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May 24, 2022

E028 Hussain Bandukwala: CEO of Parwaaz Consulting

Everyone is a Project Manager. Upskill your Project Management To Optimize Every Area of Your Life.

Hussain Bandukwala is the Founder and CEO of Parwaaz Consulting and helps Project Management Offices (PMOs) succeed through assessments, roadmap development, leadership support, workshops, staffing and other resources.

He works with project, PMO, business operations leaders and executives to conquer their biggest challenges in meeting strategic goals, achieving operational efficiency, and delivering project value.

Hussain has helped clients like Groupon & SalesLoft improve the success of their strategic initiatives by 73%, shrink their PMO setup duration by 2x, and get their PMOs duly recognized by their CxOs.

He has authored several PMO-focused publications, teaches at LinkedIn Learning, is an (International Data Group) IDG Influencer and speaks frequently on the subject at Project Management Institute (PMI) and industry events.

LinkedIn: /in/hussainbandukwala/

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Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 0:07
Once upon a time, there were millions of businesses struggling. Every day they wasted time, effort and energy on repetitive tasks. That added no value one day, the Better Automation podcasts by PROCESIO came to help them find a way because of this, these businesses save time, reduce costs, innovate and make better decisions because of that. These businesses grow, scale, and use human creativity to change this world. Hello, my name is Aziz and I'm your host that Better Automation podcast by PROCESIO where I interview the world's top experts and share their very best ideas on how to improve automation in your business's processes, and life. My guest today is Hussain Bandukwala. Hussain is the founder and CEO of Parwaaz Consulting, and he helps project management offices PMOs succeed through assessments, roadmap development, leadership support, workshops, staffing, and other resources he works with Project PMO business operations leaders and executives to conquer their biggest challenges in meeting strategic goals, achieving operational efficiency and delivering project value. percent has helped clients like Groupon and Salesloft improve the success of their strategic initiatives by 73% shrink their PMO setup duration by 2x and get their PMOs duly recognized by their CXOs. I love that He has authored several PMO focus publications, teaches at LinkedIn Learning, is an International Data Group IDG influencer and speaks frequently on the subject at Project Management Institute, PMI, and industry events. Hussain, how are you today?

Hussain Bandukwala 2:10
I'm doing very well as he is. Thank you for having me

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 2:13
here. I'm excited. I'm full of questions. There are so many things we can learn from your experience when it comes to creating and conducting projects related to change management, and digital transformation. But I will begin with an age old question that maybe in 2022 is different. Usually in project management, there is a triangle where you say they say you can have two out of three, either reasonable cost, reasonable time, or good quality or whatever. And you have to sacrifice one, do we live in a time because of technological advancement or knowledge? Where we don't have to sacrifice any or not?

Hussain Bandukwala 2:52
Yeah, that's a great question. And the answer to that, in my perspective, is that we shouldn't be sacrificing anything. Right? The there's this concept in, in project management called the Iron Triangle, where you have, you know, the three types of the triangle, you have cost and one Yeah, schedule on one you have. Scope and then on the third one, and then you have quality in the middle, right. And a lot of times people are like, You know what, maybe we can squeeze you know, scope or time here and there, maybe we can compromise the quality a bit. But in today's day and age, where you have so much of competition, and frankly speaking a lot of leverage because of technology, you know, sacrificing any of them is really not an option, what you need to do is you need to do definitely, you know, reset expectations, you know, V baseline things where we from where what the original intent was to what it is today. But again, it's an agreed upon situation. It's not like, Okay, we, you know, we promised x y, z, but you know, what, we're just gonna give x and, you know, take it or leave it, those sorts of conversations can, you know, essentially get companies out of business really, really quickly. So something that from my perspective is, you know, none of those should be sacrificed, all of them are equally important. And the whole goal of Project Management is to ensure that all three steps of the triangle and the quality in the center are well balanced.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 4:24
I love that I love that you're speaking about the goal of Project Management. And I'll ask you a question, which is important. I heard one time some entrepreneurial guru who was saying, every entrepreneur should consider themselves a project manager in training, because the skills of project management are basically the skills of building a company of creating new products, whatever it is, while there are many entrepreneurs and small business owners who believe Oh, I just do it. Whatever it comes. It's not so complicated. It just sends and logic and whatever it is. So to someone who has not been trained on project management, they don't know those skills, but assume they should come naturally to them. What are the benefits of being trained as a project manager? What does it change in the way that you go through projects, create initiatives, mistakes avoided, and all that

