SPONSORING A PROJECT? HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF!

If you are the senior manager responsible for a project, here are a series of questions to ask yourself at the start to ensure success!

  1. Are the objectives and benefits achievable? The project may be very well intentioned and it may sound very grand but can your organization actually do it (even with advice) and will it be worthwhile?
  2. Is this the right investment for the organization at this time and how does this project fit within the existing programme of projects and competing priorities for the organization. It may sound right but you may have a lot of other priorities right now – can the resource be made available?  Will some other project already underway make this project redundant even before it starts?
  3. Who are the stakeholders and do they agree on the  objectives and benefits? What other parts of the organization and the supply chain will you be dependent on?  Will your  customers appreciate the benefits you plan?
  4. Is there anything novel in terms of process or technology and can you cope with it?  This particularly important for IT based projects – leading edge is one thing – bleeding edge quite another? If it is IT and you don’t know the difference then definitely take advice!
  5. Are you clear about the scope – is there a project brief that describes the project in full and from a business perspective? Do you understand where the boundaries of your project are?  What is  in and what is out?  If you don’t know, you may find it very difficult to know when you have a success and also to control your costs!
  6. Does the project fit well with  your organization’s  strategic initiatives, frameworks and architectures? Does this fit well with the overall direction of the organization, is it compatible with your existing service contracts – if it is IT,  will it fit in with your existing systems?
  7. Have you tested the underlying assumptions within the project brief and business case? Have you really challenged the team on the assumptions they have made – are they being realistic and do the figures really stack up?
  8. Does the project have an agreed set of performance measures against which performance can be measured during the life of the project, and at its conclusion? How can you ensure the right quality is being delivered!   What will be the key milestones and how will you know when you have got there?
  9. Does the business case reflect the full cost of the project including associated business change costs? Buying an IT system for example is not completing a project – what about   the cost of training you staff? What about the cost of the time they spend training?  How much will you pay for support? How will funding be tracked?
  10. Are you confident that you are the right person to sponsor for this project? Do you have the knowledge needed – if not,  have  you the time to learn – can you find a mentor?  Have you got the time to do it?  Are you senior enough?  Will you have to refer key decisions further up the line?

If you would like advice on any of this then Wisewolf Consulting will be happy to help!  You can contact us at this link

HOW TO RECOGNISE A COMPETENT PROJECT OR PROGRAMME MANAGER

A competency framework for project and programme managers!

If you plan a career in project and programme management or if you employ project and programme managers and want to assist them in their professional development you will find the document at this link invaluable!  It is a competency framework for the programme and project management profession produced by the UK Department of Work and Pensions.

The DWP has a long and successful history of delivering major IT and organizational change programmes.  They take the professional development of their staff very seriously indeed and it would be a pity if the work they have done to develop this was not available a wider audience.

But, be warned if you recruiting – you will be very lucky indeed if you find someone who can demonstrate all these competencies to a high level.  If you find someone value them highly – they are like gold dust!

Here is the document.

DWP Competency Framework

GOT A CHANGE MANAGER AND NOTHING TO CHANGE?

Some years ago I had a major change to manage and we needed to transform delivery of one group of services,    If the in-house team couldn’t improve performance, while reducing costs, they would be out-sourced!  The service lead had no experience of change management but she learned quickly and the whole exercise turned into a major and very public success.

At the end of it I gained a change manager and but I lost a very good service lead.  She was no longer interested in operational management and making incremental service improvements.  She wanted to do the big stuff – organizational change – and the world is short of people who can do that well!  Had she stayed, I thought she, and we, would have been frustrated!  She moved on to a sister organization very quickly and has done very well since!

Some outstandingly good change managers need the buzz of change around them!  And it is true that if they can’t find positive changes to make they may start “fixing” what doesn’t need to be fixed – negative change rather than positive – fine difference!

With the benefit of hindsight, I regret letting her go!  I know now that I could have found a better way to use her and she would have become an ever more valuable resource.  What can you do as a manger if you find yourself with someone like this on your team? You want to get the most from them, while still helping them to feel satisfied with what they are doing?

Is there something else for them to fix? Let them find it!

These kind of people (and I have to own up now, it does include me)  love the challenge of fixing  something!  Have you got something you think could be improved? Most of us have something!  Turn them loose on your organization  and ask for their recommendations.  It’s important though they understand you may not implement all their recommendations, but make sure they, and others, understand you are still interested in hearing what they have to propose!  But keep an eye on where they are! You may need to re-direct them to places they can make a difference before they waste time and energy on something that will leave them feeling frustrated.  Help them understand that their energy and insights are better applied in another area.

Make them justify

If they are interested in making a change  and you sense there is a potential benefit from their ideas, don’t just accept them off the cuff.  Make them package them, think them through to completion, and present them as coherent, well analyzed plans, rather than coffee napkin ideas.  What is the driving reason for the change and how does it fit in with your vision for the organization – is the time right? What are the costs and benefits really going to be?

Not only will you be helping them develop the skills of executing their ideas to completion  – something many rapid changers have an issue with!  But you are developing their abilities and potential for more senior management as they become a very valuable asset for your organsiation

MAKING PERFORMANCE MEANINGFUL WITH MPM REVIEWS

Geoff Edmundson and I have founded G&W Consulting.  We both have a depth of experience in contract management as well as project & programme management and the management of organisational change. G&W Consulting will provide MPM Reviews – evidence based contract performance reviews, peer reviews and healthchecks across the lifecycle of service contracts; this includes advice and guidance on handling the follow-on business improvement issues and related assurance & risk governance mechanisms. G&W Consulting has developed and successfully piloted a peer review methodology – the MPM Review. This investigates the readiness, fitness-for-purpose, direction and performance of service contracts, service delivery operations and organisation throughout the lifecycle of the contract. We provide independent practitioners from outside of the organisation who use their experience and expertise to examine the progress and likelihood of successful service delivery. The MPM Review is used to provide a valuable additional perspective on the issues facing the responsible team and external challenges to the robustness of an organisation, systems, plans and processes. If you wish to find out more about G&W Consulting and the services we provide follow this link

BEING FAIR

There is a website called goodcharacter.com that provides educational resources for children.  It works on the principles that

  • Your character is defined by what you do, not what you say or believe.
  • Every choice you make helps define the kind of person you are choosing to be.
  • Good character requires doing the right thing, even when it is costly or risky.
  • You don’t have to take the worst behavior of others as a standard for yourself. You can choose to be better than that.
  • What you do matters, and one person can make a big difference.
  • The payoff for having good character is that it makes you a better person and it makes the world a better place.

This is what it says about HOW TO BE A FAIR PERSON

Treat people the way you want to be treated.

Take Turns.

Tell the truth.

Play by the rules.

Think about how your actions will affect others.

Listen to people with an open mind.

Don’t blame others for your mistakes.

Don’t take advantage of other people.

Don’t play favorites.

As managers we talk a lot about being “fair”!  Indeed there is significant amount of legislation aimed at trying to make sure we behave in a way that is fair.  But I wonder what we are really thinking when we use the word?  Would everything you have done over the last week or even over the last day at work and at home, really stand the test set out above.  Isn’t it clear that our customers, as well as our friends and family, might think better of us and return more often, if we acted in accordance with these simple rules for children!  If you do happen to be someone who doesn’t think  this approach actually works, then all I’m asking is that you try it for a while, just try it!  You may be surprised!