APMG-Showcase

Peter Mayer, Pelicam’s Managing Partner, will be appearing at the APMG-International Showcase UK this year and chairing some interesting round table discussions on the day.  The event aims to provide a platform for effective learning and sharing experience for programme, project and risk management specialists.

Date and venue

Thursday 28 June – QEII Centre, Westminster, London – Registration and coffee from 8.45am.

Registration for the event is free and can be done online.

Peter will host two highly interactive discussions which will prove to be highly relevant and give some real insights to the attendees.

Stakeholders and Sponsors - time off for good behaviour

Poor stakeholder management and ineffective sponsorship contributes to two thirds (66%) of Pelicam’s serial project killers. Despite much promotion in the industry, our experience indicates it’s an area consistently undervalued and invested in. In this session we will explore the requirements for good stakeholder management and the governance and communications necessary to support it. In particular, we will explore what good sponsorship looks like …… attitudes, actions and behaviours. And any best practice techniques/mechanisms for sponsor ‘coaching’.

Serial project killers - psychology, warning signs and detectives.

As a result of research into more than 50 health checks, Pelicam discovered nine ‘serial project killers’ that are likely to derail most projects and programmes. As well as detailing the serial project killers in this session we will examine some of the reasons as to why these killers are serially committed, and explore some of the warning signs and how they can be detected prior to the event.
This session will be invaluable for programme and project managers and functional change executives with project and programme responsibility.

Peter’s programme for the day.

10:15-11:00 - Serial project killers - psychology, warning signs and detectives.

11:30-12:15 - Stakeholders and Sponsors - time off for good behaviour.

12:30-13:15 - Serial project killers - psychology, warning signs and detectives.

14:45-15:30 - Stakeholders and Sponsors - time off for good behaviour.

There are over 100 other round table discussions that you will be able to book for when you register for the event.

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under 2012, Project Killers, Sponsorship.

Sustainable Direction – Just Do It!

Dr John Henry Looney, an expert in environmental sustainability attended the Intelligent Projects Forum in March 2012; an event hosted by Pelicam Project Assurance for senior executives with change responsibility.  John Henry has written a brief article describing the stages (and challenges) of change that businesses face as they move to become sustainable.

Dexter Dunphy, eminent professor in corporate sustainability, and colleagues proposed a continuum for businesses moving along the path to becoming a truly permanent and resilient business, after we set upSustainable Direction Ltd (SDL), but his change management approach is on target and close to what SDL has been proposing.  Dunphy first coined the context for a Sustainability Revolution, and while some describe this as the third industrial or even societal revolution the developed world has gone through, it is more than that.  His and our perspectives give us the opportunity to rethink about where we are going, as individuals, companies and societies within the context of global change.  The dates can vary but in the course of the next generation, say the typical 20 year time span from 2010; the world will be as different from today as before and after the Industrial Revolution.  The scale of change will be that significant, and so leading companies are trying to understand and define their response to this challenge, whether it is where will our energy come from, how we use our raw materials, or source and keep our key personnel and clients, and what will we leave behind.  The key issue at the heart of this is – will it be a thriving company or otherwise?

SDL is working in this space, helping companies and public sector organisations explore and define for themselves who they are, what they do and how they will thrive going forward.  Sustainability is of course the financial, social and environmental balance a company achieves to define itself.  Respect and consideration for the environment is to some degree catching up to the others, but this process is helping redefine the understanding of what financial success is, what employee satisfaction is, what stakeholder responsibility might mean, and how we function as global citizens – from our factory, office or cab – and how we can strive to achieve the balance of these that will make us sustainable.  Clearly this is an area for glass half-full people, but we are the ones that define and deliver the future, sustainable by definition, sustainable by design, sustainable by practice.

So, how do we figure out where we are, where we are trying to go, and how to get there?  Dunphy really does give us a good balanced perspective to applying the practice of change management practice to sustainability, as shown below

 

As we have all experienced within an organisation there are people who reject change and new initiatives or ideas from outside by nature.  Whether this is intended by the organisation for their benefit such as “green thinking”, legislative compliance, or even social media they do not engage and actively reject the idea – cast your mind to smoking bans, recycling, profit sharing, and similar.  After some time this moves into simply being non-responsive to the opportunities, so an improvement to rejection but they are not with the picture.  Individuals and even organisations that respond like this are either limiting the value of their business by not fully taking advantage of the opportunities, or actively destroy it by rejecting it (i.e. refusing to engage with environmental legislation, for example).  Dunphy, creatively, using his Australian vernacular, suggests leaving these rejecting “stealthy saboteurs” and non-responsive “bunker wombats” to themselves to experience increasing isolation and instead focus on the future of your company.  As someone else put it so admirably, “Help them transition to the competition”.

Companies usually move quickly into being compliant with current standards and “keeping up” with the times.  In this way they are conserving the value of their company, but they, rather like the Red Queen in “Alice through the Looking Glass” have to run simply to keep up with where they were.  Legal compliance is clearly a good idea; do you have in your Corporate Risk Register a legal compliance approach that includes environmental legislation?  Is it current?

Businesses that engage with becoming more efficient and proactively anticipating these changes are the ones that are creating value within their company.  By using what you have available already to maximum effect, you are creating value.  By being one of the “front runners”, you are creating value.  In this way, businesses move towards being a sustaining organisation, in the sense of the music term “Sustain” – when sustaining a note, the note continues indefinitely. 

So, as an example, for a fighter pilot the two most useless metrics he has are fuel burnt and runway behind him; instead let’s be forward-focused on what we can do (fuel left and runway ahead).  This lets you move to the next step of efficiency and understand, perhaps simply, how you are doing in terms of resources used per product delivered or produced; SDL finds it very rare for companies to be able to answer easily and promptly how much they use like this, and the larger the organisation the more open they can be about it (sometimes anyway).  So at the efficiency stage your objective is to reduce waste progressively, and increase process and material efficiencies, and typical actions are to reduce resource use, re-designing products, using space more efficiently and increasing output without increasing footprint, we typically see savings of 20% or more.  Good examples we know of include Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer, and an SME Otter Brewery in Devon who reduced water use by 25% with our help, and a Building Supply company who we showed by simply measuring and managing their waste they could produce a £1M per year return.

The next two steps are progressively more challenging, moving to being genuinely proactive, where your objective is to pursue strategic opportunities and particularly to become a market leader.  Typical actions are to re-brand and build wider stakeholder support and be early on new product / service demand curves.  Companies here creatively destroy existing product designs and manufacturing models, and re-invent the firm to shift the prevailing business paradigms in environmental and social ideas.  Examples include Unilever and Method, through improved focus and intent.

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under 2012, Change.

Projects Success – the environmental way!

We hosted our first Intelligent Projects Forum for 2012 in March at Bentley’s Oyster and Grill.  It was a lively and well attended event with guests from industries ranging from defence, logistics, telecoms, banking, leisure and publishing.

We were extremely lucky to have Dr John Henry Looney, an environmental expert, lead the discussion at the event and he challenged the group on how sustainable their organisations are.   Drawing on some in-depth examples, John Henry showed that enabling your organisation to measure and also understand the economic benefits of being environmental will help to make changes in your business.  Giving individuals financial accountability will always affect performance!

One of the members of the group, James Smith from Nationwide prompted an interesting discussion around the concept of ‘think big, act small’; a subject very close to the hearts of many of our senior project owners.

The Intelligent Projects Forum meets four times a year in a central London restaurant, usually mid week.  It is our aim to build a framework for success for projects and reduce the incidence of failing projects that occur today.

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under Change, 2012.

The Nine Serial Project Killers of a Digital Campaign

Earlier this year Peter Mayer from Pelicam and Alan Thompson from the Haystack Groupaddressed a group of senior marketers from the Financial Services Forum to discuss the challenges in managing complex projects. In the past, running a marketing campaign was a relatively simple affair; the business or brand would employ a creative and a media agency and between them virtually any campaign could be managed, from ads to packaging.

However over recent years, this picture has changed considerably. There may be a host of agencies - digital, PR, CRM, and direct in addition to the traditional creative and media agencies. To complicate matters, new agencies are springing up to manage new media - social media, smartphone apps, and so on.

