Thursday 10 February 2022

How to control over the implementation of innovative projects

Project management (PM) processes are linked by results – the result of one becomes the initial information for the other. Repetition during the design at different phases of the innovative project helps to control the relevance of the project. A feature of modern innovative projects is that positive and negative trends become more and more noticeable already in the early stages of the life cycle. The focus on achieving key milestones focuses on the results demonstrated. The iterative process allows you to avoid late major failures in the project due to constant integration, resolve risks in the early stages, avoid repetitions in the work.

When planning, the information obtained and its usefulness should be commensurate with the objectives of the innovative project. It is necessary to distinguish between the goals of the project and the goals of the project product, which is understood as an innovative product (or service) created or produced as a result of the project. Product goals are the properties and functions that the products of the project should have. Project goals are the work that needs to be done to produce a product with specified properties. During the execution of the project, these processes are repeated many times. Changes can be made to the goals of the project, its budget, resources, etc. In addition, project planning is not an exact science. Different project teams can develop different plans for the same project. And project management packages can create different schedules for work with the same initial data.

The specific structure of the plans applied at the different levels and stages of project planning depends on the standards and approaches adopted in the industry and in the organizations implementing the project. For example, in the construction industry, the project documentation includes estimate documentation supplied by the customer and detailed by the contractors, the construction plan of the object, organizational and technological schemes for the construction of objects, work schedules and receipts of building materials at the facility. In industrial projects, the basis of calendar work schedules is design and technological documentation, in information projects - the specification of the system.

In general, at the project management level, the following types of plans can be distinguished:

  • conceptual plan;
  • strategic plan for the implementation of the project;
  • tactical (detailed) plans.
  • Note that different levels of management in the organization are involved to varying degrees in the development of these plans.

Input data for the development of a project plan are:

  • Contractual requirements.
  • A description of the available resources.
  • Valuation and cost models.
  • Documentation on similar developments.

Although planning is an iterative process, there is a logical sequence of steps in developing an innovation project plan that makes up the planning cycle.

To guide an innovative answer project, it is necessary to answer some generalized question.

There may be feedback for the last four steps that reflects the need to update the plan. In reality, the planning process is not strictly sequential. For example, key milestones are usually determined by customer requirements at the very beginning of the program. During supervision, the plan developer may find that these milestones cannot be reached and therefore must be renegotiated with the customer. In addition, detailed milestones (for teams and individual performers) can be set as the project progresses. Similarly, core resources (project management, key executors) are assigned in the early stages of a project, while specific resources are defined and assigned in later stages.

In addition to the listed basic steps of the planning process, the project management should define the project management processes, identify risks and probabilities; formulate change management plans, organize procedures for optimization, review, approval and documentation of the project plan [3].

The work of planning and monitoring the schedule does not end with the completion of the actual planning stage, when the project plan is prepared. After the necessary procedures for approving the plan are completed, the implementation phase begins, and, accordingly, the planning methods and tools necessary to monitor and perform assessments of the current state of work begin to be used.

As soon as the actual data on the progress of the innovation project begins to arrive, the manager has the need to compare the actual progress of work with the plan, identify important discrepancies and update the plan as necessary. A results-based planning methodology makes it possible to obtain the necessary estimates. The procedure for updating the plan at any stage of the project can include all the main planning steps, starting with the development of an IMR to generate new options for the complex of works, based on changed ideas about the project and the conditions for its implementation.

Building a hierarchical work structure (DPI) establishes links between the project plan and the needs of the customer, usually presented in the form of functional specifications or work descriptions.

Creating an IMR at the beginning of the planning work provides the manager with the opportunity:

  • Explain how each of the objectives defined in the project will be achieved
  • Check if all goals are reflected in the project plan
  • Create an effective reporting structure
  • Indicate at an appropriate level of detail the key results that should be clearly reflected in the network and the calendar
  • Specify the managers responsible for achieving key results, and thereby ensure that the achievement of all results will be monitored
  • Provide team members with an understanding of their role in the context of the overall work of the project.

