Case 4, VEKS' Annual Review 2017
Projects - big as well as small - have taken a lot of VEKS’ time in recent years. The supply has been extended for a 3-digit three digit multi-million sums, VEKS has got new roles, e.g. as an energy producer in Køge (more information about this in case 2), large internal IT projects have been realised, etc. Alone in 2017, more than 50 projects influenced the everyday work of a number of VEKS employees.
But who did what, how and when? And what about the broad perspective and management? Not all projects had sufficient goal-oriented management and control. Often, different project models were used depending on the nature, size, involved external business partners, etc. of the individual projects.
What is generally common to the projects is that they have their own organisation and are of a time-limited nature. Without a final date, it is about operation, ongoing tasks, etc.
In broad outline, all VEKS’ projects can be divided into three main types: Plant, operation and strategy projects. The last mentioned strategy projects are made for VEKS’ project model and will be measured up against the vision’s goal of focusing on “Efficiency, environment and cooperation”.
But will the different projects fit into the same template? And do they have to? The goal is partly to strengthen and professionalise the project culture in VEKS and partly to focus on time, content, quality and economy.
Therefore, the subject became the subject of the VEKS energy project “Professional project management and control”.
To ensure that the model represents the reality of VEKS, the process is defined and managed by VEKS employees. The project group was put together multi-disciplinarily with four employees who each represents a number of VEKS’ primary functions. The process has been supported by external consultancy services, however, an internal project manager has managed the project about project management in VEKS...
The project group’s work has been characterised by the fact that the new model is adjusted to the world of VEKS - and is not just a standard solution which has been imposed on all VEKS projects.
In the middle of August 2017, a large number of VEKS employees were affiliated to a new department.
Templates for everything
Idea, goal, maturation, roles, analysis, concentration, involvement, risks, realisation, economy...
In order to make the model operational, the project group has defined what we here at VEKS put into the words and the many concepts. The project model of VEKS ended up having four superior stages:
- Idea, object and goal
- Analysis and planning
- Transfer and evaluation
When the project participants are joined together in a new project, their work will go through the above four stages by way of a number of project management tools/templates which are cardinal in VEKS’ project document. When all use a joint methodology, the above mentioned joint project culture is obtained. We know what we are talking about - it is homogeneous, comparable in a well-known structure.
Small projects have their own Miniproject document; the large model of course does not need to be rolled out by way of less complex projects.
Besides the time limit, the projects are characterised by a great focus on the desired effect/gain. Supplies of the right quality do not do the trick as a measurable effect after the finalisation of the project. This effect will also be defined in the project document.
Moreover, the methodology, structure, involvement, division of responsibilities, etc. may also be used to make large recurring operational tasks and processes succeed.
A project is born
In general, many projects arise because the world constantly turns around - neither within nor outside the walls. In the world of VEKS, projects are almost always generated together with other interested parties who want the change implied by the project. The initial concept includes considerations of whether the target group is “ready” for the change involved in the project. If not, the object and goal may have to be reconsidered, the process postponed or the “childbirth aid” cancelled. Project management is also about putting down unviable projects.
Today, the roles in the VEKS project model are distributed in such a way that you have to be part of the management group to be “owner” - mainly responsible - of a project. In the new model, the project manager will establish a project team together with the project owner, whether the model is large or small, and their roles and responsibility will be clearly defined.
A key challenge, when it comes to project management, is to ensure the right resources - not least the arms and legs in the organisation. In an operations-focused business as VEKS, the natural approach is that “Operation precedes everything!”. Therefore, a project manager and owner will typically be forced to be able to explain both idea and object so that it is evident why the project and the relating resources should be prioritised. This takes place in the steering group of the project which approves the continuance of the project. No approval - no project.
Timing and respect for other people's time are critical for the involvement. These factors also contribute to building a joint project culture. When the planning is launched, the process will often be dynamic as a revisit of for instance maturation and analysis may be necessary. Maybe new preconditions have changed the original conditions and the budget needs to be adjusted? Are we on schedule?
In the actual execution stage, the project managers must take care of the follow-up and reporting – at least once a month. Status will indicate what is going as planned but also the critical deviations with detailed explanations. And not least, what they plan to do about it... At the same time, the monthly status is the management’s tool to create an overview and to decide partly on the prioritisation of projects, partly when the managers must be involved.
All employees have now become acquainted with our VEKS model. The purpose is to make it our own VEKS project model.
Concurrently with the preparation of VEKS’ new project model it was tested in the process on specific projects. One of the projects is about the renovation of the control room at Køge CHP plant which faced a renovation due to new statutory requirements relating to the working environment. The other project was about the next stage of Køge District Heating. Both pressure tests resulted in adjustments of the project model.
The good story needs to be told on the way - and not only to the involved parties. Besides taking stock of every project in the complete project portfolio, focus will also be on selected projects, at meetings, through VEKStra (VEKS’ Intranet), etc. We also shed light on when the project has finished to transfer to operation, in some cases. In other cases, because the project is finished. As in completely finished.
In the beginning of 2018, the strategy project “Professional project management and control” was finished. The project group behind this project will continue as a support function for the colleagues in VEKS’ continued work with the large as well as the small project model.