Now that I've had a couple of days at home after the close of PMI Global, I wanted to reflect on the positive things I observed, heard and otherwise inferred about PMI, based on the actions of the organization. Of course, this is my own opinion, but I'm hoping many of you will also agree with me!
Overall I feel that PMI has finally, officially, opened the door on true agility and applying flexible, adaptable project management processes, in our ever-increasing world of ongoing change.
I believe this is a very positive shift, and not only validates the many methodologies that exist, but also allows project managers to be at peace with the methodologies they choose to apply to their unique situations.
I have to admit that, in previous years, it seemed there was a bit of resistance to change in methodologies by PMI - something I disagreed with. There seemed to be a hold out, to hang on to the remnants of a waterfall-driven approach to projects.
As a change agent, I find this understandable, given the heavy focus of past issues of PMI's PMBOK and standard practices that have given steady direction to many a project manager over the years. In their defence, why change a good thing, right?
But, as I always encourage, change is here, and change is good! It is our only way to continue to succeed in our changing world!
I believe these shifts started a while ago, with the exploration of Agile, and then the introduction of the Agile Certified Practitioner, alongside the other certification options. I would say, however, that the application of Agile methodologies had still been referred to as something practiced primarily in the IT sectors. As if agility is not relevant for everyone - but this, too, I see continuing to shift, as all agile things should.
With the inclusion of some language around agility in the newest PMBOK edition, there seems to be more acceptance that agility is more of a way to work through any type of project - with collaboration, flexibility, and iteration - so that we can simply achieve the best solutions, and deliver those valued benefits each of our customers want and need. With this, I can agree - and it doesn't stop with Agile.
Upon being asked to partake in the Expert series, and with the acceptance of my presentation abstract (focused on Lean approaches), it became even more apparent that PMI is moving to a world of supporting Change in the project management world.
The entire conference was framed around "Difference Makers, Change Makers" - asking all of us how we will forge new paths moving forward. The lineup of presentations included highlights about many different approaches, including various combinations of hybrid agile, lean, and waterfall.
There was also plenty of focus on the softer side of things, including engagement, collaboration, communication, emotional intelligence, and other leadership skills - to help facilitate the creation of positive team environments and applying various strategies successfully.
In all of this, I have a much stronger appreciation for PMI and it's open-mindedness to embrace such change. In its ambitions to be able to both continue to support its membership with change, and to help lead it too.
I look forward to continuing my support for the membership - whether it be through strategizing and implementing ongoing changes, by way of blogging, hosting webinars, or otherwise training and coaching folks who just might get a little lost along the way with all of these shifts.
If you want a little help, you have a way to reach me...simply connect and send me an email!
Change and collaboration are my forte, and in my opinion, the only perspectives to start with.
I urge you to open your minds, and engage with your peers - what is your opinion? And what is theirs? What is the best strategy to deliver the greatest value from the unique project that you've taken on?
And how can you work together to make your project sing?
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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Chalk Talk - A Valuable Problem Solving Tool
For some strange reason, I find myself blogging about chalk and chalkboards for a second time. No, I’m not hung up on them. But, yes, I *do* enjoy good old-fashioned slate and the smell of dusty chalk. But – that’s not the purpose of the blog.
To make things even more confusing they’ve started painting the inside walls of classrooms where I often show up at - with “whiteboard” paint. Now that bugs me. A student walked right up to the wall and started drawing on it with a marker! It looked pretty much like any other wall. I kept yelling it was just a wall! Some of her quicker witted fellow students whipped out their phones and announced, “This is going on Facebook!” But of course, they were all having a fine time with my old-man ignorance and it was a “white wall.”
OK. Back to Chalk-talk.
Sometimes at NASA, working as a team we’d come across a problem that just seemed impossible. We’d work for days, sometimes weeks trying to solve a single problem. I remember multiple times staying up for 30 hours in a row trying to solve one problem – not recommended! This sort of effort required third-shift coffee, cherry pies from the vending machines and lots of second-hand smoke.
What’s Third shift coffee? Each preceding shift was honor bound to have a pot of coffee waiting for the next arriving shift. So, the guys on second shift, at around 11PM would make an extra strong pot for the third shifters arriving at 11:30 PM. The first thing a real third shifter would do is to add a tablespoon of instant coffee to each cup. Everyone knew what third-shift coffee was like. A hard (not necessarily big) problem required around-the clock third-shift coffee.
None of this is healthy, smart or conducive to solving complex technical or mathematical problems. But… we did it. Our (very good) branch chief would drop in from time to time, ask a few questions and then wander off. At some point, based upon his instincts, he would call for a “CHALK-TALK.” This meant we’d have to leave wherever we were working, go to a new / different conference room. And take turns standing up in front of a chalkboard explaining what the problem was and how we thought it could be fixed. We each took turns doing this.
I can’t remember a single time when this method didn’t get us to a solution. We were all tired, grumpy, short-tempered and wired with caffeine, but it worked. Sometimes someone would be talking at the board and the solution would hit us all at-the-same-time like a hammer. Other times, parts of the group needed to explain it to the others. A few times only one person would see the solution and explain it to everyone else. Again, no rules and not much of a pattern fell out. But I can think of a few guidelines...
When a solution is arrived at – everyone knew it. It was like the room filled with water. Quiet. People looked at each other. Eyebrows went up. Some people went home to sleep right then! Other’s went back to (regular) work to try the arrived-at solution
In a previous post, a person asked Michelle Stronach: "Is PMI Global Congress worth the money?" To which Michelle replied positively and constructively.
I am adding this infographic for congress participants and anyone questioning the value they get from PMI Global Congress. The value of PMI Global Congress for you is what you make of it during and mostly, after attending.
Take the following actions post congress and reap the best value from your congress participation.
The download link in point 4 is this: https://app.getresponse.com/site2/postpmicongress?u=Bn6WN&webforms_id=7741203
What is the leading cause of capital project cost & schedule overruns?
The undisputed answer the world over is poor scope definition. Check out this infographic detailing the 10 commandments of front end planning based on CII’s implementation resource, “Front End Planning – Break the Rules, Pay the Price.” Each of these 10 practices are proven ways to improve scope definition during front end planning.