How to combine Project Management with Operations?

“I want my people to work 12 hours a day: they need to work 8 hours on operations and then to spend another 4 hours on project work” Vicepresident

How to combine Project Management with Operations

How project managers and teams can benefit from using the AQRO® Method


In matrix organizations employees are put under competing pressures: they are expected to work in operations and in the same time to fulfill their project duties. Unfortunately those directions are usually not divided by time or the space. One needs to work on operations but project manager can come with project question, or task.

Different priorities and multitasking decrease the efficiency of employees. Einstein said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them” and making employees to spend more time at work will not help. We need the method to combine operations and project management and to decrease multitasking losses of efficiency of employees. That’s where AQRO comes.

What’s AQRO®

AQRO® (an acronym from Active Qualified Human Resource Organization) was created by Dr Consuela Utsch based on more than 25 years of training and consulting the companies.

What AQRO® does, is it acknowledges both types of activities: operations and project management, but separates them in time i.g. one employee can work either on operations either on project management but never working on both in the same time. The work needs to be planned on the department level because employees do not necessarily have the freedom to plan their time independently.

The Service Plan created at the department level allocates to employees 4 hour slots of time dedicated to operations or project management planned one month ahead.

3 types of roles are allocated to employees:

  1. Project role,
  2. Daily business
  3. Contact person


Two first areas were mentioned but it’s the Contact person which really makes the difference. This role is given to people who are responsible for protecting employees from interruptions. They take the incoming communication to the department and transfer the information to certain person at the end of the day.

The roles are given based on the MBTI Type (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) which is widely known. It’s therefore most efficient way of allocating resources to the type of work they are most efficient with.

Why do we need AQRO?

Humans are expected by the organizations to work in multitasking. It’s unfortunately not the way the human brain is working. It can’t work on two things in the same time, but it switches from one task to another and comes back to the previous task in milliseconds. It comes at a cost to the worker because it slows down the work and decreases the efficiency. The second aspect is we need to concentrate in order to do something.

When interruption comes (phone call, e-mail, question from colleague, sms, chat message) we lose the focus. It’s estimated we need 10 to 20 minutes to get to the level of attention we had. The number of interruptions is hard to measure, but we know from study by the University of California that workers can only focus on a task for three minutes at a time before being interrupted.

Employees working in open spaces rarely have the possibility of concentrating on the activities they do as many interruptions are happening around and everyone is easily accessible (at least physically). Home office is not creating better environment as modern communication technologies are present including mobile phones, e-mails, teleconferencing software and chatting applications.

The implementation of AQRO can therefore help to save ¾ of a day per employee per week, which with 10 employee makes 60 hours per week. This time can be used to deliver more but with lower level of stress. AQRO creates also the platform which can combine and support operations and project management in one department, or in a whole organization.

How does AQRO support project management?

AQRO® does allocate firmly the time of employees for project work and should therefore increase the project’s success rate. It can also be very well aligned with project management standards.

How does AQRO supports PRINCE2®?

Project management with PRINCE2® puts projects into the organizational context where they are not isolated but managed withing programs, portfolios or within operational structures. AQRO® combines operations and project environments into one picture and helps for the programs and portfolios to plan and manage resources availability to change management activities.

Basic principle “Defined roles and responsibilities” – stresses the importance of having clearly identified and differentiated project roles representing the major project’s stakeholders including: business, user and suppliers, who are identified and appointed from operations. That’s where AQRO® can help to identify the major stakeholders e.g. department heads to fulfill the roles of Executive, Senior User and Senior Supplier.

Organization theme identifies the roles to be fulfilled within the project and the responsibilities and competencies required. That’s where AQRO® helps to identify the availability of the resources to fulfill the roles. PRINCE2® on the other hand can help to decompose AQRO’s generic “The Project Role” into:

  • Executive,
  • Senior user(-s),
  • Senior supplier,
  • Project manager,
  • Business, user and supplier project assurance,
  • Change authority,
  • Team manager(s),
  • Project support.

AQRO supports PRINCE2® projects but additional benefits can also be realized while using it on the program level (combining it within MSP®), portfolio level (combining with MoP®), or in offices supporting projects, programs or portfolios (using within P3O®).

How does AQRO support PMBOK®Guide?

PMBOK®Guide as the project management standard offers the freedom to create custom project management method based on the best project management practices and techniques identified in the manual. It identifies the project management processes which can be decomposed into 5 Process groups:

  1. Initiating,
  2. Planning,
  3. Execution,
  4. Monitoring&Control,
  5. Closing.


AQRO® shows initial availability of resources necessary to deliver the project and thus helps to take rational decision in Initiating. It also provides the information about the resources for planning as well as their MBTI profiles which help in assigning tasks to certain individuals.