Pelicam’s research of nine serial project killers apply to digital marketing projects in the same way as a business or IT project.    These nine serial project ‘killers’ can delay, derail or even destroy any digital project.

It’s often said that an error discovered in test is 100 times the cost of one found in design. We have found this to be absolutely true whilst working with brands to help roll-out campaigns over a decade of project work.

Can project management be the answer to cracking digital campaigns?

We think the best way to manage a great campaign is to develop ‘Project Intelligence’, where the impact of different cultures, skills and mindsets can be assessed and juggled. It is key to deciding what’s important and knowing what action needs to be taken. Good project people will understand this, see the complexity and plot a path through the serial killers: 

Establishing Dependencies - lacking in 92% of projects

To plot how different parts of a project have an impact on one another, three steps can be found in any marketing manual:

● Understand what needs to be delivered and how;

● Understand the sequence of tasks and how each impact on the next;

● Define dependencies, for example have prototypes delivered before they can be tested.  

However, there is a fourth step usually omitted - go through it all again -weekly.

Simple on paper! When you have multiple work-streams, suppliers and departments, such simple relationships evaporate. Plotting a diagram to show dependencies can be a difficult task and in the end can resemble spaghetti. This could account for why so few projects are mapped. But you should always strive to map dependencies and understand where the weak points are.  

Poor Stakeholder Engagement - 84% of projects

A Native American expression goes something like this “to know a man you need to walk a mile in his shoes”. This has applications to getting stakeholders on-board and your project completed.

Get your head around the perspectives of stakeholders and communicate as much as you can usefully. Make sure this is part of the central plan, not a peripheral endeavour.

Even more useful to your project: map not the influence and importance of stakeholders, but their influence and interest in the project. This way, you can eke out those who may not have much influence, but could cause massive problems for you if they are not managed. Once your stakeholders are categorised, develop a communications strategy to manage them.  

Disjointed Planning - 84% of projects  

The easiest way to plan is to load information into a Gantt chart. Job done?

One organisation we worked with had 10,000 individual parts mapped on the Gantt chart. Our first step was to persuade them to put this plan into the bin. This can be a difficult area - to map a project minutely gives great reassurance but it will not be realistic.

Map your project simply on a single piece of A4 paper. If this seems impossible, you should be worried.

Test the ‘Islands of Stability’ concept - chunk-up projects into manageable sections with its own benefits, so if the project was to stop there, there would be a measurable benefit.  

Uncertain Quality Targets - 82% of projects

One of the most subversive killers. This could be down to a failure to ask the right questions.

Consider the Millennium Bridge - still known to Londoners as the ‘Wobbly Bridge’. The project had so much going for it - linking the City with the arts at the Tate Modern, a stunning design and enthusiasm from everyone involved and the general public.

But, pedestrians found the completed bridge to bounce in an alarming way, terrifying them. News reports carried pictures of petrified pedestrians clinging to the floor as if their lives depended on it. Considered acceptable by the design and delivery team, and ‘perfectly safe’ on a desktop model, everyone else regarded this as an obvious and rather embarrassing failure. The structure was soon closed for 2 years and re-engineered to take the bounce out.

Make sure what is acceptable to you and to your team is also acceptable to the end user, and define acceptance criteria. Be explicit: make sure there are no ambiguities or missing or incomplete factors when considering these criteria.  

Risk Issue and Change Management - 76% of projects

Darwin wrote in ‘The Origin of Species’: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change,” which is the simple definition of survival of the fittest.

This does not mean your project needs change for the sake of change. Another quote puts this in context, this time from Dr Martin Luther King Jr: “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent."

So, to make change work for you. You need to be in control.

This has relevance for changing the scope of a project. If more is to be added to the project scope, consider very carefully how this will change the overall project.

On the risk side, there is a tendency to go through risk processes, but not consider the actual risk. Many projects end up dealing with the effects of risk when they arrive - like dealing with the symptoms of a disease, but not the disease itself.  

Inconsistent Governance - 68% of projects

This refers to the killers within - those delivering a project who may be strangling it. This is unlikely to be intentional, and could happen through changing roles or personnel, changing organisational structures, shifting performance indicators or short sighted decision making.

But these are the types of situation where project managers earn their stripes - keeping the project on-track and under control. Victory could even mean closing the project - every project should have an end plan built-in.

Remember that you either deliver your project and everyone is happy, or you bring it to a close, but plan for both possibilities.

This digital killer is linked to the management of stakeholders. Be careful of too many stakeholders, and of stakeholders falling away, of complicated organisations, lots of organisational change, disrespect for project managers and particularly long meetings. 

Poor Work Package Management - 68% of projects

The definition is the ‘Passing the responsibility of completing a product (or work) to another party.’

Done by the book, this is a simple procedure. Be careful of making arrangements on a ‘mates’ basis, without clear delivery contracts. Vague terms like ‘partnerships’ between other companies or government departments can lead you down this path. Make sure everyone knows what the project goals are and ‘partners’ are tied to clear timetables. 

No Business Case - 66% of projects

Is what you are doing going to achieve anything? Often, projects without a business case are portrayed as ‘no-brainers’. Be very careful here.

Clues are out there. For example, if a business sponsor is difficult to find or non-existent then alarm bells should ring. The same if there is just one solution proposed. It could be that an alternative and perhaps non-technical (perhaps cheaper) solution has not even been considered.

There may be a wonderful solution floating around just looking for a problem to take it on. Be careful here too. Conversely, the problem may be clear from a corporate strategy, but the alignment of the two may not be easy.

Finally, business benefits may be unspecific, intangible or based on a specific possible future scenario that may well never materialise. Equally, there could be massive theoretical benefits that fall apart under scrutiny or when compared to costs. Even if you have managed the project well, you may still need the support and involvement of a senior executive to make sure the outcome is adopted across the company.  

Compromised Testing - 66% of projects

If live projects fail straight away, then the testing schedule has failed. One example could be the phenomenally complex baggage handling system at Heathrow Terminal 5, which turned into two days of fiasco when opened.

Try to test the strategy at the definition stage, and get users involved early on. Make sure responsibilities are clear and your suppliers are on-board and happy to commit to what you are trying to do.

Finally, plan for contingencies - try to break the system you have to find weak points.  

In summary:

We find these nine digital killers are those that hit digital projects again and again.   Download our nine serial project killer factsheet to help you to focus on what to avoid when running a digital project.

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under 2012, Project Killers.

Is your business ready for change?

A typical scenario – our business is investing around £15m in a new supply chain management solution; how do we ensure that our business is ready to capitalize on this investment and deliver the business case benefits?  It seems so logical from the outset, why wouldn’t we demand that we be ready for taking on the new systems and processes, this should be the easy bit shouldn’t it?  But organisations often pay scant attention to “Business Readiness”, they tolerate business disruption resulting from implementing new systems and processes, they even plan for it. As a consequence they usually experience a range of outcomes from “teething problems” to “complete mayhem”. Is this a necessary evil associated with the implementation of new systems or is there a better way?  What are the really important aspects that lead to success? 

1.     Active and sustaining sponsorship within the business. All too often we see sponsorship delegated to positions with little or no authority to change things. A really good business sponsor is someone who is visible, is seen as the person who is driving the change and demonstrates a willingness to make sacrifices to ensure the change is delivered successfully. A good business sponsor ensures that senior stakeholders are engaged and committed to the change, removing potential obstacles as necessary.

2.     Engage with individuals early – ensure they understand the change vision and its impact on their roles. Involve them in interactive workshops and demonstrate that you are listening to their concerns and ideas. It is natural for some people to show signs of resistance so create an environment that allows this to come to the fore, deal with it in an empathetic manner but without compromising the change. Remember that it takes longer for some people to adjust to change than others.  Having engaged with people, maintain the momentum with well planned interventions and good two way communication.

3.     Secure the “A” team on the project –today’s operational needs are important, but a really smooth embedding of change will likely yield greater long term benefit to the organisation. Smart organisations pay attention to backfilling day to day operations so that they can release key people to prepare for the change. This is also an opportunity for good people to grow by taking lead roles in major change efforts.

