Project Management Implementation
Where We Started
The City of Spruce Grove had invested for a number of years in developing a corporate planning process that prioritizes the investments and projects it chooses to take on. Recognizing that good project decisions still require effective implementation, they also identified a need to invest in enhancing how projects are managed throughout the organization.
What They Needed
As with most municipalities, The City takes on a remarkable array of projects in any given year. Infrastructure projects can include roads and sewers, community facilities and municipal buildings. There are software development and implementation projects, process improvement projects, evolution and refinement of municipal services and the development and refinement of policy. Community events that come and go in a day require months and sometimes years of planning. Social investments, programming and community support projects involve extensive consultation and planning to turn into effect programs.
The City needed a project management capability that could support the multitude of projects that they deliver. Given the range in scope and span of effort involved, this was an intriguing challenge. Moreover, the City delivers its projects using a variety of models; some are managed internally, others are delivered by consultants and contractors and for still others the City provides active oversight while others manage the detailed project delivery.
What was implemented needed to be broadly relevant and applicable. More importantly, it needed to be accepted and valued by staff involved in managing and delivering projects within the City. The majority of projects are delivered collaboratively, with participation and input from different staff and departments across the City. Maintaining focus and awareness was essential, while allowing for creativity and flexibility in response to day-to-day demands and operational pressures.
What We Did
This engagement began as an assessment of existing project management practices within the organization. Using our project management maturity model, we assessed the current capabilities, awareness, consistency and depth of understanding of how projects were managed. Managers and staff throughout the organization were interviewed. Our recommendations focussed on those practices that would make the greatest difference in building the City’s project management capabilities, starting with the capabilities and strengths that already existed.
Over a period of three years, we actively worked with the City to develop, implement, evolve and refine how projects were managed with the organization. During this period, improvement of project management practices was identified by the senior management as one of the top three corporate priorities overall.
We developed a set of project management guidelines that was designed to be readily understood and accessible by staff in all areas of the organization. It identified a core set of practices that were relevant and meaningful, and that people involved in projects could readily embrace and use. While the guidelines embodied some aspects of formal practice, the emphasis was on ensuring they were easy to use, appropriate and able to be adopted by City staff. Over time, these were refined to be able to support different models of delivery and types of projects within the City.
During this period, we also supported the identification and adoption of a collaborative project management software suite for the City. The particular emphasis was on supporting collaborative work practices, amplifying visibility of projects and allowing anyone within the City to be able to share updates, view progress and maintain awareness of project accomplishments.
Tailored and customized role-specific training was developed and delivered for staff throughout the City. This included familiarization in the essential principles of project management, process guidance and how to use the implemented project management software. Tailored training was delivered to senior management team members, project sponsors, project managers and project team members.
Behind the scenes, we also provided guidance in supporting and sustaining project management practices organizationally. This included guidance on how to integrate project management and progress reporting with the corporate planning process, and integration of the initiative identified in the corporate planning process with the annual setup of the project management software. Strategies to structure and sustain an on-going project management support capability within the City were developed as part of transitioning on-going responsibility to internal City staff.
The implementation of project management within the City resulted in a significant increase in awareness of project management, and evolution of project management practices. The adoption of simple, easy-to-use guidelines and software made a positive difference in building acceptance of the new practices. Active support and mentoring throughout the process and hands-on support in addressing planning, management and software challenges helped to sustain staff commitment.
Like our work on the corporate planning process, we are incredibly proud that the development and implementation work was successfully transferred to internal staff to sustain and continue to champion. Once again, this was a new position specifically created to promote and support on-going adoption of project management practices throughout the City and be a source of information and expertise to City staff.