Top tips drawn from experience
To create an project or programme information hub, you could do a lot worse than setting up a SharePoint team site as suggested by Dux Raymond Sy‘s definitive book on the subject. If SharePoint is already used in your organisation, it’s virtually a no-brainer.
Project management “RAID” registers are prioritised lists of things like Risks, Issues, Actions, Decisions and so on. Keeping registers helps you to keep track of the factors affecting your project, and the things going on within it, so that the whole thing ticks along more smoothly.
Microsoft SharePoint offers some facilities that can be used for this quite effectively, However, there are some things that I have discovered for myself in several years of creating and using project management registers on SharePoint team, sites that I would like to share with you. Continue reading “6 PMO productivity pointers for Microsoft® SharePoint® Team sites: Registers”
High risk rapid delivery or lower risk slower delivery – which would you go for?
Until recently, my morning commute into work comprised a bus journey to the station, a train into London, and another bus to the office. One morning a few weeks ago I was ready about ten minutes earlier than usual so instead of waiting about 15 minutes to catch my usual bus, I took the earlier bus from near my house. I had already bought my train ticket so I didn’t have to queue at the station, instead waiting just a few minutes to get on a train about 25 minutes earlier than my usual one. Once in London I went to the bus stop, and joy of joys, the bus arrived straight away.
All in all, by leaving my house about 25 minutes earlier than usual, I managed to arrive at my desk at least 45 minutes earlier. I had made a significant time “profit”!
There were some unexpected but very welcome fringe benefits too – the earlier trains and buses are less crowded and so I have more chance of getting a seat (making the journey more pleasant) and often enough elbow room to do some work on the way (making the journey also more productive).
It occurred to me that what had happened here was akin to what I do at work with schedule tuning – I had experienced a journey with less slack time (waiting) between the fixed duration events (journey stages) to enable an earlier final delivery (my arrival at my desk).
I now regularly use this approach to get to my desk earlier. Having less slack in the plan introduces risk of course; if any of my journey stages runs even a few minutes late then it all falls apart and the rest of the journey reverts to the (considerably slower) Plan B. But it works enough of the time to make it worth persisting.
Are you able to use schedule optimisation like this to cut the overall duration of your projects? Are you more concerned with earlier delivery, regardless of overall project duration? Or do you go for a less risky plan with more slack?
© Copyright Pragmatic PMO Ltd, first published in 2012
How PMOs can smooth the path of projects, to help make changes more “sticky”
A while back I attended a PMO FlashMob discussion facilitated by Ranjit Sidhu of ChangeQuest and hosted as usual by Lindsay Scott of Arras People.
This session was on how PMOs can help projects to deliver organisational change more effectively. There were several interesting take-away messages, of which I found the most interesting to be:
- If you want a change to “stick” (without people reverting to the old way of doing things), it is just as important to get the people ready for the change (Change Management) as it is to get the change ready for the people (producing project deliverables).
- The most successful Change projects allow stakeholders time to “grieve” for the old ways, and time to become familiar with the new ways. These projects put in consistent effort to maintain momentum on the journey from the “as is” to the “to be”, until the post-change ways become “the new normal”
- Small pilots (preferably including some vocal objectors) can generate early successes that can be used as good news stories to spread the word and help to form positive opinions.
- Change projects may well be asking BAU workers to carry extra work above and beyond their “day jobs” (with all its targets and objectives). During major changes, a significant proportion of people experience sufficient stress so as to pose a risk to their mental health. What can projects do to help organisations come through the Change experience still healthy?
- Just telling people about the Change and what will happen will only get you so far. Listening to stakeholders and demonstrating what you have done with their feedback will get you much farther.
PMOs (especially PfMOs) have a unique position on the interface between the projects being carried out to effect organisational change, and the people out in the wider organisation who experience the change happening to them. So PMOs can help changes to stick by:
- Including change management themes in project reporting (at least as a RAG category, or preferably as a measured deliverable).
- Devising and delivering approaches to express change management as a quantified KPI.
- Becoming the “eyes and ears” of projects; picking up informal stakeholder views on projects.
- Project and Programme PMOs can also make change easier internally by providing good quality inductions for new project team members.
So those were the key points for me (Lindsay’s are here) from what was a very informative and useful session on how PMOs can help to make change “sticky”.
© Copyright Pragmatic PMO Ltd, first published in 2015
Like a piece of machinery, plans need a good design, room to breathe, and good maintenance…
A while back I attended an APM presentation on the role of the dedicated Project Planner, part of a series given by Andrew Jones, at the time of Athena Project Services.
His presentation contained several key points that resonated with me so I thought were worth restating in the light of my own experience. Continue reading “Project Planning Pointers”
How learning groups spontaneously form and disperse…
A while back I attended an APM focus group facilitated by Dr Michael Moynagh of CPD Futures Ltd on developing strategies to improve the way that project professionals approach continuing professional development (CPD). One of the topics that came up was that established approaches to CPD (including the approach promoted by the APM) are somewhat rigid and introspective, and lack a social dimension. The suggestion arose that some sort of group learning approach might be helpful, e.g. creating a PPM Community of Practice.
I have seen this happen with some success (albeit rather briefly!) Continue reading “Strategies for social CPD – Creating a PM community”
- The aim of this book is to provide a stakeholder-centred analysis of projects, and to explain which stakeholder identification, analysis, communication and engagement models are most relevant to different types of projects.
- Using case studies from around the world, it illustrates what goes wrong when stakeholders are not engaged successfully, and what lessons we can learn from these examples.
- The book is aimed at project professionals who find themselves involved in managing projects with stakeholders (so that’s just about all of them then!).
Continue reading “Stakeholder-led Project Management (Book Review)”
Following on from a couple of talks I have given recently on why organisations don’t learn as much as they could from running projects, I was asked how to write a “good” Lesson Learned. Continue reading “What makes a “Good” lesson learned?”
- This book is a good reference guide to Planning, Scheduling, Monitoring and Control, with most of the topics covered at introductory to intermediate level in relatively informal jargon-free language with plenty of helpful diagrams.
- The guide is aimed at students and practitioners, so I’m a bit puzzled why it begins with a chunky explanation of how projects are defined and the documents used. At 20 pages this section is too hefty for the completely uninitiated, but has nowhere near enough detail to be useful an already-practicing project manager (who would be better off referring to one of the BoKs or methodologies). I guess however that novice Project Planners may find it useful for context and orientation, and it signposts topics for further reading.
Continue reading “Scheduling, Monitoring & Control (Book Review)”
This book recommends that project practitioners should consciously view projects through multiple “lenses” or “filters” to gain different perspectives. This approach directs attention to project aspects that might not otherwise be considered, which will affect the action taken, and hence the results obtained.
Considerable repetition of the principles and case study content (mainly to make it easier to use for reference), and overlap between the images caused me to have several déjà vu moments in reading it straight through, but the approach should be useful to PMs (on projects and programmes) and PMOs (to challenge PMs on their view of projects, and to think about portfolios) at all career stages. Continue reading “Images of Projects (Book Review)”
by Melanie Franklin, IT Governance Publishing, Ely, 152 pages, £24.95 RRP (review copy provided free of charge by the author)
Pragmatic PMO Rating: ****
This book is intended as a practical guide to understanding and managing change that will benefit your business. It covers the differences between change management and project management, and how to integrate the two. Continue reading “Managing Business Transformation – a Practical Guide (Book Review)”