4.     Invest, or buy in business process expertise – there are few major systems implementations that don’t require business process change. Typically organisations aren’t strong in business process mapping skills and struggle to develop “to be” operating models.  How many times have you been told by customer services that confusion is a direct result of the introduction of a new system?

5.     Ensure that the planning for user acceptance testing (UAT) is addressed at each stage of the project lifecycle and not left until the end of solution build. Whilst it is normal practice to recruit professional staff to carry out elements within UAT, business involvement and ownership in creating and executing business scripts/tests should not be compromised.     

6.     Ensure training programmes are interactive, participative and stimulating rather than concentrating on functional needs alone. This is an opportunity to get people feeling good about the change.

7.     Invariably new systems replace old legacy systems and there is data that requires cleansing and migration. Whilst automated conversion software will usually be part of the build phase, it is important that each data source has an owner within the business who is responsible for its migration and reconciliation. Don’t forget the data that resides on spreadsheets as this often supports key business processes and requires migration. In essence, plan data quality and migration early, allow sufficient time for testing the end to end process so that it can be ready for implementation.

Focussing on ’business readiness’ from the outset will avoid the situation where new systems and processes are thrust onto an unsuspecting set of business users as has occurred far too frequently in the past. The business impact of poor implementation can be severe - loss of customers, operational inefficiencies, employee morale, regulatory non compliance ... enough business justification to focus attention.

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under Change, 2012.

Stakeholder Management – essential to project delivery success?

A recent gathering of influential senior business leaders involved in project delivery provided the opportunity for a straw poll as to “what is the most important factor essential to project delivery success?” The group were asked to select one factor from the following list:

Project duration

IT engineering/technology

Stakeholder management

Shape of the delivery organisation

Steering committee contribution

Project management competency

Delivery approach/methodology

Is it surprising that the majority felt that stakeholder management was the most influential factor that could determine the success of a project? Why don’t organisations when analysing failed projects conclude that stakeholder management was a contributory factor?

It may be of course that those organisations that actually undertake internal project reviews are not willing to accept that the senior stakeholders were responsible for the project’s failure. It can be too easy to look outwardly at suppliers or other external mitigating factors for the cause of failure. Unfortunately project reviews or “lessons learnt” from failed projects are rarely documented, are rarely publicised and the feedback is rarely put in to corrective actions or processes to prevent recurrence of the issues. Therefore in most cases the cause of project failure is not even analysed.

A review of Pelicam Health Checks  carried out over the last decade would support this assumption. Pelicam’s causal analysis of these projects reveals the true root cause affecting project delivery, many directly associated with poor stakeholder management. The external mitigating factors were simply an effect masking the cause of the issues that led to project failure.

Appointing an external organisation able to carry out a detailed project review objectively and free of internal politics and sentiment can overcome this inability or reluctance to identify the root cause of failure. An external review can often identify the core issues across the organisation and a wider perspective will often enable preventative actions to be taken that influences a cultural change across the organisation that steers towards best practice so that issues do not repeatedly occur.

So what can project practitioners do at the outset of projects and what skills and tools do they need to ensure stakeholders can be managed effectively? The ability to communicate and negotiate effectively is a core skill that every project practitioner must possess, knowing what to communicate, how, when and to whom will shape the relationships they will have with the various project stakeholders. A number of project management approaches also provide tool guidance to project practitioners aimed specifically at managing stakeholders. These tools are often based around the four core factors known to influence stakeholder’s attitudes towards a project:

Importance: measures the priority given to the project by stakeholders and addresses their perception regarding the likelihood of project success.

Influence:  measures the degree to which stakeholders have the influence to affect the project outcome.

Commitment: measures stakeholder availability to participate in the project and to take direct responsibility as well as identifies conflicts limiting or preventing participation.

Engagement: measures stakeholder’s willingness to stay “on board” with the project and clarifies who are the active project participants.

By asking stakeholders relevant questions based around these four factors it is possible map out a stakeholder matrix which in turn identifies the potential project strengths and weaknesses and ways that these can be used to influence a more positive project outcome. The matrix then provides an ongoing project management tool for developing and executing a relationship strategy for each stakeholder. 

The stakeholder matrix can be used very effectively by project practitioners but it only has limited impact as a “bottom up” lever. If the senior stakeholders are not aligned organisationally or are not personally accountable for the project’s success then at some time or other critical project issues can emerge. As the disengaged stakeholders look to distance themselves from the perceived problems, not recognising their actions may be the root cause, the project spirals out of control.

A strong “top down” lever that can be used to complement and support stakeholder management is to align stakeholder KPIs to those of the project. If a senior stakeholder’s own recognition and reward is dependent on the project outcome there is a much greater chance that the stakeholder will do everything within their power to overcome barriers to success and to ensure a successful delivery.

In summary:

Stakeholder management should be considered essential to guarantee project delivery success but is often overlooked or underestimated. Strong communication skills, a clear relationship strategy plan and stakeholder KPI alignment to the goals and objectives of the project should be considered essentials to any project practitioner looking to ensure a successful project delivery outcome.

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under 2011, Stakeholders.

Project Management Methodology – There is no ‘one size fits all’.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” project management methodology.  Success relies upon the expertise of the project manager to engage the right tools, techniques and people.  So how can you bring together all the strategic ideas, knowledge, skills, tools and techniques that enable a project manager to understand what it may take to deliver a successful project? 

“Project management is the process by which projects are defined, planned, monitored, controlled and delivered such that the agreed benefits are realised.” APM BOK 

The (admittedly) simplistic (but nonetheless correct) diagram clearly demonstrates the limitations of what we currently think of as project management methods.

 According to the various venerable organisations Project Management ensures that we must:

Understand need the project will address

Determine success criteria and benefits

Define what has to be accomplished

Plan how to deliver required accomplishments

Monitor and control to ensure progress is in line with objectives

Manage resources effectively

 Yet think through (for a moment) which single methodology does all this? None!

The PMI® Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge has volumes that cover a framework of processes, their inputs and outputs

PRINCE2TM seeks to provide (only) a means of controlling a project environment

ISO 10006 provides guidelines to quality aspects of project management

BS 6079:2000

Project management as a discipline recognises that there is a set of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques that enable organisations to successfully deliver projects that include:

Organisation, scope, cost, schedule, quality, communications, risk and opportunity, procurement, integration

Yet over two thirds of projects with a significant IT element fail to deliver to time, cost and quality, let alone realise organisational benefits.  The introduction of professional qualifications such as PRINCE, MSP, APM and PMP has standardised “what” project managers should do, but not “how, when or why”.   Similarly training courses are rarely trained by people who have ever done, or still do, the job! 

Organisations need to be able to address these and many other issues head-on and provide a coherent means by which:

The true ‘need’ of a project can be addressed

Appropriate criteria for success are identified so that benefits can be tracked and delivered

A single definition of what has to be achieved is agreed

A coherent and realistic plan is in place

Control is established to proactively manage the project (not react to mistakes)

Resources

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under Project Methods, 2011.

The Culture Beast - Ignore it at your peril.

One of the biggest barriers to achieving sustainable business change is culture, or as I refer to it, the culture beast. Senior managers within organisations can do a great job at researching opportunities, identifying a case for change and preparing a flawless business case, but if this change involves changes to individual roles, behaviour change, relationship changes (i.e. the people aspects of change), as most major changes do, then ignore the culture beast at your peril.  The change may also challenge the core values of the organisation's brand. The problem with the beast is that it is not immediately visible, and therefore difficult to grab hold of. Yes there are signals above the surface that indicate what the cultural challenge may be, for example staff attitude surveys, but the problem still lies beneath the surface within the organisation,  and within the beliefs, attitudes and core values of the organisation's people.  The culture beast is highly resilient as it has formed in the majority of cases over many years.

So what happens when a major change occurs that requires some cultural shift, even if relatively minor? Well the culture beast is intelligent,  it will appear as if it has gone to sleep whilst everyone at the Project Executive Committee pat each other on the back prior to announcing yet another major change.  As the change is socialised amongst its targets, the culture beast will remain in the background, not choosing to surface whilst everyone is in “happy talk” mode about the new change.     

