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7 principles of highly effective projects

7 principles of highly effective projects

Author: Oksana Terentyeva, Head of Digitalization of Key Business Processes at Konstanta

Today let's talk about the principles of high-performance projects, about whether any project can be made high-performance (and if it can, how)?

For many years of my life I have worked on the customer side of automation projects. I was a director of production, logistics, procurement, planning, operations director. And all the projects I realized helped me to achieve the result that the management or myself put in front of me.

Now, combining the experience of the customer and the implementer, I have identified 7 principles of highly effective projects. I do not claim to be the truth in the last instance, but I hope it will be useful to you.


Before the realization of any project we must have a goal. And preferably such that at the thought of its achievement something inside freezes. Because if it doesn't, why make the effort?

Examples of goals:

  • 2 times increase output with the same resources (equipment, people, etc.);

  • 1.5 times increase profits;

  • to win new sales markets, etc.

Let's assume that we have a goal. Now we need to answer 4 questions:

  • What will happen if it happens?

  • What will happen if it does NOT happen?

  • What will NOT happen if it does?

  • What will NOT happen if it does NOT happen?

What are these 4 questions for? (Well, it would seem that we set a goal and run to fulfill it). It happens that the goal energizes us to perform, and we may even achieve it, but it does not bring the overall economic effect for the organization. For example, we have increased production output by 2 times, but there is no market. Or, on the contrary, we have found new markets, but the output has not increased.

I suggest we turn to the classics and break down any goal by SMART. The goal should be:

  • Specific,

  • Measurable,

  • Attainable,

  • Relevant

  • Linked to the global goals of the companies,

  • Limited in time (what we want to get in 10-20 years is a dream. You can practically touch the goal with your hands here and now).


Imagine this: you have a toothache. Of course, you don't want to treat it at all. What do you usually do? You take a painkiller and continue doing the things you're interested in (going to the countryside/fishing/going to a webinar, etc.). At the same time, the tooth continues to give you no rest and remains the only thing you think about. Eventually, after suffering, you do go to the dentist. It is only after you have cured the toothache that your life gets better.

It's the same in the enterprise. Think back to the Honest Mark situation. Regulators tell you that if your products don't have a Data Matrix code on them, they can't be sold, transported, or stored. And at that moment you are dreaming about robotization/video analytics and thinking, "Why do I need this Data Matrix? I don't want to do it!" But! Without it, you can't continue to produce and sell products.

Or another example: 1C:UPP support is about to be canceled, and you dream about artificial intelligence. The scales are tipped: do what you NEED to do or what you WANT to do.

The application of systems constraint theory can help here:

  1. Identify the bottleneck

  2. Analyze

  3. Adjust the system of work

  4. Improve the bottleneck

After we have improved the first bottleneck, we will find the second bottleneck and we need to perform the same activities with it. In this way, each iteration improves the overall result. Gradually the system is calibrated and ideally we take the system to full standardization and digitalization of processes.


Imagine a situation where you need to fly from Moscow to Kaliningrad. What do you do? Personally, I buy a plane ticket. But there is another option. You can go to study to be a pilot, fly flying hours and take passengers wherever they need to go. Obviously, it's easier to buy a ticket. Also in automation.

You can do automation with people who don't know how to do it. If the partner is without industry experience, it's going to take time to understand your production process. Your time. At the same time, he will not take into account industry subtleties (and there are plenty of them in the food industry) during the project implementation. Are you ready to teach the integrator at your own enterprise and at your own expense? If yes, go ahead.

Or you can choose the right partner and quietly achieve your goal. A partner who knows what he is doing. And not just in the field of automation, but in industry-specific solutions.

Of course, it is possible to conduct experiments. The question is: will this experiment lead to the result you want? And how much time will it take?


If you do decide to undertake a project, you need to ask yourself: are you ready for change?

Nevis, in his book Organizational Consulting, identifies 4 main reasons why people resist change:

  1. Unwillingness to part with something of value

  2. Misunderstanding of change and what follows from it

  3. Belief that change is unnecessary

  4. Low tolerance to change

An organization undergoes many changes (personnel, structural, technological). And with all these changes, a person experiences 7 stages of acceptance.

When implementing change, you must understand that both the organization as a whole and the people in it will go through these stages. And when you're at the depression stage, realize that it's not the integrator that's bad, and it's not your implementation team that's bad. It's just a stage that you need to go through. That's just the way society works.

Remember that group fear of change is a synergy of everyone's fear individually, and you need to be prepared for it.


If the burden of project realization is carried by only one of the partners, the progress will not be as rapid as we would like it to be. And it does not matter which partner (customer or implementer). The main thing - one.

When you produce your product, you clearly know who is responsible for quality, who is responsible for technology, who is responsible for production. When it is not clear who is responsible for what, problems arise.

A project is the same product. And to produce it, you also need to clearly delineate responsibilities and rights.

People are afraid of change. And that is why the project manager and the team from the customer's side should be more motivated than afraid. And not only material. We all have our own ambitions. Think about what ambitions your project manager has? What does he or she want?

The question "Why does the customer-side RP need implementation?" should be answered before entering the project! You must.

Let's use the analogy of rowing: if one rows faster than the others, the boat does not go faster.

It slows down. We achieve results only if we go in the same rhythm.

A well-coordinated, clear team with clear roles and a desire to achieve results is 50% of success.


Now we need to think about how we report on what we have implemented.

Analytics from automation, in my opinion, is the main actor in operational meetings. If our organization has automated production, planning, sales, purchasing, but at the meeting of directors everyone sits with notebooks, it is not clear: do you have automation living its own life, and reporting and management decisions - their own? Where is the correct information then?

Here we need to apply status models. Management classics: responsible person, deadline and current status, clear reports on all tasks, etc. - all this should be in the information system.


Working on the customer side, I was always arguing with the integrator. I wanted everything fast and clear. But! We listened and heard each other. When something didn't work, we sat down and started thinking about options and always came up with a solution that would work. We didn't fight. We argued. We didn't get personal, we didn't say: you're wrong. We tried to find the right solution.

I think that when one person can't find a solution, two or three people together are bound to find it. There are almost no closed doors in life. They can always be opened. The question is that one person doesn't see that door, but the second person will find it.

Is it possible to make any project highly effective?

Does everyone succeed?
No, not everyone.

And it's not about the uniqueness of the organization or the complexity of the tasks! The point is how much effort you are ready to spend on realization and whether you are ready at all. Unfortunately, or fortunately, there is no magic pill or wand.

Imagine a world where they do. Where we get everything we want without effort. Then why do anything? Why learn? Why strive for something?

We appreciate and remember exactly what we have achieved through effort when we can say to ourselves, "Yes, I made it! In spite of all the difficulties, I did it!" rather than something that came to us for nothing.


  1. Set a SMART goal

  2. Start treating what hurts the most.

  3. Choose professional integrators in industry specifics.

  4. Be ready and decisive to change and do not retreat when difficulties arise.

  5. There should be a reliable and motivated for success project team from the customer's side and from the contractor's side.

  6. Base regular management on data from automation.

  7. Maintain equality, partnership and respect. The project team of the customer and the contractor is a united team!

If there is a desire, there will always be a way out and a solution.

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