Assessment of Project Management Approaches being used in a dysfunctional vocational college in Japan

Assessment of Project Management Approaches being used in a dysfunctional vocational college in Japan:

Table of contents 6

Key points 7

Organisation context 8

Management in-focus 8

The benefits of Waterfall/ Agile adoption 9

Waterfall considerations 9

Simplicity with waterfall 10

Agile considerations 11

Where do we go from here 12

Improvement of project governance 13

Project governance definition 13

Waterfall governance 13

Agile Governance 15

Early processes to look at 16

Improvement in stakeholder engagement 17
Stakeholder engagement definition 17
Japanese stakeholder characteristics 17
Framing our communication 18
The big picture must be explained 19

Adoption of a project management office 21

Definition of project management office 21

What elements can be used to improve the project management 21

Introducing elements of a PMO 23

First steps 25

Using a project management maturity framework 26

Project management maturity framework definition 26

Competence and a PMMM 27

Improvement elements 28

Recommendations 30

Waterfall vs Agile 30

Project Governance 30

Stakeholder Engagement 30

Project management office 31

Project management maturity model 31

Infographic 32

References 33

Key points

  • Recommendations made are under the understanding of the limits of current organisational competence. 
  • Any sudden changes would cause mass resistance from directors and staff.
  • Changes have to be made at a slow and step-by-step pace, this under any circumstances is not negotiable.
  • For project management related activities, a Waterfall approach would be an advantage as it will still allow directors and senior managers to observe and be involved in order to allow them to feel comfortable in regards to risk management.
  • Agile may require too much change too rapidly, and for now can be avoided. We can though look at processes that are Agile related and document their performance.
  • We can start off with introducing governance by documenting processes. This will be a tough enough task in itself and we may need to search for particular people with the initiative and competence to do so.
  • There needs to be better communication, and having key stakeholders communicate how they feel about cooperation and communication will assist in finding the champions for engagement that can develop into a more communicative organisation. Senior directors will want to know how value can be added.
  • Both a project management office and project management maturation model are too advanced to implement for now, but elements can be used to start developing the psychology required to introduce these at a later date if need be.

Organisational context

The organisation context is of a small vocational college in Japan. Students study English and tourism for future work opportunities. No staff are postgraduate qualified. Teachers are 50% university and 50% vocational college educated, and most staff in the front office and reception are two year college qualified. Most staff are in their mid 40s to mid 60s. Staff positions are made up of human resources, sales, administration. Specific staff show signs of competency in various aspects of work activities based on repetitive activities, with specific people who are made responsible for maintaining standards, but these people do not regularly work together. If a project manager was to start working with staff, it would be on a very slow and incremental basis due solely to poor change management processes in place and expected extreme resistance to change.

Management in-focus

Project management methodologies are unheard of concepts within senior management, with a management method of following the orders of senior directors. Changes at the college are based on the decisions of senior directors and are never questioned by staff. As conformity is absolute, senior management have not attempted to engage in negotiation, compromise, and relationship building with staff. There are no specific project management officers, usually those with experience on related matters will perform any duties related to project management. There is no evidence of any set work groups, any project-related activities are usually ad-hoc in nature, and directors can choose who completes tasks. Senior management decides if a project is successful without any visible methodology. Most senior directors will see change as a risk to their authority, and so any proposals must be made in increments.

The benefits of Waterfall/ Agile adoption

Waterfall considerations

Waterfall is a simple to understand linear and sequential arrangement (Davis & Radford 2014, ch. 8). Detailed planning is a highlight of Waterfall (Fair 2012). A level of perfection, with client sign-offs, is expected at each step (Sherman 2015, pp.449-492). The downstream evolution of waterfall projects allows for consistency in understanding the development process (Antunes, et al. 2015, p. 521). Changes in a classical waterfall method may be fatal as each unit must be completed before the next (Gablas et al. 2018, p. 41). Organisations lacking project managers may find this approach simple to implement and maintain. In PRINCE2, we see that the machination of the project is in the ‘directing a project’ stage, where we have initiating, managing, and closing a project processes (Siegelaub 2004).  PMBOK follows a similar process, and can be seen in the planning, executing, and controlling phases, whereas the APMBOK process falls under Project Life Cycle. One aspect of what can be considered a linear process is student enrolment, where students go from advisor-enrolment-accounts to complete enrolment, but this is very much an operational process and not based on projects. What it does show is there are staff engaged in a linear process that resembles a waterfall approach. 

