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The Principles of Project Management: The Transcript

The Principles of Project Management: The Transcript

Find here the full transcript for our webinar on the main principles of project management. Happy reading!

The Principles of Project Management: The Transcript

Our panelist was Michael Thrasou, Independent Project Management Consultant, Cyprus.

Introductory Remarks

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Welcome everyone to Taxlinked’s latest webinar. Today we have a topic that is a little bit out of left field; it's not necessarily about international taxation or the corporate issues that are the main interests of our members. Today I thought, you know, it's right before Christmas, we'd do something maybe a little bit lighter, maybe a little bit different, something that is definitely useful for everyone. So I have with me my very good friend Michael Thrasou who's going to be talking to us about project management. Before we get into the discussion, we’re going to do things a little bit different this time, Mike has a presentation that he's going to walk us through and I'm going to be posing some questions.

Before we get into that, let me get some administrative issues out of the way. This webinar is being recorded. We will have a video recording available probably sometime next week. We'll also have a transcript with whatever is being said here. We’ll also put that on the blog and share it with everyone who's attending and all of our members, so stay tuned for that. It takes us a couple weeks to get out.

If you have any questions for Mike as you listen to what he's saying, make sure you use the GoToWebinar control panel to submit your questions, I will pass those on to Mike or I'll try to incorporate them into the discussion, since I will be moderating. Also, Taxlinked members are eligible to receive CPD credits for attending this webinar; you're eligible to get one CPD credit. However, realize that the system tracks whether you're paying attention or not, so make sure that you're paying attention so that you're eligible to receive that credit. So be attentive, be engaged in the discussion, whatnot. So, without further ado, I'm going to ask Mike to give us a brief introduction, and then we're going to try to get his presentation up on the screen to get started. So Mike, a brief bio and introduction as to who you are, etc.

Michael Thrasou: Good morning to everyone. My name is Michael Thrasou. My background is as a civil engineer and a project manager, I’m a certified project manager. I’ve been working in the construction industry for the past 15 years. I’ve worked in big projects in Cyprus and abroad. I’ve worked in the United Arab Emirates and smaller projects in Europe, Italy, Turkey and Israel. I'm currently working as a consultant project manager in Cyprus for a big firm. And I'm actually teaching, as well, project management, leadership and management. So this is an opportunity to give you some of my world; hopefully it’s interesting.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. Okay, Mike, I will do the technical part right now, I'm going to make you presenter so you can start sharing your screen and walk us through your presentation. Okay, let's try this now; give us two minutes crowd.

So let me start off with one question, which is the first question you have there. What exactly is a project? Can you tell us in a few words?

What exactly is a project?

Question 1: What exactly is a project?

Michael Thrasou: Yes, project. I’d start with the definition from PMI, the Project Management Institute, an organization that actually looks over project management. So project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.” This is a short definition. A project is temporary in the sense that it has an end. Its end result is a unique product—could be a car, could be a block of flats, many things. I will give you here another, you can read it off the screen, another similar approach to what a project is and a few examples. The Pyramids, that was a project, many years ago but still architects and many workers were involved to bring this magnificent building to the world. A book is a project. To actually bring a book to life from its inception to actually sell it, all the process is a project. Putting a satellite over the Earth, a new vaccine maybe. All of these are projects. Projects are created to provide business value and deliver benefits. So, this is what projects are and what projects actually give to the world.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. I know your next slide has project failures. You want to walk us through some of these failures or maybe talk about why projects fail? We might be jumping the gun here but go ahead.

Question 2: Why do projects fail?

Michael Thrasou: Let's say first of all why projects exist. We said a few examples of projects, but how do projects actually get to be a reality? It could be a new technology or a customer request or sometimes a legal requirement or business process improvement. For example, if a business wants to improve engagement with customers, it might purchase software and have a project to do this or economy changes, market demands, all of these are reasons for a project to start. There are also reasons projects might end. First and obviously, if the project is complete and the objectives of this project have been achieved. But it's not always the case, unfortunately. Sometimes the budget might cut the project short, the project might not be relevant anymore, this happens a lot in the technology world. And again due to legal issues, maybe a project might have started, it might have to end due to legal reasons. Finally, you have project success, which really means that the project has delivered what was meant to be and it achieved its objectives and perhaps stakeholder satisfaction.

