Guide for New Members
Project Management in the Corporate Environment
Project management exists in the large majority of companies. Regardless of their type and size, most of them need to report financial results and performance to shareholders / investors. In fact, project management provides processes, principles and procedures that help to effectively produce an executive summary and recommendations to senior management.
However, there is not necessarily a Project Management Office in all organizations. Often, in large organizations (public, parastatal and private), the existence of a Project Management Office is necessary, due to regulatory and internal control requirements. The Project Management Office's mission is often to standardize project management processes and provide a strategic and financial view of portfolios, programs and projects to senior management and shareholders. On the other hand, in SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), a Project Management Office does not always exist, even if there are project managers.
A Project Management Office can play two different roles in an organization: directive or advisory, defined as follows:
- Directive: when the Project Management Office imposes a project management process to follow. For example, the project manager must obtain approval of the Project Management Office before moving to the next stage (the so-called gating process).
- Advisory: when the Project Management Office plays a support and an advisory roles. A project management process is defined, but the Project Management Office provides support to project managers, organizes project reviews and makes recommendations without approving deliverables and moving to the next stage of the project.
Project management often introduces a new product/service. As it brings a new way of doing things, it is important to consider change management. To manage a project properly, the project manager must understand the company's culture to better support change management; for example: where the hierarchy is important or not, the leadership styles advocated, whether changes are well accepted or not, etc.
SECTORS OF ACTIVITY
In the following sections, we present different aspects of the sectors of activity where project management is very present and important in Québec.
The project manager plays a key role, mostly in designing and developing products. He often coordinates a multidisciplinary team of professionals and leads all phases of the project. Here are some experiences lived by managers who have spent a significant part of their career in this field:
"I had the chance to practice my profession in a large aerospace company in Montreal for five years, and I must say that these years have been very formative??? In the French version in project as well as in change management. The Project Management Office had a well-documented Macroscope-based project management methodology, accompanied by a very detailed change management methodology. Since the production must respect the contracts schedule, the time element was essential in the projects because the products had to be delivered on time. The Project Management Office was centralized within the Information Technology ( verify with the French version)
I contacted many of my former colleagues who are still working in this company to get a picture of the current operation. The Project Management Office is now decentralized in the various product programs, and the rigor and discipline of the project management methodology are no longer those of the past. You will often see companies in this pendulum phenomenon (e.g. after years of centralization, the Project Management Office is then decentralized). Centralization has advantages from the point of view of the standardization procedures, the existence of a common language and the synergy between project managers. Through my years of experience, I have observed that the rigor, discipline and existence of a methodology and the support of a centralized and solid Project Management Office have greatly helped the project manager's work."
"Most of my career as a project and program manager was in the military aeronautics field, for a company that was developing a software embedded on the aircraft. It is not surprising that we had a program office and over time, there were many standardized processes that defined the procedures to be used in both project and development management. The department for which I worked had reached such a level of maturity that it was able to achieve the maximum level certification (level 5) of the standard CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration) ® and keep it after three years. In addition to establishing standards for project management, the program office required that the majority of project managers reporting to the program office obtain or hold their PMP® certification. It is to be able to occupy a manager position at one of the programs that I thus obtained my PMP® certification, and that I still maintain it today after more than 10 years."
For more information, please visit the Aéro Montréal’s website, a forum that brings together the most important players in the Québec aeronautics sector: https://www.aeromontreal.ca.
Architecture is a fascinating field that sculpts the history of a place as well as its landscape. The work of an architect covers all aspects of the building life, from the planning of its creation to the follow-ups concerning its sustainability. Any architectural project is divided into four major steps that can easily be associated with the 5 process groups of project management. Thus, through ideation-feasibility (1. Start-up), then creation-start-up (2. Planning), realization-design (3. Execution, 4. Monitoring and mastery) and post-construction (5. Project closing).
In order to realize the idea of a client, an architect will need to identify the needs of the client as well as those of the stakeholders involved and existing and potential constraints, and then determine the feasibility of the project. This will allow her/him to create a global portrait of the project to implement. She/he will then have to plan all the stages of the project and identify the team with which she/he will work, the standards and rules she/he will have to respect throughout the life of the project. These first two stages are the most important; they represent about 70% of the project. Indeed, a well-planned project enhances its chances of success. The realization of the project will follow, and it is at this moment that the essence of the project is in full swing: the architect guides his team in the achievement of the set objectives, and the respect of the standards and rules identified. The project closure will end with the clients’ approval and the various reports and follow-ups to be carried out to ensure the sustainability of the building.
