20 April 2016

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in Project Management


If you are a regular visitor to this site and are (I hope) encouraged by its content then you will be familiar with what we believe to be the ideas worth spreading. The stuff that matters! For that reason I will not labour the point and risk becoming redundant or diluting the message through (exhaustive) repetition.

Speaking of redundant there is a view that KPIs are redundant, worse still, that KPIs are dead. While an extreme view it is worth considering.

Ross Gittins (The Sunday Morning Herald’s economics editor) writes, “Are KPIs a fad? The problem with key performance indicators is that it’s easy to measure how many jobs you did, but much harder to measure whether you did them well.” I’d go further. Will KPIs tell us if they were even the jobs we should have been doing? “Measurement can be a trap.” Ross warns. He quotes Einstein. “Not everything that counts can be counted.” He concludes that the modern pre-occupation with metrics is an attempt to over-simplify by confusing quantity with quality. So I ask the question. Are KPIs (on their own) redundant and dead?

I want to come up with a sound approach for KPIs that will help us to use KPIs for management not just measurement and to ensure that we can buy into KPIs because they work!

  • Set business objectives.
  • Each KPI should be aligned with a specific business objective.
  • Use the KPIs for business management, not just measurement.
  • Translate the KPIs into actionable plans.

Projects and programs that are aligned to an organisation’s strategy are completed more often than projects that are misaligned. We proposed this argument in an earlier blog posting (Delivery Maturity Assessment: The Song Remains The Same?). It is hardly a stretch then to state that bad KPIs are detached from business context and as a result are pointless. In contrast winning KPIs start with an analysis of business context, thus making their KPIs successful as a business tool.

The actionable plan is (in our view) the magic sauce. An action plan should be aligned with a business objective and a KPI. Where there is no actionable plan associated with the KPI, then why measure it?

Back to Ross Mitten and his warning. Measurement can be a trap. Metrics can also be misleading. KPIs can be something to hide behind. All true but maybe it is unfair to pin all our hopes on KPIs and apportion all the blame at their door also. Maybe KPIs need a friend to share the load?  CSFs!

Before I get accused of being that person everyone abhors – the jargon junkie – I promise there will be no additional acronyms from here on in.

Critical Success Factors (CSFs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are frequently used interchangeably or confused. They are in fact two totally different concepts and are (if used appropriately) complementary.

The easiest way to understand them singly and in contrast is by understanding that CSFs are the cause of your success, whereas KPIs are the results of your actions. Thus, there’s a tight relationship between them: cause and effect. If you’ve properly identified your CSFs and have been executing against them AND you’ve properly identified what your KPIs are AND aligned them to your business objectives you will be getting close to meeting your performance targets.

Reminding myself that everyone hates a jargon junkie let’s speak plainly. Ask yourself “what must we do to be successful?” (CSFs) and “what indicates that we’re winning?” (KPIs). Always, always remember to do the stuff that matters to your customer. Otherwise why are you doing it? If it doesn’t matter to your customer then who is going to buy it and who is going to pay for it?

6 April 2016

J – Don’t be a Jargon Junkie!

The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, bake it in, circle back or leverage cloud platforms, by all means do it. Just don’t say you’re doing it.

If you need to ask why then I’m afraid it’s too late. You are a jargon junkie.

jargon1You may be well-versed in all the jargon that surrounds the technology industry or recite PMBOK in your sleep. You’re living and breathing cloud computing, balanced scorecards, virtualisation, swimlanes and blades. Good for you! A word of advice. You might want to keep the jargon to a minimum if you want the executives on the business side to understand what the hell you are talking about. Ok, a bit harsh. It is challenging to make the transition between the different languages of project management, technology and the business world. When it comes to talking things over with your company’s leaders and sponsors, remember that there are some words that will make their eyes glaze over, other phrases will bog you down in endless explanations, and some are guaranteed to cause panic.

Why do you do it? “Jargon masks real meaning,” according to Jennifer Chatman, management professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give to others.” In other words it’s laziness. Or you should want to sound clever. Whether it is laziness, some bloated hubris, over-indulgence or ignorance the impact on the project is negative.

