Project Accelerator News http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk The latest project management news, views and project management sites from the around the world Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:14:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.2 ‘I pity the fool’ that doesn’t value their B.A. http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/pity-fool-doesnt-value-b/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/pity-fool-doesnt-value-b/#respond Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:14:18 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5493 OK, the Mr T reference may be wasted on anyone under 30 but in IT Project Management your ‘B.A.’ is as much a key part of the A-Team as B.A. Baracus ever was! Often, I’ve seen the holder of the role of Business Analyst be the positive difference between success and failure – so why …

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Value your BAOK, the Mr T reference may be wasted on anyone under 30 but in IT Project Management your ‘B.A.’ is as much a key part of the A-Team as B.A. Baracus ever was!

Often, I’ve seen the holder of the role of Business Analyst be the positive difference between success and failure – so why don’t BAs get the credit that they deserve?

In his great ProjectManagement.com article ‘Business Analysts: The Unsung Heroes of Organisational Success’, Michael Wood suggests it may be two-fold, “First, most senior managers don’t understand the value BAs can bring to an organisation in helping it drive strategic initiatives into operational reality. The second is that there aren’t that many great BAs, so they don’t deliver the value that can be realised.”

Reading Michael’s words gives me cause to pause and reflect on my opening statement. While it’s true that I have seen Business Analysts be the positive difference in an IT Project it is also true that some IT Projects have floundered through a lack of BA basics.

It really matters. I have written in the past that, in the next phase of its evolution, IT will no longer ‘merely’ support the business, it will BE the business.

Consider this. “IT must be positioned as a business unit that adds value. A focus on enabling business objectives must be at the forefront of IT’s thinking. The management of multiple service providers in delivering business outcomes will become an increasingly important capability.” (Ovum 2015- ITSM Trends to Watch:).

It’s a powerful argument for Business Analysts to step up but also for businesses to actively encourage best practice. To do that the C-suite has to get its collective head around the potential a great B.A. can deliver.

I’m a huge fan!

World class B.A.s deliver a measurable difference. They are the coordinators of strategic change, delivering the intelligence that course through the veins of successful IT projects, they have a finger on the business case pulse, and like the best chess players, they are several moves ahead of the moment considering the implications of every decision, not just within the confines of an individual IT project but across the whole parent organisation too.

Business Analysts help improve and constantly enhance your IT services and support by helping integrate Service Delivery and IT and business strategy and giving you the intelligence to review the IT cost of running your services. They play an active role in improving the availability, reliability and performance of your Service Delivery. They define scope, identify and liaise with key stakeholders, and provide clear, actionable requirements to implementation teams.

Describing his Business Analyst one Project Leader says, “She’s like a Project octopus with tentacles influencing every aspect of the project, a great Project Manager in her own right, a process expert and strategist but what I really love is that she never comes to me with a problem without first imagining a solution. Her analysis of the data is always spot on and the solutions she designs are always congruent with the project mission and business case.”

So, to be a great Business Analyst do you have to be a bit of an IT octopus?

In Michael Wood’s article, he rather suggests that you do. he lists ‘Strategic Thinker’, ‘Data Model Conceptualizer’, ‘Project Manager’, ‘Business Process Expert’, ‘Applications Requirements Architect’ and ‘Change Facilitator’ among the character traits of world class B.A.s.

It’s quite a lot to ask! Investing in training your Business Analyst talent to excel at any of these disciplines will pay you a healthy return.

To be fair, I regularly see many of these skills (and more) on display from Business Analysts that I work with but if you do find that you’re falling short there are options.

If a lack of business intelligence reporting is hampering effective Programme Management, you can access PM focussed business analysis in the ‘as a Service’ market to give you a competitive edge. Service Delivery Assessments and CMMI based Service Benchmarking can deliver sustained capability improvement and deliver substantive benefits to your organisation.

With the right partner, delivering a business and culturally aligned service, you can benefit from strategic recommendations and prioritised improvement with risk & business impact assessments.

In conclusion, while every organisation should be seeking to encourage in-house Business Analysts to step up and deliver change, in the meantime, You CAN hire in the business analyst octopus that you need.

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IR35 – how to avoid Public Sector IT talent shortages http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/ir35-avoid-public-sector-talent-shortages/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/ir35-avoid-public-sector-talent-shortages/#respond Wed, 15 Feb 2017 08:41:31 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5488 When the Government announced changes to IR35 and off-payroll working rules for public sector workers like IT contractors, a wave of confusion rippled through online forums used by contractors and hirers alike. There are some great online resources that explain the changes, not least the one published by Stoneseed, in this post we’ll explore ways …

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IR35 - how to avoid Public Sector IT talent shortagesWhen the Government announced changes to IR35 and off-payroll working rules for public sector workers like IT contractors, a wave of confusion rippled through online forums used by contractors and hirers alike. There are some great online resources that explain the changes, not least the one published by Stoneseed, in this post we’ll explore ways to protect your organisation from the changes to IR35 and the potential implications that they may have on your IT operation.

