rainbow of lightsAlthough working by objectives is the best way for managing staff, organizations’ management requires an organizational level which is only provided by projects.

Management by objectives has set us free from a working culture in which it was more important to be present at our workstation rather than doing a valuable and quality job. But, nowadays, we can say that it is about going to a better place.

OK: I admit that saying that management by objectives is a cadaver could be an exaggeration, but also is saying that we all have been set free of perfect attendance

In fact, just as we all have friends in whose jobs it is more important to be than to work, objectives are a key element to motivate employees and escape from the routine. Let’s not dismiss them yet.

Nevertheless, let’s analyze why they are no longer enough for those who run an organization.

Discover how to manage your organization by projects with ITM’s White Paper

Download White Paper Project-based Management, ITM Platform

Management by objectives, for what?

Let’s put the example of Alice Smith, the web designer of an e-commerce company

When Alice improves a 25% the views of the star product section on the web, she is meeting one of the goals defined along with her boss. This means beneficial and foreseeable consequences.

When meeting objectives, Alice gets her coordinator and firm's recognition: she has accomplished a beneficial objective for star product sales and thus, benefited the whole business. She has become a recognized professional who has been rewarded for her job.

Consequently, Alice has the well-done job satisfaction and the incentive to keep working by objectives meaning that, when managing her time in the future, she will take decisions oriented to maximize results that will maintain or improve her status and will keep on contributing to general good results.

For their part, the Company’s managers are satisfied as they can delegate hard work and focus on managing which are the goals the company must achieve.

Why management by objectives is not enough

After some years, it is easy to see that management by objectives, despite its advantages of motivation and personal time management, it does not always help taking the right decisions at the right moment. Sometimes, it is not even enough to deliver the expected work.

When each worker works by their own objectives, which is the risk of no one taking care of the efforts coordination between the different initiatives that are being carried out?

Too high

On the following year, Alice did not manage to get her objectives because the TI department was too busy creating a new purchasing management system to support her on the web changes.

What is missing? Employees’ efforts must be coordinated between each other so that no one see himself blocked due to the need of cooperating with colleague who is too busy with another issue.

How can that coordinated cooperation be achieved? Managing internal work by projects, especially the most fragile one.

What is project-based management?

At project-based management, each project is connected to the objectives and business benefits willing to be achieved. Employees work on a coordinated way to obtain the project’s output: cooperation is programmed.

At the same time, the project’s output is an objective of the company or a necessary factor to achieve it. Without that project, the same factor wouldn’t be carried out and would block the work.

When there is a complex objective and it needs many different factors to happen, many projects grouped on the same program can be created. Program’s director will have to coordinate the projects to support each other, favouring synergies and avoiding a project pending work to block another project.

Let’s give an example

Let’s imagine that the company Alice is working for wants to create a new line of domestic products thought for single women between ages 35 and 50.

The goal is to put on the market 10 products of this new range and obtaining 1 million revenues in two years

The new range requires the work of all departments: product design, web, TI, marketing and commercial. Furthermore, all managers are very interested because their final year bonus are linked to initiatives. Particularly, the finance, sales and operational directors know it is about something important.

Instead of assigning objectives by department and by every employee, different projects grouped on the same program are created. The operational director is placed on the top of these projects as they have experience on projects management.

Many of these projects have transverse teams: people from marketing and systems and product design departments are working together. On the other hand, there is a single sales, web and systems project in order to have everything ready to start selling as soon as the products are ready.

With this kind of structure, program director:

  • Counts on the information about the ongoing process of the project
  • Can cancel projects that are not essential for the development of the new line
  • Allocates more human and financial resources to urgent or central projects
  • Is able to report the advancements on the project to the company’s senior management, anticipating possible problems and foreseeing results.

Why project-based management and management by objectives are compatible

No company in which a management by objectives style has been adopted has to leave the management structure to start running projects.

Management by objectives and project-based management are compatible and interdependent.

Let’s have a look to what ITM Platform’s white paper recommends

“The combination is straightforward: it is enough to link both project and tam to the objectives. This mechanism informs team members about the importance of the project, which is not only in the delivery, but in the external goal.

Keep on reading here:

The Project Success Definition is Broken

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clipboard with rating stars and pen. quality control, customers reviews, service rating conceptsThe fifth area of ​​knowledge of PMI's PMBOK refers to all activities and processes related to responsibilities, policies and quality objectives. Quality is a key pillar in project management.

What does the quality of a project mean? Simply stated, the quality indicates that the result delivered by the project meets the defined expectations of the project.

According to the PMBOK itself, quality is:

"The degree to which a set of inherent characteristics meets the requirements."

Thus, quality management is the set of practices whose objective are to ensure the outcome of the project is sufficient to meet the goal or set objective.

Make sure you meet the quality of your ITM Platform projects

Unfortunately, this premise is often not met. It's very common to venture into large projects that do not meet the proposed needs. This can happen for multiple reasons, to which we can refer to as the three great enemies of quality.

