Thursday, January 5, 2017

PMI's Establishing benefits ownership and accountability

The last report in the 2016 Project Management Institute's Thoughts Leadership series is Establishing benefits ownership and accountability. The two basic premises for the report is to drive a value-driven culture and establishing accountability and responsibility.

Those companies that create a value-driven benefits realization culture have projects and programs aligned to strategic goals; have a method to maintain business benefits within projects and programs; know how to effectively use lessons learned to increase maturity; and finally, maintains transparency throughout the portfolio process. All these put together increases the company's corporate citizenship.

Corporate citizenship means that the employees feel secure enough to return budget when the project will underrun. This allows projects that are in trouble to receive the funds needed and/or start projects that were not envisioned to start until much later. Employees have confidence that they are working on projects that drive the company's bottom line by driving strategic goals. Therefore, these employees are confident that if their project is canceled or delayed they will have another project where their skills are needed. This increases transparency up and down the chain of command.

Accountability and responsibility go hand in hand with corporate citizenship and therefore, driving benefits management realization. Companies that have clear accountability and responsibility have an increased success with projects aligning with strategy. When employees see those that are responsible and drive benefits realization management, there is a clear sense of ownership in their projects.

Driving benefits management realization is not easy but with clear focus senior management can create a sense of corporate citizenship, responsibility, accountability and a value-driven corporation. This will set the company or organization apart in the industry. Check out the report for specific details and statistics for those companies that follow what PMI advocates.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Benefits Awareness in the C-suite

Those of us that have been in the project management discipline for many years continuously struggle to understand why the C-suite many times just does not get it. Whether it is implementing the right projects to increase the value of the strategic goals or just making sure the right skills are in place to staff the right projects those of us in portfolio management are constantly helping the C-suite see the value of our discipline. The Project Management Institute (PMI) every year at the PMO Symposium provides the attendees a series of Thought Leadership Reports. Today, I will be reviewing the Strengthening Benefits Awareness in the C-Suite: Benefits Realization Management which was done by PMI and The Economist Intelligence Unit for the 2016 PMO Symposium.

The report defines benefits realization management as the first item but what I found more conducive for someone in the C-suite is that the company that does benefits realization management well wastes 67% less money than those that implement strategy on a "wing and a prayer" so to speak. So why aren't C-suites running to implement portfolio management and all the benefits realization management it brings? The report seems to believe it is a lack of understanding that projects are what drive benefits realization which in turn means successfully implementing the company's strategy.

How could this be? Well, it could be said that C-suites do not like to be the first to implement something unless it has been shown to be effective. However, the fallacy to this was that in the 50s, 60s, and 70s portfolio management (granted it was called something different) was done by many successful companies and was valued by the C-suite. However, as projects became more and more difficult and the resources needed become more skilled, the ability to track it all became too expensive to track. In other words, the value that it once provided was being eaten by the overhead needed to track all the moving parts. The software was not cost effective at this point. So the art was lost for all practical purposes.

The report outlines four attributes for those that do benefits realization management well. The attributes are Perseverance, Communication, Ongoing monitoring, and embedding benefits realization management in project portfolio governance. So let's take each one. Perseverance - Anything that is worthwhile normally is not easy to implement and takes focus for it to be successful. Many times when things get hard middle management will give up or the C-suite does not see immediate results so the initiative is abandoned. Middle management and project managers must see the C-suite walking the talk, if not, benefits realization management will fail. Communication - What is it that the organization will do towards benefits realization management? What does it look like? Who is responsible? How is it doing? If the transparency is not there it will be difficult to have buy in. The best way for transparency is to be open with communications. Also, communications must be in many different forms. Think of email, newsletters, intranet sites, blogs, You Tube, and more.

Ongoing monitoring - If you don't measure it, it does not exist. You hear those words from quality managers all the time. Also, make sure you know what you want to measure and then measure it. Also, remember that the monitoring will be different over time. And going back to communication, communicate what you monitor and how benefits realization is doing the monitoring. Provide the good with the bad and what will be done to get back on track. Finally, embed benefits realization management into project portfolio governance. In my humble opinion, project portfolio governance does not exist unless there is benefits realization management in the process. The benefits realization management will vary between companies and industries. The project portfolio manager needs to work with the C-suite to understand what is worthwhile following. Remember you as the portfolio manager are the expert so you need to walk the C-suite through the process.

The Project Management Institute's leadership needs to go on a roadshow with companies that have been highlighted in the report. Until more is heard about benefits realization management, the project management discipline from those that have experienced an increase in ROI or the bottom line, those of us that deliver project portfolio management will continue to have an uphill battle with the C-suite.

Stay tuned for my perspective on the final of the three 2016 Thought Leadership Series: Establishing Benefits Ownership and Accountability.