Implementation of PM Standards – 3 Level Approach

Implementing PM Standards across a whole organization, independent from Project Type is always a challenge. This is especially true in large corporations:

  • Standards and tools are already existing for several project types and sizes. PM’s use already tools they developed, bought and implemented.
  • Projects across large organizations are different. You could have technical projects, construction projects, R&D projects, organizational projects, …
  • Often there is a difference in maturity level of PM, when you compare different project types and disciplines within an organization. Often it is the case that the larger the project and the more technical the project (construction, R&D), the more structured and advanced the tools and methods are that are used to manage the project. Often when it comes to Marketing and Sales or other pure Business/ Organization project, you find less structure.
  • People are afraid of getting additional administration and hurdles for new projects, when new PM standards are implemented.

I had the challenge to implement a standard for these low structured business projects in an organization. For other project types and large sizes, PM Handbooks and procedures already existed. Instead of implementing an other additional standard, I decided to set up a more modular structure to move the whole organization towards more project-driven approach:

  • I declared the already existing standards as „Detailed Project Standards“
  • Instead of a new simple detailed standard for business projects, I defined a „PM Minimum Standard“, that covers only some essential topics and is mandatory for all projects across the organization that are >40 person days and/or 50.000 EUR. (Very low!). The minimum standard covers only some rules for (1) Project Organization/ Roels, (2) Project Lifecycle/ Phases, (3) Project Documentation. This Minimum Standard is also the minimum requirement that has to be covered in detailed PM Standards. Also the same „vocabulary“ and langeuage has to be used there.
  • As a basis and to avoid discussions about the right „school“, I defined PMI as the external standard we are working with across the whole organization. This helps to speak one language and also is a good starting point for a broad education program across the whole organization.

The Three Layer Model for PM Standards

I had very good experience so far with that approach, as the Project Experts, that defined the detailed standards do normally not have to do major changes. For Project Newcommers or part time PM’s the Minimum Standard is highly welcome, as they understand the simple approach and also the need for that to make their projects successful. The approach helped my successfully to start a very broad movement of the whole organization towards a more project driven mindset.

What do you think about that approach? Comments and ideas highly welcome.