Firstly, a brief catch up.

IR35, also known as the Intermediaries legislation, was a response to perceived ‘tax avoidance’ by contractors operating as Personal Service Companies (PSC) but fundamentally behaving like employees – what became known as “disguised employment”. Clearly many contractors deliver services to clients that could not be construed as disguised employment and so there needed to be a test to define which talent fell into which category and guidance on who was responsible for making the call.

From April 2017 there will be a significant shift in responsibilities and liabilities. Simply put, responsibility to determine a public sector contractor’s IR35 status shifts from them to you, the end-client.

The government acknowledges that there will be “a significant initial impact” but seem to consider that this will be mainly confined to extra admin duties for public sector organisations. However, many public sector hirers are also raising fears that contractors will either increase their prices to mitigate any extra tax due or that they may shift their talents to the private sector, in which case the hiring body could face higher costs and may struggle to recruit the best talent.

According to a survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), few public sector hirers are in favour of the changes with almost seven out of ten HR managers (69.5%) fearing a negative impact in terms of increased wage bills, their ability to attract talented individuals and their ability to afford the experienced contractors required.

Furthermore, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) warned off a “significant risk” as public sector organisations are likely to mitigate the potential risk of liability by using only large outsourcing service providers, again with cost implications for the sector.

Most commentators and observers agree that implications will reach further than extra paperwork, to what extent will depend largely upon how ready for the change organisations are. There are a number of things that you can do now to protect yourself.

1 – Start The Conversation NOW

Organisations that are dependent upon contractors should have started the dialogue with their talent already and if that’s you and you haven’t – start now. To be clear, the client needs to take the view on whether a particular service provided falls inside or outside IR35. In the interests of fairness to all, this is a judgement that is better made in a calm, measured fashion before the rules changes rather than in a rushed panic afterwards.

Having made your judgements, you will then have time to react to any decisions made by contractors on how they will operate moving forward, i.e. if they stop providing their services to the sector you will have some space to seek an alternative.

2 – Consider the Project Management as a Service market

This is probably the cleanest way to mitigate risks. Although it is true that booking contractors through agencies might shift liability to the intermediary, the IR35 decision will rest with the public sector organisation as opposed to the agency and as buyers realise this they are increasingly looking to G-Cloud for inspiration.

All public sector organisations can use the G-Cloud or the Digital Marketplace to find people, services and technology for IT projects. The Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) market offers you a complete range of Project Management services, including full Programme Management Office(PMO) providing assessments, governance, tools and people to improve your delivery capability and performance. Best of all, engaging services this way is unlikely to be perceived as “disguised employment”.

Early adopters are also benefitting from consistently high-quality IT Project Delivery, often with no net increase in the overall portfolio costs and are grateful to the IR35 changes for practically forcing upon them the opportunity to rethink their approach to IT.

3 – Be Proactive And Seek Win/Win Arrangements With Contractors To Keep Them Outside IR35

In some cases, IT contractor arrangements can be defined to ensure that they do fall outside IR35. If you currently arrange substitute talent when your contractor is ill, for instance, this would ‘fail’ the IR35 test and be deemed as “disguised employment” but shifting this responsibility to your contractor might rebalance the judgement. Again, accessing talent through a legitimate Project Management as a Service arrangement would be the clearest way forward.

It is recommended that public sector hirers and contractors work through HMRC’s IR35 criteria together to find work around solutions that work for both client and contractor but ultimately, more importantly, the tax man! An independent review may be the best way to ensure compliance.

In conclusion, time is running out and for public sector bodies doing nothing is not an option. Many IT contractors that I talk with are already considering their future outside the public sector. It is vital that you do everything that can to keep them outside IR35 or convince them of the benefits of coming “on payroll” with you (good luck with that) or you risk losing key contractors and the crucial strategic skills they offer. Many public sector organisations are skipping this step altogether by reimagining their approach to IT services and project delivery procurement, furthermore, having entered the ‘as a Service’ market many are wondering why they didn’t do it sooner.

Download the free IR35 Update – Key facts for employers

Source for stats

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Project Management History – A Visual Illustration On How Far It’s Come http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/project-management-history-visual-illustration-far-come/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/project-management-history-visual-illustration-far-come/#respond Fri, 27 Jan 2017 08:55:31 +0000 http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5481 If project management is the overseeing of any venture with the aim of creating something unique or providing excellent service, then we have all been project managers at certain points in our life; of course, without the official title. At certain times, we have all found ourselves overseeing some form of activity, paying attention to …

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If project management is the overseeing of any venture with the aim of creating something unique or providing excellent service, then we have all been project managers at certain points in our life; of course, without the official title. At certain times, we have all found ourselves overseeing some form of activity, paying attention to every single detail to ensure nothing goes awry. To ensure the project was a success, we must have pulled from our repertoire elements of project management that include the following:

 

Planning and Scheduling – This entails having a sense of direction for your “project”, a grand picture, the order in which tasks were to be executed.

