PMO Managers DIY Toolset for Self-Audit

by Jurie Moolman

PMO (Project Management Office) Managers do need to take stock of the effectiveness and efficiency of their PMO’s from time to time – but rather than always bringing in an external consultant to do this, the below article gives a framework of how the PMO Manager can go about to do such by him/herself (DIY – Do It Yourself) – maybe with the aid of a consulting company like InnoLead, if needed.

Typical project symptoms that indicate that it is time for a PMO audit could be:

  • Projects do not complete on time coupled with failure to achieve cash flow.
  • Deviations from the standard project management processes which are supposed to guide project managers to ensure the predictability of outcomes.
  • Insufficient Executive/Organisational support to projects, for example, a slow decision-making process or lack of understanding of the Project Sponsorship role.
  • Ineffective organisational structures

DIY Step 1:

PMO’s are part of a larger organisation, and the first area to take stock of – is to confirm if the larger organisation is still in support of the PMO objectives and this could be done through an objective measurement of the organisation’s project, programme and portfolio maturity by using a Maturity Assessment Model – delivering a Maturity Assessment Report and a proposed Road Map for organisational improvement.

A Maturity Assessment Model is an assessment instrument based on a set of questions that represents the knowledge areas (or process perspectives) in a Project Portfolio. The levels of maturity have a rating between 1 and 5 where 1 is “Immature” and 5 is “Mature” and it is an indication of how well the specific process step (or project methodology) is established and followed by the individual or the department or the company.

There are multiple maturity assessment models in the market but three will be highlighted below:

  • PMI’s (Project Management Institute) OPM3 (Organisational Project Management Maturity Model),
  • Kendall and Rollins PMO Maturity model based on PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge),
  • The UK Cabinet Office (formerly known as OGC – The UK Office of Government Commerce) is the owner of the P3M3 maturity model and they have a range of frameworks, models and assessment tools including the Project Management Maturity Model (PjMM) which is derived from the Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Maturity Model (P3M3) which uses a set of questions that measures the maturity at 5 levels over 7 process perspectives (or business areas).

DIY Step 2:

The next area that needs to be addressed in the audit is a Landscape Analysis, listing all the existing active projects under the PMO control to ascertain the RAG (Red, Amber & Green status indicators) of each project and estimated completion dates.

The goal of the Landscape Analysis/Audit is to compile a list of active projects and to confirm the health of these projects by using a RAG status on the project budget, schedule and scope. An audit should also be done on the project management deliverables (see the potential list of deliverables below), and thus the application of Professional Project Management (PPM) disciplines. Feedback from the project and engineering managers interviewed should be noted.

  • Red (on the RAG status) could be defined as “Requires immediate remedial action”
  • Amber could be defined as “Warning that risks are likely to have a negative impact – requires attention”
  • Green could be defined as “On track, On budget and Within Scope – requires no action”

Project Landscape parameters could include:

  • Confirmation of project cost code.
  • Confirmation of project life cycle status i.e. still in Initiation or Planning or already tracking progress in the Execution phase.
  • For projects in the Execution phase: Confirmation of the projects start date (as per the Project Justification Document) and estimated finish dates and how this compared to the approved Project Justification Document or PDN (Project Deviation Notes).
  • Confirmation of the current approved project ‘budget’.
  • Current overall status of the project, e.g. Red. Amber or Green, and the reason or motivation why, e.g. is the project on schedule, within budget and within scope, or not.
  • Who is the Project Sponsor & Project Client?

Confirmation of the key Project Governance Documentation could include:

  • Having a Project Justification Document (signed).
  • Having a Capital Registration.
  • Handover documents (if relevant), i.e. if the project was handed over from one project manager to another  in the lifetime of the project; i.e. was there handover documentation?
  • Scope of Work documentation.
  • Minutes of project meetings.
  • Confirmation of having project risk meetings and reviewing risk logs.
  • Issue logs and a Decision log (i.e. a Chronology of major decisions that reflects the project history).
  • Project Schedule (approved).
  • Communications plan.
  • Quality plan.
  • Cost plan.
  • Updated PEP (Project Execution Plan).
  • Signed contracts with all contractors on site.
  • Cost Register.
  • Site Instruction logs.
  • PDN (Project Deviation Note) register.
  • Delivery Sign-Off documentation.
  • Retrospect report.
  • Closure report.