Good communication is central to the success of any project but the key is effective communication. It the project organisation does not understand what you are saying you have failed.

Find a common lexicon that all parties understand and are comfortable with. As project managers, we need to strive to understand the specific language of our customer and be able to translate and speak in the domain of the project rather than in our project-speak. We (all) benefit by communicating better with our customers and colleagues without losing the advantages of the project management discipline.

Remember we are custodians not dictators. We are empowered to champion or be the agents of change not the owners of it. Let someone else have the spotlight.

No-one likes a jargon junkie. Kick the habit! You don’t want to become one of these guys?!



See you next time! If you have liked what you have read please like and remember to share.

23 March 2016

Influencing the Influencers

Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy meets with advisors in his office at the Department of Justice. Photo credit: Department of Justice Archives

Robert Kennedy’s influence in the administration extended well beyond law enforcement. Though different in temperament and outlook, the President came to rely heavily on his brother’s judgement and effectiveness as political advisor, foreign affairs counsellor, and most trusted confidant.

The Influencer is a strange bird. It wields power often in a hidden, Machiavellian way, often serving its own self-interest.

To begin, let’s define influence as “the power to affect, control or manipulate something or someone; the ability to change the development of fluctuating things such as conduct, thoughts or decisions; an action exerted by a person or thing with such power on another to cause change; a person or thing exerting such power or action.” The key point in all of this is power! Infleuncers might not be able to direct people to do something – but they exert a different type of power which is equally, if not more, important. Projects are much more likely to succeed when backed by clear, active support from other influental people in the organisation. Simple? We need to identify the influencers, right? Yes, we do need to identify them but first we need to categorise them.

There are four types of Influencer birds in an organisation:

  • Advocate: can persuade others about the benefits of a project. It’s important to work with them early in the process. You need to plant ideas with them and turn them into early adopters.
  • Connector: help you reach others in the network that you might want to influence. They help you find allies and enlist support. They can also help you develop a critical mass of key people in favour of the project.
  • Controller: control access to people and information. They need cultivating and they need to understand how they can help you.
  • Expert: recognised as being technically credible by others. Remember they may not actually be technical experts; it’s just that others regard them as so.

Next you need to identify and understand the role that each of the influencers plays. For this I’d recommend Michael Lennon and Eva Schiffer (Discovering hidden influencers that make or break project success) business “paper-and-pencil” drawing tool. It is a simple and smart “Net-Map” which helps people to interactively identify influence networks and depict the information in an intuitive and quantitative manner.

Put simply, you have to pay more attention to some people than others. When you stop and think about it, you already know that some people in an organisation have more influence than others. You know this instinctively and need to bring this knowledge into the project to initiate effective leadership.
There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” Niccolo Machiavelli

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.” Niccolo Machiavelli

Influencers have the power to help or harm you. In order to responsibly manage your influencers, take time to identify and evaluate them. Know that influencers get things done. They effect change. They make things happen. You need to know you can leverage them for maximum impact. Lead influencers to your expected outcomes. Influence the Influencers! Know them. Understand them.

“The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.”  Niccolo Machiavelli

9 March 2016

5 Key Abilities of an IT Project Manager

Painting by Ralph Steadman

Painting by Ralph Steadman

In an earlier blog post “Why IT projects fail (and organisations go nuclear)” we used the analogy “dog with fleas” for project failure. In it we listed a number of early warning signs that will help you recognise and address the problems before things go nuclear. We did caveat those listed as only some of the early warning signs. It is a lucky thing too because we did not include the helicopter view.

Though there is a whole host of skills, knowledge areas and methodologies to consider, being a successful project manager comes down to an ability to do a few key things very, very well:

  • Communicate: communication doesn’t mean talking. Whether your audience is your team, an executive, a customer you need to be able to communicate your ideas and ensure they are understood, rather than simply heard.
  • Organise: you need to be a good juggler. You need to be able to keep track of multiple things at once and in an organised manner. The trick is not to find yourself in a state of overwhelm.
  • Solve problems/make decisions: you need to keep the “big picture” in mind while also working on the specifics. To coin (someone else’s) phrase the project manager must be “the general” and the foot soldier. We’ll return to Sun Tzu later in this article.