But projects do have failures as well. You can see a few failures here. A picture is 1000 words. So there are a few. This comes from poor organization, poor communication, we’re going to see a few of these issues later on. Bigger project failures here in Cyprus is Eleftheria Square. Although it could have been a fantastic project and hope we can all enjoy this from a great architect, a five-year project ended up being one with major delays, costs, and many other complications. Another project that failed was NASA’s Challenger in 1986 that killed seven astronauts. It was a failure. Still, from these lessons learned, then we actually had successes but this was the first project to fail.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. Thank you, Mike. Okay, so now let's get into the meat of matter. Define for us project management. What is project management, what does it entail? Walk us through that.

What is project management?

Question 3: What is project management?

Michael Thrasou: It’s a big word. It’s a science and an art. It’s a science because it's a process-based work. There are methodologies and there are processes we can go over. The nature of work to make a project finish more efficiently and effectively is by far a science. It’s an art, as well, and here’s where the new era of project management comes in because you need to have the skills to influence, negotiate and have some strategy in your background. All this is becoming more and more important. So, project management in the PMI approach, let's say, is “the application of the knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” So a project manager uses knowledge and skills and background and many tools and techniques that we’re going to see later on to achieve a project.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: So, excellent. Why is project management important? That is the next question you have.

Question: 4 Why is project management important?

Michael Thrasou: So project management, stating the obvious, is very important because by using what we said before—tools, techniques, knowledge for the project management—you ensure that a project will meet its objectives, that it will be more predictable during the course of the project being executed. You can manage change better, more predictably and respond to this. Also, within project management, we said about skills before and leadership, you can lead more effectively, communicate and handle all issues, specially cost, much better and more organized.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. Now, let's talk about the project manager. Let's talk about his role. Let's get started in the discussion as to the more specifics as to what makes a good project manager, etc.

Question 5: What makes a good project manager?

Michael Thrasou: We actually said a few things about this already. A project manager nowadays is a person that needs to have many abilities around him. Two years ago, project management was technical project management and that was it. So depending on his background, he would manage a project through processes, tools, techniques by project management. Nowadays, this has become more holistic in the sense that the project manager should also be aware of strategic and business management, so have some knowledge in the industry that he works on.

And the leadership part that we mentioned earlier. He has to have knowledge skills and behaviors to motivate his team and organization and direct a project towards where it should be going. Further to this, you need to have a code of ethics. In a discussion that went for a few years in the PMI, they ended up in the four words that you see below: responsibility, respect, fairness and honesty. Obviously, there are many more words that someone can assume or expect to be in the code of ethics, but these are the core values that were chosen to represent the project manager’s role.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. Do you want to tell us a little bit about the talent triangle, which you have on the right of our screen?

What’s the Talent Triangle?

Question 6: What’s the Talent Triangle?

Michael Thrasou: The Talent Triangle is the PMI’s way of showing what competences a project manager should have. So the technical project management is the knowledge, skills and behaviors that relate to the domains of the project. So it’s the technical aspects really for a project management role. The leadership part, which is the newest addition to the world, is actually becoming more and more important. Most organizations actually rate this as the most important part of the project manager. The behavior and the skills of a project manager to guide the project, motivate his teams, and direct to complete the business goal. And lastly, the strategic and business management. Modern project management should have the knowledge and expertise in the industry of the organization to enhance his performance and together deliver business outcomes. This is something that a few years ago was not expected but nowadays it's expected.

Another thing I think that I should mention here, PMI has done research recently, a gap analysis, about how many project managers are around the world and what is needed and they actually made predictions until 2027. This follows a gap analysis they did before, the previous three years, they went through 11 countries, including the United States, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Australia, UK, Germany and few others. And it is obvious to them that they actually even failed to measure the gap correctly. The gap was bigger and bigger and growing. They estimated that 2.2 million project-oriented jobs are needed every year up to 2027. It’s a profession that keeps growing and growing.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. Okay, the next slide, I think we have something on project management process groups and knowledge areas. Do you want to walk us through these two charts and images?

What are the main project management process groups and knowledge areas?

Question 7: What are the main project management process groups and knowledge areas?

Michael Thrasou: Yes. So we really discussed about what a project is, what project management is, and the role of the project manager. Let’s go to the actual work of a project manager. Now, there are many methodologies and many approaches to projects. So, I’m discussing more about PMI today, but there’s also Prince II that the British government has and many others.