Recently, I learned of an interesting example of the culture beast de-railing what seemed like a very successful business change in an organisation. This was a major business change that involved acquisition, outsourcing and a major change to its operating model. All seemed to be working well, the change was completed within schedule and business executives, still in happy talk were patting each other on the backs.  Part of the change involved the outsourcing of laboratory testing from a remote site in Scotland to Scandinavia, a far larger and more technologically advanced organisation. The change involved changing the roles of the current experts, from carrying out the experiments and trials, to that of governing the entire process.

All seemed to be going well, the two teams had engaged and worked out what needed to be done, no major entries in the ‘issues and risk’ registers therefore. There didn’t appear to be any major surface resistance, and it provided an opportunity for a couple of people to leave on favourable terms.  The new site in Scandinavia was visited, and all looked in great shape.

Around nine months after the change was complete and declared a resounding success, the HR Business Partner decided that it was time to pay a visit to the remote site in Scotland to see how they were getting along with their new governance role. She arrived and was taken aback when she saw the laboratory working at full steam, literally.  When she challenged the head of the function about the changes in roles & responsibilities, she was met with stern defence. A governance process had been set up as planned, but the problem was, the current team, with years of knowledge just didn’t trust their new partner.  There had been a few errors in the early days of the change, so replacing people’s eyes and brains with technology was a big risk in the eyes of the dedicated team, and they all had the interests of the organisation at heart.  Their resistance to change manifested itself in them setting up a duplicate testing process, just to make sure. The problem was that this was duplicating costs, and eroding the benefits associated with the change, and relationships with the outsourced organisation was strained as there was a clear lack of trust.  So, had this change been accomplished, or had the culture beast pounced at a time when the organisation were off guard! Was the real reason for the duplication that they enjoyed the hands on nature of the job they had been doing for years, and an unwillingness to let go?

So, how can we take, or work with this culture beast, because we all know that changes that challenge existing culture will be necessary for progression and growth.  Here are 5 important tips for working with the beast:-

1.     Great sponsorship - this will help resistance come to the surface rather than seeping underground where it is usually more disruptive

2.     Ensure fair consequence management is in place

3.     Don’t celebrate success too early

4.     Management control – look for real evidence and not just words or assurances from people

Of course, many organisations have managed to work with the beast and affect sustainable change, but more continue to fail. And once the beast has changed ... really changed, then it will take another change effort for it to move back or change further! 

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under 2011, People, Culture.

Realising Project Intelligence courses have sustained benefits.

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Project Intelligence is the basis for all Pelicam rescue and assurance assignments. We teach our clients’ project teams what it is we do when we rescue projects and assure project integrity; we call this Realising Project Intelligence (RPI).  We recently contacted our clients several years on from attending the course and confirmed there are some really long term benefits from attending the course.  As a consequence of this we are running further courses with our clients throughout the coming months.  Several have booked the courses for their teams, but we are now also running an ‘Open RPI’ course where up to two people from each organisation can attend.

Facilitated by Project Experts

The two day course is best suited to the more experienced project manager, who finds that despite knowing the correct processes and procedures, projects still continue to be challenging. Facilitated by a project assurance expert, there is real integrity in the course for attendees.  When we trained over 80 project people at Centrica and Nationwide Building Society the feedback from the teams was incredible.

“Brings together years of “undocumented” experience - warts and all”
    
“The most insightful, thought provoking and valuable course I have been on”

“The facilitator inspired us to go back and redefine our projects; he acted as the voice of reason.  He invigorated the delegates adn motivated us to think long and hard about how to run a project well.”


Immediate improvement

Following the course, the attendees are tasked to identify areas within their current role and projects what needs to be improved and to apply the learning from the course.  The Pelicam one-to-one follow up which is carried out directly after this showed there was a marked improvement in personal effectiveness and as a consequence the performance of the projects.

“I have seen a marked improvement in sponsorship and business engagement”

“I have transformed the role of the PMO from …I now proactively monitor and control the project”  

“Our business critical customer billing and SAP upgrade project is now on-track  for the first time” 

Sustained benefits

We know that individuals often feel motivated and ready to put change into action following a training course, but how long will it last?  We were very excited to hear that the RPI course has had a long lasting effect on the individual’s behaviour and performance.

“I now approach risk proactively (not reactively) and build it into the project and I challenge work streams constructively ensuring we are better able to focus attention, manage costs and deliver tangible benefits.”

“I identified benefits realisation as another area of focus - accurate identification of measurable, meaningful benefits gains my project sponsors commitment. I now push the project owners to identify strong benefits that have a real impact in reducing costs for the business.” 

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under 2011, Project Intelligence.

CRM Success: Aligning your organisational culture to leverage the full potential of CRM

Customer relationship management systems can be found in all shapes and sizes; their central purpose to help you gather data which leads to a better understanding of your customers.  Only by understanding your customer will you be able to: offer them the customer experience they desire; assist them in buying the products they need or want; improve internal efficiency; identify new customer and product opportunities.  In effect: only by understanding your customers will you create organisational success.

The value of the intelligence that you get out of CRM systems is only as good as the quality of the data that’s collected; therein lies the challenge.  In order to capture up to date, meaningful and valuable information on your customers, share it across all your internal teams to create a joined up, holistic service to your customer; you need to create full alignment within your internal culture.

What does this mean? ‘Understanding your customer’ needs to be more than a one off project; reserved for the few; it needs to be embedded in the culture of the organisation.  All employees must embrace it; the reward system must incentivise it; Management Information must measure it and customer feedback should shape it.

To help bring some of these CRM discussions into reality, below I have outlined a few scenarios which we’ve experienced  in working with our clients.

 

Customer advocacy: can you measure it?

Many companies are struggling to find the right solution to generating more income when in actual fact the answer to that problem is right under their noses. Companies shouldn’t underestimate the hidden value of their customers; a great customer experience strengthens the emotional connection with customers and then manifest itself in customer advocacy; most of which you will never hear about.

The power of customer advocacy has never been more real, with more choice being made available to customers and an increasing squeeze on disposable income encouraging customers to analyse their spending in more detail. Sales through improved service is a strategy which can make a huge difference to both the customer experience and ultimately the success of the business.

So what’s all this got to do with CRM?  Before we start exploring this, lets define what customer advocacy is in a little more detail.

A standard referral is simply the passing on of details at arms length without committing to the quality or direct suitability for the particular problem at hand. A good example of this would be providing someone with the details of the nearest garage, you may not know whether they solve the specific mechanical problem for the person, you have simply pointed them in the right direction.
Customer advocacy goes far beyond this, as the Advocate is putting forward a personal recommendation; and therefore essentially putting their own reputation on the line by advocating you. True advocacy, comes not just from delivering technical competence, but also from customer service too.

I could name dozens of businesses and people that I have advocated as potential suppliers or partners, all of whom say after they’ve started with new a service provider how happy they are and what a difference it makes – which is not surprising. What’s really interesting is that most of these (if not all), are just taking my recommendation and just getting on with it, so the advocacy is extremely powerful in attracting new clients.

However, the reverse can equally be true, as much as customers can advocate you and bring you more new customers, by the same power of recommendation; they could also be discouraging potential customers. This is why ensuring that your customer service delivery matches customer expectations is so important.

So where does CRM come into play?  A CRM solution which enables an organisation to capture information about customer advocacy; and use this insight for profiling customers (and potential customers) and the relationship they have with the customer, will be extremely powerful.  This takes it beyond the transactional level of just a ‘customer database’ including: contact history; communication preferences; and predictive cross-sell/up-sell opportunities.  Many organisations use the Net Promoter Index to gauge the level of customer advocacy; this provides management information but not intelligence.  Net Promoter outlines the likelihood of Advocacy, not an actual measurement of the customer advocacy happening for the organisation, which is much more meaningful. A CRM solution which allows an organisation to track referrals will enable them to develop customer insight on a deeper level, thereby forging a stronger relationship, and offering rewards for the organisation in terms of retention, sales and new clients through advocacy.

Improving efficiency : avoid eliminating your vital customer interaction points

We have seen organisations re-engineer processes and customer interactions in order to improve operational efficiency; but then in streamlining processes and using CRM solutions to automate tasks, the organisation has lost a prime customer touchpoint.  This touchpoint could have been used to: provide a service experience which is different to the competition; gain customer insight to inform the organisation; and/or been used to cross sell another product or services.  So, in the plight of operational efficiency, CRM solutions can save operating cost but at the same time; leave gaps in your customer intelligence; negatively impact your customer experience; and create missed sales opportunities.  So, when looking at processes and how a CRM solution can help, seriously look at the customer experience from both the customer and organisations point of view. 