Diagram references: What is PRINCE2? (Axelos n.d), PMBOK® Guide Processes Flow – 6th Edition (Simplified version) (Vargas 2017), Figure 4.3: APMBOK Linear Lifecycle (USQ Study Desk 2020).

Simplicity with waterfall

While there are different names used for the Waterfall units, we can see the linear approach, making it simple to understand for those unfamiliar to project management life cycles. The lineal arrangement allows for a smooth process from start to finish, but requires each unit to be fulfilled before the next, which could mean heavy delays if there is an incompetent management system in place. While all processes of different Waterfall methodologies are beyond the scope of this analysis, we can see the relationship with a linear and predictable unit-by-unit process. Each process can be analysed before moving on to the next, with set roles in place (Fair 2012). The project manager can introduce to senior managers diagrams for each listed Waterfall method, and a determination be made as to which one, or group of methods, best represent what happens now in any project management activities that occur. While this may seem like a meaningless exercise, it is the start of the thought process related to project management that is lacking in management now.

Agile considerations

Agile processes are ‘light weight change management’ (Ambily & Malliga 2011, p. 404). There are no fixed linear boxes in the production stage (Thummadi, Shiv & Lyytinen 2011, p. 70). One characteristic of Agile is the sprint, which uses smaller goals in the change management process (McKenna 2016, ch. 2). These processes are iterative and incremental in nature (Clark 2012). The idea behind agile is to lower the details requirement (Linz, 2014, ch. 7). Agile requires set dates, team cooperation, no formality in job titles, and a highly competent management team. As Agile is full time due to its cyclical principles (Casanova 2013), whether a product manager professional is available is a concern for implementing an Agile based strategy. Commitment must be made by all those involved in the project, with professionals cooperating with each other in real-time. We can see elements of what can be considered this sprint process such as preparing the layout of the annual flyer, although iterations take more than one month. While this is left to a team, it is not identified as an agile method as the senior directors interrupt and change mandates at any time, members can change depending on staff schedules, although there is a regular cycle that leads to approval or rejection by senior management.

Diagram 1 (L): Waterfall (Smartsheet n.d).  Diagram 2 (R): Insights to Agile Methodologies for Software Development (Experfy nd). What the second image (R) shows is how now there is interjection by senior directors during the iterative process when designing flyers for the next year start of college. While an iterative approach is used for the design after orders are given as to what should be included, senior management can mandate changes at any time they see fit to do so.

Where to go from here

Whether a Waterfall or Agile approach would work better requires first some specific changes to the organisation. Agile requires commitment to decisions, resource availability, and implementation from the team members (Gandomani et al. 2012, pp. 2345-2351). The project manager can ask senior directors to commit to a focus group and report on whether Waterfall or Agile could be introduced to improve some activities, with a memorandum of agreement to run trials on project management methods under their respective conditions. Agile requires a forward-focused fixed team and may be suited to an active customer (Kisielnicki & Misiak 2017, p. 275), which may become problematic if the customer, the directors, continue their ad-hoc interjection management methods. What permission can be received is to allow the project manager to coordinate with those involved in activities to form an early process development group, and see where Waterfall and Agile processes can be used in order for the organisation to become accepting of them and to research how the organisation could introduce these methods if there is a need. Elements of the linear waterfall approach may benefit an organisation that does not have the competent and qualified managers required to plan technically complicated plans, would prefer a simple unit by unit approach, and can survive an ad-hoc directing approach. This may be the best forward thinking and focused initiative that can lead to project management competencies development.

Improvement of project governance

Project governance definition

Governance is intended to bring together important stakeholders, management actors, work cooperatively to understand problems, figure out solutions, and link projects to the organisation’s objectives (McGrath & Whitty 2013). Project Governance is the framework within which project decisions are managed (Ahola et al. 2014, pp. 1321-1332). Project governance stems from the organisation’s foundation and orientates project management characteristics  (Joslin 2019, p. 143). Governance mechanisms develop over time to improve ineffective management (Kelly 2010). Japanese corporate governance takes on a very different style to the western paradigm (Buchanan 2007, pp. 27-29), such as no contracting of professional staff and an insulated internal approach (Graboweiecki 2006, p. 33). This causes serious competency concerns and efficiency issues for how internal stakeholders can contribute to improving project governance. An immediate step to governance development can be to give senior directors an overview of project governance and think what business areas we can focus on in the project governance development. Project governance has functions such as goal settings within the operational framework, project teams and stakeholders working with risk-sharing schemas within the project, monitor performance, coordinate the future actions, assigning the right people for the responsibilities of the project, and build the competencies required for completing projects (Kujala 2014, p. 41). There is no governance model in place now, and in order to have the decision makers understand the context for governance, it will be paramount to contextualise governance within project management methodologies. By minimising ambiguity, there may be focus from senior managers on a governance implementation plan.

