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Delivery Excellence - Building Project Delivery Office
March 24, 2010
Content Revised and Re-Orged in August/2013 (Som G)
ypically, an organization decides to execute projects to cater to its business needs. Undertaking a project that does not cater to any business need, or has no business benefit, makes no sense. Conversely, NOT undertaking a project that makes has a strong business case, and fulfills business needs, makes no sense either. Therefore, if an organiation decides to build a Project Office that specializes in project delivery, it makes sense to ensure such a project office is business- centric, and develops strong competencies around the organization's business.
On the other hand, effectively managing projects and deliveries also requires executing a number of processes in a number of areas of project management. PMBOK4 lists 42 (47 in PMBOK5) processes spanning across nine different knowledge areas and five process groups of project management. The knowledge areas spread across all projects regardless of the business (or technology) focus. However, not all projects may require processes from all nine knowledge areas for successful completion. For a project office to successfully execute and complete projects, it requires competencies (at least) in certain strategic areas of project delivery lifecycle (such as Quality Assurance, Engineering, Architecture, Analysis etc).
The charter of a Project Delivery Office, therefore, must have a
  1. Business-centric (vertical) mission and vision, combined with Industry focus
  2. Solution- or delivery-centric (horizontal) strategic and tactical focus
  3. Clear organizational structure, roles, responsibilities, and HR prolicies for verticals and horizontals
  4. Framework for continues process improvements and maturity, along with strategic plan and a roadmap
  5. An evolving process for managing organizational, personnel, knowledge, and process changes
roject Delivery Office oversees the delivery of various projects for a company. It is the last stop, where the company's deliverables to the business customers are built and verified prior to actual delivery. A Delivery Office is the basis for a company's success. That said, successful delivery also depends on successful projects. The definition of a successful project is varied and highly debatable. However, in general, a successful project is on budget, on-time, and adds business value for the company and its customers. Therefore, the charter of a Project Delivery Office must focus on the business of the company (vertical) where it is being implemented.
A project is defined as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. As such, the lifecycle of the project has several phases, including initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and control, and closing. These phases are further broken down into several other areas including, but not limited to, requirements elicitation, proto-typing, design, development, quality assurance and control, testing, deployment, post-deployment etc. A Guide to PMBOK lists 42 such processes, nine knowledge areas, and five phases for a project. All these aspects, phases, processes, and areas span across the vertical business focuses and form the horizontal focus of delivery. Hence, a Project Delivery Office must also focus on each of these lifecycle aspects (horizontals) to ensure uniform delivery across verticals.
The charter of a Project Delivery Office, therefore, must have a
  1. Business-centric (vertical) focus that
    1. Has general guidelines for each vertical the company focuses on
    2. Has a delivery organization that is focused on building centers of excellence in each of the verticals
    3. Encourages, fosters, and develops competencies in the verticals
    4. Provides cross-vertical personnel movement, development, and growth (creating generalists)
  2. Solution-centric (horizontal) focus that
    1. Has detailed processes for each aspect of the delivery (end-to-end)
    2. Has multiple overall delivery lifecycle processes that can be customized to suit the solution needs
    3. Has strong governance body to ensure the processes are followed and measurable successes can be repeated
  3. Clearly defined and published structure, roles and responsibilities for personnel involved in the organization, as well as well-defined growth paths for individual contributors as well as those who want to move into management
  4. Structure for continues process improvement to accommodate market, industry and technology changes
  5. Simple and easy-to-implement method of managing organizational and process changes
Creating and implementing such an office is not the job of just one-man, or one homogeneous group of people. It is a collaborative effort made by a heterogeneous group consisting of individuals drawn from every vertical and horizontal focus of the company. These individuals represent the interests of their parent organizations, and come together to form a team that focuses on the company best interests. The group also must have a broad-based executive sponsorship, support and commitment. Such a group would then be chartered with
  1. Researching industry best-practices and developing a strategy to adapt them to company and organizational culture
  2. Develop a viable delivery structure and a list of required processes for each horizontal and vertical
  3. Assess current capability identifying existing processes in each vertical as well as horizontal
  4. Identify gaps between new model and the existing (if any) model
  5. Leveraging SMEs and historical data, create/change new/existing processes to fill in the gaps
  6. Identify risks, develop effective response strategies for each risk, plan to implement and manage change
  7. Define/identify clear roles and responsibilities, as well as escalation paths within and outside the organization
  8. Identify process mentors to help in managing change, and plan for continuous process improvement
  9. Secure a broad-based executive buy off to the plan, and implement it in a phased manner
Delivery Excellence is not just ensuring a successful end delivery. It also includes repeatable and measurable performance, developing competencies in each area along the way. In a service oriented company, this means building, maintaining and continuously improving competency centers in each aspect of company's business focus. Especially in a services company, this means both vertical (e.g., retail, telecom, banking, finance, insurance etc.) as well as horizontal (e.g., application development, architecture and design, quality assurance, production support/maintenance, project planning and management, vendor management, client/customer management etc.). Throw outsourcing partnerships into the mix, you are looking at a lot more stress on communication management, people, cultural aspects, time zones etc. So, successfully implementing a delivery excellence office requires focusing on the exact business model, vertical and horizontal competencies.