The architect is a leader in the project realization, just like the project manager. It is common to see them working together, which helps avoid design errors while maintaining a motivated team, to develop stronger projects that meet the customers’ needs. A good example would be the collective work of the Angus Development Corporation (ADC), a project management company in the field of urban revitalization, and the architectural firm Rayside Labossière, during the creation of a new building in 2016 for the Montréal community organization la Maison d'Haïti, space for life and innovation in the Saint-Michel district: https://www.rayside.qc.ca/?portfolio_page=maison-dhaiti.
As Isaac Newton said: "When two forces unite, their effectiveness is double".
CONSTRUCTION AND ENGINEERING
With aging infrastructure, a harsh climate that uses its infrastructure, multinational construction companies, and world-renowned university construction engineering programs, Montréal has all the ingredients for a vibrant and healthy construction industry.
However, that was not always the case. Just a few short years ago, big corruption scandals hit the industry, almost killing the once-booming businesses. The future looks more promising, with multi-billion dollars projects such as the new Champlain Bridge and the Turcot Interchange and the Montréal REM, not to mention the fact that we are already talking about replacing the Mercier Bridge and extending the metro blue line.
Big construction projects imply the need for excellent managers, to properly lead these megaprojects. According to a Global News article, engineering project management in Canada ranks 4th among the top-ranked jobs in 2018, ahead of IT Project Management (7th): https://globalnews.ca/news/4002257 / canadas-10-most-in-demand-jobs-for-2018-and-their-employees-randstad/.
In the case of large construction projects, the project manager is often part of an engineering or construction company. Her/his main role is to manage the communication between all the stakeholders involved in the same construction site. He/She must know how to meet clients’ expectations who often represent government agencies (in the case of large projects), but also to respect the budget and schedule.
To succeed in a construction project, it is necessary to master project management, including strategies, tactics and tools. It is also important to properly manage the design and delivery processes, as well as the key control factors to ensure an installation that meets expectations and expected functions.
In the last few years, the construction industry has faced enormous challenges. It is essential to establish project quality criteria to encourage construction projects to be sustainable to positively impact the whole industry. A well-planned project will continue to provide value and meet the users’ needs throughout its life and contribute positively to the environment with a wide range of social and economic benefits. Early management of planning, programming and design can contribute to these benefits by reducing costs, reducing environmental impact and ensuring a good level of health and safety management.
The survival of project management in the construction industry relies on a variety of innovative ideas, to help improve the management and control of large-scale projects. Here are some elements that would turn barriers into opportunities, and unlock innovation in a rather traditional industry:
- Project Team: A highly skilled workforce led by an experienced project leader;
- Strategy and delivery: demonstrating the benefits of the project before starting it;
- Procurement: good planning of the client’s role, the types of contracts and the integrated supply chain;
- Research and Development: investing in research and development initiatives in construction project management will create an environment conducive to innovation;
- More knowledge sharing: Traditionally, the construction industry has not been particularly proactive in sharing and learning about its successes and failures. The lack of capture of knowledge from lessons learned results in "reinventing the wheel" and repeating mistakes;
- Fewer standards and regulations: Highly rigid standards and regulations can stifle innovation. There has been little incentive or reward to exceed or derogate from standards. All this is a significant barrier to technological advancement in this industry;
- Adoption of new technologies: Building Information Modeling (BIM), sensors and smart building technology will transform the way we design, build and manage assets.
References in this section
Alini, Erica (Feb 12, 2018). Canada's 10 most in-demand jobs for 2018 and their salaries: Randstad, on the website Global News. Retrieved on Apr. 2018.
Curd, Rob (Feb. 15, 2016). Eight steps towards innovation in construction, on the website Civil Engineers Institutions. Retrieved on Apr. 2018.
Jabbour, Mike (Nov. 24, 2015). What is the project management future in a civil engineering project?,, on the LinkedIn’s website. Retrieved on Apr. 2018.
COMMUNICATION AND MEDIA
Québec, especially the Montréal metropolis, is a haven/heaven for technology, news media and the arts. The media sector is a very dynamic industry that generates more than 10,000 jobs a year in ”La belle province”.
In general, there are three main categories of media:
- Publication: magazines, newspapers, books (paper or electronic), websites;
- Broadcast: television video productions or cinemas;
- Advertising: online or print ads, banner ads, and social media.
Nonetheless, it is important to distinguish the video game industry from other categories, although it shares many challenges similar to the media.
Project management in the media does not follow a strict methodology hence the need to often be Agile;project requirements are often progressively elaborated. Delivery and implementation times are short, because it is very important for companies in the media sector to be the first to put a product or service on the market. The budget of the media projects is spiking, and it cannot be denied that the rise of the internet and news media has put a lot of pressure on good cost management.
