It is a common stumbling block of many projects - no one in the project team has enough time to coordinate and/or undertake the project actions, so improvements are only partially implemented or even not implemented at all. This can understandably lead to a feeling of disappointment within the project team and frustration that the time they spent understanding, analysing, identifying and discussing the issues before collectively designing and agreeing great improvements to the service didn’t amount to very much.
For this reason the role of a Project Coordinator is vital! They support and drive the project team by resolving or raising issues that are preventing them from completing the project actions and implementing the new process. In PIU’s case they are also a critical bridge between us and the project team throughout implementation.
I find myself constantly questioning what should I, as a project facilitator, be doing as opposed to what the project coordinator should be doing and it is a difficult balancing act. A key cornerstone of our methodology is to ensure we help to empower staff who have the knowledge of the process to make the changes, ensuring both improved buy-in but also so that a cycle of continuous improvement can be embedded after the project is closed.
For this reason PIU’s project process has traditionally placed a heavy reliance on the project coordinator to drive the implementation by; chasing actions, updating the action log, communicating with the project team and reporting to PIU on a monthly basis to raise any issues identified during implementation. The scope of their role is clearly agreed with the project sponsor at initiation and it is sponsor who identifies the coordinator, usually someone closely associated with the area under review.
We have however experience of where this has fallen down due to:
- The project coordinator not being in a neutral or senior enough role to challenge team members when actions are not completed
- The project coordinator not being allowed enough time away from their day to day role to undertake the project work required
- The project coordinator not having the skills in project management and process analysis to drive the project through implementation
PIU are therefore reviewing our standard projet process, particularly at the implementation stage to ensure we mitigate some of these problems.
Improvements we are considering include:
- Challenging the sponsor more firmly during the selection of the project coordinator to ensure they have the appropriate support, buy-in and time to take on the role
- PIU having a wider liaison role with the project team as a whole during implementation to help monitor and drive actions and mitigate any issues that arise.
It is this last point we are most concerned about, as we do not want to detract from the empowerment of the project team nor do we want to increase the reliance of the project team throughout implementation prior to project closure. This will therefore be a case of practice what we preach where we implement, measure and evaluate incremental changes to our process to ensure a more effective, not just a different service.