Grupo Eroski – Case study
Credibility foundation is built step by step during the project management career path. Credibility has a significant positive outcome on project and organizational performance. Not many organizations have a formal project management selection process in place. However all companies want to have the best project managers ready for managing projects successfully-good leaders that they will follow. Credibility is built through a set of little details achieved during the project. We must learn from the results and refine our actions. That means credibility. Project management credibility has to do with reputation. Credibility is something that is earned over time. It does not come automatically with the job or the title. It begins early in our lives and careers. A credibility foundation is built step by step during our professional career path. And as each step is achieved, the foundation of the future is gradually built.
This real case study is the story of “Grupo Eroski” and arose from the need of the company to improve project management in its organization. They had eight formal project managers in an organization about 150 employees. They manage big internal IT infrastructure projects but they were conscious about their projects were delayed, they had many unexpected changes during the project life cycle and they found a lack of sponsorship. Then they detected the need to improve project management in the organization. They outsourced a consulting company to start up that improvement.
The project management consultant acted as a guide for the project managers and executives of the organization, helping them to understand how to create the right environment for successful projects, and building the project manager’s credibility. At the beginnings we run an assessment, to find out the organizational maturity level in project management, and also run a projects review. The findings were very meaningful for the executives in order to understand where they were in terms of project maturity, but also they were able to understand that many things that had very big business impact might be improved.
Twelve people answered the survey. We included in that survey professionals with different roles, I mean, project managers, functional managers and the IT Director of the organization. After running that survey, an action plan was developed and it has been implemented during the last two years. Now the functions of the project manager are better understood and recognized by everyone in the organization. Now, project managers are more and more credible by customers, executives and team members in their organization. They have been able to create a better environment for project success and they learned it affects the entire organization.
To evaluate the maturity of the organization we used a tool (Project Environment Assessment Tool), developed by Robert J. Graham and Randall L. Englund, that is very effective and focuses on the ten areas for “Creating the right Environment for successful projects”. The assessment deals with how to change to project based organizations, the strategic emphasis for projects, understand upper management influence, develop a core team process, organize for project management, develop a project management information system, develop plan for project manager selection and development, develop a learning organization, develop a project management initiative and develop project management in your organization. The questionnaire has ten questions for each area and took no more than thirty minutes to be filled.
Before running this survey I asked the participants to be honest and say the truth, explaining them that nobody would be punished because of that. That worked very well and also helped them to reflect about the real situation about their projects. I sat down with all the selected people and they filled in the questionnaire. After filling in the questionnaire we spent some minutes talking with their project managers about the projects they managed and their perceptions and feelings.
All people interviewed showed a positive attitude answering the questions of that survey. The questions of that questionnaire were scored: 0 out of 7 and the results were as showed below. It was very interesting because the different answers and point of views from senior and junior project managers. Some executives interviewed also had different perceptions about the same questions.
Figure 1: Results of the survey
The follow up and implementation
My recommendation was to start by all areas in which the scoring was the highest. Then I identified: Project manager development, Executives development and Project Management Information System. Then we prepared an implementation plan. Below is an example of some of the activities we did. We started reviewing the running projects and deliver some PM foundation training.
The combination between basic PM training for managers, project managers and team members, and the mentoring process we put in place was a key for the project success. I visited the customer three days per month, and one out of three I was available for everybody, answering questions, or solving problems. Every month, the evening of the second day I organized a seminar (two hours long). Those seminars were focused on soft skills (effective presentations, communications, teamwork, building relationships, and leadership). The content of those seminars were reinforced by the PM Newsletters (two pages document explaining project management concepts and practices). In some of the seminars sessions I also invited to attend team members and managers. At the beginning it was difficult to interact between people. After two months I perceived people felt more and more comfortable and with the feeling that they were in the same “boat”.
Critical success factors
I believe there are some critical factors that helped me to build the project manager’s credibility in Grupo Eroski:
Ask questions to your project stakeholders and do face to face meetings
Speak the truth to power. Say what you believe and act consistently with you say. One example was the generation and distribution of a PM Newsletter
Speak the language management understand (results, tangible things, ROI). I got the management support.
Spend some time talking to your team members and managers, share project mission and objectives, share difficulties and succesese
Use your passion
Be positive and inspire good attitude in your people and upper managers
Results and lessons learned
Building project manager’s credibility takes a lot of time but it is possible. It took almost two years to change the attitude of project managers, managers and team members at “grupo Eroski”, but we got it. Upper managers perceive value when they see tangible results. Then achieving small wins was the key building project manager’s credibility. At the beginning most of the project managers were very focused on planning activities in their projects, but didn’t take care of their team members. The result was demotivation. We changed it with persistence and patience.
Step by step, I invited team members to attend the project management seminars in a monthly basis. More and more, team members were more conscious about the activities and obligations of the project manager. They understood much better the role of the project manager and saw the project manager was necessary for every project in their organization. The same process happened between project managers and managers. We started to run project reviews and that process gave the opportunity to managers and project managers to share project status, issues, problems and achievements. It was great. They learned together about their projects. They learned from successes and from failures.
There are some key soft skills, project managers must develop and put into practice:
- Be passionated
- Be persistent, building credibility is a long process but it is not impossible
- Talk to your managers frequently. Don’t wait to be asked about your project
- Say what you believe and act what you say. If you promise to do something, please do it
- Be honest.
- Team members believe in their leaders when they believe the leaders have their best interests at heart.
- Provide service to your people
Tepsa – Case study
BUCERO PM Consulting is doing a new internal project, it is a PROJECT MANAGEMENT improvement project (called MGPT). This project is a change for improvement, to ask and help the TEPSA professionals to manage their projects better. This new project tries to achieve the creation of the right environment for successful projects. TEPSA wants to manage successful projects for the organizational success
Since April 2010, BUCERO PM Consulting consultants have worked with TEPSA professionals to improve the way they manage its projects.
What did we do and what are we going to do?
We started by assessing the organization maturity level in project management, presenting the results from the assessment to the TEPSA management team. From that study we have developed an implementation plan and we finished the Executives, project managers and technical people training.
Project Environment Assessment Tool
After assessing the project management maturity level from the organization, we developed a project management methodology for TEPSA. Such organization is now implementing its methodology. BUCERO PM Consulting is delivering some Mentoring services and a project Review. Below you can see an example of that project review:
Who is affected?
This project is affecting the whole TEPSA organization. BUCERO PM Consulting has delivered training services to that organization in the following areas:
- Project management for Executives
- Project management fundamentals
- Methodology foundation training
- Methodology foundation training for all the Terminals
- “Why attitude is important for project success” training
The Methodology implementation phase finished on July 2011.