Waterfall governance

The Waterfall approach would allow for a simple delegation process to assist in coping with changes implemented through project management, leaving the responsibility of accountability and risk to each unit involved in the project`s management (Kruchten 2001). The accountability for risk management, delegation of risk, and accountability may be given to someone closer to the project by senior directors and managers (Stickney & Johnston 1983, p. 42-53). An immediate step to find the people who will be left in charge of governance can be organised with senior directors. This will be the first step to having directors leave daily operational responsibilities to others in order to streamline the governance process but still allow for directors to maintain organisational objectives and policies. This method of governance may work for a pro-active senior management that takes responsibility for the risk delegation of the project. The Japanese business culture is regularly described as low risk (Fukuda, Kasuya & Keida 2018, p. 492). Senior management see taking no risk as paramount to their survival, and a waterfall approach can accommodate constant project management monitoring (KPMG 2014, p. 4). If high support and monitoring are required, as in resource allocation, high failure rate concerns, or resistance from those involved with the project, Waterfall may be easier to manage when starting a governance framework production (Muller & Dalcher 2009).

Diagram (L): What the Waterfall Project Management Methodology Can (and Can’t) Do for You (Lucidchart Content Team n.d). This is the potential with Waterfall, to have separate teams for each unit. This would be good for large organisations with experts at each step of the Waterfall process.This spreads the risk out and can be monitored and observed by senior directors and management. Diagram (R): Governance simplicity for Waterfall. In this simple form, and it is beyond the scope of this assessment to go deep into each Waterfall methodology. Waterfall allows for a constant oversight presence in each stage of the process. For an extremely risk averse business culture like Japan, project governance unit by unit allows for more observation, management, and monitoring in each process. 

Agile Governance

Agile governance perspectives allow for responsive planning, up-to-date information, a communication approach that is in real-time, all with the aim to complete processes on a short schedule (Cooke 2010, ch. 2). A defining characteristic of Agile is the Sprint team takes elements of the unit-by-unit governance away from an oversight committee (AXELOS 2018). The governance of Agile requires project champions, working together and to be able to communicate constructively. (George, et al. 2018, p. 242-243). A more outcome perspective authority comes from the scrum in production (Casanova 2013). The framework that could develop using Agile as the base would create inconsistent results as directors would not keep Agile teams together due to the precedence of pulling people away for other duties. The risk analysis and decision making framework may fail as there are no project management professionals employed to develop the processes for the risk, documentation, and decision making processes of Agile as senior directors may misunderstand some risk responsibility is put within the sprint team, thus delegating senior management as superfluous.

Diagram (L): Agile Project Management (Kumar 2019). As much as we can say about agile, the machination is from the team. An owner can request any elements they wish, but it is the sprint process that completes the project. Diagram (R): As can be seen, the governance comes from within the team tasked with completing the project. The machination of the project is governed by the same group that completes the whole project development process. What we do not see here is the governance actors coming from outside this group.

Early processes to look at

The project manager can avoid lengthy discussions on the Agile approach as directors need to be won over by delegating risk to a closed process. Waterfall governance will still allow for monitoring by directors, and is the most simple for documentation, as this in itself will be a learning process. This will also allow time for governance to be accepted within the current organisational model.

