If you’re managing a Project Management Office (PMO) or just responsible for improving the project management culture, you may be faced with the question about just how much project management to implement.  The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition) is filled with best practices but trying to implement even half of the PMBOK®  into an emerging project management culture would be extremely risky.  For example, to properly practice earned value, three components must be ingrained in the culture: project cost accounting, proper project scheduling, and a methodology for measuring activity completion.  Without all three of these components, accurate earned value measurement is nearly impossible.  Emerging project management cultures have to crawl before they walk and should celebrate success upon reaching milestones  along the way.

Here’s Phase 1 of a multi-phased implementation approach to prioritizing and implementing some basic best practices:

1.1  Implement and mandate that project charters must be approved before any planning or execution can occur.  Project charters must be signed by the sponsor (and the contracting officer if necessary).

1.2  Formally or informally identify stakeholders and plan how to meet their expectations.

1.3  Assemble a project scope statement that details what was written in the charter in more specific and concrete terms.  Encourage project managers to list deliverables, milestones, and even out of scope items.

1.4  Perform basic project scheduling by listing and scheduling deliverable and milestone completion dates.

1.5  Work to estimate cost and negotiate with the sponsor if planned cost is greater than the cost stated on the project charter.

1.6  Develop a repeatable change management process that mandates when and how change will be managed on project work.  Create a change request form to document the impact of project changes.

1.7  Develop a standard status report template and a repeatable process that encourages all project managers to report timely status.

1.8  Collect individual status reports from the team and assemble and communicate formal project status at least twice per month.  Hold status meetings with your team and the sponsor.

Training and communicating are key to pushing this agenda forward.  Executive support is mandatory and process improvement will fail if executives are not on board and actively supportive. Next edition we’ll discuss Phase 2 to enhance the project management culture.