Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Value of a Delivered Project

Recently, someone told me that a project must have value, or as I interpreted it, value that is understood and communicated to management.  In saying that, I can also say that what is missing in many projects is the understood and communicated value of a project.  The Project Manager (PM) MUST communicate the value of the project to the team. If this does not occur, then the direction of the project team will be all over the place, unfocused, and unmotivated.
What is “Value?”
I could be smart and say that value is in the eyes of the beholder. The question really is: What is the strategic value of the project? If the project team cannot understand this or communicate it as well as the PM, there is trouble on that team and the delivery of the project may be in jeopardy. It is critical that the value of the project comes from a strategic vision and that vision must be delivered by the project team. If that occurs, no matter how “small” the project may be the value of the project and the team delivering the project will be appreciated by the organization’s strategic team.
Value is determined not only by the project team, but most importantly, senior management. The PM’s job, as well as that of the project team, is to deliver what is expected. No less and no more (ie, no scope creep). Remember this statement, “no surprises.” If the project team delivers exactly what is expected, then the value of the project is delivered.
Communicate the success
Now, just because the project team delivered the strategic project on time, within budget, and within scope, it does not mean that senior management will notice or even say thank you. In my past blog posts, I have stated that the PM must communicate with all parties: the project team, the sponsor, and senior management. In the past, most would suggest that this would ensure that all news, especially bad news, is known and not a surprise. Well, this holds true for the good news of a delivered strategic project, especially the value of it. The PM must be the key person in delivering this message of success.

I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore. If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine.You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fostering Partnerships in PSOs – A Response

I received the following response from a colleague to my blog, “Fostering partnerships in PSOs”:

“Asking Sales to meet with a Project Management Office (PMO) when they are 85% sure of a sale - is a little "out of bounds" in my opinion.  The PMO should focus on delivering valuable tools/services - to meet the business needs. If Sales (or any other organization) brings forth an idea, I don’t think it should be stipulated on a percentage of opportunity.  I am also not saying a PMO should be an order taker (as you note in this and earlier posts it’s a team effort), but at some point the decision/budget/authority to move forward with an initiative to improve the organization - must come from Sales (or other internal org) responsible for growing the top line or improving the bottom line.”
Agreement on a Partnership, or Failure
Let me begin by saying that I did speak to my colleague who commented on my blog. First, I agree that the PMO in a Professional Services Organization (PSO) should not be the final decision maker whether a project begins or not. However, a certain mark must be agreed upon and met between Sales and the PSO to begin to be involved in the initiation phase of a project. Otherwise, the only things that will be fostered are bad will and failure. The PSO must realize that a qualified sale, especially one that increases revenues and may add to the bottom line of the PSO itself, must be planned. Sales must realize that the PSO should become involved when the customer has come as close to being a viable project as possible. If the PSO comes to every sales call, the PSO cannot meet its revenue budget that it will be held accountable to.
In the discussion I had with the commenter, I gave an example of an experience I had in a PSO. The salesperson came to the PSO saying that there was a potential client that wanted to have a meeting with us regarding a “very hot” sale. I went to the meeting anticipating a planning session; what I experienced was a meeting where the “very hot” sale was a request for my project plan (which I did not provide).  So, what is needed is an agreed upon measurement between the two organizations that must be met by both organizations before proceeding.
What We Agreed On
When my colleague and I discussed my article further, my colleague mentioned that what is needed by the Project Manager (PM) is “gravitas.” I stated that the PM must not only be able to communicate, but must not shy away from confrontation or delivering bad news as soon as either presents itself. The PM must communicate not only to Sales or Senior Management, but also to the project sponsor, client, users, and especially the project team.  Take it from a PM that has failed in the past: a PM must be able to communicate and confront. By the way, when I say confront I don’t mean in a physical or menacing way. Even the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) states that the best way to meet an issue is to confront it straight on.
I am open to discussion at any time on these blogs or anything else related to project management you would like to explore.  If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by posting on this blog or by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine.You may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fostering Partnerships in PSOs

In any Professional Services Organization (PSO), you want a clear communication channel between Sales and Project Management. As a matter of fact, you want to ensure that your Project Management Office (PMO) or delivery organization has a team mentality. In the scenario I am mentioning, the PMO or delivery organization supports Sales. This type of team mentality must start with Sales understanding what can be supported and what cannot. This is very similar to writing a Statement of Work (SOW) in which you begin with the scope statement and define what it in scope and most importantly, what is not in scope. How is this done and how does a PMO or delivery organization ensure that Sales is not “shooting from the hip” when in front of the customer?

How does Sales know?
It is the responsibility of both Sales and PMO/delivery organization management to meet and begin the educational discussions. Yes, I said both management teams must educate each other. What Sales management must educate the PMO/delivery organization management team on is what Sales is hearing from the customer base. What does the customer base want? What is important to them? What the PMO/delivery organization management must educate the sales management team on is what they can deliver based on the current schedule, and most importantly, how does the PMO/delivery organization fill the customer base’s needs? Let’s assume that the question is not whether the PMO/delivery organization can deliver what the customers are requesting. The most likely discussion should be the challenges in scheduling projects.
What to discuss at management level meetings
There must be some ground rules:
First, Sales will bring only those qualified sales that are at least 80% to 85% certain.  The delivery organization/PMO does not have the time to discuss anything below that certainty level.
Second, the delivery organization/PMO cannot shy away from being creative with regards to scheduling. In other words, the delivery/PMO can schedule multiple project kickoffs during subsequent weeks.  Not all projects will have five straight days of project work for the project team. Most likely, there will be more than one project team, and more than likely, more than one Project Manager (PM).
Third and lastly, both teams must be open to change regarding which projects are worked on and which must be delayed, the delay in the delivery of a piece of software, or even a change in project resources. What I have found in PSOs is to expect just about anything. Especially when you have a short resource bench, you may have to be creative in plugging holes for resources and schedules.
Sharing responsibility for project deliveries
Yes, even Sales have some responsibility for the delivery of the project by helping set expectations and being the communication conduit to the client. The PM has the overall responsibility of project delivery for the PSO. The PM must communicate to both his or her PSO and the client using the reports I’ve discussed in earlier blogs. These include the status report, the issues and risks report, and any change management reports. However, the PM must communicate the issues to the PMO and the salesperson as soon as a critical issue becomes evident.  Sales must be informed because the first complaint telephone call from the client will most likely be made to Sales, then to PMO management. How to confront this critical issue is a discussion between the PM, the PMO, and Sales. Depending on the critical issue, development may also need to be involved. How to deliver the next steps to the client must be agreed upon by all parties.

If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine, or if you would like to publicly comment in this blog. I will respond as soon as I can and you may inspire a blog article. I look forward to your comments.