated as we got things done, which lead to a more positive view on the work we do. Overall, the positive aspects and added value of project management is becoming more and more known within Belnet. For important and large scaled changes, PMO is consulted in early stages, so the benefits from adopting the project approach are high, and acknowledged.
We really see a change in the perception of the project management approach. We’ve noticed that, after the creation of the PMO, the other departments thought project management was ‘too much administration’, and that it slowed down the work that needed to be done. This was a perception, coming from just not knowing what we were doing, why we were working the way we did and how this would add value to the outcomes.
How did you get everybody involved to create a common approach?
We worked on being transparent and communicating to the whole company. HR gave us the possibility to create our own page on the intranet, that is accessible to everyone. We publish our procedures, approved documentation (Project Briefs, PID’s,…), MOM of the Project Board,…
Communication and transparency are key in our day-to-day work, we are always open to receive feedback from our colleagues and take measures to respond adequately to their questions.
How do you apply P3O and what does the structure look like?
Every quarter, we organize a Project Information Session, where we announce new and closed projects, any major changes and we present between 2 and 4 projects more in depth. Our newest communication ‘tool’ we introduced is the Project Information Sheet. This is a 2 page document that explains the project in a way that is comprehensible for everyone – from the Purchase department to the technicians of the Networks department.
In the last couple of months, we also have installed a consultation group, where different departments are involved, called the Customer Demand Meeting. During this meeting, different upcoming or recently received customer requests are discussed, and the best approach (Project or Business as Usual) is agreed upon. We can anticipate better what is coming our way, and the transversal collaboration between the teams is strengthening our mandate to execute the projects.
What are three things you’ve told yourself that you would like to learn in the near future to develop yourself and your team?
- Change Management; As mentioned earlier, we have started our first Programme. This will cause a great change for a large part of the company – almost everybody will have to adapt their way of working in one way or another. I’ve seen some bad and some good examples of change management over the last three years. A well-organized change management has the ability to lift the positive outcomes of a project even higher.
- Improve Excel knowledge; Specialized tools for Project/Portfolio Management (used for reporting, budget, timesheets,…) are often very expensive. We try to push the limits of Excel as much as possible, as long as we can. This causes the need for training to write macro’s, create pivot tables and many more.
- Resource Management; At the moment, we have a Resource Forecast an Resource Actuals (timesheets) for projects. For operational tasks, there is no company wide system. At the moment, this remains a manually executed task of copy-pasting individual data into a consolidated file, with quite some room for human error. To minimize these errors this, I’ve worked together with our ICT department to automate the consolidation.
A next step will be to introduce a resource pool system for the whole company. This should enable us to plan out all the projects in our portfolio. If we know how much time employees will be needed for their operation tasks, we will know the capacity that remains for projects, and we can estimate the duration of each project. On the other hand, if a project has a high priority, we can see where adaptations in the division of the operational work are possible.
Davina Leysen works as an Attaché project beheer at Belnet (Programme and project officer). Davina has created a support base for the implementation and use of the P3O structure at Belnet. She is P3O and PRINCE2 certified and plans on getting her MSP certification soon.