I'm preparing for my ELUNA 2019 Annual Meeting presentation on project management and the ILS migration to Alma. These are some thoughts that have come to me during this work.
The spring 2019 publication of Antonio Nieto's The Project Revolution was well-timed for me. Nieto provides some excellent perspective on the increasing importance of projects (relative to operations) in enabling an organization to meet its goals. It's a nice starting point for many of the points that I intended to talk about prior to reading his book.
The ILS to Ex Libris Alma migration projects have a distinct vendor-customer relationship. While Ex Libris Professional Services provides overall management of the migration process, local project management is essential in order to achieve the best outcome. A good example, from the ILS to Alma migration, is training. While Ex Libris supported kickoff training, product certification training, and topical trainings during the migration periods (which were six months in length for the consortium migrations in 2013-2015), the Orbis Cascade Alliance needed to support a great deal of training in the areas of consortium borrowing and resource management (including the use of OCLC Connexion and Alma for resource management).
I'd love to broaden engagement in the library technology domain with the Project Management Institute. I'm saddened by the apparent lack of library technology leaders and managers participating in PMI and holding PMI certifications. PMI's membership model is based on the individual not organization, which presents a bit of a challenge in terms of library adoption of the PMI standards and use of its training and template resources. I won't consider the session a success unless some of the attendees engage with PMI after the Annual Meeting.
Dan Stelian Roman led a recent projectmanagement.com webinar on the Agile Enterprise.
Roman described a project management structure that retains PMBOK project management at the overall project level, but employs agile approaches at the developer level, including a Scrum Master who's a servant leader and enforcing the rules of Scrum in the development team.
Some attributes that stand out in Roman's envisioned use of agile in hybrid project management:
I found this a somewhat challenging (dense content on slides, lengthy discussion at the start on misconceptions regarding agile), but informative presentation on the ability to blend PMBOK with agile approaches.
I greatly enjoyed watching a recorded webinar on projectmanagement.com led by Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez, The Project Revolution. It's very good - as one commenter in the presentation page thread wrote, "one of the most outstanding presentations that I have attended."
Nieto began with a comparison of organization support for operations (focused on running the business) and projects (focused on changing the business), and the trend of organizations to commit more and more effort to project work. He reviews some Google Ngram data that illustrated the relevance of projects in publication - and the lack of corresponding publication in project management. What has happened with this increased focus on projects to meet the needs of businesses and organizations? Nieto shares some implications, two of which spoke to me given my most recent experience in a portfolio planning effort:
Nieto suggests three remedies to improve the current situation:
I've been thinking through the challenges of portfolio management. Having worked in a planning effort in my organization for one year, I want to learn more about optimal approaches. I consulted ProjectManagement.com and found this presentation from back, back, back in 2011. Mark Mullaly presented on creating and adjustment a portfolio management process, with a key concept included in the title: "owning other peoples' choices."
I'm convinced that tolerance for ambiguity is of critical importance here. As Mullaly notes, project prioritization is an inherently political activity and it should be accepted as such. He focuses on the development of prioritization criteria, a separate process from applying them. A key takeaway for me is the need for trust between participants in the prioritization process, in that Mullaly recommends that the planners discuss "what are those things that we should be doing?" at the start of criteria development. In an environment with differering strategics and approaches, this is a key challenge - being methodical and patient in criteria development. The presenter references a case several times during the presentation in which a company prioritized (through its portfolio criteria) its customer facing projects to the exclusion of those that supported the staff doing the work, with negative results and the need to eventually create a second project evaluation flow.
Looking to criteria application: Mullaly also noted the importance of defining capacity as accurately as possible up front. What happens when too many projects are stated as priorities? He points out that the prioritization decision is then shifted to others, particularly front-line staff who can realistically perform only a subset of the work that they've been assigned. This again goes back to the trust issue - is it possible for the participants in portfolio management to objectively consider "those things that we should be doing" above all, and then make realistic decisions in terms of capacity? It certainly isn't easy. Mullaly also notes the need for participants to consider alternatives such as outsourcing and deferring work.
Finally, the presenter notes that portfolio prioritization work is a dynamic process and the criteria decided upon should be carefully reviewed and updated each year.
There's much more here in Mark Mullaly's presentation and slidedeck, but this session underscores the difficulty of portfolio management and provides some sound suggestions on approaches.
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