MSP Survival Guide for Senior Responsible Owners has been written specifically for you (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 you 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.
Here is our advice for SROs on the Programme Business Case
Nothing defines humans better than their willingness to do irrational things in the pursuit of phenomenally unlikely payoffs.’ Scott Adams
The absolute worst sin you can commit is deliberately underestimating the cost and timescale to get your pet initiative accepted hoping once its underway it wont get stopped even though the cost increases. There are likely to be few if any winners but there will be lots of losers such as those who don’t get the benefits.
You should keep the business case close to hand (or at least the summary if it is one of the 100-page types). The business case is your contract with your Executive and investment decision makers, and you are accountable for delivering on that contract, so use it as your decision-making compass.
For the full extract, read on
MSP Survival Guide for SROs tasters – Programme Business Case
Lets face it, for many people Network Rail is their least favourite organisation, most of us have a tale of misery (we have) about a train journey.
What most of us don’t know is that Network Rail is one of the biggest project delivery organisations in the world, investing billions of pounds annually to recover from the historic lack of investment and build a 21st century railway whilst maintaining a Victorian infrastructure. At any one moment, around 117,000 are employed as part of these investments on the rail network.
This case study tells the story of the performance improvement journey over the last four years of Network Rail Infrastructure Projects (not the operations or the train operating companies) and in particular the Signalling division, who has now achieved P3M3 level 4.4 maturity, the highest score we have seen after assessing hundreds of organisations around the world.
This case study provides the evidence of the performance improvements that come from the adoption of P3M3 as the improvement framework.
We hope you enjoy it.
Welcome to another one of our Fresh Look, these are 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 this article we look at the dysfunctional relationship between an organisation’s corporate risk world and the P3M risk world and offer some ideas on how it could be better. Fresh look – P3M v Corporate Risk Management
Continuing our series of blogs: Seven Deadly Sins that lead to regular and highly predictable failure on a range of topics.
Today we are focusing on Business Case Management, an organisational ritual that doesn’t seem to stem the tide of failure, despite the enormous amounts of time spent preparing them.
- Failing to maintain the business case. Many failures only come to light late on in delivery because most organisations do not track ongoing viability within the project or programme, or evolving changes in the environment
- Thinking that project success is about Time/Cost/Scope. Without including benefits and value, the time/cost/scope trilogy can be misleading for programmes in particular
- Forgetting that you have to deliver the change, not just get it past the approval committee. So much effort goes into gaining approval, it can come as quite a shock when it has to move from a document into delivery.
- Starting with assumptions on what the solution should be blinds you to the best options. So many projects and programmes go wrong because the solution was decided before the business case work started. The business case then becomes the justification for a way of doing it rather than a genuine options appraisal.
- Failing to fully engage stakeholders of the full impact the business case will have upon them. Consequently, on the way through the approvals process it is ambushed or once it goes into delivery, unexpected costs begin to emerge.
- Hiding the full costs of the initiative will always lead to trouble. The costs of change are invariably underestimated in a business case in the hope that some unsuspecting party will pick up the bill.
- Failing to adequately apply risk rating to the costs or the benefits. Not risk rating both sides of the justification increases the risk of failure. Organisations are increasingly applying a risk mitigation to the costs, but few are applying a risk factor to the benefits. Either side can move up or down.
Don’t worry – this isn’t a politically biased post, it is looking at the Brexit programme – not the rights and wrongs.
Back on the 30th June 2016 – we posted this optimistic view on what could be a wonderful example of British best practice to the world, delivering Brexit using MSP, I even included the benefits map as we saw it.
We subsequently published light-hearted monthly progress reports until it reached the point when it was clear we had no idea where we going and, after 3 “nothing to reports” we gave up.
Most programmes run into trouble when they try to turn the vision into the blueprint and benefits. This one never made it to a Vision, it got stuck at “Brexit means Brexit”, or “We are taking back control”.
John Kotter over in the US must be shaking his head, wondering why none of our leaders read his book – step 2 of change “Establish a powerful coalition”, I’ve pulled my hair out wondering why they didn’t read MSP.
After watching the events of yesterday and looking for my own green shoots, I stood back and wondered if we genuinely have the worst programme in history as it has uniquely achieved all the “known causes of failure” listed in MSP. It has also managed to avoid learning anything from the NAOs regular pearls of wisdom – it would really make a wonderful case study.
A friend of mine out in New Zealand, Grant Avery, wrote a tremendous book comparing the Everest expedition disaster and compares it to project management. In his book, he highlighted the narcissism amongst the expedition leadership being a major cause of failure and he explores the implications of this on programme directors/managers, insofar as they believe totally in their own infallibility and that they are right (ringing any bells yet?). He also talks about the need for authentic leaders doing things on beliefs and setting examples – walking the talk.
Listening to the news this morning, it struck me that everyone seemed to think they were right and everyone else would need to compromise. They were in denial about the situation we are in and also that pretty much everyone, was talking about their strong beliefs in that they represent the will of the people.
So if we have narcissistic leaders who believe they are authentic and representing others, what would we get – well I think the word is DELUDED.
The problem we now have is that we have around 625 of these people sat in the same building voting against everything that offends their beliefs and egos and unwilling to compromise to find any sense of a way forward – a vision.
Stepping back to 1996 and Kotters 8 steps of change, the referendum gave us step 1, we are still pending on step 2 and 3.
- Establish a sense of urgency. …
- Form a powerful coalition. …
- Create a Vision. …
I guess we are back at step 1 again now, so 73 days to go before we crash out – I might start highlight reporting again !!!
Brexit – the biggest MSP programme ever
In the aftermath of the referendum there is clearly a massive change on its way and as programme management is all about delivering strategic change, we thought it would be a good idea to start to think about Brexit in terms of a transformation programme
We thought it would be useful to illustrate how Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) would handle the challenge and as always, it comes up trumps and helps focus on on the dilemmas being faced and the process for dealing with them. Brexit – the biggest MSP programme ever – we hope you enjoy the read.
For more information on the Managing Successful Programmes framework, please click here
MSP® is a [registered] trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved
There was a radio interview last week with the Mercedes team principal explaining how Lewis Hamilton was heavily involved in the technical development and the amount of time he spent with the construction team.
This has made for a great analogy for people trying to understand how the BCM role in Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) is supposed to work.
MSP® is a [registered] trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.
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.
Over 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.
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
Risk management should be the star of the P3M show, but it rarely is. In organisations that are forward thinking enough to have risk professionals the relationship between project managers and risk managers is not always optimal.
In this paper, Ed Brown a risk advocate provides some fresh insight into how the relationship could work better.