Improvement in stakeholder engagement

Stakeholder engagement definition

In order to have stakeholder involvement, rapport with the directors and leaders are of paramount importance and must be of high quality (Turner & Muller 2005, p. 50). The stakeholders must understand the leadership situation; there is now in the organisation a task-orientated, leading through directives, and a controlling style (Turner & Muller 2005, p. 51). Virtues of the project manager are of vital importance to stakeholders as they need to know how the project manager will perform in certain situations (Ljungblom & Lennerfors 2018, p. 7). It is ultimately most important to understand who the most important stakeholders involved in the project are (Karlsen & Terje 2002). Gilberto & Rabechini Jr. state trust is given when risk can be mitigated with the acceptance of the other party being involved and where the other party is required (2019, pp. 131-144). These interlocking relationships create the need for communication (Franklin 2020, p. 36). Utilization of effective leadership fosters the creation of human capital thus contributing to high productivity, efficiency, and innovation in organizations (Nair & Radhakrishnan 2019, p. 3855). A first step in improving stakeholder engagement is to call managers and directors to a meeting to discuss organisational relationships and communication, and how we can improve efficiency. An attempt to introduce instant messaging was a first step (and has been done for TESOL, although not all use it as some people do not use computers). 

Japanese stakeholder characteristics

The stakeholders involved in the one completed project to date are Japanese, with one person non-Japanese. The EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation report (2018) states that an issue facing non-Japanese firms is the evasiveness and passive acknowledgement received by Japanese firms, which was evident in organising the TESOL memorandum of agreement. Japanese naturally go to their unique business customs and ignore global standards (Fukukawa & Teramoto 2009, pp. 133–146). As foreign companies are not part of the vast keiretsu networks (Grabowiecki 2006) due to the fact these constructions were designed to ensure the longevity of Japanese business (Jonathan & Johnson 1992, pp. 282-308). Japanese are known to agree and pull out of business details at the very last second (Schonewille 2010, p. 42). This was the case with attempting to set up TESOL, as the first MOA agreement was ignored for 12 months by the organisation. A project manager can write a quick questionnaire on what evidence or conditions are required in order for the organisation to act on new international agreements in a quick manner, as this will be a fantastic document to use in order to see how to engage stakeholders in an efficient manner.  The passive resistance that can occur must be countered as it means a protracted process that could bankrupt the person outside the Japanese organisation, as it will be the Japanese organisation that mandates any change. Engagement will come from finding the stakeholders in the organisation with the same beliefs and focus on organisational development.

Framing our communication

To attempt to engage with stakeholders with the required characteristics, we can think of how to frame our communication to such stakeholders in order to get their feedback on their engagement in projects. There is evidence of staff engaging in cooperative activities within the office, but no guidance on introducing policy as things are left to staff to negotiate. There will be a need to look at policy and protocol that can be understood by all as this will standardise communication. The Parkes neurological levels table (2011, pp. 151-152) can be used to estimate which stakeholders can be examples of improved communication practices within the organisation.

Purpose: Parties brought into a common purpose, working constructively together.
Identity: Clear identity and branding, promote the project.
Beliefs and values: Parties involved share common beliefs about the project.
Capabilities: Evidence of capability in those selected as stakeholders.
Behaviours: Stakeholders are of the same work behaviours as each other, and will work towards the project goal.
Environment: There is evidence that stakeholders are on the same level.

Table: Modified neurological levels to discuss at the stakeholder team building effort. Modified from Parkes, 2011, pp. 151-152.

Sample questionsPIB/VCBE
What risks and opportunities could arise from projects?
Are you affected by projects? whose interests could affect outcomes?
How should the information be provided to stakeholders prior to consultation?
How should consultation events be organized?
How should your concerns and recommendations be addressed in the project management system?
How should you be informed about project decisions and have your ideas incorporated?
What project action plans should be implemented to reduce risk and enhance benefits for other stakeholders?
Do you document and disclose relevant information to other stakeholders regularly?
How can stakeholders be informed and involved throughout project implementation?

Table: Questions to potential stakeholders. These questions will give us a better clue as to how stakeholders will work together. We can attempt to introduce key neurolinguistic concepts for project management connections when interviewing potential stakeholders. It can also be used to have stakeholders think about the impact they can have on projects.

The big picture must be explained

Explaining the big picture can have a better effect on getting agreement in chaotic corporations (Parkes, 2011, p. 166). Stakeholders must feel that their opinions and ideas are being taken into account by taking on board their interests (Cross & Inim 2020, pp. 273-275). How stakeholders respond to the project manager`s questions and conversation can help form decisions on who the project manager can work with in order to start a culture of engagement in the workplace. Staff historically have done the minimum required as they receive life-long employment and show no interest in the finances of the college. Senior management are concerned with the financial situation and revenue streams. While proposed language to ‘soften’ the anxiety of stakeholders is often used by neurologists (Parkes 2011, p. 162), this can become a wasted effort if no positive outcome is achieved. Tailoring (Parkes 2011, p. 154) can be considered to cut any memos to under one page in order for them to be read. Miller & Oliver state projects can be considered “installed”, not “implemented” (2015). The project manager must attempt to get the commitment to change in order to implement changes. 

