Master Leonardo da Vinci, metaphysical project team member.

Master Da Vinci

Master Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci brought to the project a fresh, unique and inquisitive nature. All the scenarios created for my projects are generated with him in mind. Observation, extrapolation and invention are direct contributions. It was Da Vinci’s penchant for invention which produced the traffic light system for all my projects (arguably before its conception in project management in general).  Equally important, Da Vinci brought to the project an incredible level of detail that usually goes amiss in many projects. He did it by asking the most important word in the world, “Why?”

In London, Lisa and I discovered something that all the teams had missed – thanks to some intriguing insights from our Creative Director, Eugene. We realised that the  key to the entire project was development control of the content management system (CMS). A bespoke system development which would interact with all other disparate systems. The problem here was that each team held their own individual view of the project. No one team beheld the bigger picture or the level of detail it contained – but Master Da Vinci did. A plan was in motion well before I would come before the technical panel to compete for the CMS development tender.

One of the major issues for the project was resource sharing. None of the many teams wanted to share resources. If they had, they would have saved a lot of time and client money. The value of an International Project Manager, is that they can professionally ignore red-tape, or cleverly bend cultural pleasantries, to for example, successfully monitor someone else’s project resources – many at once. Some Managers hate this, they see it as an invasion – but well executed – that  invasion feeling passes largely unnoticed. International Project Managers are able to negotiate for resources in compliance with service level agreements (SLAs), Unions, and contracts with uncanny tact – because of their international experience. This is a primary difference with general project managers.

Our CMS discovery led to the realisation that a lead systems integrator was missing. After this discovery we began compiling a list of everything that was missing. What we also realised was that the lead project manager on the project could not or would not factor in the legwork required to manage the many teams – other than his own. This represented a significant weakness in the project – which needed to be plugged as quickly as possible. Throughout, Da Vinci continuously  questioned the existence of a CMS that met the needs of the client. He even called into question everything the Client was being told. Our Audit was intensive, and it did not bold well for relations – already strained by poor management. Unfortunately, Da Vinci was pushing me to strain it further – little did I know what I know now.

A strategy was beginning to form, based on priority items in our missing list, supported by our SWOT analysis. Our plan was developed at least several weeks before I came in front of the client for the first time. Until the project suspension had come into play, I could not initiate the CMS strategy – but I could prep the development team for it (a qualified risk). Da Vinci hypothesised that a detailed project plan (5 main plans with sub-plans for each project team) would provide us a closer approximation of resourcing, scheduling and forecasting – than was ever held by the project before. This worked better than we had hoped as it foretold several project disaster events – which were timely evaded.

Several 3rd party suppliers (including IBM) tendered for the CMS contract. Da Vinci questioned how each could supply a bespoke CMS solution – allowing for a new scenario to be created to win the possible tender. For example, we deduced that IBM could not create a content management system – given that it had made no attempt to create one in the first year of the project starting (well before I arrived on the project). We also deduced from the project resourcing issues in our issues log that management of multinational teams did not figure in the lead project manager’s job description. For example, he was not factoring the time zone differences, cultural and local practices. As a result, the project was extremely bumpy before I took control.

While we had not anticipated the project suspension in the way that it happened – Da Vinci did consider that the project could remain under IBM control as they were the ones leading the project at the time. The combined postulations of Da Vinci and Churchill led us to believe that a CMS opportunity would most likely arise. Our priority, if this happened, was to fight vigorously for CMS design and development – which is precisely what we did, with Master Da Vinci delivering the killing stroke.

NEXT: Part 5 of 5 – Checkmate


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