Back to problem and decision. When faced with a problem work at really analysing the problem and compile a list of alternative solutions. When trying to solve the problem remember to focus on the problem you are trying to solve then you will not get lost in “the forest or the trees”.

  • Build teams: your project team defines (your) project’s success. You don’t always get to choose your team but you do get to choose how to manage your team. Get good stuff out of them. Engage your team. Motivate them. An engaged and motivated team will perform at a higher level. How? Share your vision. Paint a clear picture of the outcome. Empower them to build their own paths to success. Develop the project’s critical path with your team. Involve them. Make the project real to them!

Back to The Art of War, Sun Tzu states that aleader should be wise (in making decisions), trustworthy (should inspire trust), caring (taking care of the team), courageous (to make tough choices), and strict (in ensuring compliance).” Sometimes however the general (the project manager) needs to get into the trenches to inspire his or her team. To set an example, the project manager should roll up his or her sleeves. When you work with the team in the areas where you can contribute, you send a strong message because you are showing that you are part of the team with your actions not just managing and directing. To quote Thomas Edison “vision without execution is hallucination.”

See you next time! If you have liked what you have read please like and remember to share.

24 February 2016

Project Governance… works except when it doesn’t

An exceptional certainty if you will.

1984In last week’s blog we identified why IT projects fail and included such reasons as lack of user involvement, scope creep, communication, controlling budget and time. We also included poor governance as a reason.

For how could you establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory?(1984 by George Orwell).

For how could you establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory?(1984 by George Orwell).

Despite all the literature and evidence, the one thing that is clear is that organisations are not learning from previous lessons. When it comes to learning lessons is it better to learn from why projects fail or why projects succeed? The answer is from both.

When you analyse the reasons why projects fail and there are many (those identified in last week’s blog are by no means all of them), it is difficult (maybe impossible) to pinpoint one overriding factor that causes project failure. The issues (reasons) mentioned above (and in last week’s blog) are interlinked and are not really ‘technical’ issues, but rather ‘human’ issues that relate to management and training.

When it comes to fixing the issues (reasons project fail) where do you start? There are a number of formal models available for assessing organisational maturity in project management, each with its own set of advantages and limitations. Personally I am an advocate of the P3M3 maturity framework used for portfolio, programme and project management but canvasing support for it is thought food for another day. For now let’s say we have five seconds to choose an issue to tackle? Clock ticking. I choose poor governance and my weapon of choice to fix it (poor governance) is risk management. It is my view that an effective risk management approach to project governance can be used to ensure the maximum benefit and potential.

A survey conducted by the UK Government in 2013 listed “decision making failures” as one of the top five reasons for project failure. Although the discipline of risk management has matured, we continue to see projects failing to deliver successfully and by this we mean failing to deliver the expected outcomes as per their business cases.

The same study listed governance and stakeholder management as the second and third most common drivers of project failure.

What does good (effective) governance look like?

  • Informed decision-making.
  • Ability (and authority) to provide appropriate
  • Appropriate (“custom-fit”) and understood project management methodology or framework.
  • Skills and capability (knowledge and experience) of those governing.
  • True
  • Transparent (notlip service” or token) information exchange and communication.
  • Common, clear outcomes universally understood and
  • Invested

So risk management? Risk management, along with other knowledge areas of project management, contribute to a decision maker’s ability to make decisions.

My recommendation is that you develop and implement a risk management framework (driven by metrics) that examines risks in light of potential threats’ potential to effect the strategic goals of the project. Note: early posts on Benefits Realisation, Change Management and Delivery Maturity Assessment where I ask the C-suite executives (those cured of the dreaded C-ostrich, Do-ostrich affliction) to align all projects’ outcomes to their organisations’ strategic goals, otherwise why… why… why do the project?