 

It’s all about the technology: people make the difference

Every customer interaction needs to be viewed as an opportunity. Staff need to maximise customer contact by asking questions which will give the organisation more customer intelligence. Customer behaviour is changing dramatically and rapidly, so asking questions beyond just resolving the specific query/request will provide huge insight into the current customer challenges, concerns and issues. Capturing this insight into a CRM solution enables the organisation to be dynamically informed of how customer behaviour is changing; allowing it to be nimble in its product and service development. 

Systems cannot provide all the answers; staff need to be trained in how to introduce these key questions into the conversation. The way this is executed makes a significant difference to the customer, and the results for the organisation. Not every customer may want to be asked these more probing questions, so staff need to gauge what’s appropriate, and lead the conversation appropriately to ask the right questions, in the right situation. This deeper level of discussion will build a higher level of emotional connection and hence loyalty with the customer.

 

Cross-selling and up-selling: Make the right sale by asking the right questions

The problem with many cross-sell or up-sell conversations is that they are too artificial – staff are following guidance/scripts rather than engaging in a more natural free flowing yet inquisitive conversation.  This means that the customer is not emotionally in the right place in that point of the conversation for a suggestion of an additional product to be naturally introduced and discussed. And guess what? The customer spots it a mile off! Too often the customer feels like they are being ‘pushed’ a product, whereas the real benefit comes from training staff so they can ask the right and natural questions to lead the conversation to discussing the customers other genuine needs. Train staff in asking the right questions and take guidance from their answers, rather than ensuring they have the cross-sell/up-sell conversation with every customer, at every conversation. It’s about helping the customer to make a decision to buy, rather than being sold to – that’s customer alignment. Think about your own personal circumstances and situations where you have been sold to, versus, assisted to buy something you needed or wanted.

Any CRM solution should appropriately support staff in their plight of providing an exceptional customer experience, but take care that technology doesn’t encourage the interactions to become mechanical or impersonal.

 

Information sharing: will it happen?

At the heart of CRM solutions is a principle of sharing information, which, no doubt, we would all agree is a sensible and valuable thing to do.  However, most organisations do not have the right internal culture to support information sharing, and hence leverage the full potential of a CRM system. Information sharing does not come naturally to a lot of people and isn’t actively encouraged either – in most situations people do not view communication and information sharing as high enough in their priority list of things to do each day.  It may also be that people do not understand why they need to share information or even worse, they are incentivised not to share information.

One of my colleagues was working with a global investment bank reviewing the UK implementation of a company-wide CRM solution.  Whilst conceptually the CRM solution had a great business justification and benefit case:  a holistic view of client relationships; quantifying the true value of the client relationship; identifying and spotting extra opportunities; unfortunately teams worked in their own functional/specialist areas and were not willing to share their information on the client with people outside of their specialist area; nor were they rewarded for doing so.  The culture within the organisation was built around teams of specialists working together to deliver results in their area, so when it came to sharing across specialist areas this conflicted with the culture which was so prevalent.  Changing this would not just be down to strong leadership of the CRM implementation; but more of a fundamental culture shift.  Whilst the CRM solution looked fantastic in the logical world, unfortunately, the emotional world of the organisation culture is what determines whether something will happen or not.

So when looking at implementation of CRM solutions and quantifying the benefits which can be captured, a strong look at the internal culture of the organisation is required.  A CRM implementation will not deliver the benefits itself, the people who have shaped and work  within the culture of the organisation will deliver the benefits.  Unless the organisational culture is aligned to what its targeted to be achieved, any CRM solution will fall short of its aim or true potential. 

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under 2011, People.

Pelicam – from London to Brighton on a bike!

Our fundraising event for 2011 will be the London to Brighton bike ride on Sunday 11thSeptember. The Pelicam team is led by Vince Rawle, and Simone Enefor-Doy our charity partner from Lifelites.

This is no cycle ride round the park! It is a challenging 54 miles from South London, through Surrey, Sussex and finally facing the very steep and formidable Ditchling Beacon just before Brighton. 

If you would like to support the team and help us raise funds for Lifelites to enable them to provide some more technology equipment for one of their 40 children’s hospices around the UK, please visit the online sponsorship pages as follows:

http://www.everyclick.com/vincerawle

Every pound will make a world of difference to the shortened lives of these children.

Many thanks in anticipation for your support.

For further details on Lifelites, please visit their website on www.lifelites.org

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under Charity, 2011.

Project Intelligence – Experience or Training?

The first project I managed was over 30 years ago.  Since that small hardware upgrade I’ve managed, sponsored or been a member of countless project teams.  Like everyone else who’s had that much project exposure I’ve had my share of exhilarating successes and heartbreaking failures.  In what, I suspect is a very British fashion, the successes were only fleetingly celebrated whilst the failures were long agonised over.  Nothing wrong with reviewing why failure occurred and learning lessons but I often felt those inquests never got to the real issues.  And, yet, so often I could see disaster looming, knew that I was participating in a train crash but was unable to express why the project was going wrong.

I’ve recently attended some of Pelicam’s Projects Forums and their Realising Project Intelligence workshop.  The opportunity to learn from their experience and debate with my peers has been fascinating.   The combination of hard skills, typified by the established methodologies such as Prince2 and PMBOK, and the soft skills, for example communication and people management is not enough.  Is there a third ingredient? 

Project Intelligence

Pelicam argue that “Project Intelligence” is the third focus but what is it?  Can it truly be separated from the hard and soft skills to the extent needed to select for it, develop it and train it?

At first glance “Project Intelligence” appears to be little more than the judicious, pragmatic application of the hard and soft skills, by an experienced Project Manager (PM).  Dig a little deeper and you realise that experience applied pragmatically is a very powerful capability. 

So, can we fast track less experienced PMs?  After all “Project Intelligence” is of limited value if the only route to achieving project success is to engage seasoned, highly experienced PMs.  And, an extremely disheartening answer for a young aspiring PM.

The discussions and training have persuaded me that there are insights, techniques and approaches that are used by the best PMs, and their project teams, and that these can be passed on to others.  Not surprisingly I learnt that senior PMs can also learn from these techniques.  In fact whilst I did learn many new things I also found the course to be a fantastic refresher – a reminder of approaches and tools that for a variety of reasons I’d slipped out of using.

Let me give you a few examples of what was discussed and without giving away all the answers explain why there is a third way. 

Sponsorship

Let’s start with sponsorship.  A frustration of mine is the poor quality of the sponsors that I’ve worked with.  Too many haven’t made any effort to understand what is required of the role.  Whilst very few actively or covertly undermine the project team not many of them provide the support or challenge that the role demands.  Pelicam have some good advice on how the PM should manage this most important of stakeholders.  Developing and maintaining the stakeholder PM relationship is key to a successful project and an inexperienced PM will particularly struggle.  I’ve noticed that external PMs are typically much more adept at this but I also think that they have a tremendous advantage over internal PMs who will feel constrained by the politics and reward structure of the organisation.

Stakeholder management has been identified by Pelicam’s health check analysis as one of the top three critical issues so it’s worth investing to improve this area. 

Project Duration

I was particularly struck in one debate by the inverse correlation between project duration and project success.  Instinctively we might believe this correlation but the empirical evidence is shocking. A Standish report records a 55% success rate for projects of less than 6 months duration which drops to 15% for 18 month projects.[1] John Carroll reports a 50% success rate for sub six month duration projects with no successful projects over 9 months duration! [2]

In the face of such dreadful statistics it was interesting to learn about “Islands of Stability”.  These are quite different to milestones in that they are deliverables with tangible business benefits.  They typically require extra investment and will extend the timeline of the project.  So, the approach will need to be sold but the benefits of reduced risk, greater visibility and higher engagement from the business all make for a strong case.