Time Management – The race against time is one that everyone has had to engage in.

Human Resource Management – Probably the most important aspect of your “project”; the ability to manage a group of people well enough to achieve your objectives is a skill that only the best project managers possess.

 

We could go on and on but based on the definitions and descriptions in the above paragraphs, we can clearly see that the concept of project management dates back to thousands of years; probably as far back as when man first had the awesome idea to create shelter for himself.

 

However, modern project management didn’t kick off until the 1950s and since then, we have seen the discipline evolve through the years. While the focus was mainly in the field of construction, we saw it spread it’s tentacles into manufacturing, medicine, Information Technology and defense to name just a few.

It’s been quite an interesting journey and this infographic from Nutcache just about sums it up.

 

project management infographic from nutcache.com

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Why you need a CIO on the board http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/why-you-need-a-cio-on-the-board/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/why-you-need-a-cio-on-the-board/#respond Wed, 25 Jan 2017 16:07:16 +0000 http://projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5221 Only four specialist IT professionals have made it into the boardrooms of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies. Put that another way ninety-six of the UK’s biggest firms have no tech representation on their board! I think this should be a major action plan for EVERY company or organisation. OK, a technology professional recommending that technology …

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why you need a cio on the boardOnly four specialist IT professionals have made it into the boardrooms of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies. Put that another way ninety-six of the UK’s biggest firms have no tech representation on their board!

I think this should be a major action plan for EVERY company or organisation.

OK, a technology professional recommending that technology professionals should get higher prominence – no surprises there – but it’s more than self-interest.

Take a look at the four – Merlin Entertainments, AstraZeneca, Arm Holdings and Hargreaves Lansdown – what do they all have in common? A visitor attraction operator, a medicine firm, a software design company and an investment service – at first blush these four are an eclectic bunch.

However, what each of these visionary companies has in common is that they have all really embraced the reality of the role that technology is playing in their success.

AND the truth is, that now just about every firm is a tech firm.

You may sell sausages or semi-conductors but to survive these days you must also be a tech firm. IT is at the heart of most operations so it’s about time to reserve a seat around your boardroom table for a chief technology officer, chief information officer or a chief digital officer.

The good news is that, outside the FTSE 100, Britain is doing better than most other countries. IT experts are on the boards of 14.3% of UK companies, a number second only to the United States, but that still means over 85% of boards have no IT representative.

Progress is being made further down the chain of command.

IT professionals are on the management committees of almost a quarter (24) of the FTSE 100 companies, twenty more than in 2011. Do down another level and IT specialists have leadership roles at nearly three quarters (72) FTSE 100 firms companies (up 29 from 2011).

So, progress but not high enough up. There is a glass ceiling that must be broken and for that to happen IT has to be seen as an integral part of your business strategy and not, as has historically been the case, as a cost centre.

Looking again at that list of four firms that have a board-level IT expert, I notice another thing that they have in common.

Each of them are innovators. Hargreaves Lansdown is considered by many to be the UK’s most successful large financial services firm, it harnesses innovative IT to disrupt the way small investors can buy and sell. Its IT operation is headed by Computing magazine’s 2014 CIO of the Year – It’s no coincidence.

A CIO on the board could lead to more innovation within your organisation.

More IT Projects could be signed off more quickly improving your ability to react to market disruptions and changes. Just about every industry is facing threats from new entrants leveraging the latest technology, it makes sense that you have access to that kind of expertise at your top table.

So why does the glass ceiling exist?

I think there could a number of reasons. CEOs are often promoted from the ranks of CFOs and COOs. As a consequence, I think, there may be a bias against IT specialists. Perhaps IT is a function that is not widely understood by the accountants and business unit heads that populate most boards.

Perhaps it’s that CIOs have been seen to be managing cost centres.

Maybe it’s that IT leaders tend to come up through the ranks of the IT department, consequently, it may be perceived that they only have experience of that ‘silo’ with little knowledge of the workings of the rest of the company.

It may be a combination of these and more.

It’s very short-sighted thinking, though, increasingly CIOs are adding new value to their businesses and not just reducing costs. They are identifying ways that technology can add new revenue streams, technology opportunities are aligning with business opportunities and that’s something that should pique the interest of any board.

That ‘siloed’ view perception frustrates me too. The Project Managers I work with, for example, often handle projects that span all parts of their organisation. They work with the whole entity as a matter of daily routine rather than just the IT department.

CIOs are increasingly customer and business minded. Marriot CIO Bruce Hoffmeister, for example, insists that everyone in IT is familiar with how the chains ‘revenue per available room’ (RevPAR) works. By aligning IT metrics with business or industry metrics a CIO can increase the value of his or her stock with the board. Hoffmeister is cited as saying that anyone in IT are not thinking about their potential to increase RevPAR is not doing their job properly. Music to any CEO’s ears!