Hussain Bandukwala 5:22
Project management is a wonderful discipline Aziz. The reality is that all of us, all of us are actually managing projects, informally or formally, casually, personally, professionally, whether it's trying to book a vacation and plan and execute that, whether it's, you know, cleaning up the garage, whether it's, you know, getting your house renovated, whatever it is, or whether it's building a company, or whether it's, you know, conducting a digital transformation, whatever it is, you are managing a project. And a lot of people are doing it instinctively. They just don't know that they're managing it, right? Even my kids are managing projects. So for instance, if they're asked to create Valentine cards for school, they know that you know what, the deadline step 14. And so we need to make sure that we finish our tasks, whatever it is, whatever designs, whatever equipment we need, and we plan our days ahead of that, so that we can compete that, you know, by by 14. And if we don't, well, guess what, the guards aren't going to be ready. So the fact is, that it's, it's, it's so natural, and instinctive to all of us that a lot of us who don't realize that we're already doing it. So that's the beauty of it. Now, when we start taking product management, from our personal lives into our professional lives, that's where people start to panic a bit. That's where people are like, well, you know, what, how should I do this, you know, I don't understand anything about this, or, and that's fair enough, because you know, that that's where you have, you know, different stakeholders involved, that's where, you know, you have different subject matter expertise involved, because, and that's where you have projects that are, you know, going into different levels of complexities, and dependencies, and all that all those good things. And so that is where getting yourself, you know, either the right amount of experience and or the right amount of education, formal education in project management, that can help you appreciate the complexities of projects, and all the different facets and elements that you should be looking at, when you're managing projects. Right? So for instance, how do you effectively build a schedule? Well, you know, what, when you're building wealth, and cards, or if you're building, building a chair, you know, from Ikea, or if you're cleaning up the garage, you know, it's going to be discussed, it's going to be pretty simple, right? But when you're conducting a digital transformation, which has a series of interrelated projects, where if one messes up, it's, it's, it's sort of a tsunami effect on the others, you know, a lot more things are at stake. And so being able to, you know, develop those complex schedules, manage budgets accordingly, proactively identify and you know, manage risks, you know, dealing with different stakeholders, some people are going to be really happy about digital transformation, some people are not, how do you keep that balance? How do you tell people how to progress is going along with all of these good things? How do you make sure your team doesn't get burned out? All of these different things fall under the periphery of project management. And so if an entrepreneur who feels that you know what is just going to come to me, I'm gonna go with it, go with the flow, that's totally fine. You know, that hustle can help entrepreneurs go from, you know, zero to 50. But once you start going from 50, to 100 100 250 150, to 200, you know, what, what should what got you here is not what will help you take you there, you need to start relying on people who've done this before, you just start relying on people who can manage and easily delegate and facilitate while you look at the bigger price, you focus on bringing in the business, you focus on projecting the image of the company, don't get yourself involved into project management, as much so that delegation is important. And if you do want to get yourself involved, then just look at it from a portfolio perspective, understand what you should be looking for what kind of questions you should be asking how you should be supporting the projects. And once that is done, make sure you have the right people doing the right things at the right time and then get out of the way. That's how you can help a company succeed.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 9:48
I love this getting the right people doing the right thing at the right time in the right way and not getting trapped in the weeds. Well, at least when you're past the 50 mark to get to 100 Like you said And again, because we live in a world where a lot of people say buzzwords, and nobody really understand them and everybody pretends they do in order not to feel like bruised and their ego. So look, there are two schools of thought that seem to be competing within the project management space, actually three, but I'll mention two and then the third, some say, waterfall project management, it has been proven it works forever, all that whatever is new is a fad. And all that while the agile project management people say, this is the way to be being nimble, agile, we live in a chaotic world you cannot rely on like long term planning and that way you will you expect to know what will happen six months from now, etc. And those people are all thinkers and old guards and all that. What is the meaning of waterfall? What is the meaning of Agile? When are they useful? When are they not useful, but even more, I spoke one time to a manager who was managing projects. And he said, I don't care about any of those, what I think about is the factory model of resource utilization. If I go for AGL, there will be resources that are burning money not being used for too long. And if I'm going for, like any kind of project management, I don't care about it, I think about it as a factory that our resources I want to maximize their use and that what is your perspective?