Image source: Engaging Stakeholders for Project Success (Miller & Oliver 2015). By explaining the value added creation of the project, stakeholders will be able to see the benefit in the project. This is most important as value adding means economic prosperity.

Win influence

Optimizing stakeholder engagement to win influence is often the most elusive for project managers (Richardson 2015). As explained in Miller & Oliver, implementation means that stakeholders have engaged and changed their behaviours to take advantage of the value addition and receive the forecasted benefits (2015). One of the elements of the three step process is to build stakeholders` commitment to the change (Miller & Oliver 2015). Reward practices serve as motivators, especially in Japan as life-long employment and bonuses are still paid (Allen et al. 2004, pp. 7-14), therefore the project must add value in order to remain economically viable. After the project manager selects those who show the most promise to engage in a project management community, an attempt to explain the project in the terms used in this graph may work best as it is limited in text but explains the benefits clearly and precisely. This may start the conversation and cooperative community to prepare the organisation for future change management.

Adoption of a project management office

Definition of project management office

There are three types of PMO typologies; supportive, controlling and directive (Darling & Whitty 2015, p. 283). Hobbs and Aubry found the strongest factors in PMO performance are having competent staff whose expertise is recognised by the organisation, being embedded and engaged by the organisation, and advertising the PMOs mission (2010, p. 300). The key theme of these factors is perception and effectiveness of the PMOs purpose, its staff and their interactions with the organisation. The modern project office must be flexible and dynamic in its approach. As this will be the first time the organisation looks at the effectiveness of a project management office, a sit-down can be arranged to facilitate the perception of what a PMO can do for the organisation, and in particular how one can affect current processes. The project manager will not attempt to introduce a complete PMO as it would be rejected by senior directors if a demand was made to implement such an office immediately. A survey completed over an eight year period expressed project management offices as becoming too bureaucratic over time (Duggal 2009). Project management offices are not ‘one size fits all’ (Vowler, Kilford & Close 2008, ch. 3). Flexibility in design may be found in organisations that have no formal project management office (Jerbrant & Gustavsson 2013, p. 152). 

What elements can be used to improve the project management

It is usually a choice between participants as to how activities are organised. This loose arrangement may not follow PMO characteristics although we can see elements of project management such as work responsibilities and delegation occuring. What could occur during the discussions is to compare current practices with what a PMO can do to improve and document best practices. Roetzler identifies 16 characteristics of positive project performance characteristics; information, material resources, competence, organisation support, mission clarity, team coordination, commitment, team unity, individual goals, team assessment, feedback, empowerment, leadership, rewards and satisfaction (1994, p. 293). The qualities found in staff may be sourced to create an ad-hoc project management office if projects are to take place. In Bucero & Englund, particular qualities can be searched for in order to find the people who will be willing to fulfill project needs (2007). 

Qualities and Beliefs Checklist

Qualities and BeliefsAgreeDisagree
They feel the need for change
They believe that the effort to change the situation is more attractive than business as usual
They have vision
They are constant in their actions, activities and reactions
They are willing to invest time and energy
They place a high priority on the value of project-based work and the outcomes produced
They have a perspective on the future
They believe that things can be improved when effort is put into learning from experience
They are capable of making a realistic appraisal of resources
They have empathy
They are able to anticipate customer needs
They have power within the organization
They understand the business and how things get done in the organization
They are publicly and privately supportive
They can manage consequences because they know the project environment and the organization very well
They follow the progress of the project

Elements take from: Building executive support, keys to project success (Bucero & Englund 2007).

Introducing elements of a PMO

While ‘best practice’ in PMOs has been observed as requiring significantly more research in order to establish replicable standards (Hobbs & Aubry 2010, p. 301), the current practices could be considered to be a list of functions selected due to consistent use and acceptance in the organisation which could be used in future project management. A PMO stores previous project management experiences (Aziz 2014), which is not the case for this organisation. The early steps are to identify stakeholders with the competency and initiative to develop PMO practices. After discussions on documentation of activities, an effort to introduce an activities database could be entertained to start some process that is PMO related. This can be designed around what activities occur, and what constitutes those activities, including people, processes, and resources etc. A checklist on whether there is evidence of the people, teams, and talent can be developed. Four dimensions have been universally accepted as project management competency elements, being Knowledge (K), skills (S), personal characteristics (PC), and experience (E) (Crawford 2006). It can be recommended to interview potential project office staff as to see if the four dimensions are evident in their work actions. The PMO model below can be used as a guide for the database implementation, and negotiations can be made as to what can be documented for improved practices with key stakeholders through the PMO Assessment Model..