All of them, at the end of the day, have a similar approach; you might have 4 stages, 5 stages. What's important is that each process has a life cycle that it needs to go through and it always starts with Initiating, which is on top. We'll go through the stages very briefly in a while, but as the graph shows here we have Initiating, then we have Planning, which is where we actually plan the project before it goes into heavy execution, to actually predict anything as one would think. Then we have Monitoring and Controlling, which starts from the beginning; all process are monitored and controlled from the beginning. It's the only process that goes over and above all others. The Executing, actually doing the project, which is what people see. And the Closing, it’s one process that people and project managers, specially younger project managers, ignore, but it’s very important of course as we’ll see further on. It would actually be these process groups that explain a project from beginning to the end.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Is monitoring and controlling the most important process? Do I understand that from what you were saying or not necessarily?

Michael Thrasou: It is the one process that is on top of the others in the sense that it exists at all stages of a project, from Initiating to Closing. But Monitoring & Controlling exists from day 1 to the Closing of the project. Although I would say, all phases are important, but Planning is what project management is really about and we’ll see in a while why.

So when a project goes on, there are some knowledge areas, as we'll see now. These are the areas the project manager actually gets into so he can run a project. We are not going to get into each area because each area might need hours and hours of in-depth analysis. But the areas, most of them most people would actually guess; time, costs, schedules are things everyone knows.

I will leave Integration for last. We have scope, which is what the project actually wants to deliver, what's the product, what is the end result. Schedule, which is time management in reality. Cost, here are some of your members maybe, finance and accounting, how to cost the project and how important finance and  accounting are. Quality of the project, resources, human and actual resources. Communication, this is very important by the way, statistics say that project managers 90 percent of their time is communicating. I always think that’s a bit excessive but definitely I would say more than 70-80% of our work as project managers is about communicating. Obviously, risk management is very important, not to firefight when something happens but to predict risk. And stakeholders are very important and we’ll touch on stakeholders later on.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: So now let's get into the actual delivery of a project, I guess. So what's the journey for a project? Take us from Initiating all the way to Closing in a little bit more depth, talk to us about the five process groups.

Question 8: What's the journey like for a project?

Michael Thrasou: We're going to go through Initiating, Planning, Executing Monitoring and Controlling and Closing.

So the journey, first of all, begins with an idea; to actually have a project, we said before, we need reasons for the project to begin. So, somebody or an organization wants a project for a reason we discussed earlier. But before the project starts and the project manager is getting involved, there should be a business plan or feasibility study, that actually the organization wants this project and it can work. It’s always good to involve the project manager from this phase but this is not an actual reality. But nevertheless, that's how a project will start. A business plan and a benefits management plan and then you can take it from there. And then the project actually starts.

The first job for the organization is to actually appoint a project manager, which then he will appoint his project team. Before the project starts putting money and resources into the project, the project manager’s first job is:  “only projects that are aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives are authorized.” What the project manager really needs to do is get a written authorization for the project to start. This is the Project Charter, which is like the birth certificate of the project. Without that, a project manager and a project should not go elsewhere. You need that because it's a commitment of resources from the organization describing where the project will go. It’s a very brief document that states what's the project, what are the objectives, and what should be delivered, and a brief analysis of the budget—it’s still not completely budgeted—and resources.

At this stage, the second step someone has to do as a project manager is to identify stakeholders. Stakeholders are probably the most important element of the project and very important for the project to succeed. Stakeholders are the individuals, the group and/or the organization that affect the project in the way that they might actually have power over the project. It might be the owner of the organization or the client itself and they actually get affected by the project. Their power, sometimes you cannot even imagine, the stakeholder could be a neighbor to the building that’s being built, could be somebody that has an interest in your project. Stakeholders should be identified, listed and also put on a map to see if they have power or influence over your project and it should be managed accordingly.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. That takes us to the planning stage now.

