Supporting Reviews & Assurance

The Role of the PMO

Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

1
Outline
 Projects fail

 That’s OK
 Portfolio mgt is easier than project mgt…
 … provided you can get the right inform...
Why do projects fail?
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

3

Simon Schoeters
We lose touch with reality
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

4

Christiaan Triebert
Failure becomes obvious
when we run back into reality
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

5

Simon Schoeters
Failure is OK!
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

6

L Gnome
There are 2 types of failure:
Inherent & Unnecessary
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

7

macrophile
Statistics don’t work for
project managers
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

8

Steve A
Statistics do work for portfolio
& programme managers
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

9

James Bowe
Portfolio & programme
managers have more tools
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

10

veryuseful
But they often don’t have the
information they need
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

11

IsaacMao
But they often don’t have the
information they need
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

12

derekGavey
But they often don’t have the
information they need
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

13

maveric2003
But they often don’t have the
information they need
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

14

Jeroen_bennink
That’s where the PMO helps –
providing clear information
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

15

Grand Canyon NP...
Right Information – Skills –
Process – Stakeholders
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014
IvanWalsh.com

16

Kheel
...
The role of assurance is to
provide validated information
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

17

owenwbrown
PMOs can work at three levels
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

18

ell brown
How do we set up an effective
programme of reviews?
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

19

Colin_K
1) Make reviews the norm
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

20

Lars P.
2) Be clear who you’re serving
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

21

Bird Brian
3) Tune investment to risk
levels
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

22

digitalmoneyworld
4) Use a mix of review types
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

23

vie_ascenseur
5) Negotiate clear objectives
for each review
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

24

Richard_of_England
Control parameters
Baseline

Criteria

Reference
Models

Review execution

Inputs
Artefacts & other
items to review, plus
...
7) Focus on evidence
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

26

Simon Schoeters
8) Manage logistics
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

27

strudelt
9) Minimise overheads
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

28

jcroninone
10) Train people
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

29

One Laptop per Child
11) Act on findings
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

30

mikebaird
12) Monitor effectiveness
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

31

SearchEnginePeopleBlog
13) Disseminate lessons
learned
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

32

The U.S. Army
Assurance supports
stakeholder communications
Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

33

Keoni Cabral
Summary
 We engage with risks to achieve rewards

 Sometimes the risks win
 Aim is to eliminate unnecessary failure
 P...
Unnecessary Failure…
… happens when people with the skills,
resources and authority to act effectively
don’t get full, val...
Thank you

graham@grahamoakes.co.uk
@GrahamDOakes

Supporting Reviews & Assurance
APM, Feb 2014

36
Graham Oakes Ltd
 Making sense of technology…
 Many organisations are caught up in the
complexity of technology and syst...
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APM SW - Reviews and Assurance - Feb 2014

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Slides from my talk to APM South Wales and West of England, in Bristol, 20 Feb 2014. Why do projects fail? What sort of failures are OK? How can portfolio and programme managers improve their success rates? How do you set up an effective assurance programme? What is the PMO's role in all this?