The development of an IMR can be carried out either by a top-down or bottom-up method, or simultaneously using both approaches. This is an iterative process, most effectively carried out using the "brainstorming" technique carried out by the members of the project team. The IMR should fully "cover" all the objectives of the project.

The level of detail of the specifications can vary quite widely. The planning process can begin with ready-made detailed technical specifications, or if there is a contract, with the described basic and supporting types of contract work. In other situations, however, only the functional specification or work requirements in the most general form may be available during the planning phase. In any case, the planning team should use the IMR method to structure the project and obtain specific outputs (final products).

The most important thing in the development of a DPI is to build a hierarchical structure of the project that would effectively support the procedures for collecting information on the performance of work and display the results in the information management system to summarize work schedules, costs, resources, and completion dates.

As a basis for communication, IMR is an effective graphics technology. As the basis for a management information system, IMR allows information on schedules and completion dates, resources and costs to be reviewed by management at the appropriate level.

There are several approaches to the construction of IMR. For real projects, the project breakdown structure should combine the division into:

  • components of the project's products;
  • functional elements of activity;
  • stages of the project life cycle;
  • elements of the organizational structure.

Individually, each approach has its weaknesses and strengths. The structure, built on the functional principle, focuses on activities and individual works; however, this reduces the visibility of key end products as such. The approach to structuring based on product structure tends in reverse. In practice, the best approach is to develop a combined structure, using a mixed approach. The art of project breakdown consists in skillfully combining three different structures – process, product and organization – into a single project structure. A structure constructed in this way can display the structure of the product at the upper levels, and move to structures that display specific works at the lower levels, which allows you to go to the scheme of determining those responsible for individual types of work. This approach allows, focusing on the final products of the project, to provide a breakdown convenient for building a structure of responsibility for specific works [2].

There may be tasks that do not fall under the control of the project manager - for example, tasks provided and controlled by the customer. Such tasks, although external to the project, can impose certain restrictions on its tasks. To accommodate such constraints, external tasks can also be included in the IMR as a specific category of external work.

Illustrates a mixed approach to building a DPI, involving product structuring at the upper levels of partitioning and functional structuring at the lower

Developers can also use other criteria to break up work, such as market sector breakdown (geographic division, division by user type). However, in practice, if such approaches are used as the basic principle of structuring in the construction of the IMR, difficulties often arise due to excessive complexity of the structure. More effectively, the developer can apply these criteria when building a structural diagram of the organization.

A few simple rules apply when forming a IDE:

Each element must be described and have a unique identifier. The names of the elements at each level should reflect the criterion for the division of work, and at the lower levels - the actions related to the production of the final product of this level. For example, if you use the functional criterion for splitting work, elements of a branch associated with development might be labeled "development" in the title, and elements of a branch that is associated with production might be labeled "production." At levels displaying activities related to the final products, the name should reflect the type of action associated with the product, using a clear verb-noun sequence, for example, "installation of a network cable".

  • Each new level in the IMR adds more detailed elements, each of the elements is associated with a more general element located at a level higher. At any level, only one "parent" (total) element corresponds to a group of "child" (detailed) elements. This is a fundamental rule that ensures the correctness of the summation of costs, the output of combined calendar schedules and the generalization of information about works during the transition from one level to another.
  • The parent element must have more than one child element. This rule avoids excessive levels and provides a structure that is suitable for generalization operations.
  • Work breakdown should be performed until elementary project results (products) are defined for each branch of the structure, ensuring that all project objectives are achieved. This rule does not require the IMR to have symmetrical branches. The goal is to break up the work in such a way that clear and verifiable intermediate results are identified, and nothing more.

An important rule in the development of an IMR is that it is useful to detail activities to a level that provides the possibility of obtaining the reporting necessary for management and the customer and nothing more. Excessive detail of the work will entail problems of collecting and processing information. One of the rules used in determining the degree of detail may be that the duration of detailed work should not exceed the time intervals between checkpoints (for example, managers' meetings). So, if the project management team holds meetings every week, the duration of detailed tasks should not be more than one week.

