Chapter Communications Blog

Event Report: Learn from the best – the way to Project Excellence

Author: Carlos Martinez, PMP

Carlos Martinez Arteaga 100x100

On the 1st of December, Mr.Jürgen Ekert presented at the Hotel Victoria (Basel) the event "Learn from the best, the way to Project Excellence."

The room was full for the event, and few of the attendants knew that it was going to be a very interactive presentation.

Initially the attendants were asked to "Break the Ice" by meeting with another and sharing with them an experience they considered as a good achievement. This direct communication aims at bringing people together, to loosen up the atmosphere.

This can also be blended with a session of Lessons Learned fom previous projects, which will help the project with the learnings captured in other projects by different teams.

Continuing, Mr. Ekert explained how generations differ in the learning process, which is important as training has to be adapted to the different processes, and for this, the department he manages, Project Office, has created several training processes.


As a recommended practice, trainings should not be series of PowerPoint slides, but rather as interactive as possible, for this flipcharts are ideal, together with forming working groups so that they can apply the training with their day to day. The flipcharts can be prepared upfront with prints that can help the development of the workshops.

When starting the training workshop it is necessary that the goals are laid out, for this all trainess should indicate what do they want to do different? The so called"Future Perfect".

One interesting learning from Mr. Ekert's trainings is that he has realised that in most cases teams actually know how to solve a problem issue, but they still need someone from outside to guide them, someone who is neutral and can challenge the team, someone who knows how and when to ask the right questions and that at the same time facilitates the workshop.People need time for reflection which will even be deeper if different questions are asked. With this the participants find much better Solutions.

When asking questions, the facilitator has to make team face the hot topics, also recall the achievements done by the team.


After that the targets for improvement have to be identified, for this the project team vote the points they think would improve most the results.

Now that the team has a clearer understanding on how to achieve the "Future Perfect", it is recommended to re-visit how they foresee this and give a clear definition to what this would look like and the requirements for such. First steps / action items need to be defined.

Finally, the training workshop does not end here, but should be reassesed at some point in the near future, indicating what will be the team's next steps, who will take care of what and when in time will the team reasses how far have they progressed towards the "Future Perfect".


To ensure that each team member "takes something home", there are 2 questions that will help them to understand better how they have progressed during the workshop. "What will be different after the workshop?" and "What else?" with this second quesiton, the team is challenged further, helping them to deeper understand their progress and how to achieve it. The second question can be repeated multiple times.

Another question that helps people is "How would they recognize that a problem has been solved?" and "How would a colleague recognize this?"

My personal big thank you to Mr. Jürgen Ekert for sharing his experience both professional and personnal and for organizing it. Looking forward to participating at the next PMI event, I wish all the readers a happy and successful 2017.

Kind regards,



Event Report - 12th of May - Successful Agile Integration into Existing Methodologies

Author: Arbin Bhaghat


Agile implementation was started for small projects. Does it work also for big projects and structured large companies?

If yes, how can we integrate successfully Agile into existing methodologies and processes? Is it worth trying it?

These are the questions that Sascha Wyss, PMP, PMI-ACP, answered at the conference in Basel.

Sascha started with an example, based on his own experience.

A CRM solution implemented for a big concern over multiple countries in Asia. The project was rolled out in Agile and it worked! A tangible proof that Agile can work also in big companies.

Sascha examined then differences with traditional methodology - in particular Waterfall - and Agile, and key topics about implementing Agile successfully, including documentation, regulatory requirements and management approval.

Agile is a group of software development methods based on iterative and incremental development. In a company with traditional development methods,typically these problems occur:

  • Comparison with Existing methods, e.g. Waterfall, with defined milestones and deliverables
  • Depending processes, which stakeholders want to keep as they are
  • Wrong perception, when you think Agile as a method with no control, no budget, no documentation
  • External regulations, e.g. SOX
  • Hesitant management

When implementing Agile here, one has to consider that important milestones are at the starting and closing phases of the project lifecycle and that during these phases deliverables and documentation remain the same, regardless of the methodology.

Agile comes into plan during the Define/Plan phase and Executing. Inputs to the Define/Plan phase is the Requirement Specifications Document which is translated in user stories stored and elaborated in the so called Product Backlog.