Hussain Bandukwala 11:30
No, that's that's a great question. You know, personally, I try to avoid going into the methodology, debate, per se, right, making a lot of my focus around PMOs. And I truly believe that PMOs are methodology and should be methodology agnostic. But having said that, you know, I do think that fundament, fundamentally, there is no right or wrong approach, there is no right or wrong methodology, each, you know, has its own benefits, each each has its own cons, right. Picking the right one is really dependent on where your organization really is. And what are is the understanding of project management and the precision of project management within the organization. At this point in time, I can tell you that, in general, applying waterfall is generally easier than it is agile than it is hybrid, right? Because if you don't even understand the difference, you do forget about the hybrid, right? And so fundamentally, if your organization is at a point where none of the projects are getting done on time, where you don't have any visibility into, you know, what are the risks, you don't have an idea of how much money you're burning, you know, you feel like people are leaving your company just because they're really, really getting burned out. My suggestion to them is start with waterfall. Start with that, because that will at least help you plan things. Right. And at Yes, it may not be as effective as agile, but we will within waterfall, you can build milestones and little little phase along the way that can do that, that will tell you in a short period of time, whether you're heading in the right direction or not, you don't have to wait for three months to figure out oops, we did this the wrong way. Right. So that's something that you can certainly do with waterfall, it's much easier to understand it's much more easy to explain. And at the same time, it's easier for people who don't have or have little product management experience to get through that. Right. That's one thing. You know, if a company is serious about agile, in general, again, tech projects are easier. When if companies are really serious about that switch, then the easiest, the suggestion there is that they maybe start with, you know, Kanban as the agile methodology, because shifting the board's is easy for people to see it's easy to see the progress, right? Have you know, a set amount of stories, you know, focused on that. And then and get with that, and then start getting into the additional complexities. But one thing that I do want to make sure and caution organizations with Agile is make sure that if you're going Agile, truly keep it agile, right? Don't have your, you know, initiation planning in in a waterfall mechanism, only the development in Agile, and then the QA is also happening in a waterfall mechanism. Right? That's not really agile. That's I don't know what that is. Right? So make sure that you know from requirements through implementation, that entire piece is agile. So you know, so that so that the users can truly benefit from the iterative approach. Instead of us just feeling good that oh, you know what this much is good. Getting developed? You know, and I've seen a lot of organizations, you know, grip themselves over over that. And it's not a pretty sight.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 15:09
I agree. And as well, as I noticed, you mentioned employees burning out twice. Can you speak about that, as well as the other challenge of change management, which is that people are used to their processes and their jobs. If you're trying to do digital transformation or change things, it might be overwhelming people might resist, they, you know, ask why there is no urgency, because often to do change management? Well, you should do it early enough, where, as they say, the best time to have an umbrella is before it rains, not while it's raining. So two things about people's resistance to such projects, what is a solution? You might propose to that, as well as improve employee burnout? How common is it? Our managers or leaders not noticing it as much as they should? And all that, that's a great point.