The Business Case

As a final example I’ll mention the business case.  It’s high on Pelicam’s list of critical issues that contribute to project success or failure.  It’s important that the PM understands the business case because it is so closely related to what success looks like.  It should define the outcomes of the project but surprisingly often, this fundamental aspect is missing or is poorly defined.  So, what does a PM do that finds himself confronted with a weak case?  Many projects today are justified as being mandatory – hardware or software that is going end-of-life, regulatory demands or mandatory audit requirements.  Because these projects are “no brainers” they are susceptible to massive scope creep.  In difficult economic times these are great projects for a canny sponsor to latch on to and add their own pet initiatives.  It will need strong discipline and judicious skills for a PM to negotiate a reduced project scope.  Better to get the objectives right and de-scope at the project start than have to do that later. 

My conclusion is that there definitely is a third way but that “Project Intelligence” is not always a simple thing.  It is more than a re-stating of soft skills and thankfully it can be taught. 

Any Project Manager would benefit from this workshop but it’s especially suitable for PMs who already have a good mastery of the traditional hard and soft skills.

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under 2011, Project Intelligence.

Are Non-Executive Directors doing enough to ensure they comply with the new guidelines of the Corporate Governance Code?

The purpose of this article is to highlight the new guidance that has been introduced by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) in March 2011 (the Guidance). More importantly, to offer the Non Executive Directors (NEDs) some solutions as to what they can do to comply.
 

The new FRC Guidance on the role of the NED focuses on the need for them to become, and remain, well informed about the company and business issues. Are NEDs really in a position to do this? Numerous articles have been written in the press, and on the internet, about the challenge and the need to comply with the guidelines. Few, if any, go on to explain to the NED how they might achieve this. 


Some Background

UK Corporate Governance Code 2010 (the Code) is a set of corporate governance guidelines aimed at listed companies. Under London Stock Exchange (LSE) listing rules, all companies have to disclose how they have complied with the Code and where they have not.

The FRC Guidance on Board effectiveness is one of a number of guidelines issued by the FRC to assist listed companies in complying with the Code.

So, whilst there have been no “statute” changes, the guidelines, in some ways have the same impact. There could well be a severe effect on a listed company’s share price if they stated they were not going to comply with the Guidance – which they would have to declare under listing rules.

Historically, successful civil claims against NEDs are rare. However, recently the case of Lexi Holdings plc v Luqman (2009) developed case law on this subject. Two NEDs were held liable for failing to intervene to prevent the company suffering a loss caused by an Executive Director.  Certainly the environment has changed (as explained in the DLA Piper note) and courts may be prepared to intervene more in the future. 

Non Exec Directors

All NEDs are expected to acquire an understanding of core business activities and their exposure to significant risk. Investment in material business change projects would come under this heading. Whether the amount spent was measured in £000s or £millions it is the risk / business impact that is critical here. All directors (including NEDs) have a duty of care and are not absolved from this simply because they fail in this duty collectively as a Board. Similarly the Board cannot delegate this duty of care to Board committees.

The NED must insist on receiving high-quality information in a timely fashion. High-quality information is that which is appropriate for making decisions on the issue and should be accurate, clear, comprehensive, up-to-date and timely, contain a summary of the contents of the paper and inform the NED of what is expected of him or her on the issue. However, what is clear and comprehensive from a technical perspective can be far less so for an NED without the appropriate technical background.

NEDs can protect themselves to some extent through indemnification by the company, or by indemnity under the company Directors and Officers liability insurance policy. However, to protect their reputation they need to protect themselves from claims in the first place. 

How can Pelicam help?

FRC guidelines create a requirement on NEDs to investigate and assess risk in the organisation. Pelicam can help satisfy this requirement with assurance work and in particular the health checks on projects. 

This will deliver high quality insightful information in a format that a non-technical person can understand.

The focus will be on what is critical to project success and benefit realisation.

The review is not just an audit, but includes pro-active intervention and remediation where applicable.       

The advice is pragmatic and delivered to the client and the project team in a positive way that can be acted upon.

Pelicam's assurance work is carried out in a collaborative style by project directors with over 15 years' experience.      

To ensure consistency, coverage and granularity Pelicam’s Project Assurance Method (PPAM) builds a 500 point review evaluating each aspect of the project in the context of the organisation. This is compiled into a 50 point Key Focus Area Dashboard, using a traffic light system, supplemented by a detailed key findings report and management summary. 

PPAM draws out the key issues that jeopardise projects and benefit realisation. It then presents the information in an understandable and unambiguous style.

An example of a section of one of our dashboards is given below:

Pelicam regularly assure projects for some of the largest organisations in the UK. Recently Pelicam have been working with the NEDs of a large financial services organisation to provide independent and impartial progress assessments of a complex £500 million pound technology programme. 

The Guidance states that it is the responsibility of the NED to investigate and challenge the Board where necessary. The environment for NEDs has changed and the courts may be prepared to intervene and, perhaps, punish more in the future.

It is essential, therefore, that NEDs take the time to understand the Guidance and their responsibilities. The PPAM and dashboard gives the NED the information they need to drill down to the critical issues and ensure that risks are managed in order to protect the stakeholders they represent and themselves.

Corporate City law firm, DLA Piper, have identified some of the risks facing NEDs now and also have offered some advice as to how they can protect their own reputations.

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under 2011, Corporate Governance, Risk Management.

Pelicam get pedalling for Lifelites

A Pelicam Project Assurance team of four intrepid cyclists braved the 55 mile London to Brighton bike ride, raising over £1,500 for our charity partner Lifelites in the process.  While some say “that to find yourself you must first get lost”, we’re not sure Team Pelicam felt quite at peace as ‘early navigation issues’ led to a rather more scenic route than first anticipated.

The bike ride, which includes the infamously gruelling Ditchling Hill, is an annual event open to novice cyclists. Vince Rawle, managing practitioner forPelicam was asked beforehand if he would be taking on the hill from behind the saddle, “Of course, it's a bike ride not a walk,” our fearless fundraiser replied, but after the event when asked if he made a successful assault, he replied “You must be joking!”

Despite the detour, dastardly Ditchling, an ‘over the handlebar’ crash, a broken bike and a bruised collar bone Vince completed the challenge in an incredible 4 hours 40 minutes with the other team members also finishing in very respectable times.

Vince added that “Despite all of my training, I was in no way ready for the London to Brighton bike ride, I now understand why people talk so much about Ditchling…nothing can prepare you for it”…this was a consistent theme with all the debut riders after the race.

Congratulations to Team Pelicam for their achievements and thank  you to everyone for your generous sponsorship which helped raise over £1,500. This is such a terrific sum of money and it will make a huge difference to this small but extremely worthwhile charity.

Lifelites is a charity that helps to support the 40 children’s hospices around the UK by supporting their technological needs to help the lives of terminally ill children.

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under 2011, Charity.

A new competency paradigm

Earlier this year, we launched our Project Management Competency Framework (PMCF) to assist our clients and partners in assessing the capability of their project management community.  The framework is based on the Pelicam Health Check with a similar level of granularity and precision.  It is designed to develop and enhance delivery performance.  

The framework has now been used in a live environment for the first time with one of our clients who wanted to work with their 150+ project and programme managers to identify opportunities for development, resulting in a personalised development plan for each practitioner. The results are currently being analysed but early indications suggest that the assessment has produced some very interesting results, with far wider reaching intelligence than was originally expected. More about this, and other new products, next time…

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under People, 2011.

Why major programmes fail

After all, there is a battery of qualifications and accreditations, methods, review processes, best practice exchanges and skills pools. So why do over 65% of major programmes still fail?

A logician would point out that, with hundreds of ways to fail and only one way to succeed, failure is always going to be more likely than success. But that’s way too fatalistic, and simply not acceptable.

So, what needs to change?

At Pelicam, we believe that it’s not enough for the project management profession to get itself into shape – business as a whole also needs to learn how to handle change programmes. The overwhelming evidence is that programmes are often simply set up wrongly – and much of the blame lies with the business sponsor, and his/her advisors.

After all, who decides what the programme objectives are, and often agrees to (or demands) over-ambitious objectives? Who is responsible for the business change that accompanies (and is enabled by) the IT changes, and which is often not thought through properly? Who has to ensure that the new processes will work, and will deliver the claimed benefit? Who decides when to call a major programme manager in (and often leaves it too late)? Who decides which resources to dedicate to a programme, and which to retain in line management? And who needs to ensure that contractors’ contracts encourage behaviours that support the programme’s objectives?

