Invited Speakers and Case Studies
The conference organizers this year received a record number of entries for technical papers. A total of 293 technical paper abstracts were submited. The organizers applied a multi-level, rigorous review and filtering process and selected 31 presentations for publishing, and 13 for presentation at the conference. This is the first time that practitioners from Sri Lanka, the UAE, and Pakistan sent in their abstracts.
Invited speaker, Mr. R. Vittal Raj, assurance and management consulting expert, highlighted the link between the right technology and project success, in his address on “Leaders Get IT Right for Project Success”
Is your PM Learning ‘STICKY’? How to design the best transfer climate
- Raed S Haddad
Has the investments in learning project management made an impact on the organization you work for? It’s not just about what you know but also about how you use what you know. Mr. Haddad, managing director, Asia Pacific, ESI International, examined the current state of affairs, the common failure points, and how can one add value to any learning.
The role of a project manager in a global arena is mainly to generate profit, provide global consistency, and ensure customer and employer satisfaction. Being proactive is an essential pre-requisite and can influence the way a project progresses. He said attending a training class without proper post-course knowledge integration is a futile yet common practice. A recent study shows that organizations may estimate a high level of learning transfer but the reality does not bear that estimate out. The importance of measurement and the ability to predict the impact of learning programs with tools can help in building post-learning strategies to improve overall knowledge, absorption, and adoption.
Sustainable mathematical model for monitoring linear infrastructure projects
- Asim Prasad
Relying on his experience of executing and monitoring cross-country natural gas pipeline projects, Mr. Prasad, chief manager, GAIL India Limited, proposed a sustainable, easy-to-understand, and generic mathematical model to monitor and control projects with varying degrees of complexity, risk, and diversity to arrest time and cost-overruns. He said that once the objectives and business value of a project are identified, it was important to do a stakeholders’ analysis by assigning a prioritization score, considering their importance, degree of influence, and impact on the project.
The first step of the mathematical model is to identify the elements of the work breakdown structure (WBS) and assign weightages to each element, so as to plan and measure progress. Next, calculate the incremental scheduled percentage progress per month for each of the WBS elements and then, the overall scheduled progress. The third step is to prepare the actual overall cumulative percentage progress for each month in a similar manner. This helps arrive at the fourth step of the model, which is to find out if the project is ahead of or behind schedule, along with the reasons for deviation. If the project is behind schedule, identify the WBS elements responsible for it, and prepare a catch-up plan. Implement it and keep measuring the progress of the plan until the project is completed.
Potential of ‘LEAN’ construction concepts in promoting ‘GREEN’er construction
- Ann Francis
The presentation focused on an issue of growing importance in the country. Ms. Francis, planning engineer, Larsen & Toubro, spoke about how to use technology innovation and Lean methodology can make construction activity greener. The basic principles of Lean—resource waste elimination, increased value to the customer, the first-time right approach, pull mechanism, and continuous innovation—apply to construction as well. Wastes could be related to waiting or idle time, motion, over-processing, over-production, transportation, inventory, and defects/rework.
Ms. Francis highlighted the findings of her study of six construction activities in four sites to establish that there is a direct correlation between the adoption of Lean methodologies and achieving a green outcome. “Lean makes construction more structured, thereby reducing the occurrence of variables. It then becomes easier to adopt technology and do micro-level planning,” she said. Her study showed that Lean helped reduce the carbon footprint during the various stages of construction. She used Value Stream Mapping to identify value-adding and waste activities by tracking cycle times, lead times, and inventory levels. Lean tools that do not involve heavy investment costs can help organizations perform better and achieve environmental sustainability.
Mr. R. Sathyavageeswaran, assistant vice president and global head – quality, Aricent Group, presented a case study in which he demonstrated a project management competency development success story
Overcoming a ‘MYRIAD’ of challenges as a woman in it project management
- Aruni Siriwardene, PMP
Quoting a Gallup World 2011 study, Ms. Siriwardene, senior project manager, Navantis IT Pvt. Ltd., said that women are less likely to have full-time jobs that are well paid. The gender difference of 23 percent is particularly stark in South Asia. In IT, though there is no glass ceiling for women, there is clearly a gender bias. A study by Women in Technology forum reveals that it is difficult for women to reach the board level in the IT industry. Statistics point towards fewer women in IT project management and the reason could be barriers that women set on themselves, she said.
The Sri Lankan delegate had many words of advice for women at the workplace. “Don’t treat yourself as the weaker sex. It’s all in the mind,” she said. Life is about the choices you make. No doubt the fight is going to be tough, but what is life without a struggle. She took care not to turn her talk into a sermon and made an instant connect with the large section of women in the audience. At the end, it was not just about women in IT but an inspirational speech by a woman who has experienced the everyday challenges and speaking from her heart.