DIY Step 3:

In this step, it would be important to consolidate both the Maturity Analysis and the Landscape Analysis and to compile a Recommendations Report to highlight the learnings and the roadmap going forward to address these. If the existing PMO methodology needs tweaking, then this would be the time to address such. Also consider training, awareness and support as needed. A typical high-level audit implementation approach could be as per below diagram.

High Level Audit Implementation Approach

This then concludes this article on ‘PMO Managers DIY Toolset for Self-Audit’. For any clarification or assistance.

Jurie Moolman holds the position of  Projects Controls Manager at InnoLead Consulting offering Project Management Consultancy and Corporate Training solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and innolead@innolead.co.bw.

 

 

 

 

Effective Project Governance

Any organization whether temporary (project) or permanent (business as usual) needs to be effectively governed to achieve its objective of the establishment.  Within normal operations in an organization the roles and responsibilities are very clear, however, this is seldom the case with projects. A lot of organizations executing projects do not have clear governance frameworks and this is one of the reasons that compromise the success of these projects.

Project governance can be defined as the identification and execution of roles and responsibilities on the project. This includes explicit statements on who has the authority to make which decisions on the project. It is a management framework through which decisions are made on a project.

Organizations need to put in place clear project governance structures, policies and procedures to provide a decision-making framework that is logical, robust and repeatable to govern an organization’s projects. In this way, an organization will have a structured approach to conducting both its business as usual activities and its business change, or project, activities. In the absence of a clear governance framework with associated policies and procedures, the framework for managing business as usual may be adopted with its inherent gaps with regards to managing projects thereby compromising project success.

In setting up effective project governance, organizations need to design a robust overarching project management policy.  This sets the minimum standards on what is expected with regards to governance of projects.  It outlines the various roles and responsibilities for the various entities in the Project Governance Structure. This policy can be operationalised through procedures that are detailed for each area of the project such scope, time, risk, cost management etc. A procedure on decisions rights and levels as regards to management of all project aspects should be developed as well.

PRINCE2 identifies 4 levels of authority in the governance of projects. The first level is the Corporate or Program Management level. This level commissions or triggers the project through a mandate and sets the project tolerances for the Project Board (second level) to operate within.

The second level is the Project Board or in common project nomenclature, the Project Steering Committee. This level directs the project on behalf of the corporate or program management. The Project Steering Committee’s key is to provide overall guidance to the project team. They act as champions of the project and its benefit within the organization. The Steering Committee also resolves issues outside the control of the project team/project manager such as resource provision, cross-functional project integration support etc. They are responsible for the business issues to ensure that the project achieves the business case. They also make decisions, authorizations on any changes to the project plan (scope, time, budgets, quality, approach to execution, risks) if the agreed tolerances are forecasted to be exceeded. They approve these project plans before the project execution starts. They also review the updated business case, and if the business case is no longer viable recommend for project closure.

The level after the Project Board is the Project Manager. The Project Manager manages the project on a day to day basis on behalf of the Project Board within agreed tolerances of the approved project plan (scope, budget, time, risk, quality etc). Any forecasts of exceeding these tolerances are escalated to the board/steering committee for decision making.

The Project Manager’s key role is to ensure that the project delivers the specified deliverables within the parameters agreed with the Board/Steering Committee. The Project Manager should provide timely and honest project progress updates based on an agreed frequency. The reports cover scope, time, costs, risks quality and issues that have a potential of derailing the project.

The fourth level is the Project Team that actually delivers the project’s products according to the criteria agreed upon with the Project Manager. The Project Manager assigns work packages to the Project Team and they execute and report on progress during execution until completion and hand over to project manager.

In order to enhance project success, it is imperative that each of the entities in the project governance structure understand their role. It’s not uncommon to find members of the Project Steering Committee ignorant of what is expected of them. If you do not know what is expected of you, you cannot play your role effectively and the project will suffer.

Mark Muzinda holds the position of Senior Consultant at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and innolead@innolead.co.bw.

