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!