Hussain Bandukwala 16:03
And, you know, one of the biggest reasons why people resist, and I try to mix up some of the answers for both the questions together, because there is a tie in tie in there, right? So a lot of reason, while why people resist change is a, it's too much effort. Be, you know, they're lazy. See, you know, they're not getting compensated for the extra amount of work. And it's nowhere it was never ever in their job description, right. And D, it might be difficult for them to, to learn the new things. And IE, they just, you know, are not incentivized enough. So maybe the money piece or whatever comes into place, but there's there has to be, you know, intrinsic motivation as well. So, you know, what, if I do this, and the company can go from A to B, it's going to be so amazing, or you know, what I'm going to be really loving this process, because I'll get a chance to learn new things or, or maybe work with these other people who may not have had the opportunity to do that, right. So that intrinsic motivation is also missing. So these are the five things, five general reasons why people try to run away from any change, as I say, you know, you can't teach an old dog new tricks, right. So you know, you can replace dog with a horse or whatever, you know, old purse, you know, someone who season, but there are sort of set in their own ways. The idea is that when we are looking to bring change in, we have to bring in the factor of what's in it for me. And if people don't see that, they will not go about doing that work. And you know, you can maybe slap people on the wrist, maybe you can threaten people to get fired. But guess what that's going to do to the culture of the organization, people are just going to leave anyways. Right? If we start bringing that up, so it has to be driven and motivated internally, right. So so in order for us to bring that change, we need to make sure that the work that we are asking for people to do is easy to start off with, and then we start building those up, right, because the people like you and me who might have been really really, you know, entrenched into digital transformation, you know, sort of maybe second nature for us. But a lot of these people are, you know, are very new to this, and a lot of these people are Smith, so they are doing this project work on top of their day job. Right? So asking them to do this and be this and do this and come to these meetings and, you know, help figure out what the effort is. And you know, or have what, why? Why didn't we take a look at this? Why isn't the diskette getting done on time? A lot of people run away from that. Right. So that's one thing. And one of the biggest things there is the expectations setting of how much time should anyone be spending on a certain project. And that is also missing, right? And that's where the resource resource utilization piece comes into play. So, you know, you have certain project team members that are dedicated to projects, even there, there is no, you know, resource utilization being put into place. You know, there are no resource management practice there, where, you know, I could be working on a certain project and, as these comes, comes and steals me a bit from my project manager, and I and my manager, who I report it from an HR perspective, has no idea what's going on. And so all of that starts, you know, building up on me, right as a resource right now, whether I'm a business analyst, whether I'm a QA person, whether whether I'm a database administrator, whether I'm an architect, whatever it is, right, and that starts impacting my my deliverables and frankly speaking, you know, impeachment motivation, but At the same time, at the same time, there are a lot of other people within the organization who are Smith, who are brought on to project. So, you know, let's say, for implementing an HR system, you know, we'll have certain members from the HR department that are going to be heavily involved. Right, and they're doing this project work on top of their day jobs. Right. So is there been has there been an agreement? Has there been a contract as to how much time that HR person is going to spend on the project? And are we respecting that? And is the HR person's boss respecting that? Or? Or is he or she just giving that, you know, giving the HR person extra work, and still expecting, you know, him or her to perform the project related duty? So

I think so. So that is something where, you know, a PMO in general, or even a resource management function that is established within an organization can play that control double role, where, you know, it has the visibility of, you know, who's, who's on what project, doing? What work? For what amount of time for what percent of time for what duration? Should we be taking on new projects, are visually stretching resources? 10? Are people even happy even asking people? Are you guys happy? What more can we do as an organization to make it a better place to work? That can make a significant difference for people and also, you know, just maybe taking the time to really add, you know, understand how they're feeling? Maybe we'll recognize them, you know, publicly because recognization can go a long way. And of course, you know, some a few thank yous, and maybe some some bonuses can also obviously, make a lot of difference. But again, the crux is not the crux is how do we make their daily lives better, right, and that is respecting and appreciating how much time they're actually spending on every piece of work that they're supposed to, and, and making sure that they don't get stressed over that.

