This is a continuation of the previous post which addressed early requirements for good SAP project management (see Effective Results from SAP Project Managers – SAP Program Managers).
SAP Project Management Responsibility
A manager’s primary responsibility, above all else, is to ensure the success of those they are responsible for managing. Overall success of any initiative is directly tied to the success of those responsible for delivery of that initiative. This is especially true in fast paced, moderate to large scale SAP projects. If your reports succeed then you as a manager automatically succeed.
An SAP project manager or SAP program manager must focus aggressively on removing obstacles, encouraging success, and fighting against those things that would impede momentum.
Once again, I will re-emphasize:
I don’t blame client project managers because if they had all of the resources, skills, and experience, they would not need outside help. These posts are focused on contracted help who are supposed to ensure your success.
What can SAP Project Managers or SAP Program Managers Do to Help Ensure Success?
One of the first requirements of a contract SAP project manager is to build momentum. Once momentum is built that contract SAP project manager or program manager must do everything possible to sustain that momentum. Some of the things which help to build, sustain, and then manage momentum include:
- An articulated obsession with building and maintaining momentum.
- Activities, tasks, responsibilities, and value added tools are defined ahead of time and not made up in real time.
- People must understand what is expected of them – project requirements in the form of deliverables, tasks, and timelines are communicated early in the project and reinforced *before* transition points throughout the project.
- These “expectations” must be laid out early in the project, throughout the entire project lifecycle (beginning to end) and have proper transitions built into the planning.
- Tracking mechanisms must be simple, easy to understand, and easy to manage. Overly complex or involved tracking mechanisms destroy momentum and “cloud” visibility into progress.
- Work efforts are relatively evenly distributed (resource leveling) and across all project participants (although lengthy these are very informative posts, see Reduce SAP Project Stress: Part 1 and Reduce SAP, ERP, or Technology Project Stress: Part 2).
- No resources are allowed to be overloaded unless every available project resource is overloaded.
- During blueprint emphasis is focused on design that will enable execution, if it doesn’t enable execution (or Realization) it is a waste of time (see How “As-Is” Process Mapping Can Damage Your SAP Project).
- Project emphasis must be on execution – execution builds momentum.
- There is an emphasis on coordinating activities rather than administrative overhead–, some administrative overhead is necessary but only to the extent that it directly supports execution).
- Project management is actively and directly engaged in coordinating execution activities beyond checking off spreadsheets.
- After blueprint emphasis moves to execution over design. Areas where design continues to be evident must be aggressively managed so that design only supports directly executable activities that are in scope.
- Risks to success are identified and mitigated throughout the project.
- Issues, risks, decisions, or other obstacles to project success are regularly captured and worked to resolution.
- Periodic QA reviews at appropriate milestones or intervals.
- Obstacles to activity or execution are aggressively managed (with few exceptions there is no “we can’t do ‘x’ until ‘y’ is perfect)
Do You Have a “Slick Politician” or a Real SAP Project / Program Manager?
There are unfortunately too many politicians in the project manager ranks and too few “straight shooters.” Project manager politicians are destructive to morale, on-time delivery, and are dangerous to budgets. However there is a measure of diplomacy that is required so how do you know when you have a political SAP project manager or SAP program manager rather than a skilled and talented one?
A manager’s primary responsibility, above all else, is to ensure the success of those they are responsible for managing.
Think about that a minute. If a manager’s primary responsibility is to ensure the success of those they are responsible for then what would be a sign they are not a good contract project manager?
If your reports succeed then you as a manager automatically succeed.
The worst kind of project manager is the one who will “throw others under the bus” to deflect from their own shortcomings. They demoralize and discourage project team cohesiveness while crushing momentum. They create an environment where people do not want to do anything at all for fear of becoming the next scapegoat. When things go well they are the first in line to take credit for what went well (even when they weren’t involved). They lack integrity and character. They spend more time and effort trying to cover their own back side than on trying to ensure the project is delivered successfully. If you see these signs in your contract project manager you should seriously consider firing them.
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