Our special guest was Dr. Olusoji Owolabi (Olu) from IT Services Hungary who shared his thoughts and experiences about how to look at projects from operations managers’ perspective. Olu was born in Nigeria and has been living in Hungary for many years. He has been a pioneer manager in the SSC universe in Hungary, and also responsible for operations of several hundreds of FTEs.

As he wrote in his introduction letter “as an operations manager I have had many sleepless nights, burnt my fingers because of these project managers!”. His discussion’s title was: “backward education; from operations to project management”.

At the beggining Olu has been a sponsor or a high-level stakeholder of projects. At first he didn’t know exactly what kind of KPIs a project manager has to concentrate on. He – as an operations manager – wanted to have a project outcome that could be used in operation. Olu thinks that:

  • We should manage the product’s whole lifecycle.

In real life PM and OM have different KPIs. A project manager has to deliver the project on time with the stated quality and within project costs. In order to comply with these KPIs, the project manager has to stop / finish the project on the deadline sometimes knowing that the outcome may not fit the needs of the OM. After finishing the work, project team will jump into a new project, so there’s no chance in the future to correct the failures. Olu’s perspective;

  • In most projects, in accordance to PMI Guide Lines, Lessons Learnt is done during and at the closing of projects. Often times however, the gaps are identified only much later in operations.
  • PM should go back to the client one year after the project was closed in order to clarify how the outcome is used by the client and what other needs could be handled in the future.
  • Such feedback can be more objective, less emotional, it based on real life experience using what was delivered by the project. This will help the Project Manager in his professional development and also help to build relationship, for future joint activities.

PMBOK and other PM methodologies say that PMs should never do gold plating. But in real life OM-s are trained to exceed customers’ expectation. Clients always seek the “wow effect”. OM and PM have to seek compromise and keep on communicating with each other in order to have clear picture of what limits PM has and what kind of expectations OM has regarding the project’s outcome – because real life is more complex than any PM methodology.

Organizational and general culture are important factors in order to have a satisfactory outcome, but at the end of the day PMs have to communicate with individuals and manage the needs and expectations of those individuals’. In communication there is nothing like “one-size fits all.” The PM has to study the communication preferences of his Stake Holders and adapt each time.

  • Olu as an operations manager never forgets where he’s come from, so he always tries to imagine OM’s situation.

The conversation with Olu ended up with a Q&A section. Here are some key messages Olu made up:

  • After finishing the project hyper care is a commonly used technique in order to solve all the problems that have remained after handing over the project’s outcome to the operations.
  • If a PM thinks that the task cannot be completed/fulfilled within the given time frame, he or she has to say “no”. In real life it is one of the most difficult situations PM can face (high-level stakeholder’s needs, sales target, competition in the market) but sometimes impossible is impossible. PM should always think about the long term. If you fail many times, the market will know that.
  • PMs have to understand that the product is a living organism, and its life never ends up with closing the project.
  • It is very difficult to have a proper product because all the people who pushed the price down, who signed the contract and those who will use the product are different.

In the name of PMI Budapest Chapter we would like to thank Olu
for coming and sharing his thoughts in PMPub!

We would like to remind you that the next PMPub will be in February
and the Art of Projects 2017 conference will be on 9th November!

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