Furthermore, the trends on those lower rungs of the ladder should be telling you something out there is changing. As identified earlier, management committee and leadership roles for IT professionals are trending up which means that increasingly companies will be selling into the ‘CIO community’. You will need CIO paradigms to build your product catalogue or service brochure to attract buyers in this market.

Anecdotally, I hear the mood music changing.

Cyber security is making firms re-evaluate their board’s position on the inclusion of IT professionals. Security is increasingly a priority for CEOs – who better to advise as organisations strive to stay ahead of the cyber hackers? In the interests of security, some CEOs are promoting their own CIOs to join the boardroom others are poaching CIOs from other companies. Consequently, CEOs who do not make space at the boardroom table may find themselves losing their talent to more forward- Boards thinking firms.

The IT professionals who have made it onto the boards of the four FTSE100 firms (and those 14.3% elsewhere) are trailblazers. It’s time that others follow in their wake.

that welcome their best CIOs will benefit from greater innovation and mitigate cyber risks.

Surely, in the current climate, it’s a no brainer!

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Does everyone need to be a project manager? http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/does-everyone-need-to-be-a-project-manager/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/does-everyone-need-to-be-a-project-manager/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 08:40:30 +0000 http://projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5247 Even the Labour Party says that communication directors need to spin and project-manage at the same time! Every day there are hundreds of thousands of jobs advertised for professional project managers, whether that’s in IT, management consultancy, financial services or even construction.   But as technology changes the game, and the world responds to the complexities …

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Even the Labour Party says that communication directors need to spin and project-manage at the same time!

Every day there are hundreds of thousands of jobs advertised for professional project managers, whether that’s in IT, management consultancy, financial services or even construction.   But as technology changes the game, and the world responds to the complexities of this new order, all organizations – from large corporates to small start-ups, governments and political parties, and even the cash-strapped public sector – need to skill up in project management to achieve success.

Even Jeremy Corbyn and Seamus Milne agree!

This week the Labour Party advertised for a Deputy Director – Strategy and Communications, reporting directly to Labour’s chief spin doctor Seamus Milne.  A requirement of the job is “a proven track record of success in project management, through the complete project life cycle, preferably in complex situations”.

http://www.labour.org.uk/page/-/JD%20-%20Deputy%20Director%20-%20Strategy%20and%20Communications.pdf

The growing requirement for project management skills was also recently borne out by a survey conducted by PRINCE2, the world’s most-practised method for project management.  It found that, of the hundreds of thousands of professionals who apply the PRINCE2 method in their daily lives, over 65% were not in a specifically designated project management role; they were instead described as accountants, marketers, event managers, lawyers, doctors, HR professionals, and so on.

What’s more, of the professionals who held a project management qualification, such as PRINCE2, 88% said that it had aided their career progression and 85% said it helped in their current role.

The changing face of the project manager has also prompted a major update of PRINCE2, which in mid-2017 will see a change to its guidance.  Now, anyone, with a project to manage — even if he or she is not a full-time project manager – will find it easier to tailor the method in keeping with the complexity and specific requirements of a project.

As it happens, the updated PRINCE2 guidance, Managing Successful Projects, and examinations won’t be available until mid-2017, but we strongly recommend that Labour’s new Deputy Director, Strategy and Communications, should read up on PRINCE2 over the summer.  It might come in useful when planning for Labour’s Annual Conference in the autumn.

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2017 brings a major update to PRINCE2®: Equipping professionals for project success in a swiftly-evolving world http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/2017-brings-a-major-update-to-prince2-equipping-professionals-for-project-success-in-a-swiftly-evolving-world/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/2017-brings-a-major-update-to-prince2-equipping-professionals-for-project-success-in-a-swiftly-evolving-world/#respond Sun, 22 Jan 2017 08:32:20 +0000 http://projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5244 PRINCE2, the world’s most-practiced method for project management, has undergone a major update, its first since 2009.  Long recognized globally for delivering successful projects, PRINCE2 is the method of choice for over a million certified practitioners worldwide. The updated guidance, due for release in mid-2017, will place a strong emphasis on the scalability and flexibility …

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PRINCE2, the world’s most-practiced method for project management, has undergone a major update, its first since 2009.  Long recognized globally for delivering successful projects, PRINCE2 is the method of choice for over a million certified practitioners worldwide. The updated guidance, due for release in mid-2017, will place a strong emphasis on the scalability and flexibility of the method and on how best to tailor it to the complexity and specific requirements of a project.

In fact, the philosophy and practice of tailoring permeates the entire PRINCE2 2017 update; as a result, the method will respond reliably to the demands of today’s project management environment and its imperatives for versatility and agility. Now anyone with a project to manage – even if he or she is not a full-time project manager – will find PRINCE2 even easier to adapt to the needs of any organization and the project in hand.

The updated PRINCE2 guidance, Managing Successful Projects, will initially become available in an English version, with other languages to follow in due course. It has been developed in close consultation with over 100 project management professionals from the widest possible range of sectors and cultures – including PRINCE2 Practitioners, academics and organizations from across the world. The update has been shaped by their real-life experience of successfully applying the method, and of rising to professional challenges as technology changes the game, the expectations of customers and stakeholders grow, and it becomes imperative to achieve more with less financial outlay.

