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PMIEF - Medair Workshop

Author: Ka Yi Hui, PMP

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

Get to Know Dr. Andrea Behrends

Author: Alp Camci, PMP

alp Alp Camci

Get to Know our members - an interview with Dr. Andrea Behrends 

In the first of a new series of extended Get to Know articles, Alp Camci interviews Dr. Andrea Behrends, president and chair of AB&P who was also the founder and first president of PMI Switzerland.

Could you please tell the readers about yourself like your specialized fields, current role, your motivation in being a member of the Swiss Chapter or any other relevant information about yourself which you would like to share?  

Dr Behrends

I am leading my company AB&P, with headquarters in Switzerland and offices in major business areas around the world. AB&P specializes in Project Management Training, Coaching and Consulting. In addition, I am president of the board of directors of FKC Switzerland AG. FKC is one of the biggest e-learning providers in Germany.  As founder of PMI Switzerland and president for the first 4 years I am deeply attached to the Chapter. I broadened my knowledge, developed business ideas and gained friends in the Chapter.  

Could you please tell us your previous and current participation in the PMI-CH Chapter?

I am the first president of the PMI Switzerland Chapter, from the year 2001, when it was founded, until 2005. I continued to participate as speaker or volunteer in Basel. Often I simply join interesting Chapter events and meet friends.

As the first president of the Swiss Chapter, could you please tell us your experiences in setting up the chapter?

We started the PMI Chapter in Basel with a group of my friends who were also working as project managers or project management instructors. A friend of mine came from Freiburg im Breisgau and shared his experiences from Germany. At the first meeting to constitute the provisional Chapter board we needed a quorum of 24 people. A very cautious friend predicted that we would not get this through our network. But (!) we received a quorum of 36 participants voting for us. After a year of work with PMI we were able to do the first elections and founded the Chapter with all necessary legal and regulatory details. Our work is voluntary and we enjoyed our success and ever since I contribute to the Chapter.

Could you share your thoughts about the development of the Swiss Chapter since 2002 until today and your vision about the future of PMI-CH?

There were several milestones we mastered, one I would like to highlight here: In the early years, the idea came up to split the Switzerland Chapter in several smaller Chapters, at least 2, one for the German speaking region and one for the French part of Switzerland. We discussed this and finally voted against it. I believe that this was a wise move. We have a vivid exchange between the local groups at the moment and still are big enough to compare ourselves with the biggest PMI Chapters in Europe. That gives us the advantage of having the recourses to organize big events and to be seen in Europe.

Furthermore, the community becomes more and more international and that is also my vision for the future of PMI-CH. We can give a home to all those project managers who come from abroad to Switzerland and at the same time provide an international experience for those who are Swiss and work locally.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a Project Manager?

Stakeholder management tops all other challenges, I believe. The communication with the team, the sponsors, all other effected by the project and those you forgot to speak to. That is something I always push a bit to the side, as my personal strength is in risk management, high level planning and steering committee meetings, i.e. high level problem analysis and solving.

How do you see the Project Management role evolving over the coming years?

I think it is becoming even more important. In big projects, I face often the situation that a full IT team, for example an Oracle team, is integrated into a business project team, for example inclusion or merger with an external business unit. The IT project team and the business project team sometimes don’t speak the same language. IT teams have the tendency to split off and do their own thing which sooner or later creates problems. The future project manager should be able to speak the many languages of the project world, such as Prince, Scrum or company own methodologies.

How do you see PMI in terms of participating in the development of the “project management” profession?

PMI is doing a very professional job providing solutions from local to global level

Any other thoughts and information you would like to share with our readers?

Being a project manager certifies that you are a creative problem solver and leader who seeks a new challenge with every new project.

Creative problem solving workshop

Creative Problem-solving Workshop

Authors: Adi Muslic, PMP, VP Sponsors & Partners / Tetiana Pavliuk, PMP / Joachim Dehais, PMP, VP Volunteers

 

 

 

 

Following the successful "Wicked Problem-solving Workshop" at the PMI Annual Conference in October, we ventured to Lugano to share the practice of creative problem-solving, which integrates powerful elements, such as systems thinking, visualisation, creativity, and open collaboration.

The workshop, organised in collaboration with the local Association for Project Management (APM Ticino), took place at the Professional School of Italian Switzerland (SUPSI). Through newly acquired systems thinking, visualisation, and creative collaboration concepts and tools, the participants achieved broadened perspective. This enabled the formation of new and innovative solutions for long-standing, strategic problems, including those that they had experienced themselves.

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Picture the challenge before you as a dynamic constellation of interconnected elements, each influencing, and being influenced, by each other. Systems thinking invites one to step back, see the bigger picture, and comprehend the intricate dance of variables at play.

Unleash the power of visualisation to illuminate the unseen. Imagine your ideas taking shape in vibrant images and dynamic forms. Visual imagery not only clarifies one’s understanding, but also serves as a canvas for one’s inventive mind to explore innovative solutions. Whether one’s preferred methods include mind-maps, diagrams, or interactive simulations, one should allow one’s ideas to materialize in the visual landscape. This is your roadmap for innovation.

Now let us infuse your journey with creativity – the catalyst that transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary. Embrace the unconventional, dance with ambiguity, and dare to dream beyond the constraints of the status quo. Your creative spirit is the spark that ignites novel connections, leading to breakthrough solutions. Remember… constraints are merely invitations for inventive thinking.

Yet, the true magic lies in collaboration – the symphony of minds harmonising towards a common goal. Engage in open and safe collaboration, where diverse perspectives converge into a collective force. Each participant brings a unique point of view to the orchestra, contributing to a melody of ideas that goes beyond limitations of one’s perspective. Through open dialogue and shared creativity, the boundaries of what is possible expand unexpectedly.

Should you join this creative problem-solving odyssey, remember that the journey itself is as valuable as the destination. Embrace the joy of discovery, relish the challenges, and celebrate the triumphs of ingenuity. Innovation thrives at the intersection between systems thinking, visualisation, creativity, and close collaboration. This is where your problem-solving narrative becomes a tapestry of inspiration for others.

The next Creative Problem-solving Workshop, which is to be held in January 2024, will be hosted in Swiss Romandie. Follow us on LinkedIn, check our website regularly, or look out for event notifications to register for this invaluable workshop.

See you soon!

Joachim, Tetiana and Adi