Letter from Managing Director, PMI India   |   Download a PDF version     


INDIA’S GLOBAL LEADERSHIP – RESTORING THE GLORIOUS DAYS

Brajesh Kaimal, director, Experion Technologies
A country is a global leader when it contributes significantly to the world. Citing examples from India’s past, Brajesh Kaimal made his case for India having been a global leader since the Indus Valley civilization.

He spoke about India’s accomplishments in various sectors including education, architecture, space exploration, and infrastructure building. “The Bhagavad Gita is the best management book and the Arthashastra provides ample guidelines on selecting a minister. The rock-cutting precision in the Ajanta caves, building of the 60-metre-tall Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur before the invention of the wheel, and Jaipur’s Jal Mahal built in the middle of a lake, that does not leak, are some of our ancient architectural mega projects,” said Mr. Kaimal.

Some of the modern-day symbols of project success are India’s Mars Orbiter Mission that showed India’s prowess in successfully executing projects of high complexity at low costs; infrastructure projects such as the Kochi International Airport that runs on solar energy; and the child-friendly Koyambedu bus terminus in Chennai.

He emphasized on the use of project management techniques uniformly to help replicate such pockets of success across all walks of life. He added that what had made such megaprojects a success was our workforce. Stressing on the need to turn a weakness into a strength, Mr. Kaimal said, “The growing population is seen as our country's biggest weakness, but this is actually our biggest strength.”
 
LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES IN MANUFACTURING WORLD

S. Ganesh Mani, senior vice president, production, Hyundai Motor India Ltd
The manufacturing industry is ever dynamic, and companies have to constantly innovate to compete in this space. With this as the premise, S. Ganesh Mani sought to throw light on project management techniques to combat challenges that automotive companies in India face.

Some of these threats are changing customer needs, government regulations, technological advancements such as driverless cars, clean mobility, and an ambiguous business environment. “Ambiguity makes it difficult to plan, but project managers can use data to predict trends. They must keep abreast of latest advancements,” said Mr. Mani.

He stressed on the need for responsible leadership, being supportive of team members, evoking passion in the team, and recruiting skilled resources. “The ordinary can be made extraordinary with the right people. Select people with different skills sets and get them to work together. Project managers should not just manage but drive a project,” added Mr. Mani.
 
DIVIDE AND CONQUER PROJECTS USING THE WORK INSIGHTS FRAMEWORK

Hari Ram Narayanan,
product marketing manager, Zoho Corp. Ltd.
Hari Ram Narayanan said that project managers today work in a constantly changing environment that requires them to categorize tasks in a way that it makes it easier to manage them. He recommended the “work insights framework” that classifies all work into four fundamental types. First the project manager must answer a question – what is the problem, the set of requirements, or the desire to be fulfilled? And the answer is the way it is to be achieved – the work to be done, the plan, and its execution.

However, when a project manager undertakes a task, he or she does not always have both the question and the answer. For example, when a detective begins an investigation, the question is known, but the answer is not.

Similarly, there are the following four possibilities that form the four fundamental types of work : routine work with known question and known answer, ritual work with unknown question and known answer, investigative work with known question and unknown answer and exploration work with unknown question and unknown answer. With the work insights matrix, the project manager has a helpful tool to easily visualize the four types of work involved in a project and plan better.
 
RESPECT CULTURE OR FACE FAILURE: LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM FOUR CONTINENTS

Supriya V. Narayanaswamy, director, and Karthik Ramamurthy, founder and principal consultant, KeyResultz, with Mark Dickson (right) at the release of their book, Say Yes to Project Success
The reasons behind project failure are many, and can be categorized into the four buckets of scope, time, cost, and miscellaneous (risk, supplier, quality, and communication).

The last bucket, which is about people and culture, tends to be overlooked and could lead to unpleasant surprises. The husband-wife duo, Mr. Ramamurthy and Ms. Narayanaswamy, presented some common cultural issues that today’s multi-locational teams face, and recommended a six-step process to overcome them. “Culture issues could arise due to people of different ages, languages, regions, and critical value systems being part of a team,” explained Ms. Narayanaswamy.The speakers referred to a washing machine advertisement in the Middle East as an example of a cultural faux pas. In the advertisement, the first photo showed a stained shirt going into a washing machine and in the photo to the right, the same shirt coming out clean. But it sent out the opposite message in the Middle East where people read from right to left – clean shirt coming out dirty.