Peter Hepworth, Chief Executive Officer of AXELOS said:

“Time and again we hear that the only constant in the world is change, and PRINCE2 is evolving to respond to changes in business practice. At the same time, the key elements of PRINCE2 remain a constant – rooted in the realities of working life and as relevant as they ever were. The method’s strength, derives from decades of best practice in project management across diverse organizations and industries.

“As always, this latest evolution of PRINCE2 consolidates a wealth of real-life experience gained by the worldwide AXELOS-accredited community. This means it can be trusted to provide practical, authoritative and relevant guidance that enables anyone with a project to manage to get the best out of PRINCE2 – and to achieve success for themselves and their organization.”

■ PRINCE2: meeting the changing demands of project management

The update has been prompted by evolutions in business practice over the last decade. It reaffirms the validity of PRINCE2’s approach while responding to the shifting demands of today’s environment – half (50%) of organizations globally, and 80% of PRINCE2-certified Practitioners, acknowledge the value of working in an agile way.1

In a survey of 2,400 professionals, 88% of PRINCE2 practitioners said that the qualification had aided their career progression and was valuable in their current role (85%). The survey also found that a wide variety of professionals were applying the method, from full-time project managers (32%), IT (18%) and management consultants (15%), to a growing number of C-suite directors (6%)1  The survey shows that project management skills are becoming essential to any professional’s armoury, and this is recognized in the updated PRINCE2 guidance. Flexibility has always been a key factor in the success of PRINCE2, but now the updated method can be further successfully applied by anyone who has a project to manage, regardless of their job title.

■ Updated PRINCE2 Guidance and examinations

Business professionals familiar with PRINCE2 will notice that the update is characterized by an enhanced emphasis on:

–   tailoring PRINCE2 to the needs of organizations and project environments

–   the principles that underpin the PRINCE2 method

–   clarifying the link between the themes and principles

–   the restructuring of the themes guidance to accommodate specific examples of tailoring

–   the practical application of guidance, with updated diagrams, examples, hints and tips.

Reference

1.        Online survey of 2,400 business professionals, conducted by AXELOS between 22 February and 7 March 2016.

 

 

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Would Santa be a great Project Manager? http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/would-santa-be-a-great-project-manager/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/would-santa-be-a-great-project-manager/#respond Thu, 22 Dec 2016 11:06:41 +0000 http://projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5228 Santa delivers his project on time every year, despite its scope increasing year after year due to increased numbers of children – naughty or nice. Sure, the big man has a year to prepare to make sure he nails it and the methodology is tried and tested to the extreme but still – great job! …

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would santa be a great project manager?Santa delivers his project on time every year, despite its scope increasing year after year due to increased numbers of children – naughty or nice. Sure, the big man has a year to prepare to make sure he nails it and the methodology is tried and tested to the extreme but still – great job!

Could Santa do any better?

For fun let’s take an independent look at his operation, praise the positives and advise where he could do even better. A Project Management Office Assessment can help refocus, refine or redesign your project management capabilities so let’s see what we can do for Santa.

In-House or Outsourcing?

Santa’s elves are said to make all the toys in Santa’s workshop but would outsourcing this be better? When Santa first tacked up the reindeer back in the day and flew around the world in-house was probably best but the world has moved on.

IT Projects can find themselves similarly trapped in a “we’ve always done it this way” mindset. Are you aware of all the best in class solutions that are available that would fit with your project goals?

Lack of Delegation At The Key Moment?

While Santa’s elves help with all the project preparation work he seems to have delegation issues when it comes to the big night and project delivery. Delivering presents to over a billion children in a single night means travelling at about 10 million kilometres an hour, more than 200,000 times faster than Usain Bolt! That’s a lot for one chap!

Some IT Project Managers can fall into this trap, sometimes because of a lack of trust that the job will get done, sometimes because of a lack of resources. Remember that the “as a Service” market has lots of solutions and options that mean you don’t have to carry the whole load yourself.

Data

One thing that Santa is on top of is data. Millions of children in the world and Santa has an up to date list of who is being naughty or nice, where they all live and what they all want for Christmas. That’s one impressive CRM system!

IT Projects churn out loads of data and the best Project Managers know that it is like the beating heart of their project.

HoHoHo Spirit

When project leaders are enthusiastic and cheerful they create an attitude within their team that can achieve almost anything. Imagine how motivated you’d be if Santa Claus were your leader! The man is literally never without a smile on his face!

I do wonder though whether Santa could share more of the rewards with his team. How many millions of mince pies and glasses of sherry do you suppose are left out for Santa? The best Project Managers know how to share rewards to motivate the team. The reindeer get their carrots – I bet the elves would love a mince pie or two!

Attention to Detail

“He’s making a list, and checking it twice.”