Michael Thrasou: Yes. As I mentioned in my opinion, and not only, this is probably the most important step to actually have success in your project. And, obviously, many people can understand that. It’s important because it gives a sense of direction when you actually plan all of this. It defines responsibilities and the rules of the game of the project. It also defines the project’s schedule in even more detail in a way that stakeholders can accept, understand and go on with the project. It also avoids mistakes, really works that planning ahead can do a lot of things, risks and obviously efficiency probability goes up. Project planning is “to define the course of action to successfully complete the project.” To actually have an action plan in all of the elements that we discussed before: cost, communications, procurement, quality, time, everything. So what you're doing in this stage is develop a project management plan. So most important are probably at this point to be very specified scope, schedule, budget, quality and risk management. Many people have plans all day in their lives. You plan a trip to Germany, you plan to build your house and planning is good. We’ll see a short video now to see how people actually do plan, even if you don't know it, you have projects and plans in your mind, so let's see this short video and come back.

Video clip from Friends: [Joey]: So, Ross and Rachel got married. Monica and Chandler almost got married. You think you and I should look up? [Phoebe]: We do but not just yet. [Joey]: Really, but when? [Phoebe]: Well, first Chandler and Monica will get married and be filthy rich by the way, but it won't work out. [Joey]: Wow. [Phoebe]: I know. I'm gonna marry Chandler for the money. You’ll marry Rachel and have the beautiful kids. [Joey]: Great. [Phoebe]: And then we ditch those two and that's when we get married, we’ll have Chandler’s money and Rachel's kids and getting custody will be easy because of Rachel's drinking problem. [Joey]: What about Ross? [Phoebe]: I don't want to go into the whole thing but we have a few words and I kill him.

Michael Thrasou: I know most of us have seen all of the Friends episodes or at least some, maybe the ones with Phoebe. As you can see, Phoebe had a plan in her mind and planning is important because you have a goal, you have a direction to go towards and actually it’s better to avoid any mistakes. Although, obviously, Phoebe’s plan was not planning, period, but nevertheless, she shows how people actually plan. As I said, it could be just a business trip or a family trip, planning is important.

So let’s start Executing. Project execution is “the work needed to meet the project requirements and objectives is performed according to plan.” I actually entered here a Formula One image of the Ferrari team, I'm not saying I’m a Ferrari fan. So these guys you can see it's a pit box where they change the tires to the car. And it shows you how this was really planned from before, every person there knows exactly where to step, which part to use, which part to take out, etc., this has been planned. This is execution, perfectly done, in a few seconds in this case. So execution is all about following the plan through its requirements. I always thought this was a good example because you can see the execution, but you can see how well this was planned and how many times it was practiced.

So in Project Execution what you actually do as a project manager is direct and manage the project work. You’ve done the planning with your team. You have already delegated all you have to do and now you just have to direct and manage the project well. And also a very important new element in project management is to manage project knowledge. So, when we do projects, it’s obvious that mistakes happen. So, one thing that a project manager needs to do is try to avoid doing the same mistakes in the future. So all projects have their lessons learned register, you actually register all the lessons learned, good and bad, not only mistakes, it could also be a positive impact on the project. So your team or the organization in a future similar project, you could take the best practices for avoiding mistake that happen and give it to the next team for the next project. So project knowledge is very important to actually upgrade an organization and make future use of better processes and better results.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Now, we discussed a little bit about the project monitoring and controlling. You want to walk us through that and how it actually applies to all phases of project management, of a project’s life?

What is project monitoring and control?

Question 9: What is project monitoring and control?

Michael Thrasou:  Project performance is “measured and analysed at regular intervals.” So as I said before, monitoring and controlling happens all the time from Initiation to Closure. And you analyze the work that's being done. Here’s also a very important part of lessons learned. This is where you actually input this information. You have your risk registers, your log issues, and this is actually the process that controls all of this. So you analyze “appropriate events or when an exceptional condition occurs,” so something might go wrong with the project, there's something that no one was expecting. And I'm not talking about the risk alone but maybe a change that the customer wants you in the project, changing completely the process in project management. And so you have all this and, as I continue with the wording there, “in order to identify and correct variances from the project management plan.” So, if there are any variances to the project, this is the process, monitoring and controlling, where you would actually find out about it and take corrective actions to realign the project’s objectives to the project’s action plan. Unless these changes are actually, first of all, positive changes that are welcome, or it's a new change request from the stakeholders and goes through a process of acceptance. We never go through changes unless approval is given and that’s it.