  • The lack of communication between the sponsor and the team associated with the project is one of the most common ways of damaging project quality. There are times when the team appropriates the project from the collection of requirements, but the final delivery is not a suitable means to achieve the sponsors' goal. On the contrary, it may happen that the sponsor doesn't have a clear idea of ​​how to reach their goal, so they can not give exact instructions regarding the requirements
  • The intangible quality. Quality has a lot to do with perception, so the client will have a different notion than the project manager or the analyst who is responsible for realizing the most complex technical details. In order for this subjective character to not become an obstacle, it is desirable to arrive at clear agreements and commitments on what quality means in the expected result. In the case of agile methodologies, these agreements become the guiding principle of the project iterations, coagulated under the notion of user story: a discrete requirement, the minimum that can be delivered in a functional way.
  • Conformity with what is planned. Or, what is the same, to think that the requirements will become a round product and finished as soon as all the planned work is completed. If progress is not measured continuously, assessing the needs for additional integration between requirements, adding new tasks and proactively solving incidents, the result may not be of the expected quality, but will be, at best, a product on which a second phase of work must be added.

To understand the great enemies of quality better, we will look at an example. Let us imagine that the project in question is a document management system with copy versioning, requested by an insurance company. The reason for requesting the document management system is that commercial area managers need to have visibility on all the policy offers that have been made to their customers to find guidelines in the negotiations and to design new promotions and pricing policies.

What happens in this project when the three enemies of quality are involved?

  • Lack of communication: The commercial management communicates the product that has been imagined that will solve their problems. However, it does not explain its business need in detail, preventing alternative ideas from emerging that could better serve that outcome, such as a CRM module with supply chain analysis and aggregate information. The systems team is based on the requested features of the document management model, cutting some characteristics whose implementation would be too expensive.
  • The intangible quality: When the product is delivered, the technical team and the project manager are satisfied and estimate the quality of the result by 90%. The most ambitious features are lacking, but they may be added at a later stage. The document manager works, is better than before, and deadlines and budgets have been respected. When the commercial director announces the new system to his team, he finds that nobody knows how to use it how it was intended. Understanding the dynamics of negotiations and extracting data is a long and expensive process. Although you can manage your documents well and improve productivity a little, no new pricing policies will emerge.
  • Conformity with what is planned. Along the way, there are characteristics that could have saved the project, such as the connection with the payment and supplier management system, and an apparently minor technical problem has prevented the new document management system from highlighting the changes of the latest version With the previous ones, facilitating the work

What does it take to manage quality?

  • Constant outward communication. It is necessary to understand the reasons and motivations of sponsors and clients to internalize what are the best requirements that guarantee quality.
  • Negotiation and agreements to define the quality of results
  • Pro-active problem solving
  • Adoption of good practices. To help in this regard, we then review the good practices that, according to the PMBOK, should be followed by the project manager in collaboration with the team members to manage the quality of the project.

Phases of Project Quality Management

1. Quality planning

Quality planning is done in the first phase of the project. The quality plan can be an independent document, although it is better that it is part of the total project management plan we have prepared, it is a way of unifying the norms and criteria that govern the quality of our products or services. It establishes the rules, variables and factors that will govern the processes, tasks, activities and projects of the organization.

The quality plan of the project establishes the standards that will govern it. These standards may be standards of the company itself or also of the client, if for example it has an ISO of its own quality and sets its own minimum requirements. The contributions made by our client will allow us to establish the quality objectives of the plan itself.

The quality plan allows for establishing the deadlines and procedures of the quality controls in the project itself, so that it fits the marked requirements and the expected objectives.

2. Quality assurance

The quality assurance can be measured through an independent evaluation of the project processes. It is a question of supervising to verify that the plan is in accordance with the purpose we had set ourselves, and for this we must check that all tasks and activities meet the requirements set.

We advise you to appoint a project control team to assume quality assurance responsibilities. It is not only a question of measuring the final result, but also of controlling and supervising the different phases, tasks, activities and dependencies.

It is also important to make reports that improve the perspective, justify the changes and correct errors or point out improvements during project management.

3. Quality control

Quality control is similar to quality assurance. The difference between the two concepts is that the quality control is carried out by the team that works in that phase, process, task or activity. On the other hand, quality assurance is supervised by a group outside the group that works at that stage.

Quality audits are carried out on an ongoing basis in each project management process. In this way, the team ensures that the result meets the standards set in the initial quality plan.

These types of audits or controls can be carried out through inspections, reviews and tests. Thanks to the integration of quality control in a systematic way in the process, we have the margin and capacity of reaction, besides the possibility of correction in case of any failure or error. It is important that you make and update a record of the tests, a history that feels the basis of learning to avoid future mistakes in that project, or another one in your company.

4. Continuous Improvement

Quality controls and quality assurance are implemented from the quality plan. The goal is to correct errors and ensure that the result is in accordance with the target or end mark, and meets the set standards. It is desirable to involve all stakeholders in quality controls to be able to rectify and make deviations from the initial planning if satisfaction with progress is low. In projects, transparency is often the mother of quality.

The quality management of the project allows us to continuously improve, advance and grow our company. The project manager has to be documented in the initial phase on the quality management of other plans, which will allow him to improve efficiency and avoid repeating mistakes. Hence the importance of records of controls and quality assurances, as well as reports, since they not only allow to lead the current project, but also provide for and alert about future.

All the team involved can collaborate by providing ideas for continuous improvement. Shared satisfaction contributes to commitment and involvement. And all this has a positive impact on the company, its services, products and projects that you want to carry out. The initial phases in which the foundations and the organization are established are fundamental for the later development.

This article belongs to a series on the 10 areas of knowledge of PMBOK. Check out the previous articles in the series:

The 10 areas of knowledge. 1: Project integration management

Integration with the ITM Platform Project Menu

The 10 areas of knowledge. 2: Project scope management

The 10 areas of knowledge. 3: Project Time Management

The 10 areas of knowledge. 4: Project Cost Management

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