Interview with: Filippo D’Adamo, LinkedIn Profile
Interview by: Ciro Sbarra, LinkedIn Profile
April 2020 - Introduction
Filippo is an experienced Programme Manager in the Automotive field and, particularly, for McLaren Automotive Ltd (the famous car manufacturer).
I had the opportunity to interview him recently on the key project management challenges in such complex initiatives.
What projects or programmes are you currently focusing on?
As Programme Manager, my responsibility is to manage the development of a new vehicle from the first sketch up to production. I am currently working on the McLaren P14R programme – P14R is the internal codename for the 765LT supercar, the latest McLaren ‘Longtail’.
Wow! Interesting indeed. What are the main project management challenges you currently have?
McLaren is proud of its reputation as the pioneering supercar company and our aim is always to produce the best supercar in the market. When you consider that we are in a segment where historical automotive brands are very competitive, programme timing is relatively compressed and demands on resource are high, it’s clear that to deliver such a complex end-product the engineering team has to use the best technologies available.
Requirements often change during the programme – if we identify an improvement we will try to incorporate it – so you have to be able to react to opportunities. McLaren isn’t owned by a huge OEM, so many of our technologies are developed internally. On one hand, this gives us a lot of flexibility and freedom during the concept phase, but it also means we need the right skills as a team to quickly handle any technical challenges that arise.
Achieving the best balance between delivering the expected highest quality product and keeping on target with cost and timing is always at the front of our minds. If there are changes to attribute requirements – for example, performance – during the development, we need to incorporate this without adversely impacting the budget or delaying the programme. Time to market is a critical metric in our business.
How do you currently address those challenges from a project management point of view?
As a Programme Manager at McLaren, I try to address these challenges by:
- Building my "dream team” by bringing together people that have exactly the right blend of skills
- Creating an environment where everyone in the team can fully focus on their objectives and the overall programme requirements
- Reacting quickly to changes (e.g. a new attribute requirement) and re-prioritising scope of work to ensure we can still deliver within the time and cost targets
- Continuously learning, both from any improvements we can make and by finding ways to work better and more efficiently together
- Having a common approach on how we manage and do things – a common methodology and language is really important
Is there a PMO that supports your projects or programmes? If yes, what kind of support do they provide?
Yes, we are happy to have a PMO Office, with a Project lead and Project analyst for each programme to give key methodological support within the McLaren Development Process (MDP).
How is project reporting and Governance managed in your programmes?
We have a regular project team meeting every Monday where the programme manager updates on the last directions and KPIs and each Project Manager updates their own status and also reports any critical issues. The McLaren Development Process (MDP) is a gateway-based system were a project team reviews a programme status with the Board at each stage, with key project direction decisions taken as required. Each gateway contains a list of deliverables that detail the required status in order to progress to the next stage of the programme. Any urgent issues that arise between gateways are discussed in the delivery meeting that is held each Friday.
Does your project team share Lessons Learned during the project? If yes, how are these shared and at what moments during the project?
Lesson learns are presented at each Gateway and shared with the PMO, which also manages an invaluable database that contains information collected from all the previous projects and details lessons learned in all project management aspects.
What are the top two things you would like to see improved in the way your Industry manages projects?
The number of meetings and flow of communications tend to increase when you work on complex projects and in these situations, it is very important to keep communications lean and efficient, for example by using timeboxes. Digital capabilities and integration with IT tools are also critical in improving efficiency in our processes and approval loops.