BiographyRobin involuntarily emigrated at an early age from Rochester, Kent, to Belfast in Northern Ireland, when his father was relocated by his employer, Short Brothers. He therefore became an honorary Ulsterman. Educated at Methodist College and Queens University Belfast, he moved to London in 1969 to take up his first job with IBM (UK). At IBM he installed the first IBM 3750 electronic PABX in the UK and was recipient of three systems engineering performance awards.
Emigrating (voluntarily this time) to Canada in 1977, he joined the telco AGT (now Telus) and Installed the first IBM 3800 electronic printing system in western Canada, achieving major savings.
In 1979, he made the switch from engineering to management, joining DMR (now Fujitsu Consulting) as project manager. He managed DMR’s first large development project in Western Canada and was then assigned to DMR Australia to manage a key project and establish knowledge transfer. He rose to become Director of Delivery Management for Western Canada, establishing project and quality management practices, and successfully integrating outsourced project teams.
Joining Intergraph Canada in 1995 as National Delivery Manager, he returned the services delivery business to profitability and implemented risk and delivery management policies and practices.
He established TMI in 1997 and has since delivered Consulting and Training Services to satisfied clients in Canada and world-wide. Under a part-time contract, he was Senior Instructor at MRU from 2002 -2014 with the PM Certificate Program of the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
1. Delivery Methodologies. The later part of Robin’s career was spent in overseeing project delivery by commercial software development organizations or package vendors. His priority was always to ensure project managers became aware and competent in the issues that go beyond classic project methodologies. He continues to work on a universal framework for project delivery and the necessary methodology components such as process hierarchy charts to guide the decomposition of process into sub-process and procedures, and associated techniques and checklists. Deployment flowcharts and detailed RAM highlight responsibilities of the main actors, and IPO charts identify deliverables supported by templates where needed.
2. Project Quality. Robin comments that for a large part of his career, any quality achieved on his projects was by luck and intuition. This realization lead him to think seriously about complex and expensive top-down approaches such as SEI CMM, ISO, TQM, and the project-focused techniques of QA/QC. The result is an innovative way to manage project quality he calls the Four Factor Model.
The proposition is to come at quality a different way, with a committed PM promoting project quality fundamentals. The quality conversation is structured around a basic model, inherent to project work, completely under the control of the PM. This model will promote four outcomes: users will reveal their quality objectives; the conditions for high quality project transactions will be established; the components of quality work will be identified; and finally, a sensible definition of project quality will facilitate trade-off decisions taken in conjunction with the sponsor.
3. Risk Management. Robin has for many years been impressed by the power of risk management, which he has always insisted is the next skill for beginning PMs to acquire, after competence in the triple constraint. Unfortunately, the discipline is often paid lip service by management and then ignored. Part of the problem is that classic analysis using risk event modelling requires experience and analytic expertise to be successful, and few other practical models exist. Robin has concluded that risk is best handled by taking a systems approach, and this has yielded models and techniques that work with the project and the sponsoring business throughout the entire lifecycle. This is significant, and an entire chapter is devoted to the subject in Commercial Project Management.
4. The Commercial Project Environment. There is a fundamental weakness in currently available project methodologies, and that is the failure to correctly model the commercial environment that surrounds most of today’s projects. This results in much misunderstanding and miscommunication. Coupled with a bias towards win-lose contracting, rather than win-win, and a propensity for buyer organizations to think that the procurement process is effectively complete when the contract is signed (wrong!), the outcome is often grand inefficiency and unnecessary cost. This has been a source of frustration for Robin, leading him to speculate on specifications for collaborative procurement. Collaborative procurement is an experimental methodology that explores the unification of the vendor and client lifecycles and promises huge benefits.
Robin enjoys skiing in winter, golfing in summer, and reading all year.