In this process, you have the Monitor and Control Project Work and the Perform Integrated Change Control. If you remember before, at the knowledge base procedures, we had those ten and I said I’d talk about Integration later on, this is where we talk about Integration. What is Integration? We talked about cost, scope, quality, procurement, communications, all of that. All of these need to come glued together in one project management plan and what glues them all together is Integration. And as the project evolves and goes on, things change, estimates change, cost, quality. And all these need to go back into the project management plan and realign it to your goal. All this process is actually what’s called Integration. Getting the parts of what changes, say, costs changes, how the project will be affected in time, in quality. So it’s not only to change one thing, it’s also how the other elements of the project will be affected. So if scope changes, probably time will change, probably the cost will change. All of this goes through the Integration Control process.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. So now, wrapping up the project. Talk to us a little bit about the closing of the project, and what that entails.

What does the closing of a project entail?

Question 10: What does the closing of a project entail?

Michael Thrasou: Yes, so project closing. As I said earlier in the discussion, this is a process that most project managers, I admit even in my case I would ignore this phase because once you finish a project you just want to go to your next project. So, project managers or project-oriented people finished in their mind the project and go on to the next one. But you actually have work left to do. So, you have to close your projects and contracts appropriately. What does appropriately mean? You have to complete your project document updates, so we said earlier about the lessons learned register. You have to complete this and close it, actually put it in the organization's process assets, you have to complete your risk register and see what actually was used and write a report on it. And a final project report, as a project manager you should have an overall report of what went well, what went wrong and if the objectives were given to the stakeholders as intended. And finally, yes, a very important part of the project management, going into the leadership part and team building processes, is to celebrate, obviously, for successful projects. It’s very important to celebrate a project, not just for the sake of having a beer, but to show your team your appreciation towards project success, to motivate them for the next project and also to show appreciation, could be a project team, a whole bunch of people, all deserve a pat on the back for completing the project successfully. Bear in mind you can even have a failed project, a failed project if you run out of funding or it’s not relevant anymore, you could still have an ending wrap up, might not be celebrating but nevertheless it’s a project closing step.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. I know we're reaching the end of the presentation that you have prepared but I have a few extra questions here that I would like to pose to you. Do you want to give us a quick recap as to why project management is important?

Michael Thrasou: Project management is important because projects exist to give an outcome to a stakeholder. They want to control the success of this project. And this is where project management comes in. You want to make the objectives to satisfy the stakeholders’ expectations, and to explain what the project is, what that entails and how it is going to finish. Also, to optimize the resources, to be more effective, to deliver the right product at the right time and to respond to any risk. So project management is important to actually ensure that the project we’re having is in the best possible manner, in the most cost effective manner, in the most efficient manner.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. When is a project considered successful?

When is a project considered successful?

Question 11: When is a project considered successful?

Michael Thrasou: It comes very near to the previous answer for why is project management important. A project is successful when the project actually meets its business objectives and the reason it was initiated. So when it meets organization strategy, the goals and objectives that we have for this project, and the stakeholders are all satisfied because of the project, and what the project delivered, then the project can be considered a success. Otherwise, obviously it would be a failure.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. Okay, now we’ll jump into the few questions I have, we have another 20 minutes or so, and we have another five questions that have been submitted by members and have also been submitted by Mike for us to discuss a little bit. So the first question Mike is: How important is it for a project manager to be proactive?

Question 12: How important is it for a project manager to be proactive?

Michael Thrasou: Extremely. That's my short answer. In a longer answer, I would say this is what project management is all about. We said about planning before. Planning is about being pro-active. I think it’s actually the core of being a project manager. So pro-active means being in control, you can anticipate problems, your success comes from planning, you prioritize work, you delegate your work, all these proactive actions. In this sense, high productivity and efficiency. What you don't want are project managers that are reactive. Like all of us, in my earlier days as a project manager, and I can see it with my younger peers, site engineers, many times are reactive, meaning that they are not in control of the project, because they haven’t planned as well as they think they planned it. Successes come mainly from luck or firefighting at the last minute. The problem with this is that it results in low quality of work always; it's a recipe to fail or at least to have less quality. So, yes, extremely important to be pro-active.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. My next question again has to do with, I guess, what are basically the tools and techniques that a project manager can use to make his work more effective and efficient? Are there specific techniques, special software, special tools that you would recommend or that you find useful as a project manager?