Change: The Emotional Journey

By TeamInnoLead

Transformation in an organisation is a necessary, if not inevitable, part of growth. One could argue that an organisation that does not change is an organisation doomed for failure. Organisations do not exist in a vacuum. They operate in communities and environments that are constantly evolving. The lack of change within an organisation will render its products and services obsolete; ergo, failure.

Having said that, change is not an easy process. It takes more than reconfiguring the structure, mapping new processes and expecting everyone involved to swim along with the new current. The risk of failure is high if there is no mental, emotional and technical know how to swim with the current. Reactions from team members range from refusing to swim at all and staying put on familiar dry land, to those who, despite initially having accepted change as a good idea, change their minds and decide to swim against the current. These are the manifestations of resistance to change.

People experience change emotionally. Negative emotions associated with change lead to reduced performance. Change management is about understanding this emotional cycle and providing the necessary support for staff to transition through the cycle with minimal disruption to performance. Organisations must bring about change in a structured, realistic and effective manner, remaining cognisant of the nuances that individual differences bring. It is a fine balancing act between sticking to the plan and letting change emerge naturally. Is there a clear vision? Where are we going? How are we going to get there? How do we measure the progress and the successes? A detailed plan that includes the buy-in from the staff expected to carry the change to fruition needs to be set in place.

Project management is a vital part of change management and vice versa. The idea of a project as articulated in our previous articles is to deliver a certain product (transformed organisation) in a specified time period using tools and methodologies  that will execute the project in the most efficient and effective manner. Treating change as a project will help anticipate and plan for the hurdles that are inherent in a change process.

The use of change agents in an organisation is a key factor in the success of a change process. The selection of change agents within the transforming organisation is a very critical and sensitive activity. Change agents are essentially the champions of the upcoming change within the existing employee complement. These agents need to be enthusiastic about the change because they will actively lobby for the change. Their enthusiasm and understanding of the change will help to create organisation wide buy-in.  Appointing a change agent that is undecided about the effects of the change on them or one that is actively against the change will retard and perhaps even sabotage the change efforts in the organisation. A comprehensive change management strategy will consider the aspects when mapping the best way to manage the change.

The issue to keep in mind when dealing with change is the emotional experience of the change. If managed well, change can be relatively smooth and the organisation can transition to its desired new state with minimal disruption to performance.  This applies to all stages of the change from preparing for the change to implementing the change and stabilising the organisation after the change.

 

Encourage Your Team To Make Mistakes!

By Chilipi Mogasha

Encourage your team to make Mistakes!

It was a shock result recently in the just ended Euro 2016 football championship when Iceland beat their more fancied opponents England, forcing them to exit Europe twice in the same week! Another notable upset was the Wales win over a star-studded Belgium side, rated number 2 in the world. How do you explain these against all odds type results? The Wales coach, Chris Coleman, attributed their result to their willingness to fail!

Now consider the same question within your business. To what extent do you allow your team to make mistakes? To what extent do you encourage your team to make mistakes? The fear of failure is probably the leading reason why companies fail to achieve breakthrough results. We play it too safe, and in the process miss opportunities that are all around us, because as much as we have a desire to win, our aversion to losing is even stronger. We are, after all, products of an education system that hailed the “I got a 100%” mentality. The, “there is only one right answer” school of thought, has castigated any mistake and punished it with ridicule and a walk down the hall of shame!

I have always envied the rate of innovation in other countries. Every year we marvel at the latest in cell phones, curved television sets, cars that can park themselves; the list is long. But my awe is exceeded by my embarrassment at the lack of innovation in my own country and region. Statistics vary according to the source, but the number of patents produced locally, a proxy for innovation, is low to the point of non-existent. And it is not even an “African Thing”. Countries in central Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, have all proved that innovation is possible in Africa, and they are reaping the benefits while we lag behind. Why is this? Is it that we are less intelligent? Less creative? Less educated? Less motivated? Less resourced? I suggest the answer is NO to all the above. I suggest that it all comes down to culture! Innovation thrives in cultures where inquisitiveness and experimentation are valued. Innovation, by nature, is a process filled with mistakes; while in the reverse culture, the best ideas are banked at the local graveyards.

