Issue Identification and Appraisal
As mentioned in the previous Blog, the final few blogs will look at areas where my knowledge is lacking and needs to be enhanced in order to increase my opportunities for be in good standing for doing the final examination.
Just prior to commencing the mentoring course, a knowledge/experience evaluation was performed using both the AACE’s 11R-88 and the GPC’s self-assessment questionnaires. These uncovered a few deficient areas that need addressing, and over the remaining weeks posting blogs on these will be the goal. This week’s problem statement, “What subject areas need knowledge advancement prior to undertaking the GPC Expert Level Project Controls examination?”
The deficient subject areas can be termed feasible alternatives, and these are:
- Monte Carlo Simulation
- Configuration Management
- BIM Modelling
- Project Forensics
- Stakeholder Engagement
- Contract Selection
- Management Competencies
The above list is based on the results from the GPC’s self-assessment which was performed in May’2017 and is a summary of seven areas that need enhancement in the coming weeks. Hopefully a blog can be developed for each item during the remaining weeks the course runs. For this week, the ‘Stakeholder Engagement’ subject will be used for the blog.
Develop the Outcomes for each
Each remaining blog will develop an outcome for each ‘Feasible alternative’ (FA) subject as the subject gets reviewed, it will not identify an outcome for the other FA’s in that blog.
Stakeholder Engagement is defined in Module 02-6 Identifying and Engaging Stakeholders in the GPCCAR, see figure 1 below.
Figure 1 – Stakeholder Process Map from the GPCCAR
As the subject covers a broad range of topics, further review of the May’2017 Self-assessment determined the following areas were shown as being unclear back then; The Types/Categories of Stakeholders, Code of Ethics, Use of the Logical framework approach, and validation vs. verification. All of which can be found in the GPCCAR, but for the purposes of better understanding them, will be reviewed and documented in this blog, along with further comparisons from on-line research if necessary.
The criteria for this blog is found in several areas in the GPCCAR;
- Module 02-6 – Identifying and Engaging Stakeholders
- Module 03-3 – Validate Stakeholder Expectations
To assist in the four areas identified in “Stakeholder Engagement” and the above two Modules, Table 1 below shows the four items to be addressed in the analysis section.
Table 1 – Stakeholder items in GPCCAR Self-assessment
Analysis and Comparison of the Alternatives
As mentioned above, there are four items attributed to four topics, the following clarifies the question stem.
Item 1 – Stakeholder Categories
Stakeholder – the dictionary definition advises “Any party that has an interest in an enterprise or project. The primary stakeholders in a typical corporation are its investors, employees, customers, contractors and suppliers. However, modern theory goes beyond this conventional notion to embrace additional stakeholders such as the community, government and trade associations.” So, it covers many different groups. The GPCCAR advises there are six types/categories of stakeholder these are; Beneficiaries, Negative Beneficiaries, Implementers, Decision Makers, Financiers and Regulators.
Online research for Project Management stakeholders provided a more detailed listing of 16, which are; Project Sponsor, Customer/Client, Program Management, Project Management, Business analysts, Project Team, Project Management Office, Project Management Board, Executive Team, Functional Managers, Architects & Designers, Internal stakeholders, External stakeholders, End Customers, Local communities, and Regulators. Review of the detailed list shows that these can be allocated against the six advised in the GPCCAR.
Item 2 – Ethics
The GPCCAR advises that ethical behaviour is a key underpinning of leadership built on several layers of understanding; values, morals and ethics. Furthermore, it lists six key ethical obligations by which a project control professional should practise:
- Only accept assignments consistent with the PC Professional’s capabilities
- Protecting proprietary or confidential information
- Upholding the policies, rules, regulations and laws that govern the work.
- Actively seeking to understand the truth.
- Provision of complete and accurate information in a timely manner.
- Truthful communications, with a similar approach to conduct.
The above points indicate that PC Professionals should not participate in or condone any behaviour that could deceive, mislead or be seen to provide false status of what is/has occurred to fellow professionals/stakeholders.
One of the issues faced by a PC professional is advising stakeholders regarding their expectations and how to be honest with the stakeholders about unrealistic expectations..
Currently the GPC are in the process of benchmarking “Best in Class” ethics for the organisation, but have indicated that at present the best benchmark is from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics Organisation (SCCE)
Item 3 – Logical Framework Approach
The Logical Framework Approach (LFA) is a 6-step process which is a tested and proven “Best Practice” which has been in use since the 1970’s.
