Friday, August 28, 2015

Step 5: Peer Review Deployment

As with the earlier steps, I believe once again that it is essential to involve all project and program managers in the process.

Start by defining, documenting and agreeing a high-level peer review process based on fixed points in a project and program life cycle.

Develop the necessary standards and guidelines to support the process or base them on something like the gateway review process (see below).

Transfer everything to the project and/or program office to maintain, support and develop.

Identify potential peer reviewers and provide them with any necessary training in the process.

Select a pilot project, run peer reviews on it, review the outcome of the pilot, refine and roll out the process and standards.

Then repeat the same steps for a program.

Gateway Review Process
This is an example of the Gateway peer review process as it is applied to programs and projects:


A project (on the left) has a review at the completion of each stage, with a focus on: 1) Business Justification, 2) Delivery Strategy, 3) Investment Decision, 4) Readiness for Service, and one or more on 5) Benefits Realisation.

A program (on the right) has a review during the Definition Phase, one for each Delivery Phase, and a final one during the Closure Phase. But please don’t ask me why they decided to call them all gateway 0!

Next week we will look at the final step in the process, portfolio management.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Step 4: Program Management Best Practices


Last week we looked at deploying project management best practices, this week we look at a very similar process for deploying program management best practices:

Deploying Program Management Best Practices 
Once again it is essential to fully involve all the organization’s project and program managers in the process. 

Once again the process starts with defining, documenting, agreeing and implementing a standard program life cycle.

Then define, document and agree program management processes to support the project life cycle. These can be based on standards such as Managing Successful Programs (MSP) or Standard for Program Management (SPM), or a good program management handbook such as my own Project Program and Portfolio Management in easy steps. This takes you from level 1 to level two on the program management capability matrix.

Then establish a program office (or develop the project office into the role) to maintain, support and develop the agreed processes. This takes you from level 2 to level 3.

Define program reporting standards and metrics and task the program office with maintaining, supporting and developing and them. Which takes you from level 3 to level 4.

Once again you could stop here but why not take the next step and task the program office with optimising the processes and standards. This takes you from level 4 to level 5 and completes the deployment of program management best practices.

Next week I'll look at deploying a peer review best practice process.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Step 3: Project Management Best Practices

Deploying Project Management Best Practices
Having established where the organisation currently is on the capability maturity model and planned how to get to the next level in steps 1 and 2 we can now start to roll out the best practices. I am going to assume that you are starting from level 1 (if not you will already have some of the earlier items in place).

Before starting any of this I believe it is absolutely essential to involve all the organization’s project managers in the process (after all they are all key stakeholders). So these are the steps involved:

Define, document and agree a standard project life cycle (if you don’t already have one), then define, document and agree project management processes to support the project life cycle. To speed up the development, these can be based on existing standards (such as PRINCE or PM-BOK) or on a good project management handbook (such as Effective Project Management in easy steps). This takes you from level 1 to level 2.

Next establish a project office to maintain, support and develop the processes. This takes you from level 2 to level 3.

Then define project reporting standards and metrics and task the project office with supporting and enforcing these, together with collecting and processing the data and reporting it to management. This takes you from level 3 to level 4.

You could stop here but why not take the next step and task the project office with optimising the processes and standards. This takes you from level 4 to level 5 and completes the deployment of project management best practices.

Next week I'll set out the process for deploying program management best practices.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Step 2: Improving Your Capability Maturity

Last week we looked at the Capability Maturity Model and the process of establishing where your organisation is on it. Once you have established that you can plan what you will need to do to move up the model. But remember that you can only move up one level of maturity at a time so plan on the basis of achievable short-term objectives. 

For example if you decide you are currently at project management level 2: repeatable (you will have documented project management methodologies and a standard project life cycle in place; and you will be involving your project managers in the definition and agreement of these standards). You will now plan to move to level 3: defined. In order to achieve this you will need to carry out the following steps:

  1. Establish a project office to maintain the standards and documentation and provide an interface to the project mangers.
  2. Obtain management support and authorisation to enforce compliance with the standards and monitor this through the project office.
  3. Involve the organisation's project managers in reviewing and improving the standards.
Once you have that in place you are ready to plan for moving to the next level of organisational maturity. Next week we will look in more detail at the steps involved in deploying these project management best practices.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Step 1: Establish Your Capability Maturity

Last week I outlined my deployment road map and the first step was to establish the current level of project management capability maturity in your organization.

Capability Maturity Model
Most project managers will by now be familiar with the capability maturity model (CMM) and this is an example of the project management CMM (there are also program, portfolio and combined P3M versions):




If you want help with establishing your organization’s capability maturity the CMMI Institute have a self-assessment questionnaire you can adapt and use. You can find it at: 

Next week I'll look at the second step of moving on up the maturity matrix.

The Project
At long last Agile Project Management in easy steps 2nd Edition is out in print. More pages and two more chapters (Feature-Driven Development and Agile at Scale) and now co-authored with David Morris, who was responsible for most of the additional content. And even better value for money as it is still only priced at £10.99 UK / $14.99 US.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Deployment Road Map

So the four things we can do to stop projects going wrong are to consider the needs of the project manager; consider the needs of the organisation; select the right projects; and to review them regularly. So what do we need to do to ensure this happens?

We need to start with the organisation. If an organisation is going to thrive in the current environment it will need to embrace project management as a crucial element of the business. The organisation will practice portfolio management and will have a project focus. They will value their project managers, support their development and see project management as a vital part of management development. Having implemented this in several organisations, I have developed a simple road map to that successful deployment

Deployment Road Map
Step 1: Establish the current level of project management capability maturity in the organisation;
Step 2: Plan how the capability maturity needs to be developed and improved;
Step 3: Define and document sound project management processes, with a project office to support and develop the processes;
Step 4: Define and document sound program management processes (if you are going to implement program management) again with a program office to support and develop the processes;
Step 5: Introduce a peer review (gateway) process for all projects and programs; and
Step 6: Implement portfolio management at the highest level in the organisation.

I will be looking at each of those six steps in detail over the next six posts. So until the next time: don't forget to enjoy your project management.

Friday, July 17, 2015

What We Can Do About It (4)

Step one was to consider the skills of the project manager, step two was to consider the needs of the organisation, and step three was to consider the projects and make sure they are business critical. But we can't just stop there, for even if a project is business critical it can still go wrong or cease to be business critical. The way we deal with these two potential problems is: 

Review the Projects
So step four is to put processes in place to ensure that all projects are reviewed at set times during the project life-cycle. 

What is needed is some form of peer review process, where a small team (external to the project) or just a single person for a small project, carries out a quick review against a standard check-list. Ideally this would be at the end of each project stage. The process is sometimes referred to as a gateway review process and uses a Red, Amber, Green (RAG) traffic signal against each point on the check list. Red is critical and urgent: the problem must be addressed or the project will fail. Amber is critical but not urgent: the problem should be addressed before any further key decisions are made. Green: the project is on track on this point. 

This process is nice and simple and I like ‘simple’ processes. Used properly the process works as it ensures that projects that are going wrong get fixed or stopped before they can have a serious impact on the business. It also checks that projects still are critical to the business.

So those are the four steps I believe we can take to stop projects going wrong. In the next post I will start to look at deploying them in an organisation.