The risk management framework will help organisations better identify, assess and respond to business threats in alignment with overall business goals. The method consists of three steps: identify, assess and action. This method is based on the fundamental principles of The Project Foundry’s 3As Maturity Model (read more here!):

  • Step one: establish goals for the risk management framework
  • Step two: align risk management framework with key business objectives and operations in order to develop key risk indicators.
  • Step three: design/define the risk management framework rules, principles and guidelines including when to involve the various levels of the organisation including C-suite executives, lines of business and IT.

In summary I am a dummy so I always like to follow a dummy’s guide. If you follow this dummy’s guide I think you will have more successes than failures:

  • Align projects to organisation’s strategy.
  • Define measurable success criteria for your projects.
  • Develop a risk management plan based on these metrics.
  • Align your governance plan to the triggers defined in your risk management plan.
  • Don’t forget to talk! It makes things so much easier.

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. “Reality control,” they called it: in Newspeak, “doublethink.” (1.3.18)” (1984 by George Orwell).

Finally for this week, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. If it’s not being done right, change it or leave!

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth. “Who controls the past,” ran the Party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” And yet the past, though of its nature alterable, never had been altered. Whatever was true now was true from everlasting to everlasting. It was quite simple. All that was needed was an unending series of victories over your own memory. “Reality control,” they called it: in Newspeak, “doublethink.” (1.3.18)”

(1984 by George Orwell).

See you next week! If you have liked what you have read please like and remember to share.



15 February 2016

Why IT Project Management Fail (and organisations go nuclear)

Why IT Projects fail

For any organisation project failure is like a dog with fleas. It costs a lot of money to treat and the fleas come back making the life hell for the organisation and the dog. Sometimes the only thing to do is to put the dog out of its misery.

Before going to such extremes why not find out what the underlying problems are and fixing those? Best for everyone especially the dog.

Organisations often ignore or fail to read the signs of imminent failure until it’s too late. Early warning signs will help you recognise and address the problems before things go nuclear.

F1 F2 F3


The Project Foundry can help you with your project management initiatives (and with advice on how to de-flea your dog).

Call us now on 01 697 8248.

16 November 2015

Project Management Excellence: Is it a Utopia?

In last week’s post I asked how mature your organisation is in terms of project management and if it even mattered? If your organisation is delivering value to your customer then where’s the problem? After much deliberation I concluded that a balance of focus on both maturity and value is probably going to be right for most businesses. To return to my satirical profile of C-suite executives in last week’s post I must remind you (before we proceed) of the (all too real) C-ostrich, Do ostrich affliction. This (three wise monkey) syndrome is not just whimsy and this week’s content should be footnoted with it (the wise monkey syndrome).

ex¦cel|lence /ˈɛks(ə)l(ə)ns/

Definition of excellence in English:


1. The quality of being outstanding or extremely good: awards for excellence

a centre academic excellence


This week’s poser: can excellence in project management be achieved or is it a utopian (impossibly idealistic) state? How realistic and achievable is it? Is excellence definable and if so can it be measured? Finally, is good… good enough?

In case you are new to my blog I should probably pin my colours to the mast as it were. If you take your projects seriously, then you should take project management seriously. Taking it seriously means you (your organisation) need(s) to adopt a project management mind-set. Build project management into the organisation. If you baulk at this then you should stop reading now and keep winging it. But I will remind you of (another) poser. Harold Kerzner posed it in the first chapter of his book (In Search of Excellence in Project Management). “Try to name one company, just one that has given up on project management after implementing it.” Ok, Harold, I hear you ask, but do we really need to be excellent? Is good not enough? I’d like you to answer the question but before you do let’s do a short multiple-choice quiz… you know for fun?

Are people the most valuable asset of any organisation? There could be buildings, machines and assets worth millions of euros but if the talent is not available, organisations could never scale the pinnacle of success.

A survey (by CTPRD 2013) involving 780 CEOs revealed that talent- shortage is the priority over any other consideration when it comes to productivity.

