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Last edit: 05-03-17 Graham Wideman

Intelligence and Change in Enterprises

Current Issues for Enterprise and Project Management
Article created: 99-03-12

The Project Proposition which makes the project an attractive form for accomplishing enterprise change also hides considerable complexity.  This hidden complexity raises numerous issues for the organizations carrying out projects, and for the enterprises that engage them.

Current Issues in Enterprise Change Management and Project Management

  Issues from Enterprise View Issues from Project View
Project Management is now a potent  discipline Need to understand that Project Management has become a discipline, and that there are widely regarded good practices that are often not a part of enterprise management's repertoire, and hence need to be learned about. Need to promote and apply PM principles.  Widespread education of project participants in "Project Practice 101".
Project Management is practiced with wildly different levels of sophistication. For external projects, enterprises need to look at the level of PM sophistication practiced by contractors to make sure it is able to deliver the level of risk management needed by the enterprise.

For internal projects, enterprise management needs to be savvy enough to equip project groups with the skills and resources to actually use the PM techniques that deliver the desired level of risk management.

In order to be sufficiently funded to present clients with  a certain level of risk management, it is necessary for the client to be able to distinguish your level of risk sophistication from that of competitors.

This may require considerable education, and may not always be possible. It also suggests that professional PM bodies could help by providing standard material on this subject for use with clients. This would gradually make it appear negligent for enterprise management not to take a sophisticated approach to risk.

Effective Project Practice Requires Clients to Play A Role Enterprises may be oriented to procuring off-the-shelf products and services: "spec, receive, pay."  Clients may be unaware that commissioning a project involves an outcome which is not certain, and that requires continued management attention to specific roles throughout the lifetime of the project. Need to have Project Sponsor/Client fulfill critical roles to provide ongoing assurance that the planned deliverables continue to fit client needs, and to communicate about and share risks. 

Again, this may be a concept unfamiliar to clients, calling for an education component, possibly aided by  Project Management professional organizations.

Understanding and Communicating
For organizations accustomed only to gradual incremental change, considerable education is needed to master risk concepts and how they apply to the particular enterprise, and to understand the project organizations level of risk sophistication. Risk is a fuzzy topic, yet mastering it is the essence of delivering according to plan. How risk is anticipated,  noticed,  addressed, communicated and shared with the client organization are all critical topics.
Impact of Parallel Projects With number and complexity of projects increasing, enterprises face the challenge of orchestrating more projects simultaneously, and anticipating interdependencies of projects on the fly. There is increasing likelihood that even if project deliverables made sense at the time of project initiation, rapid enterprise change may have made them unsuited at delivery time.  How much beyond the specs should project participants look?


Eventual Synthesis of General and Project Management?

The increasing pace and complexity of change drives attempts to conduct more projects in parallel.  These projects may be increasingly complex and inevitably increasingly interdependent.

The interdependence of projects with existing enterprise features, and with other parallel projects is a particular problem, as it is a level of complexity that's often understandable only by the kind of minds on the projects, yet it is outside the scope of the projects. The function of integrating the projects within the enterprise is the kind of complexity that the enterprise was hoping to avoid by projectizing the individual endeavors in the first place.

So, at some point, the economy gained in the enterprise by exporting the complexity loses out to the complexity that falls back on the enterprise due to managing unanticipated side-effects of individual projects, and geometrically increasing interdependencies between projects.

This suggests that current model of an enterprise as an almost-static-structure-plus-a-few-occasional-changes may become a liability.   Instead, the more successful enterprises may develop a form of management that thinks and understands around a dynamic model of the enterprise, and that amalgamates today's general and project management.

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