A Project with PMBOK

The PMBOK uses the following definition of a project:

"A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result"

A unique product could be something tangible like a new software application or a new tool. A service seems to be a little less tangible but clear. The service industry has many examples of this. Think of hotels or restaurants. The experience is a major part of it. Anything else might be a result. I am interested in producing a result.

Now, the kinds of results that I would be interested in seeing is seeing the squadrons meet compliance requirements more consistently. Perfection would be awesome (and maybe possible if we can automate), improvement should be the goal.

The PMBOK breaks out projects into phases: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.

My First Project

Here's the problem. We have a binder of documents that our operators need to read every workday. After they read the documents, they have to sign off a form saying they have read those documents.

If you've worked compliance issues, you know what I'm about to say: the operators don't sign off of those forms as they should. Don't get me wrong. These operators usually know their stuff. They know what's in the documents. The documentation is the issue.


In order to pitch the effort, I've gathered data. Over the course of two weeks, only an average of 82% of the operators is compliant with the documentation requirement. This technically means that 18% of them are not allowed to work. I've taken this data to my bosses to get the go-ahead to pursue improving these metrics. I'm given approval with some qualifications.

The Charter

The PMBOK would call this a charter. I am allowed to approach first-level supervisors but no higher. I am to start engaging immediately gather data for a couple of weeks, and report back.


Although my authority only extends so far, I have the ability to ask questions. During the planning phase, I conduct informal interviews with supervisors. Why is the documentation not getting done? Many of them suggest that it is due to a lack of training.

I go-and-see (sometimes referred to as Genba in quality management, but since we're in Korea let's call it Hyeon-Jang) and observe that long lines sometimes appear around the single binder.

I make plans to implement training and to provide multiple copies of the binders. I detail the time it will take to do training and tasks for copying binders.


I pair up with the binder's manager to maintain three copies. Prior to the start of the work days, I provide the operators a brief on how to document the documents they have read and try to stress the importance. After doing this for two days, I am able to ask it to be briefed daily by one of the supervisors.

Monitoring and Controlling

I collect data on compliance for the following two weeks. Early on, we had issues with maintaining consistency between the binders but that leveled out.

We maintained close to 92% compliance during those two weeks.


We delivered an improved process, but 8% non-compliance is still a failure for inspections. Hopefully, we can continue to address those issues.

You may also like