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 21:57
Thank you. And I will relate this to two different discussions, one related one a bit less, which is, a lot of businesses are there is this idea that the more action you take, or massive action, or hustle or whatever, the better you'll do, because maybe you'll discover a new opportunity, maybe a project will be the unicorn that 10x is everything. And therefore that's what pushes them to spread all the resources thin, because they cannot really prioritize because in many ways, you cannot expect the outcome until everything happens. You can just like guess, but sometimes exceed your expectation or a lower rate or whatever, while others say, Look, we live in a world where focus gets you a lot more if you finish a project. Well, sooner you begin benefiting from it, while if you spread yourself thin, you might end up with like 100 projects that finish in 10 years. And meanwhile, you're doing nothing and you're spread too thin. And each will say to the other Oh, you're too lazy, and others are like, I don't know, you're not thinking enough. And all that. So this is one. The second is about planning. Some people say, look, employees are following the path of least resistance. I don't know if you know that story that I think Boston in the US there were cows walking around. And they made a pathway is along those cow paths made the roads just because they said that's the path of least resistance, but it led to assist the city that is this organized by so people will say, look, humans are doing what's in that nature. If we try to create an idealized plan, it might mismatch with them, and they will not do it. You're just living in a theoretical world, not in a practice called world. While others say if you trust humans to do what's instinctive to them, no innovation or evolution will happen. That's why you have the 10,000 feet view and you need to create based on the idealized, optimal plan in order for things to move forward. What is your perspective on both? Like these arguments? In both sides?

Hussain Bandukwala 24:10
Yeah, that's a great question. My perspective is that, you know, when you're a smaller company, you know, you need to innovate, you thrive on innovation, that's what's going to differentiate you from the rest of the pack. Right? And at that point in time, you know, hustle is the key, like you mentioned, right? And it's at that point in time, where you have the people on the bus, who have agreed to join the company because they're ready to hustle. Because they know if we do well, if we innovate, if we do a phenomenal job, you know, we're gonna, you know, reap the rewards much later. They've signed up for that right now, with that hustle, you know, comes in a lot of chaos. Right, which again, is very manageable when you were small, small group, but once you start becoming that large group, that chaos starts to really, really scale. And when the chaos starts scaling, then not only are you not growing, but it's also inhibiting your innovation. And that's why when you have, you know, companies that have reached a certain point of maturity, they start creating a separate entities responsible for innovation, right? Because there are certain, because that that group is going to be working separately, and the rest of the company is gonna be working separately, the rest of the company is going to be focusing on scaling on proven business models, is going to do it systematically, methodically, it's going to make sure that it is maximizing the resources of the company, whereas the smaller Innovation Group is just going to be focusing on innovation, where it will waste resources, when it will probably fail. Because again, the acceptance is that once we have to try, we will fail, fail, fail, fail. But the fifth time, or sixth time or 100 time when we succeed, is going to be an amazing, amazing when, which then we will bring back to the rest of the company, because we've proven that business model. And now we're going to make it more efficient. And so that gets the streamlined end to the to the rest of the company, and an innovation group starts focusing on another innovation. So innovation works well in chaos. Innovation, works well with human instincts, innovation is absolutely necessary for the growth of a company, but so is methodical, systematic operations and execution of the company. And you have to balance that out. Now that balance, that tip of the balance is going to be more in the favor of innovation at at everyone the company is small. And then as it grows, the Steps Start getting you know, in the favor of a relatively in the favor of systematic methodical execution, right, you don't leave the innovation around outside industry, you don't you don't ignore innovation completely, because then you're shooting yourself in the foot. But you want to make sure that you are giving the the right amount of attention that is due to them. Now, even after a company grows, it could be based on the the leadership's strategy and and direction on how they want to continue balancing that that is totally up to them. But just making sure that hey, you know what, we're just gonna keep on focusing on innovation, innovation, innovation, and not have that systematic, you know, a systematic execution in place, you know, the company is going to fall down on his feet, pretty pretty quickly,

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 27:56
thank you. The second part is about whether to plan optimally or use what people are already doing, improve it a little bit, because they're already showing you what is working rather than was idealized in your brain?

