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A terrible day in the life of an Assistant Director of the Project Management Office
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A terrible day in the life of an Assistant Director of the Project Management Office

discover | Tuesday - 16 / 01 / 2024 - 7:42 pm

In its quest to place its name at the top of the list of developed countries, the Kingdom launched the National Transformation Program in 2016, as the first program of the Saudi Vision 2030 in artificial intelligence, automating resource planning systems, and helping businesses to carry out an integrated digital transformation in companies and public and private establishments, and the most important of these sectors is (the General Administration of Transformation). Digital in the Ministry of Education)

The management of a Saudi university decided to undertake a comprehensive change in its technology-based services. The change is part of that university’s endeavor to keep pace with the digital transformation in KSA. The deadline for completing the process has been set to be September 20, 2023 [that is, three days before Saudi National Day].

PMS
PMS

Let’s see how things ran at the university:

8/20/2023

Due to time constraints, it was decided to establish a change advisory board. The mission of this board is to review requests for changes (within project scope, schedule, budget, resources, and leadership) and approve or reject the requests. It has been decided that this board will meet every two weeks.  Determining the date for considering requests for changes will be based on the time of sending those requests.

Abdullah, Director of Projects Management Office, has been assigned to oversee the change management process. Abdullah had to go through an extensive process to prepare for meetings. These preparations include preparing documents before the meeting – and others during the meeting – as well as a report on the results after the meeting.

8/21/2023 [disastrous day]

Abdullah decided to start his day with an “easy” task, he collected all the change requests he received in order to prepare for the meeting which scheduled to be held on 8/27/2021. For this reason, he created a new document within MS-Excel, and after formatting the document neatly, Abdullah transcribed the information as follows:

– Project links in the Project Portfolio Management (PPM) system.

– Links to the original change request.- Category of change (schedule, scope, budget, leadership, etc.).

– project manager.

– Applicant name.

When Abdullah looked at his watch, he saw that it is eleven in the morning (this means that he spent 3 hours on this task!). It is said “it never rains but pours”, the council asked him to send the document 48 hours prior to the start of the meeting so members can investigate the impact of any change. Abdullah was unable to accomplish this task until the last minute.

8/26/2023

As part of preparations for the meeting, Abdullah created a PowerPoint presentation. He transferred all the information from the Word document to PowerPoint. Information transfer and slides preparation took hours despite the fact of using a template in this current case.

8/27/2021 [International Trouble Day]:

Average of changes was 10 to 15 changes, and this made each slide only able to fit a few changes (this also caused the presentation to become quite large and few changes could be placed on each slide). The agenda and several changes were not visible everytime and this required to run the meeting for more than 5 hours (at last, not all changes were reviewed during the meeting).

During the meeting:

You may be wondering why the meeting took so long? Here is the answer from Abdullah, Director of the Project Management Office:

The discussions continued longer than required, and the reason is that some people forgot the agenda.

The presentation contained the same information as a Word document (including all the links to the original project and changes), but opening the links from PowerPoint was not easy (this, in turn, caused confusion and delay cause advisory board members lacked a smooth transition from PowerPoint to the project site and vice versa during the meeting).

After the meeting:

After the meeting, it is necessary to prepare a report of all the observations and decisions of the meeting. This report must be emailed to all members within 24 hours.  The process took 3 hours to complete.

Abdullah free himself from the obsessions of resignation thanks to our system dedicated to managing councils and committees, how Abdullah did that?

Abdullah collected the number of hours which are necessary to spend for:

– pre-meeting preparations,

– activities during the meeting,

– post-meeting activities,

– hours of the meeting itself,

He found that, number of hours had exceeded 8 hours (this is equivalent to a full work day!). Here, Abdullah began to think:  How long will I continue in this way?  I’m doing work that doesn’t match my abilities, any data entry person can do it. And here – as expected – signs of desire to resign began to appear in him.

Abdullah’s connection to the university began to diminish, and he even discouraged his nephew from entering the university after he had just finished high school. Abdullah also began to isolate himself from the rest of the team during the break. The sense of initiative within him was completely absent.

But what happened later was that Abdullah, in a side conversation with one of his friends, a proposal was put in front of Abdullah. The proposal is for Abdullah to use the Majalis Pro system to manage councils and committees as a solution to his problem at work.

Abdullah was surprised when the time to complete pre-meeting documents decreased from 3 hours and 30 minutes to only one hour.

Abdullah happily tells us the following details:

I started using the template function within the Majalis Pro system.  Everything I had to do in order to prepare documents before the meeting, is now implemented within the committee and meeting management system instead of a Word document.

The same information is collected, but this time the information is placed in a Councils Pro agenda template, along with links to the changes, requested updates, and original projects.

I was surprised at how the system automatically generated a list of changes and links as part of the agenda so that it was easy for board members to access for review.  Even when last-minute changes come in, the members can be instantly updated in the agenda and advisory board members can log into the system and review and see updates (without getting confused and lost by the repeated email!).

In conclusion:

Abdullah was very happy to use the Majalis Pro system only because it shortened the time to complete pre-meeting documents.  But – in reality – this is just a glimpse of what the system can do. The system’s ability to manage the meeting is demonstrated during the meeting itself as follows:

We start with the feature of displaying the system interface on the screen for everyone to see and with the agenda displayed throughout the meeting. In this way, every member of the meeting can participate electronically, vote on the agenda, and download and print the attachments included in the meeting.

With time estimates displayed on screen for each section of the agenda, the Advisory Board was able to keep meetings on track and cover all changes.

While waiting for the post-meeting report, the Majalis Pro system allows you to add any notes/comments on the topics in the session. This led to increased member participation and interaction in the meeting (previously, everyone was bored as they waited for the PowerPoint slide to be load!). Of course, we should not forget that the decisions taken at the meeting regarding each change appear very clearly when added to the minutes of the meeting.

At the end of the meeting, minor edits and formatting are made to the notes taken during the meeting. The meeting minutes then can be sent to all members in a PDF file format directly (the file also includes all the original information and links that were added to the agenda).

This instant submission of minutes replaces the delivery of the post-meeting report and the time it takes to create it (the time needed to document the post-meeting report is reduced from 3 hours to less than 15 minutes).

As a bottom line, the needed time for each project change management meeting has been cut from approximately 8 hours – a full workday – down to just about 1 hour in order to deliver the same information.

Majalis Pro’s board and committee management system is just one of many examples of how our products save time, create more productivity, are more organized and efficient, and create better documentation for committees and college boards.

By the way, Abdullah’s friend is one of our clients, and we will tell his story in the next blog, so don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to receive the details of the story.

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