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Standardization without disruption: Can it be done?

Dr. Robert S. Feingold

Let me set the stage. Imagine a large corporation pursuing many product development plans, research programs, and organizational initiatives. They’re committed to best practice project management, and have a Project Management Office (PMO) organization. Imagine that the commitment to best project management practices requires frequent and accurate project reporting. Imagine that these project reviews are attended by senior executives from all parts of the company, as their success is dependent on the success of these critical projects.

In such a company, we can imagine that project reviews must be conducted efficiently and professionally. To achieve these dual goals, it is important to standardize the presentations so that the executives attending are familiar with the look and feel of the presentations so that they can effectively make comparisons between projects when decisions are necessary.

In many organizations where there are several geographically dispersed PMOs, staffed with personnel of varying experience, and using a variety of project management tools, standardization is difficult to achieve. After all, project management is as much an art as a science, and practitioners must be given some working room to effectively practice their craft.

Standardization can be achieved but sometimes at the cost of disruption. For example, standardizing on a single scheduling tool may require additional investment in training and may be overkill at times on certain categories of projects.

Wouldn’t it be better to permit project managers to use the tools they are most comfortable with, but still manage to enforce reporting standards? Can this be accomplished without disruption? Let’s illustrate with a specific from the stage we set earlier. Suppose that one group of project managers uses Microsoft Project for scheduling and other functions while another group prefers to use Microsoft Excel for schedule creation, tracking, and reporting. How can you create a standard for project reports when the underlying data is coming out of different places?

OnePager allows organizations to create reporting standards without disrupting the day-to-day activities of project managers. OnePager Pro builds reports out of Microsoft Project, while OnePager Express pulls schedule information out of Excel. The Excel format broadens up the standardization even further, because other project management tools like Primavera P6 and PlanView can easily export data into an Excel format the OnePager Express can read. This means that the organization can allow project managers to continue managing their projects using the tool of their choice, while creating a standard layer using OnePager.

Adopting this approach to standardization without disruption allows project management practitioners all over the organization to share schedule charts regardless if they were produced in Microsoft Project with OnePager Pro or Microsoft Excel (or other tools) with OnePager Express. If several project managers are working on a large program, but each uses a different scheduling tool, this reporting data can easily be exchanged across the different editions of OnePager. In effect, these practitioners can share schedule chart data without having to have the same basic schedule tool. This saves money, enhancing productivity, and avoiding disruptions. 15-Day
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