AQRO can provide the value by managing the workloads of employees based on their availability as well as on their efficiency. Provides the information who can be involved in issues management. AQRO® feedback about the resources availability provides the valuable information in estimation of following projects.

The PMBOK®Guide’s processes can also be divided into 10 Knowledge areas:

  1. Integration Management,
  2. Scope Management,
  3. Schedule Management,
  4. Cost Management,
  5. Quality Management,
  6. Resource Management,
  7. Communications Management,
  8. Risk Management,
  9. Procurement Management,
  10. Stakeholder Management


and AQRO® helps where the human resources are included which is in all of them.

How does AQRO support agile methods?

In today’s business environments where the expectations are often unclear and changing, the delays of projects are non-acceptable, agile methods provide the solution. Some of them offer the method for delivery of the solution (SCRUM), others describe how the project should be managed in an agile way (AgilePM).

How does AQRO support SCRUM?

SCRUM ( “is a framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.” SCRUM identifies roles, events, artifacts, and the rules.

The SCRUM events are:

  • Sprint,
  • Sprint Planning,
  • Daily Scrum,
  • Sprint Review,
  • Sprint Retrospective.


These events are time-boxed events (i.g. the time spent on them can’t be exceeded) and require the resources to be available. That’s where AQRO’s ability to plan resources in advance and to secure them for certain events is helpful.

How does AQRO support Agile PM®?

Agile PM® has been created as a result of co-operation between Agile Business Consortium and APMG.

It defines the project management method consisting of:

philosophy, principles, process, roles and responsibilities, products and practices.

The philosophy is greatly supported by AQRO’s Service Plan allowing the empowered and motivated individuals to deliver of products without external interruptions.


  • “Deliver on time”,
  • “Work together”,
  • “Communicate continuously and clearly”,
  • “Demonstrate control”

are supported by AQRO, which helps to assign the work to employees with different MBTI profiles and take into consideration their availability.

One of the Instrumental Success Factors (ISFs) of Agile PM is “Business Engagement – Active and Ongoing” consisting of “Commitment of business time throughout” and “Active involvement of the business roles”. It’s AQRO’s Service Plan which can help to assure the business resources will be available when necessary.

Agile PM identifies the roles which represent

  • Project (Business Sponsor, Business Visionary, Technical Coordinator, Project Manager, Business Analyst)
  • Solution Development Team (Business Analyst, Team Leader, Solution Developer, Solution Tester, Business Ambassador)
  • Supporting roles (Business Advisor, Technical Advisor, Workshop Facilitator, DSDM Coach).


It’s where the generic AQRO role i.g. The Project Role can be decomposed into detailed role descriptions and properly assigned based on AgilePM’s role descriptions.

AgilePM practices of

  • Prioritization,
  • Timeboxing,
  • Facilitated workshops


are supported by AQRO’ ability to plan and secure the resources for the time when these techniques should be used.

AQRO reduces one of major risks in agile projects that individuals from business and solution development will not be able to work together at an appropriate and consistent level. AQRO offers Service Plan and agreed calendars at business and solution/technical departments level.

How does AQRO support operations?

AQRO® can support major management methods which “servant leader” can choose in managing his employees:

• MBO (Management by Objectives) is supported by AQRO, as it allows to set the goals for employees and dedicate attention and time to achieve them.

• MBE (Management by Exceptions) identifies the responsibilities of superiors and manages them by exceptions, where AQRO role is to again create the space and increase efficiency.

• Coaching works through the coaching talks for which employee needs time and undisturbed attention. AQRO with service plan and defined roles helps to identify this time and enable coaching discussions.

• Facilitation works through the facilitators. For a facilitation to happen there’s a need to coordinate the group’s calendars and keep undisturbed attention. AQRO with Service Plan and Myers-Briggs type indicator help to plan and carry out the workshop successfully.



There are 24 hours a day and we spend about 1/3 of these working. It’s not the amount of the time we can increase per day. It’s the efficiency and effectiveness how we use this time, which is important. AQRO helps to plan how we use the time on the department level and assign proper roles to employees.

It increases the efficiency of how we use the resources but it can also help to bring together operations and project management into one picture. These crucial areas usually compete for resources and AQRO can bring win-win situations where both sides get the resources and increased efficiency helps to achieve more.

About the Author


Tomasz Nedzi has been managing projects and operations since 1993. He became a AQRO® Approved Trainer in 2015 and now teaches others to manage projects together with operations. Tomasz is the Lead Trainer for AQRO® at skills® group of companies (skills® 2004 UG in Germany and skills® sp. z o.o. in Poland).

This Whitepaper was first published on 25 August 2020 on APMG portal


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