Figure 2 – Logical Framework Approach Process Flow Diagram
Once the process has been followed it creates a LogFrame document, see figure 3.
Figure 3 – LogFrame Document
Using the Logical Framework approach can produce a one or two page document which summarizes the entire project into a format senior managers love as it not only identifies the level 2 WBS and Activities, but produces a Class 3 or Class 4 cost estimate but it shows on one or two pages what the key deliverables are from the project, what the business case for the project is and most importantly, what strategic objects the project is designed to support or deliver. It also provides KPI‘s for each of the above, what metrics we will use to measure how successful both the project and the product of the project was, but also summarizes the project risks, business risks and strategic risks should the project not do what it was undertaken to achieve
Item 4 – Validation (vs. Verification)
Validation – is the process of reviewing that the information provided by management or other key stakeholders via the LogFrame or Decision Support Documents is “reasonable and proper”
Verification – is the process which is used to measure and assess whether the project did or did not deliver what was expected, in the time frame required and to the quality specified or required? Given the fact that the project “success” rates are less than most organisations would wish for, one of the first responsibilities of the project controls practitioner is to validate that:
- Time frames are “reasonable”
- Cost budgets are “reasonable”
- Risks are not “outrageous” and have been identified and addressed appropriately
- Quality requirements are “consistent with the budget”.
In the event that it is found that the stakeholder expectations are conflicting or otherwise unrealistic, this needs to be made known to the relevant stakeholders.
Two ways practitioners can/should be testing any assumptions made/imposed are:
- Acceptable “Range Estimates for Costs” at each given stage of a project’s scope definition.
- Has the scope been optimized as evidenced by the cost and duration estimates?
Finally, the PC Practitioner needs to be cognizant of the stakeholder’s risk profile. The Business Dictionary defines “Risk Profile” as being “Threats” to which a company or organization are exposed. The risk profile will outline the number of risks, type of risk and potential effects of risks. This outline allows a business to anticipate additional costs or disruption to operations. Also describes the willingness of a company to take risks and how those risks will affect the operational strategy of the company. Thus another validation tool / technique we need to know and understand is the concept of Risk Profiling.
The reason this is important for the project control practitioner to know and understand is:
- if your stakeholders are risk AVERSE, then they may be reluctant or unwilling to accept your time or cost calculations unless you are using P90 values meaning cost or duration estimates which contain high amounts of CONTINGENCY.
- if your stakeholders are risk SEEKING, then you may find them pushing you to use P40 values meaning where not only is there no contingency but there is less than a 50/50 probability of the project finishing on or before the target duration and/or coming in at or under the allocated budget.
Explained another way, the risk profile becomes an input into many follow-on processes, which is why it should be done as early as possible, before the WBS has been developed. Knowing and understanding the risk tolerances / expectations of your key stakeholders becomes of critical importance when calculating CONTINGENCY both in terms of time and cost.
Selection of Preferred Alternative
There are no preferred alternatives in this case, all 4 items listed above are needed to enhance current knowledgebase ahead of the GPC ELPC Examination.
Monitoring Post Evaluation Performance
Post evaluation monitoring will be to see if what has been provided above has been fully understood and useful to assist successful passing of the examination, and then used on future projects to demonstrate the effectiveness and value of what a Project Control Practitioner provides to the project team, and decision-making process.
- Guild of Project Controls. (October 3, 2015). Module 02-6 – Identifying and engaging stakeholders – Guild of project controls compendium and reference (CaR) | Project controls – planning, scheduling, cost management and forensic analysis (Planning Planet). Retrieved October 25, 2017 from http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/gpccar/identifying-engaging-stakeholders
- Guild of Project Controls. (October 3, 2015). Module 03-3 – Validate stakeholder expectations – Guild of project controls compendium and reference (CaR) | Project controls – planning, scheduling, cost management and forensic analysis (Planning Planet). Retrieved October 25, 2017 from http://www.planningplanet.com/guild/gpccar/validating-stakeholder-expectations
- Spacey, J. (2015, November 25). 16 types of project stakeholder. Retrieved from https://simplicable.com/new/project-stakeholder
- Practical Concepts Incorporated (PCI). (1979).The logical framework – A manager’s guide. Retrieved from http://usaidprojectstarter.org/sites/default/files/resources/pdfs/The-Logical-Framework-A-Managers-Guide.pdf