The most common mistakes made in the process of structuring the project are:

  • skipping the structuring stage of the project and moving directly to the search and solution of project problems;
  • use only functions, phases, or organizational units instead of the end products or resources used.
  • lack of understanding that the breakdown structure should cover the entire project (usually - failure to take into account the initial and final phases of the project);
  • failure to take into account that the elements of the structure should not be repeated;
  • lack of integration of the project structure with the accounting system in the company;
  • excessive or insufficient detail;
  • impossibility of computer processing of the results of structuring - project plans due to errors of a formal nature (each level or element of the plan must be encoded in a certain way);
  • failure to account for "intangible" end products, such as services, information, or software.

The IMR is the basis for team members to understand the structure and interdependence of the main elements of a project activity. However, the work can only be done in the process of coordinated activities of individuals or organizations. The Organization Structure Diagram (SSS) and the Responsibility Matrix are two tools designed to assist the manager in building a strong team.

An MTR is a description of the organizational structure required to perform the work defined in the IMR. The purpose of the MTR is to identify a set of performers for work of a detailed level of IMR. Thus, the composition of the work largely determines the form of the organizational structure.

While the relationship between the work of the IMD and the elements of the organizational structure is never as clear in practice as in the diagram, it is important that the structure of responsibilities be clearly defined.

The responsibility matrix provides a description and coordination of the structure of responsibility for the performance of work. It provides a format for assigning responsibility to departments for the implementation of each of the project elements, indicating the role of each of the units in performing a particular work. This matrix contains a list of detailed works of the IMR on one axis, a list of units and performers involved in the implementation of work on the other axis, the elements of the matrix are the codes of activities (from a predetermined list).

The number of types of responsibility may vary, depending on the specifics of the project and its organization, but in any case it is recommended to limit yourself to a small set of easy to describe and understand the types of participation in the performance of work. For example, the most important role in the performance of any detailed work is played by the person directly responsible for its implementation, but the matrix should also reflect those people or organizations that provide support for the work of the direct contractor, as well as those who will carry out the evaluation and acceptance of work.

The matrix can also display the types of responsibility of specific managers for certain works. In addition, the matrix can display the roles of people who are not directly involved in the project, but who can support the work of the team.

A carefully prepared and thought-out matrix is often the tool that ensures the successful support of the project both within the project team and external organizations (for example, the customer).

Budgeting is understood as the determination of the cost values of the work performed within the framework of the project and the project as a whole, the process of forming the project budget containing the established (approved) distribution of costs by type of work, cost items, by time of work, by cost centers or by other structure [2]. The structure of the budget is determined by the chart of accounts of cost accounting of a particular project. The budget can be formed both within the framework of the traditional accounting chart of accounts, and using a specially developed plan of accounts of management accounting. Practice shows that in most cases the accounting chart of accounts is not enough. For each specific project, certain specifics are required from the point of view of value management, so each project should have its own unique chart of accounts, but which is based on established indicators of management accounting.

At various phases and stages of the innovation project, appropriate types of budgets are developed. The accuracy and purpose of these types of budgets are shown in

Budgeting is cost planning, i.e. determining the cost plan: when, how much and for what the money will be paid.

The budget can be drawn up in the form of:

1. Schedules of costs
2. Cost-sharing matrices
3. Cost Bar Charts
4. Bar charts of cumulative (cumulative total) costs
5. Linear diagrams of cumulative costs distributed over time.
6. Pie charts of the structure of expenses  and so on.

The form of presentation of budgets depends on:

  • Consumer of the document,
  • Purposes of creating a document,
  • Established standards,
  • Information of interest.

Depending on the stage of the project life cycle, budgets can be:

  • Preliminary (estimated),
  • Approved (official),
  • Current (adjustable),
  • Actual.

