Project Assistance

Project Focusing System™

When organizations initiate major projects, they do so with the expectation that important benefits will ensue. But sometimes projects get off course — right from the start or during implementation. ELG can help ensure that projects deliver their intended results — as quickly and effectively as possible.

ELG’s methodology for ensuring the successful launch and implementation of new projects – or the successful redirection of existing projects — is its Project Focusing System™. In addition to sharpening traditional project management skills and processes, the Project Focusing System™ emphasizes and assures absolute clarity around the organizational context and oversight for the project (Project Governance) and the precise goals and accountabilities for the project and its individual members (Project Structure). The elements of this System are summarized below:

Project Governance

To ensure the successful implementation of any project, ELG consultants start by understanding (and clarifying, as necessary) the precise goals and constraints for the project — i.e., cost, schedule and scope, including deliverables and benefits to the organization. They then identify (and work to strengthen, if necessary) the organization’s mechanism for oversight, resource allocation and support.

An important corollary of this effort — and a cornerstone of the Project Focusing System — is the definition of accountabilities to and from other key project stake holders, like project sponsors, project steering committees, project advisory boards, and project management offices (PMOs). The Project Focusing System™ assures that all of these roles and accountabilities are clear, necessary (if not, they’re eliminated) and helpful. And when the situation calls for it, ELG can recommend and help implement the proper type of PMO to help rather than hamper project success. (See our article published in the PM Network magazine February 2001, “Choosing the Right PMO Setup.”)

Project Structure

The Project Focusing System’s attention to accountabilities continues by zeroing in on a key conundrum of many projects — namely, that project team members are seldom assigned to work on projects full-time. That’s when we find ourselves dealing with “cross-functional management.” In our experience, nothing can get a project off track faster than the conflicting priorities and confusion caused by muddled division of responsibilities.

The Project Focusing System™ presents a way out of this dilemma and an effective technique for pinning down who is accountable to whom for what in a matrixed environment. And we make sure that Accountability is defined by a Clear request from the manager, explicit Commitment from the team member and real Consequences (positive and negative) for performance. When these are in place, we can be confident we “C’s the Day.”™

When the accountabilities and authorities and relationships of all the players and organizations involved with the project are clear, the Project Focusing System™ takes the process to the next level of detail and develops specific Whole Goals for each team member. Whole Goals achieve a level of clarity unmatched by traditional objectives. In addition to describing project-relevant outcomes, Whole Goals describe the parameters within which an individual must stay while achieving the outcome, as well as the organizational dependencies related to the outcome. Another important step is to assure that compensation structures are aligned with Whole Goals (to provide motivation as well as direction).

Project Management Skills & Processes

ELG’s Project Focusing System™ is unique in its emphasis on defining and resolving all aspects of accountability and measurement for all project team members — particularly in matrixed environments — before the outset of the project. We do this to make sure the project has the strongest possible foundation before we begin implementation. And once that foundation is in place, we make sure the project team has the right tools and skills to build a successful project. These include scheduling, budgeting and tracking tools to keep the project on course; thorough and efficient processes for analyzing project progress and making appropriate course corrections; and Project Management Training, provided as necessary to strengthen the project team’s knowledge of and skill in the art and science of project management.

And when the actual work starts, PMI-certified ELG consultants are well prepared to help your team apply the tools and techniques to keep the project on-schedule, on-budget and on-spec. The Project Focusing System™ includes progress reviews to help achieve project success by assuring that project goals, accountabilities and measurements remain on course and to recommend appropriate course corrections to match changes in the environment. And if more help is needed on an ongoing basis, ELG can provide a variety of Project Management services.

When all the elements of Project Focusing System™ are in place, leaders can be extremely confident that their project imple