Learning Lessons: Project Teams and Technology

By Dale Shermon, QinetiQ Fellow and Head of Planning, Monitoring & Control

Dale Shermon, QinetiQ Fellow and Head of Planning, Monitoring & Control
Dale Shermon, QinetiQ Fellow and Head of Planning, Monitoring & Control
QinetiQ offer our customers world-class expertise in advice, services (particularly test and evaluation) and innovative technology-based products. With over 6,000 people dedicated to being on the side of their customers. We deploy our scientific and technological knowledge, proven research capabilities and unique, purpose-built facilities to provide both services and products that meet the needs of a wide range of global customers. We operate primarily in the defense, security and critical national infrastructure markets.
Figure 1: Combining delivery and technical assurance
To guide and assure the technical quality of QinetiQ’s output we deploy our Technical Excellence team (Figure 1) and to guide and assure the project delivery, a complementary team called Performance Excellence is headed by the Group Director for Project and Programme Management. These two teams work in collaboration to maintain our world class reputation.
Project lifecycle
Like many organization we operate an Assurance framework project lifecycle with Decision Points (DP) or gates to control work flow, Figure 2 shows the high level phases of this lifecycle. DP0 is the start of the lifecycle which will begin the process to qualify an opportunity, triage the proposal, develop the tender and submit an innovative, compliant technical solution supported by robust Project Management resources and planning. This is the opportunity for our Performance Excellence functions, including Project Management, Scheduling, Cost Estimating and Risk Management to ensure that any project, which could result from a proposal, will be deliverable to scope, time and cost. For example, we utilize a schedule integrity technology to sample the proposed delivery schedule. The central Performance Excellence team play a critical independent role of assurance having no vested interest in the proposal.
A successful proposal will generate a contract for work and following mobilizations the successful execution of the project is dependent on the Project team and their application of the project systems support by Performance Excellence. Using analytical techniques embedded in our systems to monitor the performance of the project, our Project professionals consider critical adjustments through Risk Management and Change Control. The Project Manager and their technical team monitor progress against the start-up baseline, the Project Manager is able to adjust the course of the project to increase the confidence of a successful project outcome for all parties.
Figure 2: the high level lifecycle
Figure 2: the high level lifecycle
Closing the loop on the lifecycle is sometimes overlooked by organizations during their process design; which is often drawn as a linear process. However, as with our technical colleagues, the delivery teams seek to learn from the projects that they execute. Closing the loop on our project delivery lifecycle provides the opportunity to capture good practice and metrics for future proposals; with the basis of estimates (BOE) for resource and justification for schedule activity durations.
Many organization write lessons learned reports following failed projects. These are intended to purge the organization of their previous errors and herald a new, successful project future. The problem is that these reports are consigned to the virtual shelf and never read. The technical savvy organization will log the lessons learned during their monthly business project reviews and the strategic Decision Points in a corporate repository. This database, that contains the wisdom of both profitable and failed projects, can then be searched periodically to establish themes. These cross project themes are used to change procedures, work instructions, guidance, checklists, prompt lists or templates to ensure that they are embedded in the natural ways of working. This technology does not depend upon the diligence of the Project Manager to read historical lessons learned documents, but with the support of the Project Teams reflections, make incremental changes to our business as usual (BAU) enabling project continuous improvement.
In a similar manner to our technical team’s rich history of intellectual property, with the help of technology, the DP6 seeks to embed a culture of knowledge management and corporate memory for delivery, thus feeding back into the project lifecycle the wisdom of timely, successful outcomes that delight the client. QinetiQ is recognized as a world-leader in science and engineering. We continually seek to improve our Project Management capability through closing the loop, and strive for ways to excel beyond our technical expertise.