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  • Can give a long list – fuzzy requirements, mismatched goals, lack of sponsorship and stakeholder buy-in, lack of resources & skills, poor communications.We’ve known about these for decades. The literature keeps reiterating them. Yet our projects keep failing. There’s something going on beneath this…
  • We get overloaded – too much going on, too much info coming in, to keep on top of it all. We miss stuff, make bad connections, don’t hear warnings from team members, etc.We’re subject to biases and gaps in our cognition (Daniel Kahneman: Thinking, Fast & Slow)We fool ourselves. We hope we’ll recover.We create incentives to hide failure.Most project mgt is about building mechanisms to keep in touch with reality – status reports, plans (make it more obvious when we’re deviating), earned value, risk mgt (triggers tell us if risk has come into play), etc.
  • Eventually we run back into reality. We have to hit it at some point, when we need to deliver into outside world. Can no longer fool ourselves and failure becomes obvious.Great statistics from my time at Psygnosis, showing how people face up to failure as they start to hit major milestonesKey message: failure typically happens a long time before it becomes obvious.This is the real problem: now have less time to deal with the failure, and it’s more likely to have grown and cascaded, causing related failures.
  • Projects are one-ff activities. Level of novelty & research & learning. Engage with risks to achieve rewards. Sometimes the risks win.Oil industry is great example.
  • Inherent = built into the statistics of what we’re trying to do. Some percentage will fail by virtue of complexity, unknown nature, etc. That percentage varies from domain to domain – high in research, low in stuff we do over and over again with little variation. Whatever level, it’s not fundamentally a problem – a sign we’re attending to meaningful risk/reward trade-offs.Unnecessary = failure that happens because we don’t get the basics right. We don’t plan. We don’t communicate. We don’t resource appropriately. Etc. Avoidable failure that we don’t avoid. This is the real problem.
  • Only have one project. Either it succeeds or it doesn’t. You tend to get tarred with the failure – a real problem in orgs with blaming or risk-avoiding cultures.
  • Can achieve higher level goal provided the proportion of failure is within tolerance. Still want to eliminate the unnecessary failures, but can live with the inherent ones (& have tools to mitigate these too)Portfolio management, esp, is all about getting a balanced level of risk, not zero risk.
  • Can shift resources between projectsTypically have larger pool of expertise – can access specialists that aren’t fully available to project managersCan adjust schedules - delay one in order accelerate othersTypically have better access to senior stakeholders – can work with them to remove blockages, add resources, adjust scope & objectives
  • 4 slides:There’s a lot going on – hard to keep track of it all; significant stuff gets lost in amongst all the detail and the sheer weight of info hitting usStatus reports paint a rosy view – project managers may have fooled themselves. Optimism is a human bias & esp in project managers – convince themselves there chances of success are better than average. Even if aware of issues, don’t want to share failure due to machismo & independence, or for fear of being pushed aside (valid fear: many senior managers micro-manage & intervene too early).Status reports become ritualised – lots of cut and paste. Become an overhead – don’t add value for project manager and team, so they put minimal effort into themPeople have agendas behind the info they reveal and the view they have of the project
  • 4 slides:There’s a lot going on – hard to keep track of it all; significant stuff gets lost in amongst all the detail and the sheer weight of info hitting usStatus reports paint a rosy view – project managers may have fooled themselves. Optimism is a human bias & esp in project managers – convince themselves there chances of success are better than average. Even if aware of issues, don’t want to share failure due to machismo & independence, or for fear of being pushed aside (valid fear: many senior managers micro-manage & intervene too early).Status reports become ritualised – lots of cut and paste. Become an overhead – don’t add value for project manager and team, so they put minimal effort into themPeople have agendas behind the info they reveal and the view they have of the project
  • 4 slides:There’s a lot going on – hard to keep track of it all; significant stuff gets lost in amongst all the detail and the sheer weight of info hitting usStatus reports paint a rosy view – project managers may have fooled themselves. Optimism is a human bias & esp in project managers – convince themselves there chances of success are better than average. Even if aware of issues, don’t want to share failure due to machismo & independence, or for fear of being pushed aside (valid fear: many senior managers micro-manage & intervene too early).Status reports become ritualised – lots of cut and paste. Become an overhead – don’t add value for project manager and team, so they put minimal effort into themPeople have agendas behind the info they reveal and the view they have of the project
  • 4 slides:There’s a lot going on – hard to keep track of it all; significant stuff gets lost in amongst all the detail and the sheer weight of info hitting usStatus reports paint a rosy view – project managers may have fooled themselves. Optimism is a human bias & esp in project managers – convince themselves there chances of success are better than average. Even if aware of issues, don’t want to share failure due to machismo & independence, or for fear of being pushed aside (valid fear: many senior managers micro-manage & intervene too early).Status reports become ritualised – lots of cut and paste. Become an overhead – don’t add value for project manager and team, so they put minimal effort into themPeople have agendas behind the info they reveal and the view they have of the project