In the interactive session, delegates shared their experiences of working with people from different cultures. Mr. Ramamurthy stressed the need for leaders to be proactive in building trust and respect in their team members. “The six-step approach we recommend is: analyze the team mix; search and document traits; prioritize and shortlist; inculcate ethical and professional values; conduct sensitivity training; and test effectiveness and adjust as required,” he said.
 
AGILE LITE 2020: GEARING UP TOWARDS A DIGITAL REVOLUTION

Nana Vijayanagaram, associate director – business excellence, KPMG
Digital disruption is keeping business leaders up at night, with many looking at the emerging trends as challenges rather than opportunities. Mr. Vijayanagaram referred to a KPMG 2017 study among CEOs that showed that their confidence in the global economy, industry, and country in this environment is coming down. He said the priority areas for CEOs are greater speed to market, fostering innovation, implementing disruptive technologies, becoming more data driven, and digitizing the business. “A project manager needs to ask these questions: what am I doing to achieve these business priorities; what am I doing to add value; and what am I doing to achieve it faster, better, or at a lower cost,” he said.

He added that agile project management practices will continue to grow in this business environment. But for agile to reach its potential it must address some of the common misconceptions that lead to unrealistic expectations, micro-management of teams, and quality issues. “Project managers should focus on providing business value, facilitate lean thinking, business agility, and extreme automation.

I recommend providing more guidelines for agile practices so that they can achieve these objectives,” he added. He also recommended people changes to bring in flexibility, a focus on performance, a matrix leadership, and work-life balance.
 
ENTERPRISE AGILE TRANSFORMATION – INTUIT’S INCREDIBLE JOURNEY

Rathina Kumar, enterprise agile transformation leader,

Rajeev Kumar, group program manager, Intuit India
The reasons behind project failure are many, and can be categorized into the four buckets of scope, time, cost, and miscellaneous (risk, supplier, quality, and communication).

Rathina Kumar and Rajeev Kumar took delegates through Intuit’s experience in agile transformation since 2007. They spoke about the 12 principles that form the basis for the company’s “agile vision,” such as early and continuous delivery, welcoming changing requirements during the development phase, face-to-face conversation within development teams, and selforganizing teams.

These have resulted in higher employee engagement, quality, predictability, faster time-to-market, productivity, and customer satisfaction. Intuit has featured high in prestigious rankings such as the Fortune World’s Most Admired Companies and Forbes World’s Most Innovative Companies.

It all started in 2012 with the company investing in certified scum master training and adopting scrum for its projects. The key achievements in this journey have been developing its own agile practices, agile at scale across its sites, the Intuit agile program, “state of agile” report, agile certification roadmap, “lighthouse teams” to teach other teams, innovation gamification, and agile dashboards. The speakers recommended the setting up of mission-based teams, which are groups of committed individuals from across the organization who operate according to a team charter under the guidance of sponsors. These teams provide regular progress reports, establish boundaries and timelines, manage risks, and seek agreement for action if boundaries are likely to be crossed or the situation changes radically enough to jeopardize the mission.
 
PROJECT LEADERSHIP IN A RAPIDLY CHANGING WORLD

Nikhil Tayade, project manager, Woodward Inc.
For a project to be delivered on time and within the budget there needs to be a collaboration of resources and timely reviews to ensure that processes are in place.

Nikhil Tayade took the audience through the agile practices that his company follows, and the learnings from these practices.

In September 2016, Woodward Inc. had delivered a project five months later than the scheduled time and suffered quality rejections. 500,000 parts per million (ppm) of the automobile parts that they had produced had designs flaws in them, and this was identified at a late stage of the project. The process lacked control and reviews, said Mr. Tayade. There was no backup plan and departments were not taking responsibility for their work; the design team would blame the quality-check team, and vice versa.

Once the loopholes were identified, the management invited 20 stakeholders and held deep-dive meetings for 15 days. The supplier project management office was restructured, and the project was divided into phases, with regular reviews at every milestone. The company witnessed an improvement in on-time delivery from 43 percent to 100 percent.