PM academy – an enabling platform for project managers
- Raghunandan Menon & Vikram Kumar B.T.
The session by Mr. Menon, advisory consultant, G. A. Menon Academy, and Mr. Kumar, director, UST Global, focused on the need to have a project management academy to enable project managers, including aspirants, to accelerate their competencies and take their learning and talent further. In today’s global business context, the survival of any IT services organization depends on the capabilities of its project manager to manage projects and deliver them on time. The PM Academy is an enabling platform to improve their competencies.
A PM academy must align with proven industry standards like that of PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), blend with the vision and internal dynamics of the organization, sustain enablement, and benchmark competencies through pre and post-training assessments. It must be an organization owned and managed by experts and practitioners who are willing to nurture and grow talent through continuous coaching and monitoring.
The real adoption of the PM competency framework depends on how open the organization is to understanding the aspirations of its employees, the business objectives of the organization, and how nimble and balanced it is to adapting to those needs.
Transformational and revolutionary projects: fuelling economic growth
- Prabhu K.B.
Mr. Prabhu, vice president, BA Continuum Pvt. Ltd., analyzed the reasons behind the success and failure of some of India’s biggest projects till date. He spoke about the national polio eradication program, the Tata Nano plant relocation from Singur in West Bengal to Sanand in Gujarat, and the Indian Premier League (IPL) sporting extravaganza.
The polio eradication program is a transformational project that applied innovative and thoughtful leadership, along with tools, techniques, best practices, and project management principles. Till 1988, polio crippled an estimated 200,000 children a year in India. The first nationwide polio immunization campaign launched in 1995 was to eradicate polio from India. The project faced distribution, stakeholder, communication, cost, and procurement challenges. It needed precise execution, closer co-ordination, and extensive cooperation among the stakeholders. The lessons learned from this project: stakeholder management, excellent delivery system, and innovative techniques to reach out to millions of children, and mass communication management.
In the second part of the paper, he highlighted the challenges that the Tata Nano project faced in Singur and the successful implementation in Sanand thereafter. The success at Sanand was mainly due to the implementation of lessons learned from the Singur project, such as offering a higher price for the land than the market value, engaging the right stakeholders and involving them throughout the project life cycle, and scope, time, and cost management.
In the third part, he deliberated on how IPL transformed the Indian economy and generated lasting benefits for a wide range of industries. With its huge popularity, the event has the potential to expand to non-cricket playing nations like US, which will bring valuable trade flows to India.
The importance of social innovation and the implications for citizens and industry
- Alexei Levene
Mr. Levene, managing director, TGCi Foundation, delved on concepts of innovation and how innovation is a crucial aspect of building competitive advantage for an organization. Innovation for an artist, who considers himself as a visual thinker, is the ability to see something but imagine something else. Innovation for an organization is that ability to create and execute new ideas; it’s that competitive differential that sets one apart from the rest. He posed a question to the audience. “When we say ‘out of the box’, where is the edge of the box?” Of the many responses that came in, he settled for this one: “The edge of the box is in our perception.”
While taking up an innovative project, a question that is sometimes missed is: why are we innovating? It helps to keep the context for an innovation in mind while working on it. He gave a brief overview of a few social innovation projects that TGCi Foundation has undertaken up in its campus in Trivandrum, Kerala. Projects, like the solar-powered bike, paddle-powered water pumps, solar reading lamps, and water tank with plastic bottles are not just projects to recycle waste but also give a boost to innovative ideas for social good.
Mr. N.K. Kumar, IES, chief general manager (finance), Chennai Metro Rail Ltd., spoke about the innovative project management techniques being followed for the Chennai Metro Rail project. He highlighted technical, environmental, financial, and human resource challenges that the project is facing and the project management approach that the organization is taking to solve them
Portfolio and program management – scaling sprints to run multiple releases cutting across 8+ technology teams
- Venkataraman L
Mr. Venkataraman L, head, project management, InMobi, discussed a framework to manage multiple releases using agile scrum and kanban project management approaches. In this framework, the release lifecycle is broken into a threestep process that makes it lean and swift.
In the first step, the teams conducted a gap analysis of the prevalent system. In the second step, the teams adopted a quarterly plan to address the gaps. In the final step or “the push/pull stage,” the teams conducted releases in a phased manner. Each individual release went through the phases of pipelined, approved, in ideation, in execution, deployed, under review, and closed. Each team ran its sprint planning and sprints, and the scrum masters aligned the deployment sequencing with the help of key members of the team.
Among the key benefits of using this framework is the ability to get releases done in spite of multiple dependencies and the visibility that a global team gets on where their dependencies lie and take necessary action. The framework enabled the team to conduct 50 parallel releases in one quarter and over 120 releases in the past four quarters.