After the feasibility studies have been carried out, provisional budgets are drawn up, which are more estimated than prescriptive. Such budgets are agreed upon by all stakeholders and are ultimately approved by the project manager or other decision maker. After the budget has acquired official status, it becomes a benchmark against which actual results are compared. During the implementation of the project, there are deviations from previously planned indicators, which should be reflected in the current budgets in a timely manner. And at the end of all the work, as a final document, an actual budget is created, which reflects the real figures that took place.

Budgets representing expenditure budgets deserve special attention.

Plan analysis refers to determining whether a project execution plan meets the requirements and expectations of project participants. It is expressed in the assessment of the indicators of the plan by the team and other project participants.

At the planning stage, the result of the plan analysis may be a decision on the need to change the initial conditions and draw up a new version of the plan, or the adoption of the developed version as a basic project plan, which later serves as the basis for measuring performance. Plan analysis is not singled out as a separate group of processes, but is included in the planning process group, making this group of processes iterative in nature.

Executing refers to the processes of implementing a plan. The processes of implementation of an innovative project can be divided into main and auxiliary ].

The main execution processes include the process of executing the project plan.

Among the auxiliary processes:

  • Information Distribution - preparation and distribution of information necessary for project participants with the required periodicity;
  • Quality Assurance - regular evaluation of project performance in order to confirm compliance with accepted quality standards;
  • preparation of proposals (Solicitation) - collection of recommendations, feedback, suggestions, applications, etc .;
  • Selection of suppliers (Source Selection) - evaluation of proposals, selection of suppliers and contractors and conclusion of contracts;
  • Contract Administration - control over the execution of contracts by suppliers and contractors;
  • Development of the project team (Team Development) - professional development of the project team members.
  • Project execution management is the definition and application of the necessary control actions for the successful implementation of the project [4].

The main control processes include:

  • Performance Reporting - collection and distribution of information on the implementation of the project, analysis of the implementation of the project;
  • Overall Change Control - Identify, agree, approve and accept corrective actions and coordinate changes throughout the project.
  • Project performance should be regularly measured and analyzed in order to identify deviations from the planned plan, identify and evaluate their impact on the project.

Regular measurement of the parameters of the innovative project and identification of emerging deviations should be carried out for all parameters included in the project plan.

The processes of analyzing the implementation of an innovative project are designed to assess the state and predict the success of the project in accordance with the criteria and restrictions defined at the planning stage. For most projects, the main limitations and success criteria include goals, deadlines, quality and cost of project work.

  • Planning, budgeting and control over the implementation of innovative projects
  • As a result of the analysis, either a decision is made to continue the implementation of the project according to the previously planned plan, or the need for corrective actions is determined.

The processes of analyzing the implementation of an innovative project can also be divided into main and auxiliary [5].

The main processes for analyzing the implementation of an innovative project include those processes that are directly related to the goals of the project and the indicators that characterize the success of the project:

  • timeline analysis - determining whether the actual and projected deadlines for the execution of project operations correspond to the directive or planned ones;
  • cost analysis - determining the correspondence of the actual and projected cost of operations and phases of the project to the directive or planned;
  • quality analysis - monitoring of the results in order to check them for compliance with the accepted quality standards and determine ways to eliminate the causes of undesirable results of the quality of the innovative project;
  • confirmation of goals - the process of formal acceptance of the results of an innovative project by its participants (investors, consumers, etc.).

Auxiliary processes for analyzing the implementation of an innovative project are associated with the analysis of factors affecting the goals and criteria for the success of the project. These processes include:

performance evaluation - analysis of performance and distribution of project information in order to provide project participants with data on how resources are used to achieve project objectives;
resource analysis - determine the compliance of actual and forecast load and performance of resources with planned ones, as well as analyze the compliance of actual material consumption with planned values.

If the implementation of an innovative project occurs in accordance with the planned plan, then management is actually reduced to execution - bringing to the project participants planned tasks and monitoring their implementation. These processes are included in the execution processes.

If in the process of implementation there were deviations, the analysis of which showed that it is necessary to determine and apply corrective influences, then in this case it is necessary to find optimal corrective effects, adjust the plan of the remaining work and coordinate the planned changes with all participants in the innovation project.

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