An Interview with BMS Consulting's Deputy Director, Sergey Potapov
That is a good question. Our company is in the Ukrainian IT market for more than 15 years. It was officially developed in 1997 so it will be 17 years this July, but for more than 10 years we were just a big box mover and some services. In addition to boxes, when I started my career in this business in 2001, I was just an engineer with a screwdriver and putting servers into the shells and connecting the wires. That was just the kind of services our company provided 10 years ago.
At the moment in Ukraine there are a lot of computers and servers and networks and everything. Our clients not only need the big trucks filled with boxes, they also needed from us how to develop business processes and to provide more complicated IT services. We responded to this need and started to develop our internal operations and internal procedures to provide more complicated services to our clients. So we are jumping into project management, the real project management with all this stuff that is perfectly described in PMBOK.
In 2011 we started a big program for project management education in our company. I hired a trainer that provided education on project management for our employees and we also started to organize our internal processes to improve them for project management. In 2012 and 2013, we had a certification program – PMI certification for PMP. At the moment in our company there are 20 PMPs. So, in a company with 300 people we have 20 certified project managers.
In 2013 we had looked at the army of project managers and asked the question – could it help us? Could it help our projects to be more successful, to be on time and on budget? And the sad answer was, no. Unfortunately, there was no way we could be sure our projects were going well, even having so many certified PMPs. So, the next question was – maybe there is something wrong in the PMBOK? No, it looks like PMBOK has very good ideas. So, maybe the problem is our PMPs are the issue? No, they look like smart guys and girls. Maybe our problem is with our customers? We have no perfect customers.
What should we do? Our director and I are fans of Theory of Constraints and we know a lot about Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) and we read the book along with some articles on the internet. So the next question was could somebody help us to implement this in our company? We have asked our Ukrainian companies and consultants could they help us to implement CCPM for our company and they answer was sorry guys we are ready to help you improve your logistics chains but not implement critical chain for your company. So then I started to dig on Internet and Google and found BeingManagement.
Yes, also some details about our history in my mind or if I can recall it was at least three implementations of project management software at BMS. It was a Microsoft Project Server implementation. The first one was in 2003 and the second one in 2005, and there was also an attempt in 2009, so we have a lot of attempts but my personal opinion of this situation with CCPM and with BeingManagement only gives me more evidence that the software is not the main solution to the problem. Before CCPM we had finally implemented a software environment with Project Server that was integrated with Microsoft SharePoint portal and integrated with Outlook mail system. Every second you had the possibility to see the current situation in every project. That is 70 projects a year. Implementation projects, not just moving boxes, but projects with additional services are 50, 60, 70 projects a year. And anyone could see every day the current status of every project and different analysis reports and so on. But the main problem was we were unreliable with due dates so there was no answer for this question. So the software could not help us solve our problems and I saw no difference in using Microsoft Project or BeingManagement if you have no philosophy for project management.
If we are on the same page that we are understanding that software that there is no main point in implementation methodology we look at the software only as the hammer that is the tool and use it this way or that way and you can choose how you will use it, if you will try to compare BM3 with Microsoft project, Microsoft project is much more complicated and it has hundreds of different functions, specific tuning configuration, and so on. And if you need all these tiny details, it is better. But, could these details help you be more reliable with your due dates? No. Do you need all these fancy things if you are a fan of Microsoft project configurations? Yes. However, if you are trying to be reliable with your clients it will not help you.
Going back to BeingManagement specifically, if you are looking for Critical Chain Project Management will help you to see the real picture. It is possible to implement Critical Chain using just Microsoft Excel, but you will spend a lot of time accessing Excel to get the information you need so if you will look at the tool BM3 is very simple it has not a lot of configurations but it will give you the information that you need to make managerial decisions everyday. So it gives you just enough. I really like the concept of good enough and BM3 is created with this concept of simplicity.
We are still in progress, but we have achieved some things at the moment. First of all, the load for our resources is clear and you can see the efficiency of work for our engineers is better than it was one year before. The first pillar or first item is that we are more focused on outcomes. And the second very important pillar we have implemented is the culture of not working in the multi-task mode – only single task.
You have a task and you have a deliverable for your task. You should complete your deliverable and transfer it to the next stage. And only after that can take next task. BeingManagement gives ability to see that everyone is in one system so it helps the project manager to see which tasks are in progress.
I think the biggest challenge was that it is not just a tool, it’s not just a record sheet that you have to sign at the end of your work day. It means that you must change your organizational culture and that is most important challenge that we have to meet because in every system the biggest and the slowest part is the human. When you have new employees, you need to speak with them and you need to answer different questions everyday.
After repeating a number of cycles you can see that something is changing very slowly - not as fast as you want - but you can see the progress. Also, when you have employees that must be very clever and very creative to solve problems for your customers they are very resistant to change. This is because they know how to deal with problems the best and you can’t tell them to change.
I am really sure that the success of the implementation is the real belief of top management that this solution will help the company. I am really sure we will have success with the implementation at BMS. It is impossible to implement BeingManagement during a one week workshop, so you must commit to the entire program. It is important that other people in BMS will believe this will help the business. Maybe it should be more like an educational program to introduce the concept to many people. If I could change something I would want more practical exercises related to how to change the culture.