How to recognize an expert?

At Schuberg Philis, we want to be an expert in our field. We do not only claim to deliver 100% in everything we do, but this is also measured by metrics such as Customer Satisfaction ratings (Giarte), the percentage of passed (external) audits (100%) or overall availability (100%) of our customers.
 
Another very interesting aspect is to look at project delivery performance. We run a lot of projects for our customers, whether it is to build completely new customer platforms, extending or improving existing customer platforms or other projects. Claiming we run successful projects is one thing, proofing it is something else. Such a claim needs to be based on transparent, objective information that can verified by an independent party if needed. In other words: we need to capture metrics, backed by evidence.

Quality & Automation
If we want to ensure our projects are carried out with the right level of quality in a consistent manner with full transparency and capture the necessary metrics and evidence there is only one way forward: Remove as much as the manual work as possible and automate the recurring and common project management tasks as much as possible. The easier a task at hand, the more likely you’ll just do it and have time left to focus on the things that really matter and add value. This is the same for project management. Managing projects effectively and consistently, should be as easy as possible. Things tend to become a lot easier when we have a proper toolbox at our disposal.  Even though each project is different, some aspects are the same for each project. Project management consists out of a number of repetitive and sometimes painful tasks.
 
Automation helps take away painful and repetitive tasks and will help our project managers to focus on the part that truly adds value. It also provides real transparency towards the team internally and towards the customer and our partners. We believe 80% of the tasks normally done by a project manager is repetitive work that can be automated. This includes information that should be simplified as metrics, a representation of one single version of the truth. This information can come from (different) sorts of operational information systems and can automatically be combined and presented in a customer friendly way. This information should not need an opinion, manual adjustment or worse: a distraction from the truth. These are facts that should speak for themselves. Some 20% cannot be automated. This is the element where the project manager and team really add value. It is the part where context and background information is added and where smart solutions to complex challenges are presented
 
Best Value & Project Management
As we believe strongly in transparent, fact based reporting we looked closely to the Best Value Procurement methodology, where dominant metrics, backed by (auditable) evidence is key. Dominant metrics are an important way to measure the performance of a project or project portfolio. One of the most important aspects of best value procurement is looking at past performance. We have identified the following key dominant project metrics that we will use to track and report all our projects on:
  • Planning
  • Budget
  • Scope
These key basic metrics are related to each other: When one of them changes, the other ones are likely to change as well. They are the 3 dimensions in responsible for customer satisfaction as presented in the following picture:

Next to these project management metrics, we have the ability to specify a set of relevant dominant metrics per project, which will measure the added business value before the start of the project (baseline) and when the project has been delivered. Examples of such business metrics could be: The amount of production deploys per year or the amount of service affecting incidents.
  
Project ‘MOAP’
At Schuberg Philis, we felt it was time to bring our project management approach to the next level, combining a set of known best practices into a structured, consistent, fact based project management approach. In order to achieve our goals, we have launched an internal project called ‘MOAP’, short for ‘Mother Of All Projects’, from which all future projects will inherit the DNA. In this project Engineers (MCEs), Project Leads, Sales, Finance, Audit and Developers work closely together to deliver an implementation of the next level of project management within Schuberg Philis.
 
The project addresses two main challenges:
  1. Schuberg Philis always aims to outperform expectations. This is also true for our projects. We want to consistently deliver projects with the highest quality possible. For our project leads, this also means doing a lot of (sometimes) boring and repetitive work. We need to prevent project management tasks not being executed at all or not up to our 100% standards because of this.
  2. Projects need to be 100% transparent to our customers and partners and colleagues. It needs to be absolutely clear, what the status of a project is, what the things are that need to be discussed and why certain things went the way they went. We need to this based on facts and evidence.

Next Steps
We now have a project management toolbox that delivers the items above. Initial project scoping (baseline), progress reporting, Exception Reporting and Project Closure are all automated and provide transparent, evidence based reporting. Although we still have a long list of ideas and there is always room for improvement, we have decided to start using the new tools and way of working as soon as possible with real customer projects. This ensures we will start capturing feedback from the teams already and can use this to improve and add new functionalities. The system now allows us to capture some key metrics. In a couple of months from now, we will have captured enough metrics in our system to (automatically) report on project performance, on project, team on company level.

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