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Ahead of the curve PMO - Mark Walsh


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Ahead of the curve PMO - Mark Walsh

  1. 1. Ahead of the Curve PMO Information Management in a 21st Century PMO Mark Walsh June 2013 1
  2. 2. Hello! • Status reports (and PMO in general) can be cool & sexy - Discuss Well, that isn’t really what we are here for, but you’ve got to admit – Programme and Project Status Reporting isn’t really the top of anyone’s ‘that’s interesting’ topics! Not many of us spend Saturday nights in the Pub telling their friends what a great status report they produced this week. In fact, when people ask me what I do, I just go all vague and say ‘Programme Management Stuff’, as a) I can’t be bothered explaining to the un-initiated what a PMO is and b) even when you do, it’s hard to make it sound exciting. So, I’m hoping that this evening will be the start of making it sexy – putting some exciting and cutting edge stuff to what we do, that we can tell our friends about down the pub. 2
  3. 3. Information Overload! • Status Reports haven’t really change in 20 years and neither have PMOs • The way that people consume their information has changed dramatically • PMOs deal in information, lot’s of it, sometimes far too much of it • PMOs often don’t understand much of the information they are processing, they just are concerned with getting it out on time • How do PMO catch up and join the 21st Century Information Revolution and give Execs, Stakeholders and Managers the information updates they really want? I started working in PMOs in the mid 1990’s. Back then, how people consumed information was very different, but PMO’s sent out status updates, and managed issue logs and tracked dates and put RAG status on projects and added commentary to reports and sent them out on a regular basis. But today, things have change and PMOs now, erm… well, they collect updates and send them out on a Status Report! And they don’t look that different from what they looked like 20 years ago. The graphs and charts might change as people get better at presenting the information, but it’s still basically the same process. A load of information is committed to paper and circulated. And the PMO spends lots of time collecting that information. Who reads Status Reports anyway? We all do, every time we look at Twitter or Facebook, we are reading some ones status report, or we are posting and creating one ourselves. We aren’t waiting for the end of the month to look at the status, we are choosing to do it on a regular basis because we are interested in to. There is a message here somewhere…. 3
  4. 4. Sending everything to everybody just in case they may need some of it really doesn’t work anymore When I put my Linked in Page together, I made a comment around ‘give people information they want on a page, not in a phone book’. It wasn’t something I put much thought into, it was just a reference to the size of some status reports I’d seen issued. (I’d recently done some work with a PMO that was sending out a 90 page status update every month) However, a phone book is a great example of the sort of information overload we used to see, because there wasn’t a real alternative. The phone company would send out a book with all of the numbers in your area to all of the homes listed in it, on the off chance that someone might need a tiny fraction of the information contained in it. No one would dream of doing that now, because of the cost and that we have the internet, a ready made information set that we can query when we want to, so that we can find out the specific piece of information we need at that time. However, I still come across PMOs that send out an update pack on all of the projects and programmes currently underway and this goes to a fairly wide distribution list. There is a better way…. 4
  5. 5. Asking people to read your stuff doesn’t mean anyone actually will And just because you send out something to a distribution list, doesn’t mean anyone will read it if it is too long, no matter how important you might think it is. People have to a) want to read it, and b) have the time to read it. In todays lean and mean corporate environments, time is a luxury we don’t have. To quote Eddie Izzard “No one in the universe has read the Terms & Conditions” - He might have well as said “No one in the Universe ever gets to page 3 of a status report” 5
  6. 6. On the flip side, few people will ‘like’ something on a networking site that they haven’t actually read 0 Likes 612,321 Comments George Osborne I think its time to put up the price of beer, increase taxes and end paid holidays at work. Please like my Status. 6 Days ago Comment Share 54,543 Likes 9,241 Comments George Osborne Beer Price increase a bad idea – going to reduce price instead and put in extra bank holiday 2 Days ago Comment Share Social networking has driven a massive behavioural change. People ‘subscribe’ to the information they need, they get alerts when that information appears and they stop what they are doing and go and read it. They like and retweet things they agree with or think other people might be interested. They do this, mostly, after they’ve read them (or sometimes when they press the wrong button). So, in this context people are reading things and digesting them. 6
