Transferring the best of Lean Manufacturing into Project Management – Interview with Jeff Ball

Date: 04/05/2021| Category: Tips and interviews|

What is your current function? What are you working on at present?

These are changing times. Last year, I did a lot of bespoke Project Management training for a major international client of QRP. And last year, I was also an author! I used the lockdown to finish a book that I had been working on for 10 years. This year, I am marketing my book. I am also delivering various QRP courses.

How did you build a career in Project Management?

I started off in the UK as a programmer and business analyst. When I moved to France, I became an IT project manager. The projects got bigger and bigger – I ran two big projects in Argentina and USA. And I innovated: in the mid-90’s, I introduced Agile techniques into a global project. The next career move was to become programme manager of the worldwide Y2K initiative for NEC Computers.

Then I moved sideways. After Y2K, I set up an IT PMO for NEC Computers and I was programme office manager (PMO) for two major business transformation programmes.

What is the biggest problem or challenge today in Project Management that you have found in your career?

The biggest challenge is to get an entire team of project managers to use a common project management method. There is a huge payback if everyone uses the same method. But it is hard to do – the method has to be simple but effective, and there has to be strong engagement.

What advice would you give to the PPM community?

Whatever your role in PPM, build a real Community of Practice to share and develop your good practices. That means practices that really work in your organisation. Proven solutions, not textbook solutions.

Could you tell us about your book “Lean3 Project Management”?

When I was working at NEC Computers, a senior manager introduced Lean Manufacturing into the company. It was sensational: a huge, positive change. Ever since then, I have been trying to work out how to transfer the best of Lean Manufacturing into Project Management. Many concepts will not translate – the factory is based on repetitive processes whereas each project is a one-off. So I was panning for gold. It was hard to find, but, yes, there were nuggets waiting to be found…

I started writing a book ten years ago, and the answers came slowly, year by year. By 2019 I had a working draft – and some clients who were thinking along the same lines as me, to test out ideas. In 2020, during the Covid lockdown, I had time to bring everything together, and publish the book.

I am really pleased with the final book. The subtitle of the book is “Lean Project Management for repeated project success”. My vision is the Project Factory, where project management is industrialised and success is repeatable. My book is the starting point for that vision.

A final word?

I started working with QRP International in 2006, when it was a 3-man start-up. Today, 15 years later, QRP has grown considerably. I am still a QRP trainer. Over the 15 years, I have given a huge range of training courses in 13 countries and have worked with some really great clients. It has been a truly interesting journey.

Jeff Ball

Jeff Ball

Jeff has over 25 years of experience in project and program management. He has carried out end-to-end IT projects in multicultural environments. As Programme Manager and PMO, Jeff organized the P3O installations at NEC Computers and Fortis Bank; He managed the programme offices of the largest transformation programs of NEC Computers and BNP Investment Partners. He is a multilingual trainer for AgilePM, PRINCE2, MSP, P3O and MoP, able to provide courses in both English and French.

With our discount coupon, the Lean3 Project Management E-book is only 10 euros until 05/31/2021, take advantage of it!

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