All of these activities are the responsibility of the senior business sponsor, and failure in one or other of these areas is more often than not a basic cause of a failed programme. But where does the business sponsor acquire the necessary skills and experience to carry out these vital functions effectively?

There are, it must be said, signs of progress in the public sector. Training programs for business change sponsors exist, and a recent (November 2004) National Audit Report recommended (amongst other things) six questions that Accounting Officers should ask of their Boards concerning major IT-based change programmes. However, there is little in the report that talks to the practicalities of implementing all the recommendations, so deployment is inevitably proceeding slowly.

We have developed a call to action for leaders of public and private organisations:

Undertake continuing professional development in managing and sponsoring major change, particularly where IT is concerned. This requires a thought-out career progression which incorporates increasing exposure to, and responsibility for, major change.

Adopt a career management approach that allows the senior sponsor to stay in his/her position of programme responsibility long enough to be fully accountable from concept to implementation, without feeling that they are missing out on other career opportunities.

Select and appoint non-executive directors with specific skills in, and a track record of delivering, major change programmes.

Set up Programme Executive Boards, where the size and nature of change programmes require board-level involvement, and appoint non-executive directors and expert advisors.

Corporate governance regulations should require company reports to disclose major programme investments and their performance.

Many of the mechanisms needed to bring this about are already in place. Corporate Governance standards require clear criteria for the selection and appointment of appropriately skilled non-executive directors. Continuing professional development is increasingly provided and encouraged by organisations and professional bodies. Training courses for business sponsors (particularly in the public sector) are available.

What is needed to get the value from these tools is:-

The will to apply these approaches properly and consistently;

for professions, shareholders and regulators to hold organizations to account; and

support in putting these approaches in place.

So, IOD, CBI and professional bodies, start carrying the message into the Boardroom. There’s a big prize to be had – avoiding huge costs of failure, improving the reputation of the professions involved, and (perhaps most importantly) more investment by organisations, when they start to gain confidence in their ability to make these large investments deliver the benefits they promise.

In the meantime, the Profession continues to put project and programme managers through training and accreditation processes, in the belief that this will bring benefits. And so it does. But as long as programme mangers continue to be confronted with senior executives/civil servants/ministers ignoring or paying lip service to risk registers, or failing to take timely decisions over changes in organisation or processes, or disappearing halfway through a programme having committed to unachievable objectives, there will continue to be a huge gap between what management, shareholders, and the general public expect of major programmes, and what they actually deliver.

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under Corporate Governance, 2010.

Pelicam call to arms on UK plc project expertise

Pelicam CEO Peter Mayer commented: 
“Over the past 10 years there has been a tremendous improvement in the discipline of project management and organisations like ours can now provide the specialist expertise businesses need to manage programmes successfully. There is still room to improve and as a profession we are working on it. But great project teams and great plans are often let down by a lack of support and involvement at board level, which is a significant factor in the failure of many programmes. Many boards simply do not have the skills needed to manage major programmes. We believe this can and must be addressed, and are calling for a five point action plan by business leaders and their stakeholders.”

The Pelicam Plan calls for business leaders to:

1.     Undertake continuing professional development in managing and sponsoring major change, particularly where IT is concerned.

2.     Adopt a career management approach that allows project sponsors to stay in role long enough to be fully accountable from concept to implementation.

3.     Appoint non-executive directors with experience in delivering major change programmes.

4.     Set up Programme Executive Boards to oversee strategic projects, including non-executive directors and independent expert advisors.

5.     Disclose their performance on major programme investments in company reports.

Peter Mayer added:
“Stakeholders have an important role to play in holding organisations to account on project management and we’re seeing that happen in the public sector, thanks to bodies like the National Audit Office. In the private sector that role has to be filled by shareholders and business institutions, and we urge them to press for more visibility and accountability. If stakeholders and business leaders start to take active responsibility for programmes in this way it will reduce the number that fail and considerably improve organisations’ operating and financial performance.”

The Pelicam Plan stems from a report into why major programmes fail by Pelicam associate David Ferguson.

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under Corporate Governance, 2010.

Innovation – business school buzzword or the next bottled water?

Economic expansion – two words that are music to the most tone deaf ears. To many, it means budgets that were once hacked to woodchips can once again flourish as mighty oaks. 

The press and business community can become frenzied during shifts from cost containment to growth spending.  This often leads to an abundance of buzzwords that embody trendy new concepts.  Process Re-Engineering and Employee Involvement were the business buzzwords of the early ‘90s.   The late ‘90s brought us Y2K, e-commerce and PMO (programme management office).   In 2005, Innovation and Change Management are embraced as critical success factors.

Are these terms a re-cast of the past?   Current research and literature suggest not.   The context of Innovation is now more crisply defined: consistent top line growth through a shift in business approach; in particular, leveraging talent and investment in R&D to create higher added value and thus achieve competitive advantage – and higher profits. 

Everyone wants to create the next Starbuck’s experience, with customers flocking for their favourite brew with little regard for price, complicated drink orders piercing the coffee-klatch din.

The key for Starbucks in sustaining its competitive advantage is not just to have had a good idea, but to execute it consistently well – to the point where regulars often find their order waiting for them on arrival.  Ideas without implementation are like a high performance car stuck in rush hour traffic – getting nowhere. 

Delivery is everything – and with speed to market essential, project assurance plays a critical part in the top performers’ success stories. 

As project consultants, how can we create ‘the Starbucks effect’ for our clients?  I believe there are three key elements to this: 

1.     Keep on top of the latest studies on Innovation, its benefits and the pitfalls.  I recommend:

Cardiff University Innovation Network:  http://www.innovation-network.org.uk/

CORDIS UK Research and Innovation.

MIT Sloan School of Management – affiliated with Cambridge, Sloan focuses on innovation, entrepreneurship and best business practice, with a range of post- and undergraduate courses on these subjects. 

Innovation That Fits – Moving Beyond the Fads to Choose the Right Innovation Strategy for Your Business, Lord, Michael D; deBethizy, J Donald; Wager, Jeffrey D., February 2005 - documents failed attempts of very large companies to branch outside their core business with Innovation, acquisitions of innovative technologies, and attempts to behave like a start-up

2.     Understand the client’s business – their top-line growth, performance against targets, position in the market, customer proposition and employee culture.  This will give you a sense of the impact the successful delivery of your project on their organization.

3.     Take a creativity-driven approach, blending strengths in technology, business process design and change management to support clients in developing ideas and delivering them too.

In this way you will be able to bring the principles of innovation to your own practice as well as delivering more value to your clients.  Now there’s a good idea! 

Lisa McNew

Ms. McNew is a strategic, innovative and results-oriented executive with 19 years building and leading fast paced, winning organizations and businesses, and an associate of Pelicam Project Assurance in the UK. A skilled professional with repeated, measurable results in strategy, business development and planning, operations, merger transitions, information technology, program management and supplier management.

Ms. McNew has held executive and leadership positions at Fortune 20 to Fortune 1000 and start-up firms.  Enterprise project rescue, challenging situations and uncharted territory catch her eye and spark her interest as attractive opportunities.  Transitioning her duties as CEO and Founder of ATW – Alliance of Technology and Women, she is consulting internationally.

Ms. McNew holds an MBA from the University of Texas, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Arizona.  She serves on the advisory boards of the National Girls Collaborative Project and the University of Arizona Eller College MIS Department.  Having grown up 60 miles from the Mexican Border, she is also Spanish speaking.  

In her lifelong quest for knowledge, she has attended Northwestern’s Kellogg Executive Track program and was an advisor in the design of a UT Dallas executive leadership course, "Positioning Women for Corporate Boards.”

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under Change, 2010.

Running Effective Meetings

Time is money and I’m sure that we all have often looked around the room at a major meeting and thought ‘what on earth is it costing for all these people to be here?’ And yet, we also know how easily major planning or strategy meetings can leave managers asking ‘what have we really achieved’. That’s why many companies are now using outside facilitation.

We asked Shaun Goodwin, a practitioner at Pelicam and facilitation specialist, about the benefits.