Agile adoption: the importance of demonstrated business value
- Nidhi Arora
Ms. Arora, senior manager, Cairn India Ltd. showed how by using agile practices in project management, she delivered an SAP project that involved huge data migration, and the development of many functionalities and workflows, ahead of the expected time. She went in for phased delivery of the project, with the active involvement of the client for timely feedback and iterations, shadow consulting so that even one team member’s absence for a day does not affect the schedule, and daily performance tracking.
“The team had been using the waterfall methodology but I didn’t find any active resistance to change. I chose to stay away from using any terminologies associated with agile practices so as not to trigger any negative sentiments. Agileinspired behavior helped the project greatly,” she said. The results were outstanding: 40 percent saving in time and zero escalations after the project was commissioned. The results have now created curiosity and interest in the team and organization about employing agile practices in project management.
Gearing up for project management: version next
- Ashish Sadekar
The paper by Mr. Sadekar, executive director, ProThoughts, demonstrated a new way of managing projects, which is in response to today’s trends of disruptive technologies and instant gratification. In this new, collaborative method, the customer sees value at each deployment rather than at the end of the entire project lifecycle, and can effectively measure return on investment as the project progresses. He presented a case study on the non-linear method of “risks and rewards” that put both the customer and the implementer into an incentive mode of working, thereby helping in seeing the project through.
In this method, both the parties shared the risks. For example, the customer paid 75 percent of the costs and the rest were to be paid only if the project earned the returns, the implementer had assured. The profits were also shared on a fixed and variable scale. In this method, the CFOs from both the sides assumed greater importance than the IT teams in the project management. The success of this model, for which the team had no historical data to rely on, hinged largely on effective communication among the stakeholders, successful user adoption of the analytics solution designed, a strong governance structure for project execution, and arrive at a set of robust key performance indicators to measure success.
How to displease the customer, to engage the customer
- Vimal Kumar Khanna
In this presentation, Mr. Khanna, managing director, mCalibre Technologies, established that it’s not always good to simply agree with the customer and produce what the customer wants. It is sometimes important to disagree with the customer and demonstrate how the service provider knows the job well and may have some better ideas than the customer. He said that the ‘customer-controlled approach’ for executing IT projects may fail to deliver successful projects due to the highly complex and dynamic nature of such projects. This approach, he argued, will help IT outsourcing companies in controlling schedule overrun issues. He called this the collaborative approach in which the implementer provides inputs to the customer at every stage of product development.
He quoted from his experience of adopting this approach and spoke about the risks and opportunities involved. “The three mantras for customer satisfaction are to differ, disagree with, and displease the customer by offering something that will ultimately create higher customer satisfaction. But one has to provide the customer sufficient data to support what one is suggesting, perform a cost-benefit analysis, conduct prototyping, and make good use of negotiation and soft skills,” said Mr. Khanna.
Emerging trends in project management for competitive advantage in oil & gas, petrochemical sectors
- R. Balasubramanian & V. Sivakumar
With the steady rise in fuel prices and its demand, the size of oil and gas projects and capital investments into these projects are increasing manifold. Increasing size and complexity is leading to challenges around scheduling and risks.
Mr. Balasubramanian, general manager, engineering, and Mr. Sivakumar, manager, engineering management, Salpem India Projects Ltd. highlighted the trends across a project lifecycle. An oil and gas project has three key players in the conceptualization stage: the operating oil company who does the project conceptualization, a design engineering contractor that takes care of the front end engineering design (FEED), and the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company that conducts the detailed designing. To reduce cycle time, operating oil companies are not waiting for FEED to be fully tendered before handing over the facility to the EPC contractor. As a result, the risks and responsibility for providing a safe, operable facility that meets the performance requirements is passed on to the EPC company. The new trend relies on the contractor’s technical expertise and ability to perform within a shrunk cycle time. The speakers discussed emerging trends and shifting risks, opportunities, and responsibility in all the stages of an oil and gas project, such as tendering, bid estimation and bid management, engineering management, procurement, construction, stakeholder commitment and cooperation, and cost control.
Performance effectiveness of women in project management
- Sandeep Khurana, PMP
This session focused on performance, determination, and the ability in women to tap their skills to rise in their careers. Mr. Khurana, founder and principal consultant, QuantLeap Consulting, spoke about the effectiveness of women in project management and classifying personal and environmental factors that concern women in a project.
He said that across developed economies studies have proved that successful women project managers have shown greater work-life balance. This asks for multi-tasking abilities, flexibility in thought and action, and an innovative zeal to adapt to new structures and paradigms.