How about documentation? Agile is considered often a methodology without enough documentation.

Sascha identified three categories of documents in Agile, when comparing it with Waterfall:

  • Untouched documents, delivered in the initiating and closing phase of the project: Project Charter, Lessons Learned, Closing Documents and so on
  • Open documents, created and delivered during the planning and executing phases. Those documents are taken one-to-one from the Waterfall method and applied to Agile, adapting them accordingly (Release Plan, Test Plan, User Acceptance Testing Plan, Defects Log, etc.)
  • New Documents, Agile typical documents that help the iterative implementation (Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Burndown chart)

In most of the cases, there are no documents that you would use in Waterfall and not in Agile. Sometimes Agile amount of documentation exceeds the Waterfall based.

Differences are also in roles: n Agile you might have more roles than in Waterfall. For example in Scrum, an Agile methodology, the Product Owner has the vision of what he or she wants to build and the Scrum Master ensures that the team applies Scrum properly. Where is the figure of the Project Manager? Does the team really need a Project Manager? The answer is yes, especially in big companies. PM's responsibilities would be communication with Senior Management, working with finance and reporting to the PMO, talk to the HR department for resources and so on.

How about regulatory requirements? Can Agile work with those? No doubts for Sascha, who suggested also two approaches. In the Agile's iterative process you can:

  • Perform validation at the end of each release, that means more work but possibility to deliver the product increment at each release
  • Perform a retrospective validation at the end of the development phase, with the big disadvantage that you are not allowed to deliver until the product is completely implemented and validated

Last, but not least, management buy-in is key in the introduction or integration of Agile in big companies. Sascha suggested organized workshops or conferences led by well prepared and experienced mentors. Important is not to use any pilot: they are easy to be failing, and if this happens, Agile is out.

In conclusion, Sascha presented ways how to integrate successfully Agile in traditional methodologies and how to overcome obstacles:

  • Preparation is required
  • Mutual trust and team spirit
  • Collocation, e.g. in Scrum at least the team and the Scrum Master must be located in the same room
  • You need management buy-in.

I am thankful to him for this interesting and valuable conference and to Arcondis for sponsoring the event.

PMIEF - Medair Workshop

Author: Ka Yi Hui, PMP

Ka Yi Hui 100x100

PMI Switzerland Chapter Social Good team workshop with Medair

On Friday 26th October 2018, the PMI-Switzerland chapter social good team (Agata Czopek, Ph.D., PMP; Devendra Rana, PMP and Ka Yi Hui, Ph.D., PMP) held a 5-hour project management training workshop at the Medair headquarters in Ecublens, Canton Vaud.

Medair is a humanitarian organization inspired by Christian faith to relieve human suffering in some of the world’s most remote and devastated places. In 2017, Medair served more than 2.1 million people in 13 countries. The staff in the Switzerland headquarters play an essential role in facilitating and supporting the teams in the local target countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.


In 2018, they welcomed the new CEO, David Verboom, to further Medair's mission. New initiatives are rolled out to improve efficiency, impact and flexibility, so the organization can grow and better adapt to the increasingly challenging and changing contexts in which it operates. As the need for managing projects increases, that’s where we jump in and promote the best practices in project management and the activities in the PMI Switzerland chapter.

We were happy that the whole organization showed great interest in project management. The 20 participants came from different departments, from logistics to finance, marketing and human resource. We covered the project management fundamentals, like the typical project cycle, the benefit of project management and avoiding scope creep. They also took the chance to work on their internal project planning template as an exercise. The participants were engaged in the discussions and Q&A session.


Medair not only provides humanitarian aid in areas with on-going crises but they also respond to emergencies like the Tsunami in Indonesia. The staff in the HQ are always ready to travel to the field and help those in need. This dynamic nature of their work poses a unique challenge for the organization when it comes to managing the human resources in projects. Because of that, we dedicated a session in the workshop focusing on this topic.


To practice the project management principles they have learned, we played the entertaining tower game (provided freely by PMIEF), where the participants built a tower with plastic cups and bamboo sticks. With their creativity and pragmatic approach, all the teams were able to complete the task on time, with spared resources, good quality, and some laughter. After the game, we reflected on the process together, discussing different leadership styles, teamwork, communications and what makes a successful project.



