We thought it would be a good idea to revisit some of the guiding principles that underpin the world of portfolio, programme and project management. In a world of information overload, it is very easy to lose sight of what matters, so this is the first in a series of posts that we revisit to remind about some core concepts.
In this article, we revisit benefits management, which is still one of the most mysterious disciplines in the world of transformation. Benefits appear like magic when the business case is being written. With earnest consideration and challenge, even more mysteriously, they seem to disappear as soon as the business is signed off and people get down to the real business of delivering stuff, probably never returning to the sticky subject of benefits and why the change was initiated in the first place.
We’ve pulled together some of what we have found to be guiding principles which may increase your chances of achieving your benefits delivery.
No organisation can successfully deliver programmes and projects without an effective framework. Our work on developing the maturity model P3M3® and undertaking assessments of over 100 organisations enabled us to review a wide range of processes, guidance and tools that are used across a range of sectors.
- Incomplete frameworks with inadequate lifecycles
- Frameworks that replicate manuals and basic theory but add no value
- Roles and responsibilities that are generic, confusing or conflicting
- Themes, such as risk, that are not connected to the lifecycle or sit in isolation
- Generic role definitions with no application of the responsibilities
- Templates that bear no resemblance to the lifecycle or processes
- Little connection between programme and project management systems
- Portfolio Management frameworks that fail to address balancing priorities
To overcome this we developed our own Align Framework® and offer it as a fully supported package. If you would like to find out more about the Align Framework®, click here
P3M3® is a [registered] trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.
In general, lessons learned are rarely learned. Research and general knowledge about what causes programme and project failure has abounded for years, yet the same things keep happening, so what can we do to help.
As an example of this problem, for the last 20 years in the UK, the world of best practice (originated by the OGC) illustrates the issue. We wrote Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®), and it was written on the assumption that audiences already had experience of programme management, understood programme management and wanted to improve. The reality is that people read the book as part of a course and never look at it again.
The work of P3M3® has shown that although the knowledge has been absorbed temporarily for the examination, it is not sufficiently understood to enable deployment in the real world as the courses are attended by inexperienced individuals unable or unauthorised to deploy the knowledge they have in the real world. For more on this, click here
MSP® and P3M3® are [registered] trade marks of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.
Fresh Look – A series of articles taking a look at common topics to try to come up with some new ideas and insight into problems that seem to repeat themselves across many organisations.
In a world of information overload, it is very easy to lose sight of what matters, and that makes the vision even more important. In this post, we visit the old vision statement chestnut. Everyone loves talking about visions and leadership but when the opportunity comes to put them into practice within a programme environment, quite frankly most of them are about as much use as an umbrella in a wind tunnel.
In this article, we briefly reflect on a topic that is at the source of most programme failures due to not establishing a vision that people understand and genuinely commit to, is a core source of programme failure.
I had always thought of the Victorian era as our golden age. I was disappointed to find out that most of the investment was by entrepreneurs rather than our government, and most of them ended up broke as a result of the altruism. Therefore, the only people making money out of infrastructure appeared to be the builders.
The golden age of UK infrastructure investment was the 50’s and 60’s – an era pre-dawn of Thatcherism. That was when big decisions and actions were taken on motorways, power stations, schools and infrastructure. It is the period we remember for the demise of railways and not much else, so history has been very unkind to that generation.
It was also an era of nationalised industries and high levels of government controlled investment. Apparently, the countries that have the highest levels of infrastructure investment tend to be a little light on the democracy side of things, hence the conclusion that democracy is killing our infrastructure.
By chance, I have come across this excellent YouTube video which looks at mega project failure and provides an interesting insight by Michael Hobbs into a major tunnel project in Seattle.
MSP Survival Guide for Senior Responsible Owners has been written specifically for the SRO, full of helpful advice to make your hectic life easier
There are many reasons why programmes fail, but failure to grasp the scale of the change being delivered and weak leadership of the programme teams are often contributing factors.
As they are unlikely to have time to read the MSP guide or to go on courses, we have covered the main things that you will need to know in a format that can be easily referenced.
In this series of extracts we are publishing a summary of the key points from each of the chapter of the MSP Survival Guide for SROs. If you would like to buy a copy, please follow this link and quote the discount code of SG15 for a 10% discount.
‘“If we don’t know where we are going, how will we know when we have arrived let alone how we are going to get there?” – Yendor Nedwos
You need to grab the vision for the programme. The vision is the guiding star that should inspire those working on the programme on what may be a long and challenging journey. People expect the leader to have a vision for a better future that they can follow, if you don’t believe in the vision, you will find it very difficult to be an effective and successful SRO
Creating a blueprint challenges people to think through the consequences of the vision, which may identify issues and decisions that people would rather not have to make. Those decisions will fall to you to make, or you will need to present them to the sponsoring group or other senior people for them to make decisions. Without a blueprint it is not possible to effectively estimate benefits or what capability you will need delivered by the projects
Follow this link for a fuller extract – MSP Survival Guide for SROs tasters – Programme Vision and Blueprint
Fresh Look: Is a series of articles taking a look at common topics to try to come up with some new ideas and insight into problems that seem to repeat themselves across many organisations.
Is your programme exhibiting any of these characteristics?
- Project issues dominate the programme board
- Unidentified risks start to materialise a bit too quickly
- Benefits are rarely discussed
- The BCM lacks authority or purpose
- Many uncontrolled or unclear dependencies between projects and other initiatives start to manifest themselves
- Decision making is ad-hoc, reactionary or just slow
- Stakeholder resistance begins to increase and programme loses support. Programmes either lack momentum or feel like a roller coaster
If that is the case, your programme probably does not have a blueprint, and is probably out of control.
In this article, we liken a programme to a yacht and explain how it is not what you see on the surface that is providing the control, it is what happens below the waterline that is important. If your programme is exhibiting any of these characteristics then the article is for you.