PMO Assessment Model

Services and functionsKSPCE
• Developing and maintaining PM standards and methods
• Developing and maintaining project historical archives
• Assuming project administrative tasks
• Human resources/staffing assistance
• Project management consulting and mentoring
• Providing and arranging PM training.
Standard procedures
• Project procedures
• Project selection procedures
• Project planning and scheduling procedures
• Change management procedures
• Risk assessment procedures
• Documentation procedures.
Historical archives
• Records of prior project performance
• Records of previous project plans
• Issues and problem lists of previous projects
• Historical project archives database
• Description of techniques and templates.
Project administrative issues
• Project schedule maintenance
• Project timesheet maintenance
• Project workbook maintenance
• Project report production and distribution
• Active project management office in providing conference room for reviews and meetings
• Project management software assistance.
Staffing assistance
• Project manager skill set identification
• Project manager candidate personnel identification
• Project team member candidate personnel identification
• Providing input on project manager’s performance evaluation
• Appropriate changes in policies and procedures.
Project management consulting and mentoring
• Confidential advice on sensitive issues and problems
• Project start-up assistance
• Timely response to project needs and problems
• Group sharing sessions for project managers
• Assisting senior management.
project management training support
• Project management basis
• Advanced project management topics
• Assistance in preparation for career advancement
• Project management software skills
• Design and development of training course both for internal and external customers.

Adapted from: Assessing the value of project management offices (Kwak & Dai 2000).

First steps

The project manager must start to interview stakeholders, find those with the orientation suited to a PMO environment, and then to start the documentation and recording process of a PMO as a first step. This could be considered possible at these early stages without resistance that would lead to refusal to be involved in any future project management study.

Using a project management maturity framework

Project management maturity framework definition

For a project manager to consider a project management maturity model, considerations as to the function of the maturity model must be understood. As discussed, the PMO is the arm of the company that governs projects, the PMMM is what is installed in the PMO to develop, oversee, and maintain project management activities (Sokhanvar et al. 2014). The PMMM generally provides three main advantages; a normative description of best practices, reflection capabilities leading to process improvement, and benchmarking against best practices (Nenni et al. 2014, p. 2). Processes must be identified in order to undertake analysis of readiness and competency of a PMMM model. Honeywell lists six processes that are analysed against the five levels of maturity, being scope management, budget and cost management, risk management, communication management, resource management, and schedule management. Other models, such as the PM Solutions model, add quality and project integration as part of their processes framework (Hartwig & Smith 2008, p. 3). As there is no official PMO or PMMM office in place, taking the knowledge areas and investigating if the organisation understands each area will be paramount to the project manager  understanding if the organisation`s core is capable of organising a PMMM once a PMO is organised.

The PM Solutions Project Management Maturity Model (Pennypacker & Grant 2002).

Competence and a PMMM

Competence in setting up a PMMM must be paramount to the decision on developing a PMMM. Leadership must inspire the people, and concentrate on the strategic, operational, and human element of project leadership (Shenhar & Stefanovic 2006). Leadership requires core competencies, and the knowledge responsibilities can be used to identify if the people required by the PMMM are in the organisation (as with the PMO). If these responsible agents exist, we may see an ability within the organisation to develop a maturation model. The table below represents Weiss’ stakeholder competencies for leadership (2014), and can be used to analyse if these leadership competencies exist within current stakeholders, in particular those who can be identified as potential members of a future PMO. 

・Lead the social, ethical, and competitive mission of the organisation [A].
・Build and sustain accountable relationships with all stakeholders [B].
・Dialogue with stakeholders, including respecting their interests [C].
・Collaboration in trust and shared decision making [D].
・Show awareness and concern of stakeholders and employees through the policies and practices of the organisation [E]

Excerpt from A Stakeholder and Issues Management Approach (Weiss 2014, p. 374).