Finally, we would like to thank Andrew and Artur from Medair for helping us to organize the workshop. We look forward to going back there next year!



Business Agility with Organizational Project Management

Daniele Pinto

Author: Daniele Pinto, PMP


Dear friends and colleagues,


We live in an age of rapid change where technology innovations fuel this acceleration on business processes and therefore individuals and companies are facing challenges in how to react to a world that is becoming “Smart” and “Digital”. In order to remain in business, consultant companies and subject matter experts suggest that one way to adapt is to become "Agile". What does it mean in reality?


image1 biz agile

In a startup company or in a large corporation, the processes to manage the business can be clustered in two main subsets: strategic level and operational level. At the strategic level, the scope of a single entrepreneur or an executive board is to understand the “battle field”, define the game, the products and the services for creating value in the ecosystem where the company operates. In this function, the executives anticipate future scenarios then define the vision, goals and strategy.

At the operational level, the senior management assures that the underlying business delivery is aligned to the company's strategy. It does not matter if you are a one-man show or a corporation you need to be able to explain to your customers, stakeholders and shareholders how you are going to execute your strategy.

We may add an additional complication by considering medium-large multinational organizations, composed by multiple businesses that operate in several countries and regions. Here management must understand and manage investments contribution to the given strategy in a multidimensional environment. In addition, this means appreciating the benefits created at program level from every single produced output at project level. Holistically the business is extremely complicated, as one considers that in addition to the products sold or services provided, there are research activities, improvement programs and internal projects all to be managed.

In this context what does “being Agile” mean?

The meaning is: to be ready for change, and therefore adapting faster to changes.

At the strategic level things may change because of priorities or opportunities. Business reviews might run every month and decisions can stop, start, or move activities: the business machine at the operational level needs to adapt and react as fast as possible. How can the business machine be organized for that?

You need to operate with a robust framework that can allow you to foresee changes, understand impacts at every level of the organization and therefore redirect resources to implement corrections rapidly.

Here is where the Organizational Project Management (OPM) can help businesses and its Maturity Model framework (OPM3) support your business in implementing it. This framework takes into consideration the integration of portfolio management processes, program management support activities and project management processes. It helps the organization to assess its capability and maturity then manage its operations in line with the given strategy and therefore implement any required changes.

It is important to underline that this framework considers, beside processes and activities, some organizational enablers to be successful. The most critical enablers for establishing the “Project Management” culture and best practices in a company are:

  1. Strategic Alignment: for example, the structure of the delivery organization should be aligned with the portfolio structure.
  2. Governance: for example, management needs to decide their risk tolerance.
  3. Organizational Project Management Methodologies: for example, projects in a power plant are managed differently from those in a software business.
  4. Competency Management: for example, establish a standard competency management framework for the portfolio/program/project managers. Today the PMI framework can be considered as best practice.

The implementation of the OPM3 framework is done through a change program where management defines the strategy and goals before execution. This would be a continuous improvement program with planned multiple phases on a roadmap to deliver changes and hence increase the maturity of the organization.

In order to benchmark the business maturity level a Standard Assessment Tool has been developed. The standard assessment tool is based on yes/no questions to define the program’s initial phase of goals:

image2 biz agile


According to the maturity level to be achieved, it is then possible to define some improvement projects.

In summary, today a solution to adapt our operations in a rapidly changing business environment is to use a robust framework. In order to make this happen we need to have an organization that can foresee the upcoming changes and can implement them as fast as possible. This can be done if the “business machine” is well structured with a framework that can allow fast and controlled implementation of the changed strategies. Implementing the Organizational Project Management framework with its Maturity Model is a way to assure that strategy and execution remain aligned.


Internet of Things: Business Analysis and Product Design Strategy

Author: Daniele Pinto, MBA, PMP

Daniele Pinto


The “Internet of things” plays a key role in the digital revolution, in fact, many sources (e.g. Forbes) agree to state that by 2020 it will generate a turnover of Hundreds of Billions of Euro in the B2B (Business to Business) segment. A significant slice of this market will be in supply chain and logistic.

A simple system

Recognising what is an IoT device is easy because these smarts objects are already part of our lives. Some examples are:

  • The baby monitor camera you use to watch your little baby remotely which is accessible from your smartphone, and that notifies you whenever the baby moves;
  • The smart lights in your living room which you can control with a smartphone app, and that you can use for reproducing the ambience of a sunset or a romantic fireplace;
  • The activity tracker that you use to monitor your sleep and daily activity.