Hussain Bandukwala 28:11
Yeah, I'm a big fan of, you know, organic growth. And so I do believe in continuous improvement. And so there is a certain amount of planning that goes in there. But I do believe that you, you need to bring in the amount of growth, improvement, whether it's from a process perspective, tools, perspective, education perspective, you know, enough where the organization or your target stakeholders can digest it, right, if you throw too much at them in one go, they won't be able to take it in even a variable take it in, they might not be able to apply it to their day to day work, which is the point lost, right if you if you went when there. So I do believe that understanding where the opportunities for improvement are or is important, keeping a quick eye on that continuous iron that is also important. And then bringing in those changes slowly, is where I think it is going to make the most difference. So if he went out and said, hey, you know what, now let's go ahead and figure out how to do this better. And we put it on on a white chart, whiteboard chart and make our system a perfect process probably won't work, you probably want to go ahead and and bring in people who were actually experiencing some of those pains and challenges and just ask them for a couple of tweaks. And then do that every few months. And that way your things are going to get much much better and ease people are going to be easily will easily be able to apply them to work as

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 29:42
well. Thank you. I love that it's Kaizen I believe in it 100%. And if people love what you're talking about, they want to learn from you. They want to use your services. They want to follow you any of that. Can you speak about what do you do what projects or services As our work you're working on right now? And what are the best social media or pages or websites that are best to connect with you? And I'll make sure to write some in the description.

Hussain Bandukwala 30:11
Yes, absolutely. Yeah. So like you mentioned in the beginning of our, of our chat, I'm the founder and CEO of Parwaaz consulting, I help organizations improve project delivery. That's the underlying concept, right? Much of it is helping organizations with setting up and optimizing their project management offices, which are essentially, you know, departments or functions within organizations that are responsible for everything project management, just like the way you have an IT department, that is for four things it accounting department that takes reporting accounting, a PMO takes care of all things, all things project management within an organization. So I help organizations set them up, optimize them as well. I also conduct a lot of Project Management Maturity assessments help organizations develop PMO roadmaps, and I also coach PMO leaders, both on an individual and group coaching basis as well. And at the same time, I also help organizations upskill, their project management capabilities through customized bespoke workshops on topics ranging from, you know, PM, one to one for non project managers all the way to, you know, complex, soft skills, such as negotiating, and conflict management that project managers face on on a day to day to day basis. And finally, I also help organizations figure out the right project management tools and implement them and get them adopted within their organizations. A lot of what I do you know, is that out there on LinkedIn, on my profile, I share my thoughts and perspectives. You know, pretty regularly out there. I'm also LinkedIn learning instructor, like you mentioned. So I have a couple of courses on pMOS out there as well. And if people want to learn more about about me, they can certainly go check out my website, which is Or they can certainly reach out to me via email as well at

Abdulaziz M Alhamdan 32:03
Thank you. This was an absolutely fantastic episode, I really learned a lot I enjoyed it a lot. And for all the viewers and listeners who are interested in digital transformation, of course, the essential tools that I recommend is processor to processor is the low code, no code platform for advanced automation and creating an enterprise grade back end for your software. Any viewer or listener can request a totally free account at processor dot app, and those who have higher business needs actually can benefit from a 50% generous discount code. It's better 50 off one word in capital letters more information and description. Husein. This was my privilege, my honor. Great, great, great time and I wish you a great day. Thank you.

Hussain Bandukwala 32:55
Thank you so much. Thanks for having me here. Really appreciate it.