PMMM Knowledge AreasPeople Involvement/ Leadership Availability (Current situation)[A][B][C][D][E]
Project Integration ManagementNo sign of anyone who would be skilled or willing to spend the time to develop any model.
Scope ManagementSomeone has experience in working with a stakeholder who required some defining of work roles.
Time ManagementStakeholders have shown an ability to manage their own time, but not in a project situation.
Cost ManagementThe senior management know the financial situation, and make all decisions relating to finances, no one else is privy to this information.
Quality ManagementSenior managers understand what is considered good quality, but no official processes or policies 
Project Human Resources ManagementThere is an ad-hoc human resources department for hiring. 
Communications ManagementFailures to create an open channel of communication exist due to Japanese cultural issues of `bottom-up` information never being communicated. There is though a senior manager who can convey directors` messages and orders.
Risk ManagementNobody with formal training in risk management or economics.
Procurement ManagementThere are people who are tasked with procurement, but not related to projects, only maintaining the office.

Adapted from Project management maturity: an industry-wide assessment (Pennypacker & Grant 2002) 

Improvement elements

There are no written policies or procedures, which should be part of a PMMM continuous improvement process (Kerzner 2019, p. 113). An attempt to define the organisational enablers (Project Management Institute 2013, p. 28) must be completed in order to determine if the capabilities are there for the organisation to have a PMMM. Individual projects are reliant on individual people and no PMO or PMMM which may allow for some excellent results, but will not build the processes to continually improve processes (Murray & Sowden 2015). In a study conducted by (Pennypacker & Grant 2002), it was found that most organisations are immature in terms of their PMMM model. We can expect the organisation, with no PMO or regular project management activities, to be considered immature . What can be done now is to develop a purpose statement to discuss whether elements of a PMMM can be initiated to start developing best practices and efficiencies for improved delivery (Terry 2012). The project manager can work on an early formation of a project management community, which will start the process of bringing people together and start PMO and PMMM related processes (Terry 2012). The first step will be to concentrate on building a database of current activities and processes and to introduce a best practices guideline. Like in documentation for the PMO objective, this starts the habit of documenting for best practices development.


Waterfall vs Agile

  • Waterfall is simple with a linear approach, it is step-by-step and may be accepted by directors as it is unit-by-unit, therefore may be better accepted by directors.
  • The risk management in Waterfall allows for directors and senior managers to keep their no-risk outlook by being able to analyse each unit of work completed lineally.
  • Agile is more suited to a situation where managers or senior directors may not want to get involved in project management, which may not work for risk averse management.
  • Agile requires a more competent and professional team, probably people who have worked together in the past, which will not work at this time.

Project governance

  • Waterfall will allow for governance at a unit-by-unit level, which would be a preference for senior management’s risk averseness.
  • Waterfall is more spread out, so it may be seen as less risky than a more closed approach (Agile).
  • For Agile, there is more taken away from the oversight committee, meaning more internal governance for the Agile team, this the Agile team takes on more risk.
  • Governance comes from project champions, and not directors and senior managers.
  • Competency is the issue, and Agile requires project champions, but would be unacceptable to a risk-averse management.

Stakeholder engagement

  • Understanding who the stakeholders are, who wields the power, and how that power is used is paramount to negotiating stakeholder communication.
  • Understanding how Japanese react in certain situations, and how to navigate through this style of negotiation will be important for foreign stakeholders to understand.
  • Allowing stakeholders to communicate their ideas and opinions must be done in order to get a `feel` as to what could be acceptable and what may be deemed unacceptable.
  • Working towards a goal of communicating the minimum effort required will be important to get stakeholder support.

Project management office

  • A PMO needs a quality template which does not exist within the organisation now.
  • An effort to know what stakeholders organise activities now will assist in development of a PMO model.
  • Staff with relevant PMO qualities must be found in order to start PMO development.
  • Analysis of what supportive, controlling, and directive led characteristics in the office may help turn the ad-hoc process into a PMO.
  • Finding consistent best practices could be used in a future project office.

Project management maturity model

  • The organisation should want to understand best practices, reflect on activities, and benchmark future projects once a PMO (or elements of a PMO) are organised.
  • Knowledge areas should be reviewed against the competencies of stakeholders in the organisation and those people selected to be part of any PMMM processes that materialise.
  • The lack of written policies and procedures needs overhaul, and this may need to be done in the PMO stage.





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