Information management separates the wheat from the chaff.

I have always been interested in why the people work the way they do. “Knowledge capital” and information management questions are interesting. Despite company rules, templates, and manuals, it is a constant challenge to get people actively sharing their knowledge and ensure that people have similar ideas about the project flow and tasks once an organisation grows bigger than, say handful of people. To buy tools is simple, but does not automatically improve quality or satisfaction of the personnel nor the clients. To guide the staff behaviour is more challenging but also more rewarding. At Tengbom Eriksson, we tackled this challenge by means of training especially the project managers, for their motivation and competence was recognized crucial for successful projects.

Project manager training: shared vision instead of guesses

We launched and ran a series of internal project manager training sessions (2014) in order to increase the staff knowledge plus get a shared idea about the tasks and responsibilities associated with the staff roles in our company. Topics included general project management concepts and principles and typical project manager duties. The project managers were encouraged to tell about their experiences and propose improvements or point out tedious/unprofitable tasks so that we could improve/get rid of them. In terms of building design, the topics were: phases of a construction project, contract models and what is architect’s role in a construction/planning project (vs other designers, the principal designer and the client).  Urban (statutory) planning procedure was covered in another session. Planning tools and their benefits and pitfalls were discussed too.

An ERP update: defined and tested together with the actual users

Another development project linked with information management was the major update of the company ERP system (2014-2015), which I planned and executed. The very system that contains project data, work hours, billing and is the source of internal reporting and forecasting. What could be the “second brains of the company”, a central source of business information was old, and worse: used in a rather inefficient manner. Especially the project managers were unhappy with the unintuitive UI and wished for better metrics.

The project consisted of user requirement specification, testing, the actual migration and several Q&A sessions after the migration and helping individual users face to face. The main user groups were basic users, project managers and the financial administration, each having different needs because of their responsibilities. People from each group participated in the requirements and testing phase. Needs and bugs were tracked and submitted to the vendor in several batches. Needless to say, training had a big role and several training sessions were held.

Below: Tools with their benefits and shortcomings were a frequent topic in the Project Manager training. Here is a screenshot of one scheduling/resourcing tool, populated with real project phases and staff members. This tool, albeit used by construction companies, was regarded as not intuitive and gained never foothold.