PROJECT STAKEHOLDER AND COMMUNICATION MANAGEMENT
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Standardized project management helps Indra successfully deploy a high-profile automated vote-counting system in Norway
At any given time, the portfolio at global technology solutions provider Indra includes some 10,000 projects. No matter what the project, Indra relies on standardized project management practices throughout the company to help ensure it delivers expected benefits. â€œThe costs and schedules associated with that volume of projects could not be handled without an integrated approach,â€ says Enrique Sevilla Molina, PMP, director of the corporate project management office (PMO) at Indraâ€™s headquarters in Madrid, Spain.
In 2011, one of those projects called for developing an intricate electronic voting information system for local elections in Oslo, Norway. With election day 10 months away, the Oslo city council tapped Indra to:
- Create a more efficient voting system by streamlining manual processes, the project aimed to save time, costs and human resources, particularly important in a country with high labour costs.
- Deliver accurate results quickly Norway had a reputation to maintain. Itâ€™s ranked number one among 165 countries in the Economist Intelligence Unitâ€™s Index of Democracy 2011, in which a countryâ€™s level of democracy is strongly tied to its electoral processes. Indra was tasked with delivering accurate advance vote results in seven hours and election- day vote results in 10 hours.
- Keep stakeholders satisfied after poor voting management left the 2000 U.S. presidential election in limbo for 36 days, all elections projects faced greater stakeholder scrutiny. And the Oslo project team was dealing with a large number of especially vigilant stakeholder groups: The Oslo city council, 15 district boards, an array of government agencies, political partiesâ€”and hungry media outlets looking for a hook.
To deliver the expected benefits, Indra did what it has done successfully for two decades: It implemented the project using its own project management methodology based on PMIâ€™s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOKÂ® Guide). Indraâ€™s company-specific project management methodology is encapsulated in its custom-built information system, which stores real-time data on individual projects, including goals (both financial and strategic), work breakdown structures, budgeting, milestones, issues, risks and progress. Broad use of standardized project management practices across the company lets Indra take a comprehensive view of each project and the portfolio as a whole.
â€œBefore we adopted an integrated approach, part of the group would take care of the project schedule and scope, and another part would take care of cost,â€ Mr. Sevilla says. But that made it difficult to identify and handle trouble spots early in the process. For example, if a project ran into a delay, the project manager couldnâ€™t easily see the potential impact of the holdup on costs or, consequently, the effect on deliverables. Added Scope Means Added Risk, the â‚¬2.1 million Oslo election project was much larger in scope than previous Indra elections projects in Norway. The company typically provided e-counting, an automated process that electronically detects each vote. This time around, Indra was tasked with developing and implementing a solution for the entire election process, including pre-election processes, advance voting and elections management, says Cristina Frutos LÃ³pez, PMP, the Indra project manager who led the Oslo elections project.
Indra was responsible for:
- Design, printing and distribution of all paper ballots
- Operator training
- Calculation, scrutiny, storage and transmission of results
The company also had to upgrade its process for managing the increasingly popular advance voting, which occurred one month prior to election day. The project team set up 23 advance-voting polling stations in Oslo and created a centralized processing method to avoid the risk of people voting early and on election day. The system included printing a unique serial number on every ballot. In case of duplication, both ballots were referred for review by adjudicators. Advance voting (either in polling centres, by mail or from abroad at embassies) accounted for 27 percent of the total voter turnout, compared with 13 percent in previous local elections.
Indraâ€™s project management information system kept the team on track. â€œEverything is integrated into our project management platform, so it gives us the full perspective of the project,â€ Mr. Sevilla says. Every expense had to be allocated to specific activities, with no way to enter a generic cost in the system, helping the project team stay within
budget, Mr. Sevilla explains. Conquering Stakeholder scepticism because the project was introducing a new electronic system, stakeholder understanding and acceptance was identified as the projectâ€™s greatest risk.
â€œAs in every change process, we were concerned that the users might not be convinced to buy in to our system and therefore show resistance to it,â€ Ms. Frutos says. To mitigate the projectâ€™s top threat, the team maintained a risk register and issue log in a distributed system that allowed revisions and status updates for project meetings. The team also provided detailed reports with testing and training results to council officials and political party representatives at election committee meetings.
On the technical side, the team established a communication channel with a designated person at each of the government agencies to discuss technical issues and requirements. It hosted an initial kickoff meeting with each contact to gather requirements, and discuss planning and testing.
Training sessions for system users provided another layer of assurance for stakeholders. â€œIn every session, there were open discussions and guidance provided in relation to election rules and regulations,â€ Ms. Frutos says. â€œThis was highly appreciated by stakeholders as it contributed to clarifying doubts and provided a common understanding on how to proceed in certain situations.â€ In addition, Indra provided follow-up guidance for users, a help desk and onsite technical support. It also maintained a full team on the ground for much of the project. Ms. Frutos, for example, worked in Oslo all of August, half of September and intermittently from February through July.
Finally, to further mitigate the risk of stakeholder rejection, the system leveraged an open-source platform to facilitate transparency. In recent years, groups such as the Open Voting Consortium and the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation have pushed for governments around the world to adopt voting systems open to public scrutiny as a way to ensure accuracy. By allowing the option of opening the source code to third parties, Indraâ€™s system was a way to answer this demand. â€œTransparency is one of the driving requirements of elections systems,â€ Ms. Frutos says. â€œThe decision to go for open source fulfills that requirement.â€
The Votes Are in the Oslo project was completed on time and within the â‚¬2.1 million budget. The project team successfully streamlined an intricate process, saving time, costs and human resources. Nearly 500,000 ballot papers from 111 polling stations were counted in five and a half hours, beating the agreed-upon timeframe. Indra also delivered on the intended outcome of accuracy. â€œThe elections authority has to justify every single vote that is accepted or rejected for whatever reason, and the system facilitated this,â€ Ms. Frutos says. The all-important stakeholder groups even took notice, with Norwegian media highlighting the Oslo local election as a quality benchmark for the countryâ€™s elections.
Successes such as the Oslo elections underscore Indraâ€™s commitment to building its organizational project expertise. â€œThe PMI Global Executive Council gives us the opportunity to share ideas in areas such as talent management, risk management, key performance indicators and metrics with companies that may be addressing the same challenges,â€ Mr. Sevilla says. â€œItâ€™s been very exciting to see how other organizations look at the same topics in different ways.â€ And as the 2011 Oslo local elections show, an enterprise-wide commitment to project management is helping Indraâ€”and its clientsâ€”achieve their strategic goals. â€œOur unified approach to project management allowed us to achieve savings in timing, work effort and money, as well as a substantial improvement in communications with the customer on the Oslo elections project,â€ Mr. Sevilla says. â€œI canâ€™t see how the company would survive without a unified approach.â€
QUESTION 1 (25 Marks) (Please do not rush through this question)
Use the table that BELOW and present the project communications plan consideration factors for the Oslo project. (25)
Discusshow the items in the table below, could help with the success of the Oslo Project.
Approval of project outputs
Existing organizational forms (reuse)
Project specific: Templates (adapt)
Shared document repositories
Interactive methods: Telephone-teleconferencing
Wikis VOIP/videoconferencing Groupware
Project life cycle
Project plan Milestones
Routine time Daily-member
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