Because Rollouts Are Not Like Any Other Project
Project management professionals should have many excellent qualities: strong management skills, an unflappable demeanor, a customer-service orientation, business acumen, and the people skills to adapt their management and communication style for each stakeholder group. With that said, the unique needs of large scale multi-site, technology rollouts mandate a different approach to project management. To the qualities listed above, the successful rollout project management* (PM) practitioner must add two more: a deep understanding of the technologies involved in the rollout, and the resourcefulness to craft solutions ‘on the fly’ for on-site issues that could not reasonably have been foreseen.
In this post, we will discuss the requirement for an expanded set of PM capabilities when running a multi-site technology rollout.
How Are Multi-Site Rollouts Different?
As we discussed in our recent post “Is Your Technology Rollout Like the Telephone Game?” communication is a central element of technology rollouts. Ensuring effective communication across a team of rollout project stakeholders - each with their own area of focus, goals, and even terminology - takes the right supporting methodologies; designed to mitigate the risk of mistranslation that can happen when instructions pass through too many hands.
There is another major obstacle to rollout success: to ensure that every site is deployed right first time to a consistently high quality. This is difficult to achieve, because each deployment is typically performed by a different field technician, with different skills and experience, and further aggravated by the fact that multiple deployments will be happening at the same time.
In this case, the PM function* acts as the technical, logistical, and management fulcrum, around which the rollout revolves. The PM who communicates with the field technician must also act as 'expert practitioner' for the technology to be deployed, ensuring that every technician has all they need to succeed, including providing first-line technical support before, during, and after, every deployment to create a 'right first time', no revisit, rollout model.
So how do you build a project management team with such a unique combination of qualities? Luckily, there is a parallel example that we can emulate.
What Is a Maestro?
In a classical orchestra, the conductor plays a similar role to that of the technology rollout PM, as the table below shows:
|Maestro Project Management|
|Reads the piece to be performed and makes decisions regarding key musical elements such as tempo and phrasing||Reviews the Scope of Work (SOW) then translates the SOW into a work order packet (WOP) for field techs|
|Interprets composers’ specific instructions for how to perform the piece||Ensures customers’ specific requirements are integrated into the WOP|
|Looks at the makeup and skills of the orchestra and adapts the orchestration accordingly||Assesses each field tech’s capabilities and provides coaching and support where the tech is deficient.|
|Provides specific instruction to sections of the orchestra and to individual musicians for exactly how the piece is to be played||Coordinates end users field techs and other local resources to deliver on site requirements right first time without revisits|
|Sets and leads the rehearsal schedule to ensure that the orchestra can play the piece consistently and accurately||Reviews and sets project rollout schedule ensuring that all elements of the rollout are aligned to achieve consistency|
|Surveys the auditorium before the performance to ensure that local acoustics are compensated for||Takes into consideration all aspects of each specific site such as. site rs’ demeanor; end user culture; construction; equipment and circuit issues resolution; field tech demeanor while on site|
|Provides real-time direction throughout the performance ensuring that all elements stay in time and in tune to create a harmonious sound and enjoyable performance||Provides centralized point of contact for all rollout issues and acts as first-line support to resolves on-site field tech issues in real time|
|Reviews each performance to ensure that any deviations from the desired rendition are identified and addressed before the next performance||Performs real-time quality assurance to ensure that the end customer enjoys a consistently high quality deployment experience and that any issues arising during the deployment are captured and examined for potential changes to the WOP|
Conductors are able to do this because they are highly-skilled musicians themselves, but the great conductors also possess an innate “musicality” beyond mere technical accomplishment.
Just as a great conductor knows how to extract the right performance from each musician in the orchestra and weave them together to create a harmonious sound, the PM professional with these same qualities has the breadth of skills required to lead any rollout to a successful completion, no matter how complex the solution, or how many locations are involved. In both cases, these highly-skilled practitioners have earned the title of “Maestro”.
How Do You Develop a Project Management Maestro?
In the case of project management, Maestros are made, not born. To grow them you must find candidates with the right foundational qualities such as, intellectual horsepower, critical thinking, customer orientation, adaptability, and management “soft skills”, then you set them on a career-path to a project management qualification within an organizational culture that fosters the right attitude and behaviors.
This career path should involve a continuing commitment to training: in technologies and effective rollout management methodologies, as well as regular on-the-job coaching in how to isolate the risks for a rollout and develop and enact a mitigation strategy. Finally, it must culminate in attainment of a formally certified project management qualification, such as the Registered Telecommunications Project Manager (RTPM) from Bicsi.
It’s important to understand that “it takes a village” to raise a Project Maestro. Candidates start as project facilitator ‘apprentices’ and work their way up through a formal team structure, gaining greater responsibility and autonomy as they prove themselves ready, and eventually they become a certified project manager.
Along the way, regular sessions with more experienced staff will help them to eliminate mistakes as well as to reinforce good behaviors. This also encourages the apprentices to view those around them as sources of insight and experience – to be consulted whenever they encounter issues they have not seen before.
The Bottom Line
Large-scale multi-site technology rollouts require a unique set of management skills to be successfully delivered. Working with a Technology Rollout Company that uses well-defined, proven rollout methodologies is a great start, but finding one that nurtures their project management people to become Maestros is the best guarantee of success there is.
Here are 10 questions that you can ask your Technology Rollout Company to determine whether they have Project Management Maestros:
- 1. Are you an accredited training provider?
- 2. Can you describe the organizational structure and staffing levels of your Project Management Office (PMO)?
- 3. Can you break down locations and numbers for your PMO?
- 4. Can you describe the career path followed by your project management team members?
- 5. Can you provide professional certifications and numbers for your PMO team?
- 6. Can you provide the system of methodologies that you use to deliver a consistent customer experience across a large volume of geographically dispersed locations?
- 7. Can you show the models you employ for communications within the project team, and in particular between the team and the field technician?
- 8. Do you publish statistics to illustrate your rollout performance?
- 9. Can you provide customer testimonials that support your performance statistics?
- 10. Can you explain your recruitment, vetting, and rating processes for field technicians and other partners?
*Project management in this example equates to a team made up of project facilitators, project managers, and program managers.