In conclusion good is great but excellent is better. Albert Einstein said: “strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. “ A recurring theme but (customer) value should be at the heart of everything we do (as a project manager and as an organisation). Driving excellence through people will drive excellence in project management and transform daring utopias into reality (Miller & Lessard, 2000, p. 1)

… But first you must cure the C-ostrich, Do ostrich sufferers. Remember what Sun Tzu said: “The enlightened ruler is heedful, and the good general full of caution.

16 November 2015

Project Delivery Maturity Assessment

Just how mature is your organisation at project management or does it even matter? If you deliver value to your customer then where’s the problem?

Where’s the problem? Before we ask that question maybe we should ask the question is there a problem? Do we all agree that the answer is yes? Let’s look at what you say.

The PMI’s Pulse of the Profession: The High Cost of Low Performance (February 2014) claims that all of an organisation’s strategic initiatives are projects and programs, which inevitably “change the business”. It further claims that “most C-suite fail to realise this simple truth.” Is that a problem? Is that our problem? Is that the most worrying problem? What is the reason for it and how do we solve it?

C-ostrich Do-ostrich is the medical term for our problem! Don’t despair C-ostrich, Do-ostrich is not terminal. There is a cure. What is the cure? Part of the cure is culture change.

Projects and programs that are aligned to an organisation’s strategy are completed successfully more often than projects that are misaligned (The aforementioned PMI report has the figure at 48% versus 71%). Perhaps an obvious (or silly) question but one I’d like to direct to the C-ostrich, Do-ostrich sufferers. Why? Why would the C-suite executives (the rulers) approve projects and programs that are not aligned to an organisation’s strategy?

Ok, let’s keep things simple. Try this (www.dummies.com) definition for strategy for a moment (http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/business-planning-strategy-defined.html). The fine points of strategy are:

  • Establishes… different and tailored value to customers

Eureka! We should be providing value to our customers. Simple. Do we? Do we know? Do we know what our customer looks like? Has anyone ever seen one? Has anyone ever met one? Part of the cure is value to customer. We’ll come back to value… and the customer.

Let’s assume for a moment that we have value to customer nailed. Bear with me! Why are 44% of strategic initiatives failing (source: PMI’s Pulse of the Profession: The High Cost of Low Performance)? You’ll have to bear with me again. Close your eyes and imagine you are in work and a particular project or program has failed (or is perceived to have failed). Ask yourself why? Try to be objective. Would you agree with these reasons?

  • C-suite executives are often missing in action
  • Rather than micromanaging, C-suite executives should identify and focus on the key initiatives and projects that are strategically relevant.
  • A majority of companies either lack the skills or fail to deploy the personnel needed for strategy implementation.

Is your answer yes to the above? If so would the two elements we have identified as part of the cure go some way to (not solving the disease but) putting us on the road to recovery? The two elements are (namely) culture and value? Is the mist clearing? OK, let’s go on.

We want to include a third (magic) ingredient to the cure. Talent. If you have been following these blogs you know we are (the biggest) proponents of talent (People) and the role it (they) play. Everything starts and ends with people. We need to go back to basics.

55% of PM professionals say that their organisation provide too little time for PPM training and development.* A project staffed with uniformly very low-rated personnel on all capability and experience factors would require 11 times as much effort to complete the project as would a project team with the highest rating in all the above factors.** *Source: 4th Global Portfolio and Programme Management Survey, PwC 2014 **Source: Software Engineering Economics, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, p431,Boehm B (1981)

Capturing the Value of Project Management, PMI (February 2015) claims that there is a direct correlation between effective talent management and better project performance: their research shows that organizations need to focus on the development and training of their talent in order to achieve superior project performance, successful strategic initiatives and become high performers.

Talent leads to success. I’d paraphrase this. Without talent there can be no success. A vital ingredient of the cure is talent.

Is talent enough? I say obviously(?) no. Organizations realise significantly more successful strategic initiatives when mature project management practices are in place.

three wise monkeysBack to strategy and the C-suite C-ostrich, Do-ostrich sufferers. Re-iterating what we just said organisations realise significantly more successful strategic initiatives when mature project management practices are in place. Assumption warning! This assumes that the organisation is working on projects and programs that are aligned to an organisation’s strategy. Full circle. Thankfully!