  7. 7. And it’s not just status reports… • Steering and progress review meetings haven’t changed much either. • Do you go to many meetings where people actually smile like this?? We’ve all seen the picture, usually in a consultants presentation. The happy meeting, everyone smiling. Crumbs, the PRINCE 2 manual used to have people in a meeting applauding on it’s cover. Why do I never get to go to meetings like that??? No, most meetings are death by powerpoint. It’s time to change it… 7
  8. 8. The Steering Meeting Flow Diagram PMO desperately chases info updates from PMs. PMO stays in office until midnight in order to get the pack out 2 days before meeting PMO issues pack to distribution list 2 days before meeting Forage for snacks, raid vending machine, dial out for pizza PMO gets hungry? No one reads it PAs hand printed pack to attendees on way to meeting Pack is presented whilst attendees read e-mail and fiddle with blackberry’s Pack goes in recycle bin Yes No This is the traditional steering board meeting process. Or at least, what it seems to be to me. The information used is often a week or two old anyway, and how many times do we hear the phrase “Sorry this has moved on, the data is out of date”? Lots! 8
  9. 9. A real life example: 6 months worth of papers in an NHS Trust for meetings I was invited to in 2012/13 I spent a year in an NHS Trust recently, the last 6 months of which I had ‘Director’ in my job title and this meant I got invited to lots of meetings, mostly about the status of something or other. When you go to a meeting and you have ‘Director’ in your title, you have a PA who prints off your papers for the meeting. So, whilst it might have arrived in your inbox a couple of days ago (or a week ago in some cases because, you know, we have to post it out to some people!), you haven’t read it or even opened it (You are too busy). You walk into the meeting with the pack and then hope someone points out the important bits. You then leave the meeting. My problem was, I didn’t have a recycling bin, so I just used to ‘store’ the papers in a drawer in the hope that sometime in the future I would get a recycle bin. The bin never arrived, and I took this photo on the day I left. There has to be a better way…. 9
  10. 10. Stakeholders & Managers shouldn’t have to go searching to actually find the information they need Having to look for something wastes time and sometimes ends up with people getting stuck. What people need should be easy to find and easy to access. They shouldn’t have to go searching for it, especially if the nugget they want is buried in a 90 page status report they threw in the bin last week. 10
  11. 11. So, to summarise… • PMO needs to get its reporting into the 21st Century – issuing updates in real time to people who really want the information, no longer being a slave to monthly cycles • Information can be disseminated in a much more ‘social networking’ style, but tailored for business needs and being mindful of the risks around such an open approach • Status reporting can still happen, but becomes a genuine summary of what has previously been issued, but at a very high level and so fits on a single page The social networking style concept is out there. You can get corporate versions of twitter that live behind you companies firewalls (which is mostly a good idea as many people will take things out of context). However, it’s still new and there is no real ‘best practice’ guidance out there. 11
  12. 12. Be careful with your language and context. Ensure your audience understands Talking of risks around information and taking things out of context here is an example of what I mean. This is a news story from 2009 about the BBCs move to Salford. The ‘Leaked Documents’ referred to in the headline turns out to simply be the programme risk log (which becomes clear when you read the article if you have a basic understanding of Project Management). But in the wrong hands it is a prophecy of doom for the project and scare mongering headlines for the papers. 12