Question 13: What are the tools and techniques that a project manager can use to make his work more effective and efficient?

Michael Thrasou: This is a nice question. I would actually even market myself that it’s a book that I already starting reading about, Tools & Techniques in Project Management. So, yes, I can answer you already that there are a lot of tools and techniques that project managers can use like in any profession. Obviously, the ones that come first in mind are the software. So, MS Project, which is a Microsoft project-oriented tool for planning, AutoCAD for drawing, Excel, Word, these are the tools that we can use for everyday work. But as project management goes from cycle from Initiating to Closure, you have many issues that you have to deal with. You have many functions that you need to reply to. So you have data gathering techniques, you need to gather data from, a checklist, market research or surveys. All of these are tools and techniques. Another, let's say, group of tools and techniques that are needed is data analysis. So you have the data collected but you need some analysis of the data. You have cost analysis and value analysis, which are extremely important for the project manager, I think that's probably the most important analysis of all. Risk probability and impact analysis and many more depending on what you actually want to figure out and in which phase of the project you are.

As a project manager, you also need to report. Report to the higher management, your clients and your stakeholders. We all know how to report but to mention a few are controls like mind mappings, all of these are ways to actually report. Further to this, we have techniques and also skills that we mentioned before that we need to use during the project. You need to make decisions, communicate, get feedback, you need to always be in collaboration and discussion with your teams and stakeholders. And also the skills of a project manager that are very important are conflict management, so you have to be aware not only as an inner conflict manager but also do some training and facilitation on this. Obviously, negotiation skills are very important. Emotional intelligence is another thing that just popped up.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Another question here that I have is: As a project manager, how do you delegate, and then monitor and review? What's the best way of doing that, delegating, the tasks to the people under your people working for you?

As a project manager, how do you delegate, and then monitor and review?

Question 14: As a project manager, how do you delegate, and then monitor and review?

Michael Thrasou: This is a question that doesn’t only apply to project managers. All managers for all workforce positions, you have to delegate as managers. The way I go about it and as a project manager in my work, first of all, you need to delegate as early as possible. Allow the person to understand his target, his goal, and actually work on it and plan in his own mind. We all know about this, to select the right person for the right job. I’m in the construction industry now, we’re not going to put a carpenter to do the print job or an aluminum guy to do the kitchens. It is obvious but sometimes you need to know your people, their skills, especially in an office with more conventional management, this is important. Communicate with people, so during the delegation you should explain a little bit of this, get some feedback and make sure they understood. And set clear goals and expectations, responsibility and authority should also be clear, to know what his responsibilities and authorities are, and this goes for the whole team. This is how you delegate.

Now there's a next step. While you build your team, your people go through the work that was delegated, you should as a manager or leader provide support, guidance, instruction as needed. Obviously, some people will need much less guidance or support, but nevertheless it’s something that should always be there and you should always be personally interested in the delegated task.

Now, there’s another part. You might not be happy at the end of the day with your progress. This is where discussions come in, you should talk with your team, explain what your dissatisfaction is and try to align to the original goals, evaluate, and recognize performance where performance is good. Even for delegation, there are tools and techniques. Off the top of my mind, the RACI matrix so responsibility, accountability, also who should know, who should be informed. It’s a matrix you actually do so you have everything planned as per the delegation of the project.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: We have two or three more questions here and then we'll wrap up. What is the PMO? What is the project management office? Can you explain to us about PMOs?

Question 15: What is the project management office (PMO)?

Michale Thrasou: This is a new trend in Cyprus. But it's something that people started realizing because they can become more familiar with project management. The PMO, Project Management Office, is a department within the organization. So as you have the accountants, HR, etc., you also have a PMO. And it provides and ensures compliance for project governance, so that means that oversees and standardizes procedures for managing the projects in an organization. Okay, a PMO has three stages or three layers the organization can choose from. You can have a Supporting Project Management Office, which in reality just gives templates and some guidance of tools and techniques that can be used for project management. If you notch it up a level, you have the Controlling Project Management Office, which I personally believe is the best one, because it gives you templates, but also gives you some specific guidance of how a project should be completed. The margin is not very strict, gives freedom but it’s still guidelines. Last, you have the Directive Project Management Office, which actually takes over the projects. This office at this level is authorized to do the project; it’s actually responsible and accountable for the projects, but controls them in all processes and in all ways that a project should be delivered.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. Now this will be another trend I see here but what is Agile Project Management? You want to discuss a little bit about Agile Project Management?

