PM Earth

Project Management Course - Knowledge

17 November 2007

Project Management Courses - Knowledge

The strategic reason for creating a project management tools knowledge management system is the same as the reason for creating a PMO. When an organization recognizes project management capability as a strategic asset, it will see to ensure and develop that capability. A PMO is the first step because the PMO is the primary tool for ensuring project management capability throughout the organization. At the same time or later, the organization an develop project management knowledge management system.

The PMO can choose the best time to implement the knowledge base. The initial focus of a PMO is to ensure project management capability. Once that work is done, the PMO can define the benefits of a project management knowledge system in two ways:

Identifying new questions and issues. Project managers and stakeholders can benefit from the ability to create current plans and solve current problems using information from past projects.

Ensuring application of methodology, processes, and tools at lower cost. Through document management, project management work can be guided through the development, review, and implementation of plans automatically. This reduces training costs and makes information, standards, and best practices all immediately available.

The answers to these questions lead to a project management knowledge base that can improve project management capability in two ways:

Improve decision-making capability. The information can be used by project managers, executives, and stakeholders to rapidly make choices that improve project management.

Implement governance and improve project management control. Document and information management for current projects can ensure that project communication and authorization is directed to the right people. This improves project quality while reducing time and cost.

Here are some examples of improvements to project management decision-making:


Have we thought about doing this before? A project manager in a Fortune 500 company was asked if it was cost-efficient to develop a new type of internal phone system. She researched whether any other project manager had looked into the issue before. She discovered that five other project managers had each spent significant time and money researching the project before deciding it was not affordable. She presented her results after searching project records and some quick research. Doing this type of work, project managers can use a project knowledge base to:


Determine if a project is already in progress, reducing duplicate effort


Determine if a project has been evaluated, reducing the time and cost devoted to business case development

This type of analysis is performed at lowest cost on a knowledge base with the following features:


It contains a large set of records of past projects and past concepts considered for projects.


It includes the ability to search text within documents.


It has a synonym search function so that the same idea can be found if different terms were used.


What has gone wrong with similar projects? Project risk management includes the prediction of as many events as possible that might create problems for the project. The ability to search past projects for actual risk events increases the identification of possible risks for this project. A search for project risks is performed best on a knowledge base with the following features:


It contains detailed records of events, including planning and risk events on many past projects.


It allows search of text documents from within projects across many projects.


It has a synonym search function so that the same idea can be found if different terms were used.


How do I resolve this issue? Once a risk event or problem happens on a project, it becomes an issue, and fast, effective action is required to keep the project on schedule. A project manager can search plans, issues, and risks from prior projects to get project management expertise that can speed issue resolution. A good knowledge base for this kind of situation can replace some of the functions of a Mentor Program. A search for solutions to project management problems is performed best on a knowledge base with the following features:


It includes complete, detailed record of all project management plans and activities from prior projects.


It allows search of text documents from within projects across many projects.


It has a synonym search function so that the same idea can be found if different terms were used.


What are crucial issues in corporate risk, portfolio management, or program management? A knowledge base with an executive dashboard front end automatically summarizes current project, program, and portfolio issues and presents them in easy-to-view formats to executives, organized according to the issues of concern to executives, such as corporate risk or product development status.


What do I need to know about this project? Dashboards and query tools can be extended beyond executives to customers, vendors, and other stakeholders. For example, if a vendor provides staff to many projects, and one project is running behind, the system could help the vendor find resources to move from other projects to help the one in trouble.


In addition to answering questions, knowledge management systems can also be used to govern the project management process itself. Here are some examples:


Document management. Project management templates and instructions can be embedded into the knowledge base. The knowledge base can provide immediate instructions and then hold current and historical versions of all documents.


Document control. Once governance is implemented, each project management document is to be created by people in certain roles, changed by others, and approved by others. Documents held in the knowledge base can be directed to the appropriate workers in the appropriate order. The system tracks the status of development and approval of each document. This ensures that all project processes are followed, that all stakeholders contribute properly, and that projects are managed at maximum effectiveness and efficiency. This is especially valuable where multiple approvals are needed, as during a project review. It also makes virtual projects and virtual meetings much more efficient.


Improved risk management. Executives dashboards communicate about risk. Up to date information in the automated document system increases information available to those managing risk events.


Accelerated project scheduling. With all documents available online at all times, work can be accelerated.

Reduced project cost. With all status information entered by each project team member in real time, the overhead of collecting project status information is reduced. More accurate information is available sooner at lower cost.

Designing and developing a project management knowledge base is covered in the next section.

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