  13. 13. However… • In order for this to work, PMOs need to change they way they collect and assimilate data. They need to ‘manage information’ in real time and move away from template driven, cycle based data collection • We have to build information management into every aspect of day to day programme life, not just for PMO but for Programme Managers as well • The PMO needs a real time information set that can be accessed at a moments notice to generate targeted, appropriate reporting • Break the cycle – do it in real time To much PMO activity is based on a timed cycle – Monday we do resource scheduling, Tuesday we do costs, Wednesday is issue reporting day, Friday is status reporting and plan update, etc…. No more! Everyday is programme management day! We need to build in all of our needs into what Programme Managers are already doing. In this way, we can provide the support they need to manage their projects/programmes and at the same time we can extract all of the information we need from what they already have. Want a status update? Simply go into the project plan and run a report against key milestones – if you’ve set the plan up right, this information can simply be lifted out when needed. 13
  14. 14. Collecting the data – Destroy All Templates! • If a PMO needs to send out a template to collect data from Project Managers its not doing it right Central PMO sends a resource spreadsheet out to each project manager every two weeks, containing the data submitted previously, asking for an updated sheet Project Manager (or PMO support) looks at Project Plan for information and then updates the template PMO prove how clever they are by automatically combining the data into a single template There are the gaps as the plan doesn’t have the right level of detail in it. Project Manager then enters this data into the spreadsheet as a best guess An Example Project Manager can’t be bothered and just sends the template as is and says it’s correct PMO send out a very clever report with lots of info on it Project Manager phones resource people and negotiates the resources he needs, not once referring to the report No one reads it as most people know it’s wrong That first line is quite a contentious (deliberately!) statement. I’ve seen many PMOs were massive amounts of data are collected via templates. What this means is that the data extracted from those templates is then only valid at the point the data was entered into the templates. For me, this isn’t adding value. If we’ve got the models right, the Programme and Project Managers don’t need to be interrupted and asked for data. They will already have it, in their programme information set, supported by the PMO. The example above is real – it was actually happening in a large organisation and is a perfect example of how the PMO resource that was engaged in chasing and compiling the templates would have been better deployed working with PMs to get the right level of resource data in their project plans so that it could simply be extracted. The PMO should then be highlighting resource clashes coming up in the future across all of the plans. The information collected was useless because the PM’s saw no value in it – it didn’t HELP THEM. It was seen as an administration overhead so they paid little attention to it. Even the PMO folk doing it knew it wasn’t adding value. We are smart enough to put PMO processes in place that work for everyone, not just us in PMO. We have to do this. 14
  15. 15. How to Manage Information • We build everything we need into the overall processes for things such as planning and governance • We embed PMO support resources in the Projects (Most places do this anyway) and they act as assurance as well as support • We extract information as and when we need it • No one in the Programme teams notices it is happening because it is what they do anyway In the previous resourcing example, we saw the wrong way to do it. If the Central PMO had worked with the Project Managers to build their plans in such a way that they could simply extract the resourcing information they needed from the ‘live’ plan, then all of the form filling could be avoided. We are starting to see this more and more anyway as people use ERM systems with a common resource pool to plan from, but Project Managers are still not embracing this as they feel restricted. (The system in use where I am currently working is called ‘GEM’ – PM’s refer to it as “f**king GEM”) A good PMO can form a bridge between how the PM wants to manage the plan and what the corporate requirements are around plan management, so that resourcing, as well as all other process, can be seamless. 15
  16. 16. Project Mgt Framework Project Information Set Project Information Set Plan / Dependencies Budget / Cost Issue/Risks Deliverable Definitions Etc… Governance Process Governance Processes Approval Forums Decision Making Issue/Risk Escalation Paths Reporting Stage Reviews Healthchecks Project Mgt Framework The ‘How To’ Planning Guidelines Status Definitions Project Stage definitions Risk/Issue Management Processes QA Processes Change Control Etc… Governance process are effectively ‘wrapped around’ the maintenance of the project information set and are themselves contained in the overall framework. This way, they simply become a part of day to day life How Governance is embedded in project activity The PMO needs to put guidelines around this information set so as to seamlessly link it to the other elements I don’t