Calculating Project Value,
Education and Training,
Human Aspects of PM,
New to Project Management,
Nontraditional Project Management,
Reflections on the PM Life,
Categories: Benefits Realization, Best Practices, Calculating Project Value, Change Management, Communication, Communication, Complexity, Education and Training, Generational PM, Government, Human Aspects of PM, Human Resources, Innovation, Leadership, Lessons Learned, New to Project Management, Nontraditional Project Management, Project Failure, Project Planning, Project Requirements, Reflections on the PM Life, Risk Management, ROI
This is a backward blog posting!
This will be my final post before leaving for Chicago tomorrow morning. So, I wanted to do this one more like the way I think about things – BACKWARDS. Instead of telling what areas I can help with, I thought I’d ramble about what areas I like to talk about! I guarantee it would be an entertaining discussion. Just make select an open appointment here: then wander over, say hello and lets just talk about one of MY favorite things.
1. Project failure. I know more than I ever wanted to know about this. There was a group of us that Left NASA at the same time and moved to Orlando to start a company dedicated to turning around troubled projects, programs and operations. When we started, we thought we’d seen just about all the problems that project can get into. WRONG. For the next 5 or 6 years we only worked on turning around projects that were at least 100% over budget, perhaps 3 or 4 years late, had irate customers… or simply failed to deliver anything of value.
It’s not easy to judge project failure! EVA won’t do it. It’s a very subjective thing. “Could anyone have done better in the same situation?” is a basic test, but there are many more.
So, we fired, hired, replaced, improved… bought contracts, had contracts “novated” to us, and were very successful ending up with a stand-along building and 70 employees. There’s a lot of trouble out there! There were project mistakes made that I didn’t think cold be made. We worked on Casino projects, entertainment projects, airline projects, and many other types.
Our group learned a lot! I love to talk about a failed project and how it can be recovered. Number 1: be ready for stress. We called being personally ready “the full wax job.” Exercise, diet, mental toughness, how you dress… no kidding! But you need to be prepared.
2. Working with a team that has widely diverse skills. If the team gets diverse enough, sometimes you can’t understand what the other people are saying. I’ve managed teams with theoretical physicists, mathematicians, brilliant engineers and more – of course, they were totally convinced they were ALL CORRECT, don’t even think about doubting their work. This was great fun. I loved it and learned a whale of a lot about things they didn’t teach me (a humble engineer) in school.
3. Project risk. How to think about it, how to predict it, how to anticipate it, how to communicate it, how to budget for it, how to look for the often-neglected positive risk. It’s CRITCAL that project managers and their teams master this skill. I’ve had friends die a horrible death because we (in a larger sense) didn’t manage risk well.
4. Have the courage of your convictions. Tell people what you believe, tell the bosses what your project team believes. Don’t fall into the trap of “drinking your own bath water” or the “echo chamber.”
Well, I feel better! Wander over and chat with me!
-- Dave Maynard
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Rethinking the Charter
Calculating Project Value,
Education and Training,
Nontraditional Project Management,
PM Think About It,
Reflections on the PM Life,
Categories: Agile, Benefits Realization, Calculating Project Value, Change Management, Communication, Complexity, Documentation, Education and Training, Facilitation, Human Resources, Innovation, Leadership, Lessons Learned, Metrics, Nontraditional Project Management, PM Think About It, PMOs, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Delivery, Project Failure, Project Planning, Project Requirements, Reflections on the PM Life, Risk Management, Roundtable, Scheduling, Stakeholder, Strategy, Tools, Translations
Since I retired after 26 years in one company, I have had assignments in various PMOs in different industries. I’ve been in the energy sector, the insurance sector, credit card services, industrial/manufacturing, and now healthcare. Every industry has struggled with the project charter. What does baselining it mean? Does it ever get updated? Who should issue it? And the list goes on. And while PMOs in all these industries try to invent the perfect process – we are ignoring one important aspect.
The project charter, as defined by PMI, does not meet the needs of today’s business!