Why would there be a misalignment? The C-ostrich, Do-ostrich disease is worse than we thought? This medical term for this strain of the disease is three wise monkeys.

Wait. There is no flat-line yet. It is recoverable. How?

  • Culture: Understand the value of project management.
  • Talent: Focus on talent.
  • Process: Support project management though standardised practices
  • Strategy: Align projects to the organisation’s strategy.
  • Value?

How do we calculate customer value?

  1. Step 1: Calculate the profit contribution of each customer in the current year. …

Stop! A simpler way to do it might be to just ask. Your customer will tell you what they value.

Align your strategy to this and measure it.

In conclusion a balance of focus on both maturity and value is probably going to be right for most businesses and will give you the breadth of professional practice on which to build a great delivery team.

I’ll leave you with this… if you are suffering from C-ostrich Do-ostrich or know someone who is don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s the first step to recovery

For help go to: www.theprojectfoundry.com and also to find out about the stuff that matters!

                         Rebooting one cube at a time!

16 November 2015

Change Management in Project Management – A Road To Nowhere?

In 1985 David Byrne, the lead singer with Talking Heads, wrote: “Well we know where we’re goin’ But we don’t know where we’ve been”

“Well we know where we’re goin’
But we don’t know where we’ve been”

Does this capture where change management is? We know where we’re going and we know where we’ve been? I think so. Question is how do we get to where we want to go?

In 2013, Prosci, a world leader in benchmarking research, undertook a change management benchmarking study. They asked participants for their insights into top trends in change management for the next five years. Now two years into the timeframe, Prosci decided to revisit it and see where the participants think we will be in the next three years.

  1. Continued Maturation of Change Management as an Industry: The top trend is the maturation and definition of change management as a practice with an emphasis on measurement and metrics.
  2. Stronger Internal Change Management Capabilities: By 2018, companies will recognise change management as a key organisational differentiator and will move toward adopting a standard approach.
  3. Greater demand for and Shortage of Change Management Practitioners: As companies focus more on change management capabilities, there will be a greater demand for change management practitioners.
  4. Recognition of Change Management’s Value in Benefit Realisation: More and more organisations are taking notice of change management and its role in delivering results.
  5. Better integration with Project Management: More change management will find its way into project management. Change management will be brought into projects earlier.

OK, so Change Management as an industry will continue to mature. Great. Organisations will place greater emphasis on change management competency and focus on improving sponsorship capabilities and on increasing manager change management comprehension. Excellent. There will be a greater demand for change management practitioners. Not so great, right? It’s okay. The path to becoming a change management practitioner will also be clearer with the addition of certifications, accreditation and credentialing. Phew! A business focus on sustained change results will help keep change management in the forefront of leader’s minds. And that’s good because leaders get it, right? Change management and project management continue to integrate. That’s good too because even if leaders don’t get it, project managers do, don’t they?

ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι (q.e.d.) Right?

ὅπερ ἔδει δεῖξαι (q.e.d.) Right?

Finally. Problem solved. Where do I sign? Next. Wait!  Cork the champagne a second. Why? Think about your past and present experience as you mull over this one. How many people do get it? In my experience (past and present) very few.

Returning to the Prosci survey, and what its participants are thinking about. Permit to paraphrase. Change management will become a practice. Companies want to increase internal capabilities. There will be a greater demand for change management practitioners. There will be a greater emphasis on change management to realise benefits and a greater integration with project management. Darius Johnson, in his article (Insight #58: Constantly Focused on Successful Outcomes) asked organisations to Stop the Insanity. Darius eloquently argued that showing tangible benefits from change management increases the number of projects that succeed in achieving their objectives. Darius’ view is that people-related issues are reasons for projects missing the mark.

