My new book, Shortcuts to Success: Project Management in the Real World (2nd Edition) is now out. It was a bit of a labour of love to update the first edition. This new version contains 31 new case studies from project managers all round the world, working on everything from very small projects to multi-million pound initiatives. It’s the first time I have had to update one of my books and I was surprised to see how much project management thought leadership had moved on since the first edition came out in 2006. As a result, I had to update a lot of text as well as introduce the new case studies, so it really feels like a completely new book.
I managed to get the proofs reviewed for the publisher just before my son was born, so when my copies turned up a couple of weeks ago I had all but forgotten that the publishing effort was going on in the background, as my priorities had shifted from looking for typos and checking permissions to nappies and cat naps.
‘Elizabeth Harrin has done it again! This new edition is packed with hard-won insights on how to make projects work in today’s pressurised business environment. These lessons learned are worth their weight in gold to anyone with a challenging project to accomplish. Apply what it suggests and you’re likely to save your company a fortune and yourself heaps of frustration!’ Dr Penny Pullan, Director, Making Projects Work Ltd
‘Elizabeth Harrin has done it again! This new edition is packed with hard-won insights on how to make projects work in today’s pressurised business environment. These lessons learned are worth their weight in gold to anyone with a challenging project to accomplish. Apply what it suggests and you’re likely to save your company a fortune and yourself heaps of frustration!’
Dr Penny Pullan, Director, Making Projects Work Ltd
As I took out some complete chapters I lost a few case studies that I thought were excellent but that no longer fitted with the new book. So, I thought I’d share two short ones with you.
Understand where you are starting from
The Scottish Agricultural College, an organization that supports the development of land-based industries and communities, began the deployment of SAP’s financial software in 1997. Before the project started, the college was using several different financial management systems and it was hoped that SAP would offer the opportunity to standardise processes and save costs. It was a complex software implementation and the project team hit problems from the outset. The team did not fully understand the starting position for the project, and failed to spend enough time in the early stages planning the re-engineering of the processes used by staff across the six campus locations. The team acknowledged afterwards that it would have been better to understand the dependency the new system had on the day-to-day activities of the 250 staff who would use it and to invest time early on streamlining those processes.
The project team encountered another problem later when they realized that SAP was not compatible with their own internal procurement system. They had not identified the dependency on the old system and had to invest in developing the procurement package to ensure it could interface with SAP.
‘Lives up to the ‘real world’ promise in its title, providing concise, practical advice for leaders of large projects, small projects, and everything between. The interwoven examples from actual projects illustrate clearly why the guidance provided here matters.’
Tom Kendrick, MBA, PMP, Project Management Director, UC Berkeley Extension, California
Know when to move on
Jackie Garvey, a New Zealander who has managed projects in France and the UK says, ‘when the different parties start arguing amongst themselves, you know they have taken ownership and it’s time to leave.’ Garvey was on the steering committee for the launch of a web-based portal for her company’s staff. She provided programme management and co-ordination from the company’s global headquarters while a local project manager led the implementation itself. As the two-year project came to a close it was clear that the local IT and business teams had accepted the portal as their own: the heated debate about its future made it obvious to Garvey that her guiding role was no longer needed.
She gives another example. ‘I was working on the creation of a new IT company to manage our hardware and IT infrastructure,’ she says. ‘Once that project was complete in one country, we wanted to use it as a global standard. That meant the launch of a new company headquarters and setting up the new organization in all the countries we operate. At the end I knew the operation inside out. I was too close to it and it was time to go.’
Shortcuts to Success is now available and if you want a preview you can read a chapter online here. You can buy a copy at the BCS website (and BCS members get 20% off), or you can get it on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.