usually like circle diagrams, but this just shows how everything that Programme Management entails is interconnected. All companies will normally have some sort of Project Management framework, or a lifecycle process. It could be out of the box PRINCE2, but most people seem to like to create their own, with lifecycle phases. And there will be a Governance framework. Ie, defined escalation points and meetings that deal with approvals, exceptions etc.. . The PMO needs to add something else. Clear guidelines (NOT templates) as to how to implement the PM framework and embedded all of the governance requirements. For example, a regular governance meeting may need a portfolio wide view of finances. PMO ensures that costs are tracked by PMs (as they do) in a certain way and format to allow required data to be extracted. Doesn’t have to be a same templates, but has certain fields/calculations in certain fields that can be extracted by a PMO. And if there any internal project finance review meetings that they are scheduled just before the main portfolio cost review. Therefore, PMs don’t even notice they are complying with the Governance process need for a financial report to a certain board as they are doing it anyway, and PMO is providing a validation to pick out any obvious shockers in the data. 16
  17. 17. A PMO REALLY needs to understand its data When a PMO receives a request for additional information, the answer is not to change the reporting template and ask PM’s to fill in a different box! This happened to me this week – The dashboard on the left was in use for a while. PM’s would send the completed dashboard off to a Central PMO who would collate the information for an Exec Board (The data was mostly extracted from a project plan – good idea!!). The Exec Board requested that the PMO provide more of a ‘general overview’ around the bigger picture, rather than the commentary against milestones. Seems like a reasonable request to me, after all the PMO would have this information and would just need to present it in a different way. However, the response from the PMO was to change the template to the one on the right, removing the milestone commentary and inserting a new box for ‘General Project Commentary’ and issuing an instruction to PMs to fill this box in with the ‘stuff happening around the project in general’. This really misses the point and is a great example of how a PMO should manage the information. It proves that this PMO didn’t understand that it already had the data, it just needed interpreting. The PMO could really have added value by understanding the detail data it was collecting and producing intelligent summaries and business impacts that Exec Board would be interested in. But it didn’t. It passed the request straight through to PMs. 17
  18. 18. Creating the information set • You need a few things: • Programme / Project Plans with a few levels in them • Issue and Risk Logs • A few headline comments from the PM • And that’s about it… • Because everything you need should be in the Project Plan • Dates, Deliverables, Outcomes, Resources, Benefits, RAG status, dependencies • Even the Risk/Issue log should have references to the part of the plan they relate to • And that plan is managed on a daily basis by the PM with PMO support • And not a template in sight! (OK, you might need a change request template and a log to go with it…) Well, according to me anyway. Now, this might scare a few people, but it can work if you get the plan right. And that means not ‘over planning’. Keep the level meaningful, don’t break tasks down to things that last a day or two, focus the plan on the key deliverables and advise the PM that he doesn’t need to set out, for example, all of the steps needed to generate a requirements doc, because the BA’s know what those steps are and how long they will take. Now I may be veering off into PM world there, but this approach needs that total change across all Project Management areas. A PMO can’t do this in complete isolation. 18
  19. 19. Storing the data set • You don’t • The data stays in its source, whether that be a project plan or a spreadsheet log • PMO extracts it from the source when its required. • That way, it’s always ‘live’ data Now, there are clever ways to do this and there are manual ways to do it. I prefer people over systems. Keeping the human element in there means additional validation and no spurious data slips through. One of my finger slips in a report once moved a project delivery date back a year. (easy mistake to make!). No one in the central PMO I sent it to checked it and it ended up generating a query from a Director as to why such an obvious mistake appeared on a form. If that data had been extracted from the plan it wouldn’t have happened, and if someone in the PMO had actually read it, not just cut and pasted it, it wouldn’t have happened. 19
  20. 20. Getting it out there What do you do with the information now it’s available?