Before you call me a heretic and an incompetent – hear me out. The problem I have with the charter is it becomes a reformatting of existing information, bloated, and redundant – and it doesn’t provide the project team with the most important information it needs. Shouldn’t the charter give the team a definition of what success looks like?
I propose the charter should be extremely streamlined. After all, how many people, let along executives, will read a 14 page charter? Many charter templates contain information that is already in one artifact and will no doubt be included in another. I propose we throw away the bloated all-inclusive charter of today and replace it with a simple charter.
Project Organizational Wrapper
You need to have the organizational wrapper of project control structures. If the project pipeline has a defined Demand Process and there is a demand id, it should be in the charter. This should also be aligned to the business case information – what went into the approval, and other justifications. No need to repeat them in the charter – they already exist in a corporate database of record. If information is in two places – that doubles the risk of inconsistency, confusion, and delay.
If you have an integrated project management system (IPMS) that tracks project work in process – then that project id should be there. Projects assume titles and identify from the ideation phase through project initiation. That title, or name, should be included in the charter because that’s the lingo that has defined the initiative.
Should be results focused
Once the project is ready to kick off, the work initiative needs to be focused on the results. If your organization is mature enough to be doing Benefits Management Realization, the charter should map directly to the benefit register. The next section of the charter should be:
What does success look like?
Quite simply – what is the vision in reality? Knowing what success is far outweighs the value of several scope bullet points. The definition of success can be expressed in several ways including:
Critical success factors
The essential areas of activity that must be performed well if you are to achieve the mission, objectives or goals for your business or project.
What can we do in the future that we can’t do now?
How do we measure success?
Not calling for specific key performance indicators here, but should have an idea of how we will measure success. It also provides requirements for the product and what are the critical success factors.
If you are driven by a legal requirement or an industry standard (HIPPA or an ISO requirement comes to mind) than that should be identified. The charter must identify conformation to external factors.
What benefits are being realized?
Again, if you have a mature benefits realization process, then the entire benefits quantification/qualification should be in place and your project is delivering outcomes and capabilities to realize the defined benefits.
The charter must be able to identify all the organizations that are impacted by the initiative. After all, how did you get high level estimates for the business case if you didn’t have a means of identifying organizations involved? This RACI should then be driven to know which groups need to receive and approve the charter.
What time frame is expected for the organization to start to realize benefits? Let’s avoid the charade of bottom up estimates and defining the schedule after you have all requirements defined etc. We are driven by budget cycles and funding is only approved to last so long. This isn’t to say those things can’t and shouldn’t happen, but at a Charter level – the approval has a defined end time. This also helps define the scope.
I have purposely omitted several pieces of what is considered part of a charter. Not that I don’t think they are important, I do, but they belong in defined sections of the project plan. There is no need for budget as that should already be in the business case approval – and I don’t know if it directly contributes to the definition of the outcomes and capabilities. Scope is implied in what success looks like and the Critical Success Factors. If during requirements definition, a question is raised that doesn’t directly support the definition of success, than it is out of scope. Assumptions, risks, issues, and constraints are all important, but they live elsewhere. The charter should identify the future state, not dwell on the challenges of the present state. And the charter should be a onetime document that is not modified or have addendums. It initiates the work – other artifacts ebb and flow during the project life cycle.
In closing – the purpose of the charter is to authorize the project manager to start delivering on the project. It is not to cut and paste from all over to make an all-inclusive summary of all business intelligence that justified the project. I propose to make it a lean document focused on the outcomes and capabilities and the definition of success. Items that have a workflow/life cycle (risks, assumptions, issues, etc.) do not need to be in a charter, they are taken care of elsewhere. A lean, concise, and easy to read charter allows the team to focus on delivering within the success criteria.
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Calculating Project Value,
Education and Training,
Reflections on the PM Life,
Categories: Benefits Realization, Best Practices, Calculating Project Value, Career Help, Communication, Communication, Complexity, Earned Value, Education and Training, Ethics, Facilitation, Generational PM, Lessons Learned, Mentoring, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Delivery, Project Failure, Project Planning, Reflections on the PM Life, Risk Management, Roundtable, SoftSkills, Stakeholder, Talent Management, Teams
Right after the Global Conference, I will be flying out to Vancouver to give presentations at ProjectWorld. One of my presentations is on Influence and Advising as a Project Manager. This is my closing slide.
As a project manager, we are frequently in a position of advisor or influencer. We need to understand our interactions have long term impact. Not only for our self, but also our organization. It's the feeling of value required in the trust relationship.
The last bullet is most important, there may sometime be the "drop the mic" moment where you win a heated discussion - but the odds are good you will still need to work with that person - so give them an opportunity to save face. That 15 seconds of satisfaction might be the prelude to months of resistance.
As I prepare for the launch of my book “The Digital Transformation Success Formula”, I am often asked by friends who are not in the technology field “What is Digital Transformation?” That is a great question to ask and a great place to start. I say “start” because digital transformation will impact your life one way or another, like the industrial era had impacted your life and that of our parents. Whether you are aware of it or not, you will be making a choice between “digital transformation or death”. Leaders will have to decide first. I help them make the right decisions and guide them to succeed when they choose digital transformation.
What is Digital Transformation?
Digital transformation is how the latest digital technologies combined with strategic business innovation are reshaping the actual era, reinventing businesses, organizations and our lifestyles. Many professions as we know them today will disappear in a couple of years. Many of you have already changed careers or experienced the loss of a job. We see many “ends” but digital transformation also offers many “beginnings” and that is what I want to guide you to take advantage of.
Digital Transformation and Leadership
Technology itself is evolving fast, but it will not create the transformation by itself. I have as proof the many millions euros/dollars technology and business projects that I had the opportunity to either manage, lead, participate in or witness in the corporate world (and especially in Fortune 500 companies) over the last 20 years. In fact, relying too much on technology is the number one reason for technology project’s failure. Leaders are creating the transformation. Our lifestyles, businesses, and organizations will be how our leaders shape them. My new book, “The Digital Transformation Success Formula” is aimed at leaders so they can transform themselves first, and then transform our organizations, businesses, and lives efficiently.
Are you a leader?
Every leader, no matters your title, your industry, or your work status as an entrepreneur or an employee, you want to be involved. Join my group of Digital Transformation Leaders by opting in for the 1st report, “The N°1 Formula for Digital Transformation.” Just click the link to the portal below. Check out the blog on the site as well. I’ll keep you posted soon about the launch event for the Digital Transformation Leaders platform, as well as the book launch.
You won’t want to miss the launch event.
I’ll bring together a great panel of experts to deliver value to you on several aspects of digital transformation. Furthermore, for one hour, you will be able to download the Kindle version of the book for free. That’s not all. You will also be able to purchase the printed “The Digital Transformation Success Formula” book at a reduced price, all during a limited period of time. Additionally, there will be several other gifts to win.
Opt-in and join our group at www.digitaltransformationleaders.com.
Once you opt-in, I’ll then send you a private invitation for the launch event, coming in November and the Digital Transformation Report. You’ll also receive a video training on how to “Create Your Digital Transformation Vision in 7 Days”, for free.
See you there!
In a previous post, I’ve written about project failure rates in the mining and oil and gas sectors. Ernst and Young issued reports in 2014 and 2015 which reported 50-90% of projects are facing cost overruns, and between 50-85% projects are facing schedule delays, (depending on the geographical region you study, and whether they are metal mining or oil and gas developments.) Average budget overruns on these projects have spanned from 50 to over 100%.
In their reports, several causes of overruns were noted on both the internal and external fronts. Primarily, most are non-technical issues, including: poor management, conflicts and communications, poor planning leading to optimistic estimates, regulatory delays and changes, and geopolitical issues, including economic downturns, commodity pricing, and disruptions caused by local and NGO stakeholders.