Imagine a line that separates competence and incompetence, excellence and mediocrity. Mistakes do not lie on one side of that line, they span both sides. The idea is to minimize or eliminate mistakes that are due to inattention, laziness, lack of motivation etc. and encourage mistakes that are made in pursuit of intellectual curiosity, provocativeness, and the pursuit of excellence. But in our culture, mistakes are punished. Experimentation is shunned. The reward is relative stability and predictability, which in a volatile environment may seem desirable, but such is only an illusion that masks our capitulation into irrelevance!

The path to excellence is rarely a straight line. Talk to anyone that is successful in business, sport, whatever. Sit down with them. Talk to them about their life story. On the surface, successful people look like “can do no wrong geniuses”. But the reality is, in most cases, that their success story actually has more failures than successes! The key difference is, when they fail, they pick themselves up, dust off, learn from the mistake and try again! They possess remarkable tenacity and spirit of  perseverance, a never say die until you die attitude.

Now do you dare embrace this new culture? The proof is in the pudding. What happens when a team member actually makes a mistake? This is the point at which you need to prove what you said? Do you revert to type, and shout? J. Birkinshaw and M Haas in their article, Increase Your Return On Failure, published in the 2015 Harvard Business Review, note that when a mistake is made in the pursuit of excellence, this is the opportunity to analyse the failure, gather the lessons learnt from the mistake, share them for the good of the bigger team, and incorporate them as process improvements to inform future similar endeavors. By so doing, to borrow from the ROI analogy, you maximise your Return On Failure. So go on. Encourage and celebrate failure, and risk reaping extraordinary rewards for you, your business, and your country!

Chilipi Mogasha holds the positions of Operations Manager and Senior Consultant at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and innolead@innolead.co.bw

The Art of Project Management

By Okitanye Gaogane

A lot of project methodologies have been developed and yet we still see poor delivery. Could it be the methods, the project managers or the organisational setup and maturity levels that are failing us? The causes are multi-layered.

One of the major contributors we can single out is that we have a lot of project management practitioners and professionals that know the science very well. Yes, the science. They are duly certified in the science of project management. They can scope, schedule, cost and set up project controls. How is it that the puzzle pieces are still not fitting together?

There is a need for a holistic approach that will fit the pieces together. This can be done by enhancing the technical project management skills and knowledge of the project managers and performing organisations with two critical competencies; strategic and business acumen as well as leadership. Just what are these then?

Strategic and business acumen simply means having the capability to scan the industry, set up realistic business aspirations, develop a roadmap that will deliver the desired business outcomes and ultimately business benefits. A sizable number of organisations are striving to define their strategy and to get their business priorities right. What real impact will a qualified project manager have if they do not have the skill to link the projects with the strategic intent of the organisation?

Leadership, on the other hand, is a very complex animal. Leadership is about the ability to manage and get the most out of the human resources affiliated with a project in the most effective and efficient ways. This subject tries to address the desired behaviours in the project management space. The complexity is brought about by the fact that, we are trying to model personal behaviour, organisational behaviour and industry behaviour. These skills and behaviours will be different for different managers, organisations, industries and geographical locations. This is probably the least understood and the most neglected aspect, and yet, a good chunk of the pie of competencies required in the art of project management.

So what is the art of project management? The art of project management lies in the ability to relate initiatives to strategic intent, leading the project team through change and managing the traditional aspects of project management like scope and risk. In order for the puzzle pieces to fit where they should, a project manager will require a skill set that goes beyond the scientific qualifications.

Jumping to Chilipi Mogasha’s article about a friend who is getting married, I have no doubt that he has advised them well. That is, he assisted with scoping and timelining the event. I can only wish that this marriage is grounded on good intentions (strategy) shared by both bride and groom, and most importantly that they have leadership personalities that can withstand the “for better or worse” aspect of the project that is marriage.

Okitanye Gaogane holds the position of Academy Manager at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training Solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and innolead@innolead.co.bw.

Project Controls: The Science Behind Project Management

By Victor Marathe

Project management by its nature is a soft discipline. It is about strategy, people management, stakeholder management, coordinating and directing amongst other key project management traits.

The execution of project management is anchored around timely and well-informed decision-making process. The conventional approach to project management was less informed and calculated. This lead to an established view of project management as a role to be bestowed as part of mainstream corporate and institutional management progression.

