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Operational staff swamped by the number of action plan and project management applications

Fragmentation of action plan and project management applications

You have perhaps been in the situation where you need to prepare a presentation reviewing the action plans for the past year and areas for development for the coming year. A presentation requiring hours of work to put together the various activity reports for the previous year, logging in to numerous internal applications to export vast amounts of data to be massaged into shape, and lastly compiling key performance indicators in your umpteenth Excel file…

A project management system here, a QSE management application there, all heavily seasoned with Excel worksheets… the scattering of data across an increasingly fragmented information system now makes managing cross-functional action plans and projects a real nightmare for managers.

A mishmash of Excel files and applications for operational staff running out of steam

The last two decades have seen the emergence of a plethora of specialised applications built to meet the needs of experts in quality, safety, sustainability, the environment, project management, etc. within companies’ various support functions. The digital transformation, which has made increasing use of small, cloud-based applications to do its work, has only served to accelerate this trend, with Excel files filling the gaps and making connections between data…

The rising number of systems and applications used makes it even more difficult for operational staff to complete actions driven by support functions and for their benefit. The lack of data centralisation deprives them of a bird’s eye view of actions that would make it possible to improve prioritisation and organisation alike. This leads such staff to regularly create new Excel files to centralise the monitoring of their actions, but the wide range of formats makes this exercise even more laborious.

This approach is therefore reaching its useful limits because operational staff are running out of steam and support functions are getting nowhere fast in terms of moving actions forward. In this environment, attempting consolidation work to coordinate the various mechanisms is inconceivable.

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There is but one remedy: governance, supported by a single, unifying system or application

To escape the meteor shower raining down on operational staff, the governance associated with the management of these various action plans and projects within the business needs to be redefined.

This governance will need to:

  • Restore some purpose to the various measures to be applied, such that all concerned re-learn why they need to comply and what their contribution to an overall objective is.
  • Prioritise and schedule the various actions with the stakeholders concerned and thereby ensure their understanding of the subject, their buy-in to the deliverables expected, and the desired deadlines.
  • Monitor actions and provide the necessary support so that any subject areas liable to drift are brought back into line before it is too late…

In a previous article, we did in fact describe the need to put a single collaborative platform in place to centralise all actions and consequently offer an overview and a matrix view of all projects in progress.

To successfully set in motion this action plan and project portfolio management requires the support provided by a centralised collaborative system which will make it possible not only to both standardise processing and monitor actions, but also to always know what has been done, what is being done and what is left to do. And by the same token, to showcase the actions undertaken by employees.

Project centralisation as the precursor to a new management concept

Nowadays, quality, operational excellence and innovation are mainly separate, compartmentalised disciplines managed within different departments. However, these disciplines often affect the same people and the same processes. Only the techniques and degree of intensity really change: quality helps to maintain standards, operational excellence to improve them, and innovation to reinvent them.

These disciplines, which are only a means and not an end in themselves, are all part of the same philosophy, namely to make the business more effective and more innovative to beat the competition.

This being so, wouldn’t it make perfect sense to pull together and coordinate all these areas within a single “Competition Department”? Such a department would be responsible for undertaking all the initiatives making it possible for the business to win new markets, streamline its processes, optimise its cost structure, and in so doing, win the competition for sales and profits by satisfying existing customers and gaining new ones with continuously optimised processes.

Such a department would also be built on a new concept, that of BILM or Business Initiatives Lifecycle Management, combining collaborative methods and systems to deliver centralised governance of actions, work and projects so as to galvanise the business and all its stakeholders in a coordinated and indeed benevolent fashion.

To get a head start in this area, download our ebook on collaborative project management and give fresh impetus to your employees:

Download our guide for successful collaborative projects