Other project management challenges in this industry include:
- Managing large amounts of data leading to the increasing need for cloud computing tools;
- The importance of collaboration not only for the project team, but also for other stakeholders to be more transparent;
- The high workers mobility, hence the need to be a very good motivator as a project manager in this industry;
- Greater reliance on freelance contractors, due the lack of certain skills within the industry.
The major trends of the future for many business sectors, including the media, will be the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. Montréal is an international leader in AI. The media field will soon have to adapt to the major changes brought by new technologies.
References in this section
Marketing Project Management (no date), on the website Converging Currents. Retrieved on Apr. 2018.
The Digital Puzzle: A Trends Report for the Canada Media Fund (Feb. 22, 2017). Retrieved on Apr. 2018.
FINANCE AND BANKING
Project management in the financial and banking sectors require a lot of rigor and discipline, as these are highly regulated areas. Any financial company wishing to offer payment processing services to third parties, must comply with very strict standards collectively known as PCI DSS (Payments Card Industry Data Security Standard). Every financial institution must have a fraud prevention program that is regulated and integrated into the processes, procedures and employee training. All projects/products that are executed/created, must therefore ensure these standards and processes continue to be respected once the projects are completed.
To obtain such rigor, many organizations in these sectors resort to portfolio office/ programs/ centralized projects (see the section "Project management in the corporate environment" of this guide), with the mission to define a sound methodology and process for project management and change management. The processes and procedures are very detailed from a financial point of view. Here are some examples of rules that project managers must follow:
- A health and financial status must be submitted periodically to the Project Management Office prior to the review meetings;
- Deliverables must be approved by the Project Management Office before proceeding to the next stage of the project, the so-called gating process;
- All change requests must be reviewed and approved by the Project Management Office and the management committee.
The budget element is essential. You need to like numbers if you work as a project manager in these areas, because you must manage and control your budget at all times. This means you have an interest in getting a detailed, up-to-date plan because, a late schedule can affect your budget. In addition, there is also a separate management of programs and portfolios.
Business units in these areas are rapidly evolving in terms of products and services due to commercial competition. The projects are therefore very diverse and the schedules are often aggressive. The portfolio office/ program/ project is responsible for setting rules and continuing to redefine them, in a continuously changing environment where acquisitions by other companies play a disruptive role in setting management standards across the entire company. The Project Management Office is often responsible for managing the integration of these new members.
Large banks often have centralized project management software to create, manage and maintain periodic status reports and financials for portfolios, programs and projects.
Here is the testimony of an expert in banking projects:
"Business sectors: banking"
HEALTH AND PHARMACEUTICAL
Montréal is considered a world-renowned center for life sciences and health technologies. It has everything to attract those who want to work in this industry with its amazing hospitals, research and development universities, and pharmaceutical companies.
The health care sector
The health care sector includes hospitals and super-clinics. It includes approximately 56,000 jobs in over 650 businesses, most of which are located in the Greater Montréal. Each year, more than 10,000 students complete degrees related to the health industry. In addition, Montréal ranks 6th among the 20 largest North American cities relative to the percentage of employment in this sector.
Projects that also stand out in this sector of activity are those of construction and development. Here are the words of a project manager experienced in these types of projects:
"Business lines: health"
The pharmaceutical sector
The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry sector is still present despite a decline in recent years. Québec has about 172 companies, which represents 17,000 jobs. The sector is divided into three sub-sectors:
- Innovative and generic pharmaceutical companies;
- Biotechnology companies;
- Clinical and preclinical research companies.
Issues and challenges
The health industry faces the same challenges as other industries, with some unique challenges. Effective processes are essential, not only to gain a competitive advantage, but also to deliver the highest quality services and products. The health care sector in particular is highly regulated and also faces much more scrutiny from various stakeholders: government and private agencies, health insurance companies and, of course, patients. The demands of this industry mean that health care organizations must make an effort to function more efficiently in order to manage the growing number of patients - and their increasing demands.
Health and pharmaceutical projects are unique and, more than in other industries, the success or failure of these projects are matters of life and death. It is for that reason that a rigorous and efficient project management is essential. It can help health care providers and pharmaceutical companies improve:
- Their operational processes (Lean, Six Sigma, or 5S);
- Their quality standards (especially in the pharmaceutical sector);
- Their planning and budgeting;
- Their effective communication;
- Their relationship with stakeholders.
References in this section
Industry companies (no date), on the Pharmabio Development website. Retrieved on Apr. 2018.
Life Sciences and Health Technologies (no date), on the Montréal International website. Retrieved on Apr. 2018.
Tran, Linh (Nov. 4, 2015). 5 Project Management Lessons for the Healthcare Industry, on the InLoox website. Retrieved on Apr. 2018.