“After agile, we had a strong collaboration between teams,” said Mr. Tayade, speaking of the benefits of agile practices. Mr. Tayade recommended that when a project comes to the table, the teams must divide the project into parts and create robust baseline schedules for every section of process. At any point when issues arise, they should identity the issues, analyze them and create effective plans and methods to solve the problems. There should be integration between teams and they must start taking collective ownership of the project. All this, coupled with review meetings by managers after every milestone will ensure successful and smooth completion of the project.
 
BUILDING A CITY USING AGILE SCALING FRAMEWORKS

Rahul Sudame, program manager and agile coach, Persistent Systems Ltd.
At a workshop conducted by Rahul Sudame, delegates got a chance to experiment with project management techniques. He started off by listing three questions a project manager needs to ask before using agile project management techniques: What is agile? How is it relevant to my project? How should I implement it?

Using agile practices, Mr. Sudame explained how a project team could be broken up into smaller teams, with each team working towards different goals. The underlying objective for each team is to achieve the common project goal and deadline by way of continuous communication and feedback.

To illustrate the difference between agile and waterfall practices, Mr. Sudame split the delegates into two teams. One team would build the model of the Eiffel Tower in Paris using waterfall techniques and the other team would build the model of the Shaniwarwada Fort in Pune using agile techniques. Both the teams were given an A2 sheet of paper, a DIY construction model, and colored pens and paper. The first goal was to define team roles and create a project plan for a one-year-long project. The second goal was to construct the two structures, as well as a road connecting the two.

By the end of the interactive session, the conclusions drawn were that the project plan must leave room for error and delay; integration and feedback between all the teams of a project must happen every couple of months to ensure that there was no last-minute work; and, even in the face of a looming deadline, the teams must always stick to the plan.
 
PROJECT ANALYTICS

Dr. Arpan Kar, assistant professor, School of Management – Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

Prof. Krishna Moorthy,
founding dean, Sun
Pharma Academy, Baroda

For a project to be delivered on time and within the budget there needs to be a collaboration of resources and timely reviews to ensure that processes are in place.

Nikhil Tayade took the audience through the agile practices that his company follows, and the learnings from these practices.

In September 2016, Woodward Inc. had delivered a project five months later than the scheduled time and suffered quality rejections. 500,000 parts per million (ppm) of the automobile parts that they had produced had designs flaws in them, and this was identified at a late stage of the project. The process lacked control and reviews, said Mr. Tayade. There was no backup plan and departments were not taking responsibility for their work; the design team would blame the quality-check team, and vice versa.

Once the loopholes were identified, the management invited 20 stakeholders and held deep-dive meetings for 15 days. The supplier project management office was restructured, and the project was divided into phases, with regular reviews at every milestone. The company witnessed an improvement in on-time delivery from 43 percent to 100 percent.

“After agile, we had a strong collaboration between teams,” said Mr. Tayade, speaking of the benefits of agile practices. Mr. Tayade recommended that when a project comes to the table, the teams must divide the project into parts and create robust baseline schedules for every section of process. At any point when issues arise, they should identity the issues, analyze them and create effective plans and methods to solve the problems. There should be integration between teams and they must start taking collective ownership of the project. All this, coupled with review meetings by managers after every milestone will ensure successful and smooth completion of the project.
 
COMPLEXITIES IN MEGA PROJECTS

Prof. Tapash Ganguli, senior professor and dean - executive education, National Institute of Construction Management and Research (NICMAR), Pune

Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam, assistant professor, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Madras)

Mega projects are fraught with complexities that give rise to a number of challenges, said Prof. Tapash Ganguli and Dr. Ashwin Mahalingam.

They reminded delegates of “infinite scopes” in mega projects that make it almost impossible to complete them within the pre-defined schedule and time. Government regulations and mid-year policy changes determine the direction of these projects. Conflict among stakeholders, the sequential approach applied to a process, poor quality and safety checks, inadequate risk management, and shortage of funds are other major factors that create complexities in mega projects.

The speakers recommended proper allocation of technology and funds, elimination of ambiguity, a definite scope of work, a regular quality review process, a thorough analysis of the risks involved, and strong communication between the teams and the stakeholders, for greater project success.

“The project manager should no longer be a manager but an entrepreneur and part of the team. He/she should not just be leading but driving the team to complete the project within the frameworks and combat all complexities,” said Prof. Ganguli.
 
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