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Programme Management – PMI or MSP – which one is for you?

Programme Management – MSP v PMI – which is right for you
In many markets there is debate about which of the two programme management frameworks should be adopted, in this article we take an objective view of each of frameworks and compare their relative strengths and weaknesses of the MSP and PMI approach to programme management and intended as a guide when considering the relative strengths of each one.
The overwhelming conclusion of this article is that organisations delivering programmes need to exploit the strengths of both approaches and once understood; they are surprisingly compatible and build on the strengths and weaknesses of each other rather than proposing opposing approaches.
The article has been written by Rod Sowden, lead author for MSP 2007 and 2011.

Strategic PMOs play a key role in driving outcomes

Forrester-Strategic PMOs
In this article by Forrester Consulting they have written an excellent paper on how strategic PMOs play a key role in increasing an organisations ability to delivery the right projects in the right way, thus improving organisational performance and agility.
It includes an interesting section about the triggers for PMOs taking on this strategic relevance, not surprisingly, most are linked to a corporate calamity of some sort or a new CEO who is a believer.
Their findings illustrate that the critical success factors include:

  • The have a seat at the executive table
  • They are a critical part of the strategic planning process
  • They embrace core competencies
  • They use consistent objectives across industries and regions

For those of you that are familiar with Sue Vowlers P3O some of this will be old news, but it is still a very interesting article with current examples

Fresh Look – Benefits Management

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.
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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.

Case study – Thameslink

In late 2016 and early 2017 we were commissioned to write a lessons learned report on the Network Rail Thameslink programme to enable other organisations to learn from their experiences.
Once we started work it became clear that there had been extensive documentation of lessons throughout the lifecycle, the problem was that people weren’t listening.
The challenge therefore was find a way to communicate the lessons that this amazing programme had faced and how they overcame them and the lessons that others can learn from this experience in a format that could be consumed.
The scale of the assignment has led us to invoke a number of new techniques beyond this case study that enabled key individuals to share their passion, their pains and gain through the use of videos and workshops to ensure their story wont be lost.
Rather than a formal report, we have created a case study and supporting videos to communicate the message. This Thameslink case study provides an insight into workings off a major infrastructure programme, and how they in effect developed and approach that has become the second generation of programme management within Network Rail.
Thameslink review case study
In addition to this report, we also produced a paper on the challenges in general around lessons learned and knowledge sharing, based on our experiences on this assignment.
Lessons learned – new thinking

 
 
 

Fresh Look: Investment Logic Mapping

Investment Logic Mapping (ILM) was all the rage a few years ago but it has been lost in time. It originated in Australia and provided an approach to developing the justification for a business investment.
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ILM is a brilliant way to understand the problem, think about the outcomes and clarify where the costs and benefits sit. They should be made compulsory in all Programme Briefs!
This guide outlines why you should use Investment Logic Mapping to see what value the use of ILM will bring to your investments.
It is a powerful and extremely cost-effective way to bring shape and structure to your investment before you head off into expensive blind alleys.
We hope you find this useful.

Deadly Sins: Adopting Agile

Deadly sinsOver the last year or two we have reviewed a number of programmes and projects that are using an “agile” approach. There are a number of common problems which have come to light that should be of interest to any organisation setting out on an agile endeavour for the first time.
Agile, Lean or project management are not cures for unproductive or incompetent teams, weak leadership or poor performance management. All methods have their place and can add value and improve performance but none on their own are a panacea as they all depend on the capability of the people involved.
This article sets out some of the key lessons that we have taken from our reviews.

Close up on P3M3

As many of you will know, P3M3® is the world’s number one framework for assessing organisational maturity and performance in portfolio, programme and project management.
If this is a new concept to you, click here for a quick introduction.
This free briefing (pdf) outlines the key concepts of P3M3. Right click this link and ‘save as’ to download the interactive overview, please view it in either Acrobat or Adobe Reader.
We have also put together a video to take you through the history and concepts behind P3M3, we hope you will take a look.

 
P3M3® is a [registered] trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.

Developing Programme Management Frameworks

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.
We found:

  • 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.

What lessons have we learned?

In general, lessons learned are rarely learned. butterfliesResearch 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.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Project Management – Stakeholder and Communications Management

In a world where everyone is giving incredibly helpful advice that most of people ignore and walk, zombie-like, into failure, rather like some of the scenarios in Douglas Adams’ fantastic books, so we thought it would be more fun to help speed up the process and provide you with helpful guidance on how to pass by the opportunity for success and head straight for failure.

These are the best ideas that our team have been able to come up with that will help guarantee failure where possible and remove any optimism from the outset.

  1. Ideally, don’t let anyone know the project is active, hopefully you will be able to fail without anyone noticing or caring.
  2. If your project does come to light by accident, overwhelm everyone with information on a daily (if possible) basis, hopefully they will quickly get bored and miss the important information. Eventually resulting in them asking you to leave them off of the distribution list.
  3. Ignore any questions and comments from troublemakers and certainly don’t give them the impression that you value feedback.
  4. If you need to communicate, create complicated messages with lots of detail about what the project will do so that that outcomes are really unclear
  5. Don’t bother to identify the stakeholders or segment the target audience, send the same information to everyone, it’s the only fair way to proceed and it saves time.
  6. The quickest communication methods (i.e. email) are the best, are always popular.
  7. Avoid the most important stakeholders – they probably won’t be interested anyway and you don’t want them remembering you for the wrong reasons.