The idea for the topic “What Is Your Project Management Philosophy”? came from a lengthy discussion with experienced Project Director, Richard Arkell, focused on the various subjective approaches leaders adapt when delivering a SAP project. Richard kindly agreed to present his personal philosophy and share his thoughts with 31 other attendees at Precision Sourcing’s 4th Knowledge Share Group hosted on Thursday 2nd February 2017 in Sydney.
Key take-outs from the Knowledge Share Group were;
- Understand that you should have a philosophy and thinking deeply about what it is, whilst also documenting it, is a worthwhile exercise for any project leader
- A philosophy is very different to a methodology – philosophy explores the difference between what we say we do and what people really do in practice
- Richard abides by 5 key tenets;
- Get the implementation strategy right (understand and challenge business goals and develop a strategy to balance goals and business risk)
- Ensure governance is there to help a project succeed (be open / seek help / be demanding)
- Create a lean project team (projects are supposed to be tough and it is easier to add people than removing them – bottom up plans are inherently wrong to a factor of 2)
- Understand and drive the people on the team (communicate plan as well as deliverables, hold people accountable, reward achievement)
- Collaboration is critical (share problems with all stakeholders and team members so that different brains come out with different responses and any response can become the best solution)
- Insist on the right people being on any steering committee and have someone from the business alongside you as a business PM
- Implement something tangible quickly that has visibility in the business but impacts relatively few users. This demonstrates an ability to deliver and implementing is the hardest thing to do.
“I may not be construed to be a touchy feely person” – Richard Arkell
The second part of the event was a panel discussion. The panel was made up of some of Australia’s foremost SAP project leaders who fielded questions from the audience and the wider SAP community who had earlier submitted questions.
Due to the nature and sensitivity of the panel discussion we are unable to record and communicate every question and answer, however, some of the points made are below.
“Leaders drive culture”
“Define what success looks like and then choose the tools to make it happen”
“The culture within the business and inside the project can differ greatly”
“Leadership from a CEO on a project steering committee is a very powerful asset”
Project Manager John Biggs asked the evenings winning question:
Question: “The expectations and deliverables when compared with the time lines for producing differs greatly at times. How do you deal with stakeholders in terms of setting realistic expectations about what can be delivered in the time lines given? Should you communicate it and to whom?”
Answer: “When you are facing what is looking impossible explain what can be done. Offer a set of steps to achievement and engage the business in the dialogue and decision-making.”
“Communicate here are the options, here is what we can do and the steps to success”.
Bernadette King offered her personal insight and advice for any aspiring female project managers who are aiming to develop in a male dominated field;
· “Hone your craft early in your career – be the best”
· “Understand your strengths and focus on leveraging these”
· “Source some great mentors”
Thank you to everyone that attended including both Richard Arkell and the talented panel. Feedback from all of the attendees was very positive and very much in line with Precision Sourcing’s Purpose of ‘Helping Talent Achieve’.
Feedback from the event
“Thanks, Jay (and the Precision team) for arranging the event. Personally, I found it worthwhile and well organised and am looking forward to the next Knowledge Share Group.” (Gilmore Wilson, SAP Delivery Manager)
“Thanks for inviting me to the Knowledge Share Group last night. It was awesome and I took away a lot of things out of the session. I could have listened to their advice/experiences all night.” (Tim Wellwood, IT Project Manager)
“Thoroughly enjoyed the event (again). Having worked closely with 3/4 of the panel, I could easily identify with their references. The event also reminded me to think more…” (John Peake, SAP Project Manager)
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