  21. 21. Give your stakeholders information they want, not information about things that don’t concern them… Asteroids don’t concern me Admiral, I want that ship, not excuses Asteroids didn’t concern Lord Vader, and many things we like to put on reports don’t really concern our stakeholders. Find out what your stakeholders really want before you get into trouble by reporting things they think are excuses. 21
  22. 22. What are you reporting on? • Do people really want to see a list of projects and their RAG Status? • What does that actually mean for managers? • For example: • 10 projects - 3 are Red, 4 Amber, 3 Green. • So what? What if all projects are interdependent so that benefit realisation only happens if they all deliver? • Or, what if the deliverables of one of the Red projects drive 50% of the benefit? • Report on what really matters – in this case, the overall benefit realisation. Make detail available if people want it, but don’t issue it as a matter of course Whilst I’m driving at the elimination of standard reporting, there is a still a place for sending out MI. And this is where the PMO of the future can really add value. The above example works at all levels. I’ve seen plenty of reports shouting from the rooftops around how many milestones are late, what % of milestones are complete, etc.. Is that really telling us what we want to know? I’d say not. And even if it is, is that what everyone wants to know? What about the impact of all the combined issues on the business benefits? 22
  23. 23. How do we know who wants what? • Well, we can always ask them what they want… • Also, we can use our information set to find out who needs to know what. • Our plans will have benefits in them, as that will be one of the things we baked into our guidelines. And those benefits will have business owners. • The PMO can build an information flow ‘down’ from that benefit realisation to the project delivery milestones that trigger that benefit. We can then ensure that the business owner for the benefit receives any updates impacting those milestones and not other milestones they are not interested in I once walked into the office of a CFO to take him through the PMO report (which I’d already got down to a page, admittedly, it was A3, but no one is perfect!) and at the end of it I asked him was there anything else he needed. His response was, that whilst all this information was all well and good, what he really wanted me to tell him was what he personally needed to do to get those failing projects back on track. I’d not really considered walking into the CFO’s office and telling him what I needed from him, but it made perfect sense. I, as the PMO lead, was perfectly placed to give him a summary of all the things he needed to do to get projects back on track. So, that’s what he got from that point forward. Now, that won’t work with all stakeholders as some of them need us to tell them what they need to know, and this is where information management comes in. 23
  24. 24. Outcome Benefit Outcome Milestone 1 Milestone 2 Milestone 3 Milestone 4 Milestone 5 • The person in the business who is the owner of that benefit and other business leaders impacted by that benefit need to be kept information of the milestones 2, 4 & 5, irrespective of what projects they fall in • They might not realise this, but it’s up to the PMO to help in their “education” How do we know who wants what? I’ve concentrated on benefits here as it should be the main focus of everything we do (Benefits Management is another great topic for debate). The business understands benefits, even if they don’t get Programme Management. My recent NHS experience was made all the more interesting by a CEO that didn’t just not get Programme Management, he didn’t think it added any value. He was a CEO – what he says should just happen. However, he did understand benefits, so by reporting to him on benefits and the potential realisation (or not) of those, it made him focus on resolving the issues and blockages to those benefits. He might not have realised it, but he was a part of my Programme Management culture, because I gave him the same information about programme progress, just focussed in a different way. 24
  25. 25. It’s all about the behaviours • You can have the greatest PMO in the world, if the managers, stakeholders and execs are not behaving in the right way it won’t make a jot of difference • PMO has to influence those behaviours. • By managing and disseminating information at the right level and at the right time we can create a bond of trust with our stakeholders • Let’s wean people away from the regular Status Reports. • Even if they don’t read them, they can still complain when they stop arriving! OK, so, if my wife goes to the hairdressers I know about it when I come home from work. If one of my online friends needs ‘Candy lives’ (Whatever that is!) or seeds for their farm then I know straight away! Likewise, if they’ve met a celebrity, I find out instantly and see the photo. So why then, if I’m a senior manager, do I get my information updates either once a month or once a fortnight in a pack of stuff that I can’t be bothered trawling through? Why can’t I find out straight away? And, also, I often hear about the ‘no surprises’ stuff, ie, before a status update meeting, they need to be briefed so they know everything that is going to come up. So, we can kill those two birds by switching to real time, social networking style, updates. 25
  26. 26. Earn your trust • Getting the trust of your Programme Managers is crucial • You are interpreting and presenting their data • You have to convince them you are getting it right • They don’t want to be checking everything that goes out of the PMO • Build your relationships It’s vital Programme / Project Managers trust the PMO to send out accurate information. A single slip of the finger can turn a Green project Red. Again, this is about PMOs building relationships with PMs, not just demanding the completion of templates. Human interaction is the key. Work with your PMs, get them to like PMO. 26