  • Role of the PMO is to help people make good decisions. In particular, it ensures they have info they need, appropriate processes, necessary skills, right stakeholders, etc, to be able to make good decisions.
  • Role of the PMO is to help people make good decisions. In particular, it ensures they have info they need, appropriate processes, necessary skills, right stakeholders, etc, to be able to make good decisions.
  • Assurance supports this info-centric view of the PMO. Ensures availability of clean, validated information about status of projects, risks, etc, to stakeholders at all levels. Enables decisions can be grounded in realistic understanding of the project / programme / portfolio – it’s current state, risks, team capabilities, etc.Exec level – help shape portfolio, redirect resources, identify & manage dependencies, etc – PMO is key stakeholder here, as are typically supporting execsProject mgr level – help see what is really going on & hence identify strategies to intervene effectively – PMO is less of a stakeholder here; may be direct to ProjMgr (but PMO still supports assurance – success is common goal)3 key points about assurance & reviews:Provide independent, validated information so people can intervene effectively in their projects, programmes & portfoliosProvide outside perspective, helping cut through many of the cognitive gaps, biases and politicsStructured approach also helps overcome cognitive gaps = review approach
  • PMO ensures info gets to the place where it can be acted on most effectively. Tends to work at 3 levels:Executive: Shape of portfolio; Interdependencies & side-effects; gaps; opportunities; risks; resource availability & allocationManagement: What works / what doesn’t (Methods, tools, lessons learned); What can’t I see because I’ve got my nose to the grindstoneAdministrative: Status, statistics, RAGs, Risk Registers, etc – single view of “truth”So natural home for methodology, etc. May be home for project managers, career development, etc.If info flow within org were perfect, wouldn’t need a PMO – PMO is a driver to continuously improve…
  • A dozen pointers for you.
  • If you only review projects when they’re in trouble, sending a review gives message “your project’s in trouble”. Project mgrs resist this message – can be pretty threatening. Means they’re less willing to open up about what’s going on. Cuts off the information flow.Unexpected reviews add overheads – people need to prepare materials, reschedule meetings, make space available, etc. Disruption is much lower if reviews are planned into project from outset.Ad hoc reviews also tend to be more heavyweight – happening infrequently, so need ot drill down into details & ask a lot of questions. Can’t do much in a lightweight review at this point – barely get up to speed. Adds to disruption.PMO does a lot to set the context for this – sets expectation that reviews will be norm, builds it into methods & tools & templates
  • Can be project mgr, programme/portfolio mgr, or senior exec – as per earlier discussion of their into needs – links to their “sphere of influence” & capability to actIf not clear, will deliver wrong info (too detailed, not actionable with resources and power they have, etc)Even if focused on needs of sponsor or exec, need to try to deliver value to project team – rely on them for interviews, access to docs, etc. Give value in return for this disruption – draft recommendations that they can use, benefiting from the experience and perspective of the reviewers. (Doesn’t help to be condescending as do this!)Also need to get the communication protocols around this right, e.g. team will hide info if see no benefit for themselves and/or see fear of over-intervention by senior mgrs. E.g. Psygnosis protocol.NB there’s a risk here – assurance should be a redundant info channel, supporting & not supplanting info flows from project mgr & team. There’s a risk that these normal flows wither as people become too dependent on the flow from the assurance teams.PMO’s help frame objectives for reviews & hence set this up
  • People ask how much to invest? Hard question – we lack good statistics.Tune it to the expected failure rate in your org – if projects overrun by an average of 40%, then what percent of budget is it worth spending to halve this? That puts a ceiling – start lower and work up to it if getting results.Consider film industry – completion bond costs 2-5% of production budget. Reasonable to spend same on IT project.PMO again helps set the conditions for this discussion – assess overall risk levels
  • Frequent, regular lightweight vs larger, milestone-based gate reviews (latter are more disruptive & require more effort from project & review teams, but go deeper, heavyweight means generally too infrequent to spot trends until too late; former are good for spotting trends; combining the two makes a lot of sense)Formal vs informalSelf-assessmentvs peer vs independent outsiderProcess vs outputsProject, design, code, … - all depend on the objectivesPMO helps design the review programme
  • Can’t be both broad and deep (within bounded time & budget) – either skim across entire scope of project, or delve deeply into 1 or two aspectsOften good to go T-shaped – broad initial phase, then drill into 1 or 2 areas selected by first phaseWork with stakeholders (exec, sponsor, project mgr, team) to agree what areas you’re going to focus on & how deep you’ll go – will influence time needed, people you’ll need to talk to, etcJust like a project really – time spent definign clear objectives will repay itself during the reviewPMO helps facilitate the negotiation
  • Quickly walk through the processPMO incorporates this process into body of tools, methods, etc, it manages
  • Everyone has opinions. May be driven by evidence, but also by prejudice, bias & agendas. Need to cut through this – goal is to deliver info that’s validated by links to facts.Gets very political if can’t back findings with evidence – comes down to contest of credibility, political power, etc. Can be very messy. Not my idea of fun.Look for dates, metrics, photos. Try to get attributable quotes from people. When making an inference, be clear that it is an inference, and link back to the facts supporting it. Likewise link recommendations to your inferences of what’s going on & hence back to the underlying facts.Can take time to gather clear, documented facts. Not essential if relationships are good and findings are uncontentious, but definitely essential in political environments or a lot is at stake.
  • Military saying: “Amateurs discuss tactics. Professionals discuss logistics.”Review requires a lot of organising – getting docs, getting security passes, getting access to systems, booking meeting rooms, scheduling meetingsEsp time-consuming for external review teamsIf you don’t plan for the time this takes, your review will be behind schedule before it even starts – ends up wasting even more of the project team’s time.A lot of this is about reducing load on the project team – review often isn’t focused to help them, so need to work carefully to keep them onsidePMO often best placed to provide administrative support, access to systems & tools & docs, etc, to minimise burden on project & review teams
  • Project teams are busy – none of them have spare time. Review is getting in way of delivery activities (even if it does end up adding value through perspective and expertise of reviewers).Work from existing project artefacts – don’t ask team to create special docs, fill in questionnaires & checklists, etc just for the review. (Planning reviews into project helps ensure the artefacts will be there.)Reviewers need to understand the standard docs produced within this org (if defined), so can get up to speed quickly & not disrupt project team.Plan logistics so as to minimise disruptionTreat people with respect – turn up for interviews on time, read project docs in advance so know the basic context, don’t overrun, thank them for their timePMO is managing the environment for this (logistics, review programme shape, etc)
  • Cover:Org’s project methods, tools, artefactsTypes of review, review processConducting interviewsGathering evidence & building a chain of inferenceWriting and presenting findings so they’re well-formed, actionable, concisePMO is natural place to provide this training, and to manage the pool of skilled (& apprentice) reviewers – build review capability within the org
  • It’s all largely a waste of time if don’t act. (Some benefit from regularly shining light on project: people tend to maintain risk registers, etc, rather than let them lapse.)Review & project teams lose heart iif don’t see action from reviews – stop taking them seriously / start cutting cornersNB reviewers need to deliver actionable findings – backed by evidence; within authority, skills & resources of recipient; aligned to wider goals and politics. Lot of review teams shoot themselves in the foot here – requires experienced, savvy people who are well connected to organisational context and/or have appropriate senior backing.PMO may drive action at portfolio level; monitor action at project level – ensure findings from reviews are being acted on, track those actions
  • Are reviews happeningAre findings being acted onAre projects delivering better as a resultAgain, this is an area where PMO gets heavily involved – monitoring stats about reviews, tracking project-level actions after review team has left, managing portfolio-level actions
  • For me, this is the really big benefit of reviews – bunch of people see what’s working & not working across range of projects in org; talking to people in different projects. Natural channel to disseminate news about what is & isn’t working. Build this into their operations.Can do this tacitly (through discussions that happen as part of reviews) and explicitly (by adding items to review checklists, updating tools & methods & standard doc templates & etc).Also a way to build skills – (1) give people a chance to see a wide range of projects; (2) give project mgrs a chance to talk to experienced PMs running reviews.I’d give this at least as much emphasis as the communications side.This again is very close to the PMO’s mission: they typically own the tools, methods, templates, etc, and are responsible for building PM skills and capabilities within org.
  • But comms is the prime purpose – ensuring we get clean info to the stakeholders who can act on it.Come back to the risk I identified at point (2) – Assurance is a way of supporting effective stakeholder communications – ensures that people get the info they need to act effectively. But it shouldn’t replace the normal flows – it supports, doesn’t supplant. If people getting too dependent on assurance for info, then you have a problem within your project management & teams that needs to be addressed head on.
  • Add a point about PMO – naturally placed to help set them up & maintain them
  • Who I amIndependent consultantDo 2 things – help set up project (untangle complexity); help keep in touch with what’s going onUnusual perspective on assurancePortfolio of mid-size projects rather than single large programmeDifferent twists, but aligns to where many organisations are at, so will share experienceAgenda
  • APM SW - Reviews and Assurance - Feb 2014