Question 16: What is agile project management?

Michael Thrasou: It’s not really a trend. Let's say, it's a brother of the project management as we described up to now. It's a process for a project to do planned all the way, you have your execution phase, monitor and control, etc. Agile project management is an interactive and incremental approach to delivering requirements, so you actually break up the projects in small parts. You actually do a small part; you agree with the client that this is what they want. And then you go to the next part. So it's like bits and bits of projects that you complete and go back and go back, and then you proceed until you complete the project. This happens much more in the IT world where you want to develop the software, for example, you want to ensure that all of the components of the software are agreeable to the owner and you don’t want to change anything so you go step by step. And you complete the project in this manner. You don't have a plan from the beginning up to the end of how you’re going to go about. Agile Project Management is quite interesting. It's a different approach, similar but in pieces. And it entails some other behaviors for the project management team. You need to have more trust, more flexibility, and more empowerment to the other people to do what they need to do, and collaborate as in project management, here even more emphasized.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: What is your perspective like moving forward? Is demand for project managers growing? Are more project management needed? How is the profession developing or how will it develop?

What is your perspective for project management moving forward?

Question 17: What is your perspective for project management moving forward? Is demand for project managers growing? How is the profession developing or how will it develop?

Michael Thrasou: We actually touched on this at the beginning of our session on the gap analysis the PMI has done. It's a profession that has a future exactly because it touches everything in the world, projects from pharmaceuticals, AI, construction, IT, even legal project management, it’s a new idea that’s coming up. What the world is about is change. What is change? Projects are change. That's the reason projects exist, to actually bring change to the organization, bring something different. So, you want to manage change the best way possible. And this is what organizations are realizing the past two decades and even coming to Cyprus, as always a bit late, that you need project management and project-oriented people to manage change and to bring the end result to operations in the best possible way, cost effective way, best quality. Yes, the gap analysis shows that project management is a profession that is getting bigger and bigger. It’s nice that you asked me this question because, just a week ago, the PMI hit the 1 million members of certified project managers. So, yes, we started with like 30,000 people about 50 years ago and we are over a million already. It has a lot of future.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. Now, a personal question, I guess not personal but I mean more geared towards our members in Taxlinked. How do you see what we've been talking about applied to the Financial Services world? Do you have any input into that?

Question 18: How do you see what we've been talking about applied to the financial services world?

Michael Thrasou: I’m not informed well about the tax people but my answer for that is that everyone, HR, finance, tax people, they all have projects. If you want to manage a project, even in the finance world, having some project management knowledge, approaches, techniques or processes will definitely help deliver a better project. I have been involved in projects other than construction, even in moving offices, pharmaceuticals, even in putting in a new factory in place, and I see from my experience that project management can have a benefit in any profession in any project that can be thought of. So, yes, it can offer many ways in which the project can be better.

Having said that, people do projects, as I said, in their daily lives and project management in a big sense is common sense. Funny saying that, common sense is not always common. It comes naturally to a person. But, as anything, if you’re trained and if you are knowledgeable and have the background, you can do a better job and even teach and coach people to do even better.

Mateo Jarrin Cuvi: Excellent. Thank you, Mike. Do you want to give us some concluding remarks? I know you have one slide left in your presentation as a conclusion, we can conclude and then wrap up.

Concluding Remarks

Michael Thrasou: Actually, preparing for this presentation and this discussion, I thought to reflect on everything that I actually collected for this presentation and my experience in the work field and consulting, and I ended up with the final conclusion which is this, I will let you go through it yourselves. But I actually do believe it is a fascinating profession. You deal with people and you deal with situations. And it's not always easy, I would say most times it’s not, but it's rewarding. And I actually personally enjoy it and I’m very proud and happy to be a project manager.

So everyone's a project manager, everyone has a project manager inside of them. Hope you can get from this presentation the edge to actually learn a few more things about project management and why not get some training and get more involved from here. Anyone who wants to get in touch, please do so. From there on, we can get more contact information. As for the slides you’ve seen today, I’ve provided them to Mateo, he can share them with you or you can email me and I can share them with you. It was a pleasure having this session.

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