Project Olympus collects best practices

26 november 2018

The Practice of Project Management: Project Olympus 5.0 conference has ended at the Analytical Center. The last day of the conference featured a number of expert discussions and master classes.

A round table "Role of regional project management offices in achieving the national development goals of the Russian Federation" featured discussions about the need for change in project management office operation. Regional governments say they would like to provide quicker and better communication with federal executive authorities as well as introduce standard report forms and project management documents, and clearly define for the notion of projects, and others. Regional governments are perfectly capable of implementing some of the changes on their own, however, some other changes need to be made at the federal level, believes Pavel Shestopalov, adviser to Head of the Analytical Center. "If we take the idea of hiring extra project management staff, for example, that's the kind of decision that needs to be made at the federal level," he believes. "There are examples where our colleagues started by optimizing the business processes and achieved a reduction in the total work load by cutting out wasteful procedures or functions." Participants in the round table compiled a list of questions that they would like to put to the federal project management office.

Participants in the round table "Professional project competencies: why simple competencies are no longer enough to manage complex projects?" talked about ways to assess a person's ability to implement complex projects. "The National Project is a complex task whose management requires not only knowledge of the standards of projects management but also some personal qualities," noted Pavel Shestopalov, adviser to Head of the Analytical Center. Dmitry Trubitsyn, Skolkovo Resident, suggested using the model of competencies that describes the project roles and the degree to which a person possesses the skills needed to perform specific project management roles. "Companies can use this model to determine how complex a project is and thus reduce the risks involved with its implementation," added Pavel Alferov, a professor with the Moscow School of Management at Skolkovo. "The main goal is to assess the project against a check list and then use the assessment results to select the necessary tools and the best employees." State Corporation Rusatom representative Maria Verbitskaya talked about how her company had created a project management school to train staff and management in the skills of working on major complex projects in which errors can have disastrous consequences.

Irina Kirillova from Belgorod Region was the key-note speaker at the master class "Best Practices of Combining Project Management with Process Management". She talked about how project management is organized in the government of her region and drew a conclusion that there is a close link between project management and business process management. Participants in the event eventually agreed that at the moment management processes are fluid and constantly changing and at the end of the day each project can be represented as a collection of processes. Rusatom representative Vasily Prokhorov added that the most important indicator of the project's success is how the life of the average consumer changes as a result of changes in the processes included in the project and how even the smallest process can improve a bigger process that it is a part of.

Participants of the master class "Agile in the Public Sector, Reality or Utopia?" concluded that the Agile approach does work in the public sector.  AK Bars Bank project management team talked about their experience of introducing Agile processes and analyzed the details of the success they achieved in using the approach, paying special attention to the need to have experienced coaches properly train all employees on the team while ensuring high engagement with the process of every one of them. The Pension Fund of Samara Region is demonstrating outstanding efficiency. "Things are changing really fast in the public sector today, and we need to be able to adapt and optimize just as fast," believes Egor Krunkin of the Samara Region Pension Fund. "We're using all the best tools from among the methodologies and project management approaches we have available but we're tweaking them to best meet our needs. Thus, we've managed to find a legal way to set up a training center and all our employees are now taking a course in the new Agile approach in project management and we don't shy away from copying the experience of other companies, to which end, among other things, we entered into an agreement with Sberbank and adopted a methodology developed there."

The participants of round table-webinar "Project management in science and higher education" tried to figure out whether the country's universities were ready to introduce project management en masse, whether at this point it makes sense to wait for grass roots initiative and whether project management tools can in principle be of any use to universities. In the business sector, project management has for a long time been a mature and effective tool rather than a novelty, according to SOVNET Association expert Veniamin Knyazev. Despite some rather unique features typical of higher education institutes, they will often encounter standard project management issues and fall into the same traps as their colleagues in the business sector. "It goes without saying that universities have their own unique processes but they need to understand that project management is first and foremost a tool for effecting change. As competition gets tougher with every passing day universities need to change even fast to not only keep up with the times but to anticipate future demand," Mr. Knyazev believes. Universities find it unusual to analyze target audiences or work on marketing strategies but these are prerequisite conditions today and the so called backbone universities are already following this path and are ready to share their experience with others, the expert noted, stressing that in 2019 the Project Olympus is to include a special nomination for project management in higher education.

As he opened a round table "Managing public private partnership projects: from initiative to implementation", Maxim Tkachenko, Executive Director of the National Center for Private Public Partnerships, said this type of deal was one of the most complex and unique in the country. In his opinion, managing private public partnership projects is made more complicated by the fact they usually take much longer to implement and by the fact the state authority involved usually depends on the private partner. In addition, state authorities often run into difficulties trying to attract investors to their projects and developing implementation concepts for them. From the point of view of investors, signing a concession agreement involves risks related to the social significance of the projects. So, the first step in such cooperation should involve a comprehensive analysis of all the source data, especially in the case of unique, rather than standard projects, the experts noted. On top of that, support of such projects by regional governments plays a very important role as well. Business representatives are of the opinion it reduces risks and helps eliminate them quickly.