Interview with: Ciro Sbarra
LinkedIn: LinkedIn Profile
Interview by: Frank Turley
Date: September 2019
Sample Project: Click here to download
Ciro is an experienced PMO, Portfolio, Programme and Project Manager, Consultant and a PM/Agile Trainer. He has worked on many projects and recognizes the importance and value of sample projects for the project management community. He has therefore created a sample project and this interview with him is about the work that he did for this sample project.
Q1. Why did you create a sample project for PMI?
The Project Management Institute is a fantastic opportunity for sharing your expertise with other practitioners or students. There are many initiatives sponsored by PMI (e.g. volunteering) that go way beyond the famous PMBoK Guide and certifications. It is an honour for me to publish this sample project for PMI.
Q2. Why are you using P3.express?
Not all project managers deal with huge projects. The contrary, a lot of projects, organizations deal with, are quite small and P3.Express was written with the latter in mind. P3.Express is an open source framework. It is very down to earth and very compatible with the PMBoK(r), PRINCE2(r) and other common practices.
Q3. In what aspects can a sample project help people in learning and developing their project management skills?
A common comment from people who are in the process of learning project management or go to PM classes is: “How do I apply the practices that I learned in my real projects?”
Filling that gap between “theory” and “practice” is what a sample project can aim at doing.
A sample project can help people understand the art of “tailoring”- how to customize a methodology from a framework and adapting it to the specific project environment.
An IT project is managed differently from a new vehicle product development or a construction project. A 10,000 € project is different from a Billion € project.
A project in a private company is different from a similar project in the context of a Public Administration.
Sample projects can be a natural extension to core training materials and guides by focusing on how to apply project management in potentially real scenarios.
Q4. Was it difficult to come up with a good project case to be applied?
It was very hard indeed. You want to find an interesting and realistic scenario, which would not be so complex but not obvious either.
I finally opted for an IT project within the Human Resource management environment.
Human resources and their continuous engagement and skills development are perhaps one of the most critical aspects of an organization and often have to deal with change.
In this specific scenario, I tried to emphasize how projects (e.g. a delivery of a new IT solution) are linked to change and how both are triggered from a “business need”.
It is not rare for organizations to think of projects, especially in IT but not only, as merely a Technical thing. All projects are linked to business needs through a business justification. Sometimes, projects can also be part of a wider initiative (e.g. Programmes) and in the sample, I did my best to highlight this.
Q5. Which were the hardest parts to develop in writing and what lessons have you learned in writing this paper?
I found it very challenging to balance the content in the different Cycles (P3.Express uses the term cycles for iterations). It was important for me to not get into too much details (keeping the pages easy to read) while showing critical information.
Luckily, I had the support from excellent reviewers (such as: Frank Turley, Inham Hassen and Natalia Petkova) who helped me a lot on this challenge.
My key lessons from writing this paper are:
- Start drafting the project scenario and ask people to review it and point out inconsistencies. The risk is to start developing the sample project without a consistent scenario, causing several rewrites and loss of time.
- Start from a very high-level outline, as this will help you to define the backbone of the sample project and define a structure or template for writing the full document. You can also ask for available templates.
- Ask your network to help as reviewers or contributors throughout the project. Working together is far easier and more effective than doing it by yourself.
- Continuously look for inconsistencies.
Q6. What top three things would you like readers to get from the sample project?
First, that all projects are initiated to solve a business need, by creating benefits. In the case of this sample project, the organization decides to start a project to implement a new IT solution, which is expected to solve a HR management need or problem, and is expected to create measurable benefits in the future.
Second, in order for the benefits to be realized, organizational change may need to be managed, to align the project outputs (in this case the IT solution) to the business (HR management). Sometimes, a project is part of a bigger initiative (e.g. a programme) and it is important to continuously align to that bigger picture.
Third, make sure you manage your project through stages and cycles. There is little to no worth in planning in detail for the whole project when a lot of information is still missing.
You can have a high level plan for the whole project but the detailed plan will be only for each cycle.