  27. 27. How do we get information out there • Why not get stakeholders, managers etc.. to subscribe to information feeds? • This builds on obsessive use of blackberry and phones • These can be project focused, or benefit focused, or any other focus depending on what they want • The PMO information set can be used to ‘slice and dice’ information into the bite sized chunks people crave, really giving people what they want and need In the 21st Century, human beings have evolved to react to message tones and vibration alerts. If a fire alarm goes off, people look around nonchalantly to see what others are doing and assume it’s a drill. House and car alarms are routinely ignored. But, as soon as a mobile device gives a little beep, or a discreet vibration, then it’s action stations to see what information snippet caused it, no matter what the situation from the meeting room to the pub (just see the news for people who crash cars whilst texting!). We should be able to tap into that and completely change our traditional reporting methods and embrace the twitter and facebook revolutions. It’s a huge step change, but one I firmly believe it possible, but it’s going to take a massive effort from PMO to drive this. 27
  28. 28. What we want Requirements spec for system signed off by all. #success @CFO Important workshop request about to be issued for Project X. Please ensure your team attends. #project #buyin Project implementation delayed 1 week – major bug found in testing, fix takes 2 days. I’m being deliberately vague here as this such an unknown area of how this will actually work. And this is the key area of debate. How do we utilise social networking information dissemination successfully in our PMO World. Can this work? 28
  29. 29. What we don’t want @CEO OMG! OMG! Project disaster! And I’m not even joking #notontime #notonbudget Gr8 meeting, best evs, totes amaze. #ilovemystakeholders From: The Business @programmemanager: Ur programme sucks, y am I spending £’s on this? Epic Fail #morons John updated his status I’ve just been sacked. Goodbye Unfortunately, when you provide this sort of environment, things can go wrong and people can abuse the system somewhat. However, by creating the right environment, this shouldn’t happen (well, not too often). PMO will provide moderation on any feeds. (The last one on the slide is a quote from an actual mail someone sent round on a company distribution list that I was on – I’m sure we’ve all seen them!) 29
  30. 30. The new Steering Meeting Process • People get the information throughout the month via mobile device or feed on their computer. • No packs are issued prior to meeting • PMO prepare a 1 page summary sheet as a hand out in the meeting • PMO supports the meeting by sitting with a machine that has direct access to the live information set (Project Plans, issue logs, etc..) Any questions to drill into detail can be immediately facilitated by the PMO rep in the room. • Everyone gets much more done, no paper is wasted and we all feel better about ourselves It doesn’t even warrant a process diagram as it is so simple. If we can get people’s behaviours right around this sort of process then we really start to add value. The PMO can become the single most valuable resource in an organisation because it has its finger on the pulse. After all, this is how operational data in areas like investment banking is managed. Oddly enough, the company who issued the 90 page status report every month actually provided systems to companies that fed live (or as near as could be) pricing information on stocks and stuff. Now, they would never dream of running their business like that, so why run a PMO function like that? 30
  31. 31. Don’t create information systems that become cottage industries keeping them up to date It’s all too common for companies to jump on an idea, such as information management, and then create an unwieldy system that take a ton of effort to maintain update. I am not talking about the next phase of ERM. I talking about human beings having direct access to information in its raw form and using their skills, judgement and experience to interpret the impacts of what that data is telling them. The information set I talk about is not in a single system. It is in various places that are being used to drive projects forward. And it is extracted as and when it is needed. Now, that’s not to say a clever person couldn’t build something smart, value add and totally intuitive, but if they’ve done than it many other areas of ERM then I must have missed that…. Keep the focus on the human element – people drive success, not systems. 31
  32. 32. They’re all a bit complicated really! Measuring success Everything has a KPI these days and yes, the certainly have their place. But there is one KPI that I think trumps them all… 32
  33. 33. The happiness scale • One simple question – on a scale of 1 to 10, how happy are you? • If everything the PMO is doing is working then people will be happy. • You can put as many KPIs around it as you want, but it’s the people and how they are feeling that is important • PMO can’t be happy until we get 10’s across the board! And then we need to keep it at 10’s. Happiness is a powerful measure. If senior folk and stakeholders are happy, then things are going well. Let’s face it, these folk know their stuff (well, mostly) so one thing to ask them is to rate their happiness on a scale of 1 to 10. The happiness indicator (and I stole this from my good friend and Portfolio Management Guru Craig Kilford, so credit where it’s due) is a real measure of whether the PMO is giving people what they want. The underlying truth here is that the senior managers know what they want, they can tell when things are going well because we are feeding them all the information they need. And they often have other sources to back this up, so if they don’t believe an update, we’ll know about it! 33
  34. 34. That’s it Any final comments / questions? 34