In projects, the measurement of performance effectiveness has been a continuous challenge. “In the case of women at the workplace and their performance effectiveness, emphasis has to be placed on measuring the intangibles. The contributions of women are more long-term, in softer dimensions but not limited to team cohesion, ethical conduct, employee loyalty, and retention,” said Mr. Khurana. He said women can now work from home and maintain work-home balance, just enabling them to assure continuity of work, which is essential to any project.
The importance of planning for success: the dubbawallas’ story
- Arvind Talekar
Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust
The story of the Mumbai Dubbawalla always interests and inspires people. The success of this tiffin delivery network in Mumbai is a great management lesson and has been a subject of interest for global business schools, certification bodies, and organizations. It was not surprising that the hall in which Mr. Talekar, who is a third generation dubbawalla and trustee, Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Charity Trust of Mumbai, presented was packed to capacity; the time for audience interaction stretched well into the coffee break.
The statistics tell the story: 5,000 dubbawallas deliver and pick up two lakh tiffin boxes a day (the lunch box in the afternoon and the empty box later), thereby making it four lakh transactions. Each delivery man covers 60-70 km a day by local train, cycle, and/or by foot. He usually carries a cart on his head that weighs 60 kg or straps tiffin boxes on his cycle to make the deliveries. The organization makes Rs. 30 crore in annual turnover. It has an error rate of 1 in 160 lakh transactions.
They have been able to achieve this feat because of simple principles such as accurate planning, punctuality, honesty, and a high sense of responsibility and ownership. As many as 85 percent of the dubbawallas are illiterate and have never heard of concepts like change management and a customer-focused approach. But their work exemplifies such management thinking. Mr. Talekar explained the simple codes that are painted on the top of each tiffin box that helps each dubbawalla identify the customer through his or her nearest train station, locality, building, and floor number.
The dubbawallas have fans all over the world, including Prince Charles of the UK and Mr. Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines. And that afternoon at the PMI National Conference, they made a hall full of new fans.
The new dimension in project management: the ‘value’ diamond
- Muktha Kartik and Deborah Devadason
The paper by the two consultants from Mahindra Satyam discussed techniques to ingrain business value into all stages of the project lifecycle and explained the concept of value management. They proposed the dart methodology that allows a project manager to customize the business value to be generated from the project through “value darts”. The methodology starts at the initiation phase of a project lifecycle.
The first step is to define customer objectives. The project can focus on maximization of value for the customer through a thorough understanding of the customer’s strategic needs. Second, assign target value darts determined by the project type, size, and the constraints. Target values are set for the selected darts and a value register is created that gets updated during project execution. Third, the project manager creates strategies to achieve the forecasted dart values with action plans. Milestones/check points for review and tracking are also decided. Fourth, periodic reviews are conducted to ensure the project progresses against the target. The value register is updated with actual numbers in program/business reviews.
The speakers offered a brief overview of the enabling factors of this methodology, the challenges in implementation, and brief case studies that show how organizations have benefited using the dart methodology.
Building a high performance agile project team: challenges and best practices
- Rathinakumar Balasubramanian
Mr. Balasubramanian, head, agile practice, Sabcons, said the success of a project that follows agile practices in project management depends largely on the people managing the project. “It is not an overestimate to say that an agile team either swims together or sinks together,” he remarked. He focused on simple and practical tips to build a high performing agile project team. Agile teams are ideally small in size, 5-9 members. They are co-located and prefer face-toface communication. They are cross-functional and selforganizing in nature. Their approach is collaboration rather than command and control. “It seems like a simple set of rules but managing the equation is harder than it seems,” he added.
Mr. Balasubramanian listed the following as main challenges in building a high performance agile team: erosion of trust, lack of ownership, organizational culture, and fear of conflict. He recommended the implementation of best practices for a high performance culture around internal, external, people and process factors that influence the team. These factors are the agile coach, the team, senior management, and enterprise systems such as performance evaluation, and training and development.
Motivating for project results: three proven tracks
- V.T. Chandra Sekhar Rao
Mr. Rao, project management director, Foster Wheeler India Pvt. Ltd., began on the premise that if an organization wants excellent project results, it must start by recognizing and rewarding team members for their contributions. He identified the following three as the proven tracks to motivate team members to perform in large engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies: value creation, leadership opportunity, and gain share. The onus to implement these techniques and ensure high performance through motivation lies on the project manager. But how does the project manager instil motivation for better project results?
Mr. Rao discussed theories on human motivation and personal development. He said value creation was possible if there is client buy-in to recognize and reward the value creation efforts; the company’s senior management supports value creation initiatives; and the company culture should encourage employees to come forward with their ideas. Leadership opportunities could exist in specific project roles or in volunteering assignments. Gain share is an employee motivational technique where an employee receives compensation for measurable performance.