IT project management is a field full of opportunities in Québec, which stands out for its globalization and the cultural diversity of the teams.
They are always looking for bilingual project managers (French and English), but when you manage a multidisciplinary team, you must also understand the language of the business units (needs) as well as that of the technologies (architecture, infrastructure, traditional development and/or Agile, testing and implementation).
Moreover, remember that the client is very important because without her/him, we have no mandate or project. The notion of client-supplier is a priority in Québec and North America, especially if one is part of the IT team.
Projects bring changes to the user community; so as a project manager, you need to understand and define the impact of any changes before implementing them. As a result, IT project management needs to be accompanied by change management. Normally, when the project could have a medium or large impact on the business community, a change manager is always assigned to the team and reports to the project manager.
The success criteria of a technology-supported project are successful change management and customer satisfaction. Always remember that technological levers serve support for business processes and not the other way around.
Note: As we work in a field where globalization predominates and teams are increasingly multiethnic, it is important to learn how to navigate cultural differences and decode cultures that are foreign to us. For more information, we recommend reading Erin Meyer's book "The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business" (available on Amazon.ca).
We also recommend the following websites, which could be useful to learn more about the IT environment in Québec:
- Agile Montréal: http://agilemontreal.ca;
- Québec Association of Independent Computer Technicians (AQIII): https://www.aqiii.org/en/;
- Montréal Computer Research Center (CRIM): https://www.crim.ca/en/.
THE STARTUPS ECOSYSTEM IN MONTREAL
Montréal offers a very favorable business environment for companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups, and this environment continues to improve. If you are a project manager who wants to start your own consulting business, the following paragraphs are for you.
Indeed, Montréal is currently experiencing a significant increase in the number of startups. The following key factors played an important role:
- The entrepreneurial profession has become the most popular career choice in recent years, especially among 18-34 year olds;
- According to the consulting firm KPMG, operating costs in Québec continue to be lower compared to other major cities in North America. In addition, the business creation process is more flexible and faster;
- Immigrants who massively engage in entrepreneurship;
- Female entrepreneurship which also sees a significant evolution;
- Québec - and particularly Montréal - wants to become the world's center of artificial intelligence and robotics, and it is giving itself the means not only to develop a great expertise in artificial intelligence, but also to set up a complete value-creation chain from idea to commercialization to become a global reference.
The key players in this unique ecosystem include funding, coaching, mentoring, training and working tools and methods as described below to create an atmosphere conducive to business, networking and cooperation.
It exists a large number of resources that are useful to support an entrepreneur throughout the creation and implementation of his project:
- In 2009, the Québec Entrepreneurial Index was created by the Entrepreneurship Foundation. It is an annual survey that provides information on existing and future businesses, the entrepreneurial environment and its evolution in Québec as well as entrepreneurial succession;
- Provincial and federal programs assist in the creation and development of startups, such as the Startup Québec program, created in 2017, which supports international partnerships and exchanges between incubators, business accelerators or organizations supporting technological startups: https://www.economie.gouv.qc.ca/startupquebec;
- Special programs set up by Canadian academic institutions such as the one between HEC Montréal and Telefónica Open Future, which is a global program that was created in 2018 to connect entrepreneurs, startups and private or public investors around the world: https: //www.openfuture.org/en (content in English). Or Centech, created by the École de Technologie Supérieure, is a booster of start-up companies dedicated to technological objects and other advanced technologies with high growth potential: http://centech.co;
- InnoCité MTL is the first startup accelerator program for a smart city in Canada: https://innocitemtl.ca;
- QuébecInnove supports SMEs and organizations, and facilitates their access to Québec's research and innovation network: https://economie.gouv.qc.ca/sqri;
- CLD (Local Development Centers) gather under the ACLDQ (Québec Local Development Centers Association), to realize business plans, market research and fundraising activities;
- Info Entrepreneurs, a service of the Government of Canada, in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce of Montréal, provides commercial information: http://www.infoentrepreneurs.org;
- Réseau M, the mentoring network for entrepreneurs in Québec: https://www.reseaum.com;
- Investissement Québec: http://www.investquebec.com/quebec/fr;
- Montréal International (Greater Montréal Economic Development Agency): http://www.montrealinternational.com;
- The Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal : http://www.ccmm.ca ;
- Business Development Bank of Canada: https://www.bdc.ca/en/pages/home.aspx;
- Starting your business, Gouvernement du Québec: https://www2.gouv.qc.ca/entreprises/portail/quebec;
- The Québec Enterprise Registrar: http://www.registreentreprises.gouv.qc.ca/en/default.aspx;
- Young Entrepreneur Assistance Service : http://www.sajemontreal.com ;
Tools for Success
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