Nothing succeeds like attention to detail. IT Project governance can be the difference between success and failure. The Project Management as a Service market can provide great governance, robust and consistent processes and metrics and reporting structures giving you peace of mind and control.

He Always Has a Workaround Plan

How does Santa get into living rooms? Down the chimney, right? Imagine having this plan in place with delivery schedules that are as tight as Santa’s are only to find that many houses don’t have chimneys! What would you do faced with a gas fire?

IT Projects are often faced with problems and challenges and the best PMs have a workaround plan ready or a can-do attitude that finds a way through.

So, on the whole, Santa has it nailed! He’d make a great Project Manager!

Consider putting a Project Management Office Assessment on your Christmas wish list this year to see how you measure up against best practice.

In the meantime, have a great Christmas and a successful New Year!

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Make Your Steering Committee Effective http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/make-your-steering-committee-effective/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/make-your-steering-committee-effective/#respond Mon, 28 Nov 2016 03:48:30 +0000 http://projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5202 Far too many sponsors, executives and project managers waste far too much time in ineffective steering committee meetings or ‘project/program control board’ meetings (both referred to as PCB in this post).  A huge saving in waste and its associated costs can easily be achieved. The first key question for the organisation’s governance team to consider …

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the-pmFar too many sponsors, executives and project managers waste far too much time in ineffective steering committee meetings or ‘project/program control board’ meetings (both referred to as PCB in this post).  A huge saving in waste and its associated costs can easily be achieved.

The first key question for the organisation’s governance team to consider is, is there any need for a PCB?  I would suggest in most cases, provided the organisation has well trained and effective sponsors, there is no need for a PCB.  When deciding if the costs of a PCB are warranted, the following factors should be considered:

  • Is the project/program large by the standards of the organisation?
  • Is the project/program more uncertain, complicated or more complex (these concepts are different)[1] compared to the normal projects undertaken by the organisation?
  • Are the risks associated with the project/program higher than normal?

If the answer to any two of the above questions is affirmative, a PCB is probably warranted. If only one answer is affirmative, it is probably sufficient to appoint an experienced and committed sponsor[2]; but the risks, costs, and stakeholder attitudes need to be considered. If the project is ‘business as usual’ there should be no need for a PCB[3]. The organisation’s normal governance, surveillance[4], project management and stakeholder engagement processes should be sufficient – the most cost effective PCBs are the ones you don’t have!

 

Making the PCB efficient

the-boardWhere a PCB is needed, no meeting should take longer than 30 minutes. The costs of running a PCB are in the range of $2000 to $5000 per hour (sometimes more) and the organisation needs to recoup value from each meeting[5].  This objective is achievable, but the PCB needs designing and managing so that it is cost and process efficient.  The design and management functions is best assigned to either the portfolio management office or an executive level PMO.

The key elements in designing the PCB are:

  • Every member of the PCB will be appointed for a specific reason and the person will know why they are appointed, what is expected of them and what to expect from the PCB processes.
  • The relationship between the PCB and the change management processes are clearly defined.
  • The relationship between the PCB and the key project stakeholders is understood. The primary function of the PCB is to champion the project and help maximise its value to the organisation[6].
  • PCB meetings only occur when decisions are required or a formal discussion is necessary, there will be no time wasting ‘monthly meetings’. Routine communication between the PM, the sponsor and the PCB members should be designed to deal with business-as-usual information flows and general oversight. There should be no surprises for anyone, ever!
  • Ensuring communication with each PCB member is timely and effective, this includes: providing each member with clear, concise and informative briefing packs which will arrive in a timely manner prior to the meeting; taking the time to ‘walk’ each member through the briefing pack and ensuring any questions are shared, and preferably addressed, in advance of the meeting.
  • Where PCB members have other questions or require additional information, these are communicated to the project/program manager and the sponsor in adequate time to allow proper responses to be developed and circulated to all of the PCB prior to the meeting. It’s not the job of a PCB to test the PM with ‘left field’ questions during the meeting.
  • Ensuring the meetings run effectively, finish on time, have minutes circulated promptly and that all decisions are logged, referenced, and promptly communicated to all effected parties. The key responsibility of the PCB is to make timely decisions on matters that affect the organisation (not the day-to-day running of the project).

Developing PCBs that work efficiently does require the PMO responsible for the process to develop coaching and advocacy skills in addition to the PCB processes and procedures (there may be value in engaging an external coach to work with the executives in this space[7]). New PCB members will need coaching in their roles, PMs will need supervising to ensure effective, timely and complete information is made available to the PCB, ensuring proper governance processes are followed, and to ensure there are no surprises in either direction by connecting the executive decision makers on the PCB to the project/program delivery teams.

Nothing suggested above is ‘rocket science’, but if implemented effectively will lead to projects and programs that keep progressing with open communication and efficient decision making from transparent reporting and discussion.  When achieved, this process makes both the project sponsor, and the project manager’s life easier and more productive, generating increased value for the organisation.

How effective are your steering committees or project control boards?