We’re coming close to the nub of it. It reminds me of an Eric Ries’ quote (in relation to entrepreneurs not being in the business of prediction but it [the quote] is relevant here also) “you can make all the models and forecasts you want but it’s basically a waste of time”. Why? “We can’t escape the fact that change management focuses on people” Darius Johnson)

In the end, there is value in all the contributions I have referenced in this week’s blog and it is all these parts (referenced), considered as a whole, will solve this Rubik’s cube: People, Process, Product and emPowerment but people a commanding and perpetual first.

See you next week! If you have liked what you have read please like and remember to share.

P.S. Keep reading.


For more information on the movement go to: http://theleanstartup.com/

For more information on Darius Johnson’s Stop the Insanity go to: http://goo.gl/c76jRs

For more information on the Prosci 2015 Benchmarking Study, published in March 2015 go to: http://goo.gl/c76jRs

For more information on Rubik’s Cube go to: https://eu.rubiks.com/

For more information on Talking Heads and a link to the video for their song Road To Nowhere go to: http://www.talking-heads.nl/


David Byrne and Talking Heads may have been on a road to nowhere but it doesn’t mean you have to be. Find out more about our TPF 4Ps Model (People, Process, Product, EmPowerment) at www.theprojectfoundry.com and also to find out about the stuff that matters!

Rebooting one cube at a time!

But if I were you… I’d check out Talking Heads first!

4 November 2015

Benefits Realisation: When Project Management Success is not a Benefit…


You’ve delivered your project on time, within budget, the customer has signed it off and you’ve completed your closure report. You’ve done your job, right? Time to move on to the next project, right? It depends.

It depends on what kind of Project Manager you are and what success means to you and your organisation.

Essentially a Project Manager is accountable for the success or failure of a project. So far are we in agreement?

Typical responsibilities of a project manager range from planning, executing and closing projects to managing teams and stakeholders but indulge me for a second, who ensures projects deliver the benefits detailed in the business case are realised. In my experience no one does. I will return to this point later.

John Thorp (The Information Paradox) based his new approach to benefits realisation on the following premises:

  • Benefits do not just happen.
  • Benefits rarely happen according to plan.
  • Benefits realisation is a continuous process.

This “benefits mindset “, as John Thorp coined it (in 2003), has not been adopted and as such even today, investment in IT enabled business change is still not translating into business value. Why is this? Paraphrasing Michael Krigsman (of ZDNet) here, but people don’t know what they want. Permit me to add an addendum. If they got it (what they asked for) they wouldn’t know it.

“REALISING BENEFITS – IT’S WHAT PROJECTS ARE FOR!” Gareth Byatt and Jeff Hodgkinson said this. It sounds simple, right?


Yes, but why then do upwards of 70% of projects fail (ESP Solutions Group, Gartner and ZDNet all back this up with their findings from as far back as 2008 to present day). So why is this?

The process of benefits realisation should begin at the earliest stages of initiation and should continue after the project deliverables have been met. Benefits should be defined in the project business case and should be related to advancing the organisation’s strategic objectives. Otherwise, adapting what Gareth Byatt and Jeff Hodgkinson said what are projects for?

From theory to practice, at The Project Foundry, the benefits realisation process is broken into four stages:

  • Identify: What is the problem you are trying to solve?
  • Define: Benefits should be clearly defined. For a project to be measured against benefits, these [benefits] must be defined as tangible, measurable benefits.
  • Plan: These [definitions] must be built into the specification of the project deliverables.
  • Realise: Once the deliverables are commissioned, these [changes] must be embedded so as they can become the “new business as usual” with the organisation’s performance targets [KPIs] adjusted to incorporate them.

At The Project Foundry, advocates all of John Thorp, I will leave you with one of his three necessary conditions for changing the way people think and manage “activist accountability that includes the concept of ownership”. With a willing client, benefits can be delivered, but only if the business sponsor is (willing) to take ownership and accept clear accountability for delivering the [project or program] benefits.

Finally, let me leave you with this thought? Ownership and accountability don’t have to be scary words. Benefit is good, right? Yes. Being accountable and owning something good is even better. We can empower you to make this happen.


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