This casual approach created a false premise of successful projects based simply on completion. The question of cost and time often took an invisible back seat in the evaluation of projects success. This might have been a sufficient measure at the time given the extent of risk appetite for cost and schedule overrun. In the local context, it might have been about keeping the population actively employed and the realisation of basic infrastructure. The population was sparse and diamond revenue was free flowing. Those times have come and gone.

The current industrial and economic landscape calls for a more deliberate approach to project management. This is where the science behind project management comes in. Project controls are the science behind project management. The modern project management function is not a role, but a discipline. And the modern project manager cannot execute the function effectively and efficiently without a strong project controls backup.

What are Project Controls?

The project controls function is of equitable importance as the medical monitoring devices attached to Intensive Care Unit patients. Beeping, displaying readings and triggering alarms if need be. The project manager is the doctor who reacts to the messages that these devices display and makes decisions on the most appropriate action.

Hence the argument that modern project management is not just a “role”, but a discipline to be executed by individuals trained and experienced in understanding critical project indicators highlighted by the project controls function.

The project controls function is the last line of defence in a project. It is the function that has the finger on the pulse of the project. The sole purpose of this function is to monitor, measure, control, forecast, and influence project direction. It is by no means just a clerical or data capturing function.

Like any science, project controls is the systematic intellectual activity that articulates the general truths on project performance. The body of facts on project performance is determined and analysed on the backdrop of stated project objectives. The approach in general industry is varied, based on project complexity, project structure and on the project management maturity level of the teams involved.

By project teams, I refer to both client and service provider teams as a whole. It is also important to note that project management maturity is not measured by years of experience or the types of projects one has been involved in. Project Management maturity level should be measured by what you did, how you did it, what you learnt from it and what you did differently on the next project. In my opinion doing the same thing the same way over and over again is not a sign of project management maturity, it is just an indication that you are well trained in following a routine.

The approach ranges from a surface level cosmetic approach that does not add any value to the project, to a detailed mature approach. To put it into context the cosmetic approach would state that “four pumps were delivered” whilst the mature approach would state “Pump A of size 123 to be installed in area XYZ and Pump B of size 345 to be installed in area ABC, have been delivered”, the former is a clerical approach whilst the latter is a scientific approach.

To lend credence to project controls as the science behind project management it should be approached and practised with the premise that it needs to provide an informed basis for decision making for the project executive. Project controls involvement in collating, integrating, analysing and disseminating project data is pivotal in achieving this objective. The importance of the integrity, accuracy and timeliness of this data cannot be overstated as this is and should be the basis of decision-making for the project manager.

The project controls function is essential at all stages of creating data to converting it into information that can be used to make decisions. However, the function should not be seen to end at information dissemination, lest it is seen as just a prophet of doom function. It must be carried through to problem-solving, and influencing project direction.

For the project controls function to have a 360-degree value, it must help steer the ship and not just sound the alarm.

What does the Project Control Function entail?

To limit this valued practice to a cosmetic level approach is like thinking that presentation alone makes a good dish. A good chef knows that a world-class dish is not just about presentation but more importantly about the ingredients and the cooking process. Therefore project controls is about controlling and monitoring all functions that influence project cost, schedule and quality. In other words controlling cost, schedule and quality at the source of influence.

This means a project controller has to dabble in the functions of estimating, equipment selection, risk management, procurement, contract management, quantity surveying, and execution approach.

Less commonly appreciated and deliberately practised in this field is the training function. Overarching all these functions is the role of process and systems custodian of the project. This includes document control, project deviation management, issue management, cost management, schedule management and project reporting amongst others. To effectively entrench these project controls processes and systems, requires the project controls function to often assume the role of facilitator, trainer and mentor. The project controls practitioner is the most knowledgeable individual on project processes and therefore it is incumbent upon the function to bring the rest of the teams knowledge up to par. This is by no means a simple feat and should not be underestimated in its importance.

Just like one has their vital signs assessed whenever they visit the doctor’s office, regardless of how minor your illness is; no project is too small not to have a project controls function.

It is the science behind modern project management.

Victor Marathe holds the position of Senior Consultant at InnoLead Consulting offering Management Consultancy and Corporate Training Solutions. He can be contacted on +267 3909102 and innolead@innolead.co.bw