Voices on Project Management

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Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

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Cameron McGaughy
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Project Management for Business Transformation

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Project Management for Business Transformation

Make it or break it!

In the world of Business Transformation (BT), project management plays a critical part in the successful delivery of the business transformation programs to an extend where I can say it is a “Make it or Break it”

And why is that?

Imagine a school music play and the effort required to coordinate everything to get it done successfully. Of course, there is a lot of planning, coordination and execution that goes into it to produce a high quality school play

Now imagine an orchestra and the effort required to get this done successfully. In essence and to the inexperienced eye, the tasks may be similar but the effort and complexity are just a different ball game altogether

This is the same thing when it comes to managing a non-BT project and a BT project. The main tasks of initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and closing may look the same on the surface but underneath the skeleton,  is a different level of complexity

Having said that, BT project management requires a different calibre of project managers to help get the beast out of the door while achieving business outcomes

To be on the same page, let’s define what business transformation is. Business transformation is a significant change that an organization goes through impacting its people, process and/or technology. The change is usually a complex one with long term business outcomes to be achieved   

Project management becomes the core part of delivering the business transformation and ensure that business outcomes are achieved. The calibre of the BT project manager is therefore a lot more complex and at a higher level of maturity. Below are the key characteristics for a successful business transformation project manager  

Exceptional Business Acumen

  • Ability to lose the jargon and speak to the business in their own language
  • Come from a place of wanting to understand what the business wants and needs
  • Makes no assumptions about what success looks like but instead co-create with it with the business
  • Understands the business vision and direction and how to best position the project to fulfil the business outcomes
  • Keep everyone accountable to achieving measurable business outcomes  

Visionary and can see beyond the short term goals

  • Able to mentally fast forward the current events to predict issues and resolve them early on
  • Proactively seek guidance and collaboration to ensure alignment
  • Understand the art of the unspoken word and the goal behind the goal
  • Able to manoeuvre and venture into the political landscape of the organization and foster relationship building

Can see different angles and prospective

  • Understand the business interdependencies, people impact and technology constraints
  • Able to see the logic in the various stakeholder groups’ points of view and make sense of them all to come to a well-rounded conclusion
  • Understand the different motives of the various levels in the organization i.e. executives, management and front liners

Diversified skill set

  • Having a diverse skill set is key in the success of BT project management. This allows the project manager to properly articulate what is required and most importantly see the missing links
  • Able to work better with the project team members coming from a land of similar experiences (not necessarily at the same level of depth)

Knows and understands failure

  • A project manager who have seen this, done that would have a higher level of exposure to different setups and problems which enriches their ability to problem solving
  • Have seen the good, the bad and the ugly means they can smell failure from a mile away and able to take action to set proper direction to avoid it or have the proper contingencies in place

Knows the job and acts beyond it

  • In the world of BT, project managers hardly have a job description to follow. For hiring purposes, yes they might have one but when doing the doing and working day-in day-out; they work on ensuring that the BT project is delivered successfully. This will take them beyond the scope of works to understand the wider environment of the project and resolve problems and issues that may “technically” be out of the project scope “the agreed baseline scope”
  • BT project manager does not say “Sorry, this is not my job!”

 

Posted by Jess Tayel on: January 31, 2019 06:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Business Transformation With the End in Mind

When market environments or conditions shift, organizations must often make fundamental changes to how they operate in order to cope

Business transformations—which are initiated in reaction to current or foreseen pain points, such as cost reductions, capability builds or digital transformation—create a new capability or a new reality in a sustainable, consistent and collaborative way

The process should be like film making

In filmmaking, everything starts with an initial story or a vision of what the film will be about, the message it is going to send, the general purpose and so forth. I have no doubt that great film directors can actually see the film in their head before anything is spent or made.

Leaders of business transformation programs must also understand their purpose and visualize success at all levels—including the end game—before making a single change.

At the same time, leaders should have a thorough understanding of the people involved and the business processes being changed. Before executing on tactical projects, a successful transformation should first seek a clearly defined purpose and attain a solid understanding of people and processes. After all, people and processes are the binding fabric of all transformation efforts.

The People

You must understand how the change you are bringing will affect how people behave, communicate, think and do business. To me, people are the single most important aspect of ensuring a successful and sustainable transformation.

So, start by understanding:

  • The landscape: Who is involved?
  • The motives and agenda of all affected.
  • How will those affected view success?
  • Answer the “What is in it for me?” question.
  • The baseline of skills and career aspirations for those involved. If you don’t, you could set those affected up to fail when you implement a change that is not supported by their aspirations or skillset.

That should serve as a good basis to build quality engagement and communications. The goal is to create a collaborative and transparent platform to ensure that all requirements are captured.

The Process

People and process go hand in hand. You cannot understand one without the other.

A successful business transformation seeks to understand the current processes, variations, inconsistencies, pain points and interdependencies before venturing into changing systems, organizational structure or implementing a new way of doing business.

A business process to a transformation is like a compass to a ship. It ensures the business transformation team is:

  • Moving in the right direction.
  • Focused on true issues or opportunities.
  • Understanding the complexity of changing the way business is done and the interfaces and dependencies this might entail on other parts of the business.
  • Rallying the troops around processes rather than around people.
  • Using meaningful metrics to measure success.

Has your organization undergone a transformation recently? How did you ensure you were moving in the right direction?

Posted by Jess Tayel on: May 24, 2017 11:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)
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