Part 3 - The e-Trolley project is reviewed

In early December, whilst the winter snow falls on Jason’s no longer clean sports car in the company car park. Anna and Jason, by this time in a much more honest relationship, report back to the board recommending the roll out of the e-Trolley across all stores.  They organise an event to hammer home their point and their brilliant contribution.

They take Firstborn and one of the proper trolleys along to the presentation as well as a till fitted with the new software and a few cans of beans. They perform a short, well-rehearsed demonstration of how the whole process works to give the board a good understanding.

Then they give their PowerPoint presentation to support the report mailed out a few days earlier. Whilst handing out copies to some Directors who claim to have not received it and some who just haven't got round to looking at it. The copies they hand out are neatly bound and contain loads of graphs, market research feedback, plans, benefits calculations and photos of the trolleys in use in stores.

This proposal lays out all of the investment and benefits of the e-Trolley including risks and other issues.

The document outlines a range of alternatives for security and to control theft including weigh bridges, RFID, random checks and a combination of both. They recommend the random check approach with the deposited credit card as the best all round solution but note that the security team must be involved in any decision.

They have clearly worked out the investment required in the form of a budget and the risks involved in the roll out programme. Using Bob’s initial benefits statement they have built an even stronger business case using the market research analysis and the results of the pilots.

They have a number of different cost models including those with and without weighing and the difference in the on-going running costs caused by weighing packaged items plus the unknown effect of weighbridges for trolleys. This all puts everyone off that option.

Anna and Jason should not really be taking a stance one way or the other as it was their job to provide the board with the information they needed to make a sensible decision. They are prepared to make a recommendation because they have seen the level of support the project has had in the last few weeks of the pilot. They have supportive statements from store managers whose stores were used the pilot project pleading for the e-Trolleys ‘not to be taken away from them’.

Jason takes the floor at this stage in their joint presentation and makes a few strong points about the way the company manages its projects and programmes. He notes that in the last few months the company has matured a great deal in its ability to run them but it has not really started on the process of selecting the best programmes to undertake. He proposes a proper process to evaluate the e-Trolley Roll-out programme now known as ETROP and everyone furiously agrees to give this approach a trial. Jason organises a meeting with Bob, Anna, Mike, Sue and himself to run through the process.

Before the meeting to discuss ETROP there is a post project review of the ETP project to review the controls they have used and a project closure report is prepared.

Anna and Jason report, in the project closure report, on the tools and techniques they have used including planning, delegation, risk management, resource management, budgeting, monthly meetings and so on.

This is attended by a number of project managers including the whole ETP project team – Max, Sue, Mike and Tim. Jason and Anna do most of the talking, outlining the way they ran the project and the successes and problems they met. Once again they illustrate their talk with Firstborn and a proper trolley but more importantly with copies of their plans, work breakdown structure, definition documentation, risk registers, progress forms and so on.

They all agree that the slightly more formal approach has benefited the project. Some express the concern that too much formality and too much paperwork would be counter-productive. Jason explains how a consistent approach to project management would allow for much greater visibility across projects and make it much easier for a project to be passed from manager to manager if necessary.

Jason explains: ’these controls are known as governance. It is really easy to do too much governance and equally easy to do too little. Getting it right is quite a challenge.  I totally agree that a very heavyweight system or methodology would be very counter-productive as it would cost a great deal to maintain and would be inappropriate to many projects. But I do believe that a few simple standard forms and processes would help us all a great deal. It will mean some extra work for each project manager and their teams but it give us a level of consistency across all projects and this is something many people will benefit from.

‘I have proposed to the board that we set up a small Project Management Office, or PMO, to look after these templates and processes. This will have one or two people in it and they will help any project manager comply with the processes. They will be available to help with standard forms and the experience to complete them as well as help with work breakdown structures and project plans.

‘The PMO, will prepare monthly reports for management based across the whole portfolio. Once again these will be simple and mostly automated and will be enough to alert the management to work that is running late, over budget or not being run in the approved way. For the first time we will have an accurate list of current projects and programmes.’

Everyone nods sagely at this although some worry that the PMO might grow like topsy. One project manager comments:’ you’re making this PMO sound like a police force and I don’t think I want a policeman checking on my project management. I get enough of them checking my driving!’

Jason understands this point of view,’ Some PMOs are police forces and have the power to stop projects but that just doesn’t suit our culture. They will be a supportive governance organisation and should be there to help you run your projects in line with the organisation’s approach. As long as you do that you can drive as fast you like.’

Despite some suspicions the most of the team agree that a PMO can be useful.

Jason and Max spend some time chatting after the talk with the other project managers and the whole project team celebrate that night by spending the last of Anna’s budget on a very stylish meal at a very stylish restaurant. Anna thinks that this is the life she should be leading but suggests that the team spend the evening together without their partners. Firstly she realises that this removes a problem for Jason and Max and secondly, she sadly realises, there is really no one she would care to introduce as her own partner.

At the meal Anna makes a short speech thanking and congratulating everyone and ends with: ‘This would have been fish and chips and a half of cider if we had used up the budget’.

Jason and Max leave together and both wink at her as they go. They form a long term relationship living together for many years. It is some time before Anna again so successfully match makes.


Part 4 – a programme is born


Thanks to Geoff Reiss for contributing this book


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