    1. 1. Supporting Reviews & Assurance The Role of the PMO Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 1
    2. 2. Outline  Projects fail  That’s OK  Portfolio mgt is easier than project mgt…  … provided you can get the right information  Setting up an assurance programme Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 2
    3. 3. Why do projects fail? Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 3 Simon Schoeters
    4. 4. We lose touch with reality Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 4 Christiaan Triebert
    5. 5. Failure becomes obvious when we run back into reality Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 5 Simon Schoeters
    6. 6. Failure is OK! Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 6 L Gnome
    7. 7. There are 2 types of failure: Inherent & Unnecessary Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 7 macrophile
    8. 8. Statistics don’t work for project managers Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 8 Steve A
    9. 9. Statistics do work for portfolio & programme managers Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 9 James Bowe
    10. 10. Portfolio & programme managers have more tools Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 10 veryuseful
    11. 11. But they often don’t have the information they need Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 11 IsaacMao
    12. 12. But they often don’t have the information they need Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 12 derekGavey
    13. 13. But they often don’t have the information they need Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 13 maveric2003
    14. 14. But they often don’t have the information they need Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 14 Jeroen_bennink
    15. 15. That’s where the PMO helps – providing clear information Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 15 Grand Canyon NPS
    16. 16. Right Information – Skills – Process – Stakeholders Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 IvanWalsh.com 16 Kheel Centre, Cornell
    17. 17. The role of assurance is to provide validated information Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 17 owenwbrown
    18. 18. PMOs can work at three levels Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 18 ell brown
    19. 19. How do we set up an effective programme of reviews? Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 19 Colin_K
    20. 20. 1) Make reviews the norm Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 20 Lars P.
    21. 21. 2) Be clear who you’re serving Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 21 Bird Brian
    22. 22. 3) Tune investment to risk levels Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 22 digitalmoneyworld
    23. 23. 4) Use a mix of review types Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 23 vie_ascenseur
    24. 24. 5) Negotiate clear objectives for each review Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 24 Richard_of_England
    25. 25. Control parameters Baseline Criteria Reference Models Review execution Inputs Artefacts & other items to review, plus supporting details. Outputs Analysis Loop Go / No -go decision. 6) Run a structured process Recommendations to improve review artefacts Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 Feedback to improve reference models 25 Improved artefacts.
    26. 26. 7) Focus on evidence Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 26 Simon Schoeters
    27. 27. 8) Manage logistics Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 27 strudelt
    28. 28. 9) Minimise overheads Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 28 jcroninone
    29. 29. 10) Train people Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 29 One Laptop per Child
    30. 30. 11) Act on findings Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 30 mikebaird
    31. 31. 12) Monitor effectiveness Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 31 SearchEnginePeopleBlog
    32. 32. 13) Disseminate lessons learned Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 32 The U.S. Army
    33. 33. Assurance supports stakeholder communications Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 33 Keoni Cabral
    34. 34. Summary  We engage with risks to achieve rewards  Sometimes the risks win  Aim is to eliminate unnecessary failure  Program & portfolio mgrs have a lot of tools  They need information in order to use them  Reviews & assurance provide this information  PMOs can do a lot to set up effective reviews Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 34
    35. 35. Unnecessary Failure… … happens when people with the skills, resources and authority to act effectively don’t get full, validated information about project status and issues. The role of reviews and assurance is to provide this information. Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 35
    36. 36. Thank you graham@grahamoakes.co.uk @GrahamDOakes Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 36
    37. 37. Graham Oakes Ltd  Making sense of technology…  Many organisations are caught up in the complexity of technology and systems.  This complexity may be inherent to the technology itself. It may be created by the pace of technology change. Or it may arise from the surrounding process, people and governance structures.  We help untangle this complexity and define business strategies that both can be implemented and will be adopted by people throughout the organisation and its partner network. We then help assure delivery of implementation projects.  Clients…            Cisco Worldwide Education – Architecture and research for e-learning and educational systems Council of Europe – Systems for monitoring compliance with international treaties; e-learning systems Dover Harbour Board – Systems and architecture review Greenpeace – Project reviews, enterprise architecture, digital strategy MessageLabs – Architecture and assurance for partner management portal National Savings & Investments – Helped NS&I and BPO partner develop joint IS strategy The Open University – Enterprise architecture, CRM and product development strategies Oxfam – Content management, CRM, e-Commerce Thames Valley Police – Internet Consultancy Sony Computer Entertainment – Global process definition Amnesty International, Endemol, Intel, tsoosayLabs, Vodafone, … Supporting Reviews & Assurance APM, Feb 2014 37

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