Links & Inter-relations
From experience and past research, it is my opinion that many of these non-technical factors are directly linked and inter-related - for example, disruptions by stakeholders primarily come about when they are dissatisfied with the level of engagement and/or emphasis placed on addressing their wants and needs, leading to conflicts and barriers to continue mandated engagement sessions, to access lands or to obtain work permits.
This, in turn, not only causes impacts on exploratory work and collection of environmental and other relevant information necessary for project definition, regulatory assessments and applications, but also directly impacts the ability to gain regulatory approvals, and extends the timelines over which this may be completed.
Much of this disruption originates from poor or incomplete engagement and communications, and mismanaged conflicts, both externally and internally.
Lost in Translation
Even with the right external engagement and an initial acceptance of a proposal, if the wants and needs of our stakeholders are not well defined and pulled appropriately into the scope of the project, (read, specified as criteria or requirements), then the planning for that project becomes flawed and incomplete, causing the creation of budgets and schedules that are lacking in robustness.
I have dealt with technical knowledge gaps in my own experience, and have interviewed several other environmental assessment practitioners, who have validated my concerns.
Often recommendations made by environment and social engagement practitioners are ignored. Perhaps the design team may have misunderstood how to produce the results requested, or it may simply have been that the criticality of the recommendations was under-appreciated.
Under these circumstances, the resulting design becomes insufficient, and the details necessary to gain approvals (without a fight), or to ensure positive environmental outcomes, are left out.
The typical reasoning provided? The proposed option is the most “cost effective.”
Risks Run Amok
Many risks to the project, or arising from the project, unfortunately get left unaddressed, and eventually end up having to be accommodated in later project phases as change requests and/or scope creep in order to gain that approval. And the later changes are introduced to a project, the more time and money it takes to address them, hence forming the basis for poor performance rates of projects at a broader scale.
So, in reality, with all these issues being cited as causes of project failure rates, this is simply not true.
We have it in our power to change it.
Along with significantly altering failure statistics.
Had we done our jobs right, and not only engaged all of our stakeholders appropriately, but also at the right time (meaning before we commence planning and design of our proposed infrastructure), a large proportion of project impacts would diminish.
We will have done a better job defining all of the requirements to include within the scope of our projects. There would have been a broader, more refined scope, the risks associated would have been more clear, and the opportunities to find optimized, innovative solutions to address all of the requirements and risks, available to our design teams.
This level of stakeholder engagement does take effort, and it needs to be carried internally with the teams working on the developments as well.
Collaboration, a holistic view, and an understanding of all the interdependencies of our project components are critical, and communications between typically siloed teams need much improvement.
Steps can to be taken to introduce broader thinking, and intersecting design philosophies, to form better designs and increase synergies.
The creation of an open environment, where expression of new ideas and the introduction of new technologies or methodologies are welcomed. Where concerns about decisions being made by other teams, and providing constructive feedback to each other, for the improvement of the project as a whole, can be voiced freely.
Am I suggesting that all of our problems will go away if we carry out these steps? No.
Geopolitical issues will not disappear, and regulatory changes should be expected over time, particularly in the extractive sectors where the lifecycles of operations can span many decades. Should we let this stop us from making change? No.
Instead, let’s improve what we have control over, and anticipate the other issues - engage, keep a fair and positive relationship with all parties involved, include stakeholders in critical decisions, and design for best practice / performance to avoid future problems.
Every team member and stakeholder involved with the project has a role to play, and each have the ability to make a positive impact.
Only this will help to optimize and streamline project performance, right from stakeholder engagement, planning and design, through environmental approval processes, development and operations of a site, and finally, to closure.
A team representing various areas of expertise will be located in the exhibition hall in the “Ask the Expert” booth at the PMI Congress in San Diego – starting this weekend already!
I’ll be there to help answer any questions you might have about sustainability, integration of these issues into project planning, and stakeholder engagement. Come find me!