5 Questions about Project Management
with Philippe Lauper
Before we leave the office for the weekend, we stop for a quick coffee talk with our project management colleagues to chat about their best practices. Well, not literally, but that's how we designed our interview series "5 questions about project management". To be fast, intense and refreshing like a good cup of coffee.
Today, we’ll talk to Philippe Lauper. He is the founder of Prefix, a project management consulting company, which supports clients by using a unique project management method suitable for agile and traditional approaches. Philippe Lauper also teaches his “Prefix model” to individuals and corporations.
1. What is your favorite project management method?
I developed my own method mainly based on my field experience. I use it with my customers and also teach it. It can be applied in a cascade or agile way and worked so far with all projects I supported since I came up with it. I’ll be happy to keep experimenting and developing it with future projects and customer feedback.
2. Do you use project management software for bigger projects? If so, which one?
It’s part of my job to guide my customers and help them choose the most appropriate tools for their projects. For scheduling, sometimes the best tool is a Kanban board, sometimes it’s a simple bucket list, sometimes it’s a dedicated software. And sometimes it’s a mix of all these different solutions. I experienced visual management, cloud-based solutions and standalone software. Each time the choice was dependent on the project, i.e. its complexity, its environment, its performance, the nature of the team and the standards and requirements of the organization.
3. What is your favorite routine in a project?
My favorite routine is the definition phase. It’s also what my customers require most. I like to start from a simple idea or drawing written on a piece of paper-tablecloth and turn it into a project charter! I like these initial discussion iterations with the customer who discovers certain requirements he wasn’t even aware of. I like this initial phase during which I collect a loose set of information and structure it for my customer until his initial idea turns into a clear and well-defined project.
4. What is the most underestimated factor for project success?
I witnessed two major factors that can have a strong negative impact on a project.
The first one is the definition phase, as described in the former question. I often see PMs who don’t take the necessary time to clearly define the scope of the project and immediately jump into tasks they master. I also often see PMs who systematically use the same methodology for all projects struggling to apply it to a project or situation for which it is obviously not the most appropriate.
The second factor is the human factor. It’s everything that isn’t covered by the different PM tools and mainly relates to the soft skills of the PM. I often see PMs who hide behind their tools and don’t sense the needs and motivation of their team and who don’t communicate appropriately with their stakeholders.
These two issues will almost always turn into delays, poor deliverables and team frustration.
5. What is your biggest time waster?
The selection of inappropriate PM methodology and tools. And then the application of these tools. I like to use and advise the most simple tools possible at the beginning of the project and add complexity only when it shows necessary.