Let’s clarify that a tablet or a laptop is a “connected device” and it works as the human interface for monitoring and controlling “things”. Hence a laptop’s display of the measurements from the sensors is the information that allows us to make our choice.

A “thing” is an embedded device connected to the network. The IoT is about processing data from its sensor. Hence for the examples above:

  • The baby monitor camera: it processes the data coming from the motion or volume sensor and send the information (moving/steady state) through the cloud to the mobile device app.
  • The smart light: the bright/white level, the colour levels and their variations are “actuated” on the LED devices to reproduce the selected mood.
  • The activity tracker: a three axes motion sensor and the beat sensor collect and process the inputs, and the information is then provided to the customer.

IoT Value Chain

Now that we have clarified what is an IoT device let’s examine the IoT value chain. This is a sort of complex ecosystem where companies collaborate to design solutions that can provide the “value proposition” for which customers are willing to spend the money.

The value chain is made of three parts: devices, network connectivity and software. The sensor feeds its data through the network provider, and the software provides the real intelligence. By exploring it more in depth, we discover that a smart device needs to talk with the application software through APIs (Application Platform Interface) and a system integrator glue everything together. The following table provides an idea about the value chain and where the actors are positioned.

IoT Business Models

Due to the nature of the product, several business models have been examined. The simplest proposition to understand is the “one-time product selling”. This is the case of B2C (Business to Consumer) transaction (e.g., activity tracker business).

A much more interesting model is service and outcome. This is becoming popular therefore it is worth to provide an example as the Service Model is a good case for IoT.

Let’s assume that we want to start a business in the printing market: do we need to buy printers, or would be much more interesting “to pay for printed papers “?

In the latter case, you pay for the outcome (printed paper) provided by the machine, while the printer provider takes care of the ink and the machine maintenance. Consider what is involved in the service, it provides a device packed with sensors to assure the correct service level according to the contract. At a high level, you can assume that:

  • Value of the Service = Function (Quality, Performance, Reliability, Cost)

To understand how IoT helps manage all the data let’s take the example of the ink level.

The following data should be available:

  • The initial ink volume in the cartridge
  • The yield per page (percentage of the printed surface)
  • The ink consumed for each printed paper based on the yield
  • The historical data about the print papers per hours (or day)

With these data inputs, an analytic algorithm can provide an estimate to plan the cartridge replacement. The service provider can plan the maintenance window for the customer with almost zero downtime. Notice that you do not need a human intervention from the customer because the machine notifies the need for maintenance to the printer provider.

It is easy to understand that the smart device has a higher cost compared to a simple device, and therefore the value proposition must be well defined to be perceived in a positive way by the customer.

Product Design Strategy

The previous example takes us to the next point of this paper: what is the product design strategy?

A top down approach is used to define and model the product based on three steps:

  1. Define the high-level value proposition (e.g., = high quality and high-performance print machines with best in class reliability)
  2. Define the high level functional model (e.g., inkjet print to paper = function (e.g., printhead position, paper position, nozzle temperature));
  3. Define the system requirements
    1. Sensors, actuators, network elements;
    2. Application requirements (e.g., paper types, print speed, print quality, cost/page);
    3. Analytics requirements (e.g., to control ink levels).

The maintenance window of some components or subsystem can be estimated by measuring and controlling some physical variables that are part of the process, for example in a mechanical system the torque and/or force to move a component.

In Summary

The design strategy and the service business model can be applied to many other IoT products and typical examples are:

  • Production machines
  • Medical diagnostics
  • Jet engines for civil aviation
  • Wind generators
  • Cars

It is important to notice that this service model attributes most of the risks in the hands of the service provider. Hence for this model to be sustainable the business case should consider a 2 parts tariff (e.g., annual fee + cost per unit).

The car sharing service is one example where the customer pays for the outcome but through a 2 parts tariff (annual fee + time and distance), and one can easily imagine that the cars are packed with sensors to trace the distance, to set maintenance intervals and identification technologies to control the access.

One important aspect that this article does not cover is the security in IoT service industry, I will cover this topic in another article.