_________________________

[1] For more on categorising projects and the difference between complicated and complex see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1072_Project_Size.pdf

[2] For more on the role of the sponsor see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1031_Project_Sponsorship.pdf

[3] The PRINCE2 methodology requires a small PCB for every project, the PCB exercises the power allocated to the ‘project manager’ under other frameworks such as the PMBOK® Guide with the project manager being responsible for implementing the PCB decisions.  However, in PRINCE2 environments, it is common to see a ‘steering committee’ sitting above the PCB – the questions asked in this article refer to these ‘steering committees’.

[4] For more on project surveillance see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1080_Project_Reviews.pdf

[5] For more on the cost of committee meetings see: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/WhitePapers/WP1075_Meetings.pdf

[6] For more on the functions and issues with steering committees see: https://mosaicprojects.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/is-your-steering-committee-costing-5000-per-hour/

[7] A PCB Advisor is an independent delivery and governance expert who will ensure there are no surprises. This doesn’t mean that everything will go to plan (an impossible pipe dream), rather that all parties understand their responsibilities, have access to skills development and coaching, are aware of the risks they are managing and that discussions around the issues are never hidden. In the same way a company secretary connects the Governance Board to the CEO and Executive management team, it is logical on a project risky enough to require a PCB, to have a PCB Advisor providing a similar function connecting the PCB to the Project or Program Manager.

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As 27% of CIOs predict increasing the number of IT contractors on their books – how not to get handcuffed to expensive retainers http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/as-27-of-cios-predict-increasing-the-number-of-it-contractors-on-their-books-how-not-to-get-handcuffed-to-expensive-retainers/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/as-27-of-cios-predict-increasing-the-number-of-it-contractors-on-their-books-how-not-to-get-handcuffed-to-expensive-retainers/#respond Tue, 22 Nov 2016 09:55:00 +0000 http://projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5134 One of the greatest arguments for hiring contractors over permanent staff is reduced headcount – when work is quiet you want fewer “bums on seats” waiting for something to do. I am therefore surprised to find many companies are voluntarily tying themselves into contracts with contractors that effectively do this – create “bums on seats” …

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What's the P in your PMOOne of the greatest arguments for hiring contractors over permanent staff is reduced headcount – when work is quiet you want fewer “bums on seats” waiting for something to do.

I am therefore surprised to find many companies are voluntarily tying themselves into contracts with contractors that effectively do this – create “bums on seats” – but really expensive ones!

Whilst understanding the need for “on tap” talent when work picks up paying a retainer to a contractor seems a very expensive way to achieve this.

A recent report suggests that more than one-quarter (27%) of CIOs will be increasing the number of IT contractors on their books over the next 12 months, over one-third (34%) reveal longer term hiring plans to increase headcounts. Inevitably, some of these more permanent hires will be on a “retained contractor” basis.

Not only is that an expensive option, as a side note I have also noticed some contractors on retainers catching some “staff viruses” – like developing negative attitudes or getting drawn into office politics!

Another of the key benefits of contractors over permanents was that they were less likely to become negative because they had less emotional attachment to your firm – it”s not a job, more a commercial arrangement between the two of you! As a rule, contractors would not get involved in office politics, they would just get on with the Project they were hired to deliver and move on. This often meant contractors would outperform staff counterparts but, in some organisations, this balance has adjusted closer to the centre when contractors have been hired and subjected to “office culture” on a longer term basis.

What is it they say? Familiarity breeds contempt!

However, from a company point of view, hiring a contractor can still offer greater flexibility. Not just when fluctuating demands head south and you need to control costs but also contractors give your organisation a better ability to take full advantage of new opportunities when they arise. Furthermore, chances are, your contractor will arrive fully trained, highly specialised and with “plug and play” experience that can create immediate business impact.

So often, a key cause of a Programme or Project team’s trouble is that they are over-relying on contractors and haemorrhaging money. As discussed, that can be expensive if your contracted talent is underutilised, which is often the case. Upon investigation, many Project teams cite a need for flexibility and a requirement to keep costs contained and predictable as the main driver for this behaviour.

Getting the balance right between permanent talent and contractors can be hard. It is essential, though, the UK”s extensive digital skills gap could currently be costing £63 billion in lost opportunities each year, according to an estimate from the House of Commons” Science and Technology Committee. Your share of that £63bn in missed revenue will ultimately depend on how flexible and cost effective your talent resource is.

Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) offers flexibility without the need to handcuff yourself to a contractor. PMaaS offers adjustable and scalable resources on demand without the need for retainers.

With the right provider, you agree to a set number of projects and a tailored budget. Agreed service levels create an environment where your business can secure consistently high-quality Project Delivery you need. Here”s the best bit – often with no net increase in your overall portfolio costs.

You can simultaneously address the challenge of improving your own project management capabilities and control costs, whether it’s through scalable skilled resource provision or a fully Managed Service.

Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) makes sense not just as it reduces capital expenditure, not just because it increases flexibility to respond to positive opportunities but because it also provides you with real-time transparency on the state of your project.

Also, with the right provider, you can leverage the very latest, best in class functionalities and management services, allowing you to focus on execution mission strategy instead of supporting and maintaining operations support function. Let”s face it, most organisations are operating on decreased budgets so reducing total cost of project management and focusing your investments on the execution of core strategic issues should be a bigger priority than ever.

Project Management as a Service delivers this through a more innovative approach to the conventional contractor model whilst retaining all the benefits.

AND from a contractor’s point of view no need to get dragged into office politics! Hallelujah!

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Outdated Time-Tracking Tools Frustrate Mobile-Savvy Workforce, Cost Businesses Time and Money http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/outdated-time-tracking-tools-frustrate-mobile-savvy-workforce-cost-businesses-time-and-money/ http://www.projectaccelerator.co.uk/outdated-time-tracking-tools-frustrate-mobile-savvy-workforce-cost-businesses-time-and-money/#respond Tue, 15 Nov 2016 08:52:30 +0000 http://projectaccelerator.co.uk/?p=5196 Manual Time and Task Entry Limits Insights, Pains the 78 Percent of Employees Who’d Welcome Mobile Applications  Despite the obsession with agility, efficiency, and productivity, the evolution of technology has outpaced critical work processes. A new report, “Mobile Keeps Business Moving Forward”, reveals a mobile-savvy workforce struggling with outdated processes and eager for methods that …

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Manual Time and Task Entry Limits Insights, Pains the 78 Percent of Employees Who’d Welcome Mobile Applications

 Despite the obsession with agility, efficiency, and productivity, the evolution of technology has outpaced critical work processes. A new report, “Mobile Keeps Business Moving Forward”, reveals a mobile-savvy workforce struggling with outdated processes and eager for methods that complement their mobile lifestyle. Organizations using time and task data to guide business decisions over-rely on old-fashioned methods including Excel spreadsheets (28 percent) and pen and paper (36 percent).

Changepoint, a leading provider of project and portfolio management, enterprise architecture, and professional services management applications, surveyed more than 800 global project managers, executives, and IT professionals to understand how mobile has shaped today’s workforce. The study found inaccurate data collected via outdated methods and technologies threatens to stymie business growth.

The value of investing in mobile is clear: Fewer than half of employees are satisfied with their workplace technology according to a Forrester report¹. Inadequate, unfamiliar tools can negatively impact effectiveness while, fulfilling psychological needs can result in a highly-engaged workforce. Forrester found highly-engaged employees result in 81 percent higher customer satisfaction and 103 percent improvement in employee turnover. With nearly all (95 percent) survey respondents using their smartphone for work-related tasks during the day, aligning processes with the mobile workforce better positions businesses to compete.

While data is valued across the organization, time tracking data has long provided a foundation for informed resource decisions, controlling cost, and meeting contractual labor obligations. Organizations know the importance of accurate data yet, the majority of managers (77 percent) aren’t confident in the accuracy of the timesheets they approve. Meanwhile, nearly half (49 percent) of project managers aren’t sure they’re tracking their time right either. The likely culprit—inconvenient processes resulting in irregular, infrequent data entry and submission.

“We use our smartphone to check the weather, confirm flight info, read the news, call an Uber, or order coffee,” said Eric Bergman, vice president, product management at Changepoint. “Mobile is second nature but some of the most agile, tech-forward businesses still use spreadsheets and paper to collect business-critical data despite its impact on staffing and project decisions.”

Other key findings include:

  • Today’s workforce is mobile and device-driven. Throughout the workday, 95 percent of respondents use mobile for work-related tasks. More than one-third (35 percent) bring three to four devices to work and 78 percent would use a mobile app to input and submit time and task data.
  • An epidemic of multitasking. Individuals, contributors, and managers need simpler ways to manage work, especially given how often they juggle multiple projects. Virtually all (97 percent) team members are allocated to more than one project, with almost half (49 percent) on four or more, and 18 percent juggling seven or more. Managers are spread even more thin. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) manage four or more projects and more than a quarter (26 percent) oversee seven or more.
  • Time tracking must be intuitive to be adopted. Eighty-three percent of respondents reported that their organization tracks time. Of the 17 percent who do not track time, the majority (81 percent) would if it was easier and 63 percent would use an app integrated with their PPM tool. A quarter (25 percent) of project managers believe tracking negatively impacts productivity. Employees want applications that work like they do–mobile and cross-platform.

“Technology frees employees to work anytime, anywhere, from any device,” said Bergman. “Applications like email and messaging have evolved to meet the needs of today’s hyper-connected, mobile workforce. Time-tracking should be simple, easy, and offer the same flexibility.”

For the full report, visit: http://changepoint.com/resources/white-papers/ppm-ea-mobile-keeps-business-moving-forward.

¹”Workforce Enablement Defined: Elevate Productivity And Engagement”, Forrester Research, Inc., April 14, 2016.

 

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