“Strategic and Planning meetings, particularly if multi-functional or involving different geographies”, Shaun told us, “can benefit considerably from facilitation.” To sum up the key reasons:

With no need for an internal manager to concentrate on running the meeting, all the participants can truly participate.

Political or responsibility issues reduce to a minimum, because participants can trust the objectivity of the facilitator, who does not have an empire to protect!

As the facilitator has experience of and is aware of cultural differences, misunderstandings can be avoided.

A good facilitator will ensure that all views are heard and also that no one hides!

The facilitator focuses on the objectives of the meeting, without that being muddied by any personal or departmental agenda; this ensures that the objectives are met without the risk of any sidetracking.

When disputes or log jams do occur, various techniques and processes can be introduced to the group to help resolve any issues. At times, companies have as a result opted for a team building workshop which I run, to cover these and help all future meetings. I am not talking about white water rafting, or building rope bridges across ravines here, but practical, effective techniques and advice.

Ultimately, of course, all these factors mean that money is saved, because the planning process does not drag on and rework and duplication of effort is avoided. Well worth the investment!”

Pelicam Project Assurance

Pelicam is a specialist project assurance and resourcing company helping major organisations manage change by delivering complex projects. 

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under 2010, Project Methods.

Personality Types in Business

What’s your type?

Jung defined his personality types back in the 30s, but they can be surprisingly helpful in improving teamwork and personal performance today.

Carl Jung is one of the founders of psychotherapy alongside Freud and has had a profound influence on all areas of modern human understanding. What many do not realise is that he was the first thinker to look at human behaviour in terms of personality types. Most of us in business will at some point have come across a training or motivational programme that involves an adaptation of these types. Using the old adage that the original is the best, this introduces you to how Jung’s types can apply in business. Understanding these types can help us to spot when we have a square peg in a round hole, or why a team isn’t working.

There are four functional types, but each of these can be introverted or extraverted, making eight in total.

Introvert or extravert?

Extraverts relate to the world outside and are largely influenced by the reaction of others to them. These people are therefore excellent presenters and communicators. They like to please others. This makes them easy to manage in one sense, because they will respond well to praise and direction from their boss. However, they can also be overly sensitive to criticism and that can involve ‘high maintenance’, because the manager has to be careful how things are put to them and has to reassure them of their worth if they receive too much challenge from colleagues, customers or suppliers.

Introverts on the other hand relate to the world by looking inward. They therefore are self-motivating and work for self-satisfaction, rather than for praise. They like to be left alone and to get on with things and dislike meetings or discussion. They can be difficult to manage because they like to do their own thing, not being too concerned about what others or their boss thinks, as long as they have done themselves justice in their eyes. However, on the good side, they will stick to their guns and are not easily swayed. An introvert is the sort of person that a manager can sit at a computer and trust to design a project or write software or copy, but he/she will often need an extravert to present his/her ideas to others and make things happen. Put these two types together and you have a great team and all successful teams have a balance of both.

The four functions

Thinking types

Thinking people have logical, probing and questioning minds, they are good at seeing cause and effect, analysing situations and reaching logical conclusions. They like facts and need proof. In business they are the project managers, the programme writers and the scientists. They can be distant socially and emotionally. The extravert thinking person loves order and facts and will want to impose his/her vision and understanding on the world, he/she is therefore very good for pushing projects through.

The introvert thinker is very different, he/she will tend to come up with ideas and plans without much thought for their practicality. Whilst the extravert thinker is out there making things happen, the introvert is at home coming up with the next idea, but will need an extravert to help him/her understand if that idea is practical or not. Introvert thinkers tend to be the software or business developers

Feeling Types

These types go with what they feel in their gut. They instinctively know what is right and are often warm and creative people. They are good judges of character. The extravert is a great team player, jovial and encouraging to everyone. They love mixing socially and oil the wheels of conversation. They can, however be a bit shallow and insincere at times, sacrificing the truth for harmony or success. They are often seen in marketing and sales and can frustrate the thinkers with their quick decisions and judgements. In turn they are frustrated by the thinker’s need to analyse and check all the facts, becoming impatient.

The introvert feeling type, on the other hand, is reserved and quiet, but can often be the conscience of a group, with a telling observation or comment at the right moment.

Sensation Types

These types, if extraverts, love rolling their sleeves up and getting their hands dirty. They enjoy machines and are great at fixing them. They are often wheeler-dealers, traders, importers and hardware suppliers. They are pleasure seeking and love a beer after work or a good curry.

Introverts on the other hand live in their own world and are a bit out of touch with others. They find it hard to express themselves in groups and will not be prominent in a team. However, they will be good at making things work, but will need to be asked and brought into the group if you want to know what they are thinking.

Intuitive Types

These types become uninterested in the way things are and will often make decisions without knowing all the facts. They easily get bored with convention and look for news ways of doing things; they are therefore great for helping to find ways around problems, if you can get them to engage. They rarely see things through to the end and they can trample upon others to get what they want. They need to have people around them to make sure that projects are run competently. However, with their willingness to take risks and run with ideas they make great entrepreneurs and CEO’s. Richard Branson is a good example of this type.

The introvert intuitive lives in a world of dreams and visions and is rarely seen in business, unless it is a new age shop!

The Meeting

So, how might a meeting go with one of each of these types present? I should point out that the chosen sex for each person is random; all types can be equally male or female.

Extravert Thinker: She is the project manager, who presents the plan to the team. She is forthright, well informed and determined to achieve acceptance for her plan.

Introvert Thinker: He works with the extravert and wrote much of the plan, spending two weeks at home on his own to do so, he is quite happy for the extravert to take the limelight however, as he is uncomfortable presenting.

Extravert Feeling Type: This is the marketing guy. He is jolly and upbeat and comes up with a couple of new ideas that he knows will work and gets frustrated with the thinkers’ mistrust of his gut instinct. He’d also like quicker delivery. He gets most of what he wants through charm and conviction, but does accept the thinkers’ insistence that he should fund some more research to check out his ideas.

Introvert Feeling Type: She is the software developer and doesn’t really know why she is at the meeting. She is quiet and bored throughout, although at one point she does pipe up to point out that one of the marketing guy’s ideas is completely impractical.

Extravert Sensation Type: This is the sales director. He gets annoyed both with the thinkers and the feelers, because neither of them is at the coalface. He knows how things really are. He is quite happy for them to prattle on as long as he gets what his customers want, at a good price and with good trade terms. He suggests at the end of the meeting that they all go for a pie and a pint, where he prefers to put forward his views rather than at the meeting, wheeling and dealing.

Introvert Sensation type: She runs a small team at the technical centre. She gives good expert advice when asked, but otherwise doodles.

Extravert Intuitive: The boss. Wants to know what, when, how, but no detail. He has another meeting that day, where he will discuss the next major idea he has had. He leaves before the end of the meeting, making clear that jobs are on the line if the project isn’t a success.

Introvert Intuitive: The copywriter. The marketing manager thought that it would be useful if he came along to get more background on the project, but he had forgotten to put the meeting in his diary and doesn’t show up. Everyone, however, does really like his ideas, which the marketing manager had brought along with him.

So, there you have it. Which type are you? And when you are next at a meeting, look around. What types are your colleagues?

© Shaun Goodwin 2005

To find out your type, and for more about Jung’s theory: 
www.humanmetrics.com 
www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/jung.html 
www.cgjungpage.org/

Shaun Goodwin

Following a successful career in sales and marketing with Procter and Gamble, Shaun became a freelance Senior Management Consultant in the mid 90s. He has managed a wide variety of projects at a senior level, with a focus on strategic planning and implementation, including the facilitation of planning and strategic workshops.

Shaun’s role has often included help with team building and interpersonal skills – effectively helping people to work together better in a wide range of industries.  His experience is global and he has frequently blended people from different cultures, functions and national localities into successful teams.

To assist with his knowledge in these areas he is at present studying part time for a Masters Degree in transpersonal psychotherapy.

Recent clients have included Nationwide, Motorola, Virgin, ntl, Manpower, Carillion, BT, France Telecom, Redemptorist Publications, GE Smallworld, Time Computers, Financial Times, and Optelma Lighting

 

Posted on September 24, 2014 and filed under 2010, People.