What's the value of being able to operate at the peak of fitness and health? Is it less stress? Is it longer life? In an organizational sense, is it being able to change and adapt more easily? Is it being able to outperform your competitors in a race? Is it being able to set appropriate expectations for projects? Does organizational health lead to better longevity?
A recent crop of customer conversations prompted this line of thought. One customer asked how to prove the case for cultural change. Another wanted to quantify the value of successfully introducing a new set of IT systems. Another wanted to develop a solid business rationale for getting organizational functions to work together - to stop playing silo-oriented games where the chiefs fiercely protected their fiefdoms at the expense of the overall enterprise. Others have asked about project failure rates.
This prompted me to draw the analogy of trying to prove a negative. In one of those conversations, I found myself challenging the client to answer the question of quantifying not having functions work together; of not implementing change in a robust fashion. To be honest, this could have easily been any number of conversations over the last 6 months.
Really, these questions were about proving the ROI disciplined change. We have become so besotted by cost reduction, that we fail to see the value side of the equation (if productivity=value/resources). And while we might all agree it’s blatantly obvious that having organizational functions that work well together, and having successful projects … it’s quite hard to put figures around that.
Gaining visibility into the big picture of an IT portfolio feels like one of the unsolvable challenges, and it’s not for lack of trying. Dashboards abound, and PPM tools are becoming more user friendly all the time, but do these tools really provide transparency into what’s really going on? Sometimes I think these tools provide MORE information than what you need, akin to telling you how to build the watch when all you want is the time. After reading Dave West’s “Why Kanban Matters,” I think more and more about how Kanban will provide project management offices with the information they need so that it can feed the portfolio more efficiently.
At a glance, the PMO knows where everything is in its cycle, what’s in the pipeline, and a brief status of what is important or in the need to know. Depending on the information that bubbles up in the brief status line, the PMO can determine where there may be resource constraints or where demand is driving the next steps . . . and it enables executives to get a visual of how demand is affecting current projects and supports the PMO’s need to communicate status without flooding dashboards with useless information. This can drive valuable conversations based on clear, concise information — it’s hard to miss what on tap and what is being delayed. It’s a process whose time has come.
Have you thought about leveraging Kanban above the project level? I’d love to hear your comments.
Mike Gilpin poses this question in the most recent post to his blog. This question was sparked at Forrester’s Business Process & Application Delivery Forum during a conversation during the session “Using The Next Generation PMO To Promote Innovation.” What’s interesting is that the question came from an attendee -- presumably aligned with their firm’s PMO -- who said that in their firm, strategic investment planning is led by their enterprise architecture team, which is responsible for the strategic planning and business architecture processes.
There are multiple ways to come up with the “best answer” to this question. Nigel Fenwick discusses the answer in terms of the CIO’s responsibility to own strategy development -- and the coordination of functions necessary to carry out strategy. I’d like to answer this from the perspective of “what does it take to have an effective strategic investment planning process?”, examining the value the EA function and the PMO can provide.
My colleague Craig Symons, who is Forrester’s expert on IT governance, defines effective governance as ensuring the best answers to these questions:
Many clients have suggested their PMO mission is already elevated to this level. They now focus their efforts on everything from guiding business leaders through building a business case for the investments they want to make, to guiding decision-makers through selection from the portfolio of investment proposals, to tracking benefits realization and ROI after the fact. PMOs with this kind of business-focused, strategic mission have greater business impact and are often close partners with executives leading their firm.
There has been a lot of negative press and commentary regarding the recent Queensland Health Implementation of Continuity Project (SAP HR and Payroll), which recently experienced a very public failure as many employees were not paid due to multiple points of failure in the project. The recent Auditor-General's Report on the process is damning, spreading the blame across multiple agencies and the systems integration partner, IBM. I make no claims to be familiar with the intricate details of the process, but I have read the report and feel I have a clear understanding of the (many!) points of failure.
While this project did seem to be a monumental failure, I would suggest that we consider two important facts: