Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Let the Countdown Begin

I hate to mention it but there are now less than 4 working weeks to Christmas.... For me this means I am reviewing schedules, balancing priorities and clarifying which activities really will get done before the holidays and which ones we will have to push out into January. It's always difficult to move items into a whole new year because the perception that the projects are slipping is so much greater, rather than the reality of simply moving things a week or two.

Going through this process also helps us decide when the New Year really begins: as the first working week of January 2011 starts with a Bank Holiday, many suppliers are telling me that they do not come back to work until January 10th. This leaves 3 whole weeks of holiday time and I for one am taking advantage of it as it means fewer meetings and plenty of time to get the things done that I am too busy to sort out the rest of the year. It will allow time for a well earned holiday and to write my next book! I also hope to get the time to spend on my own development and read Elisabeth Harrin's new book: Social Media for Project Managers (and so pleased by her recent award http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2010/11/19/243977/The-IT-Blog-Awards-2010-winners.htm )

We also know from past experience how many of you struggle to fit your personal development into your schedule, so this year we're open as usual over the holiday season and we are offering courses in the weeks leading up to Christmas Eve and just after New Years day - so you can fit in a spot of professional me time along with your mince pies.

Tomorrow the countdown begins .... http://www.noradsanta.org/

Friday, 19 November 2010

PRINCE2 in Top 20 of IT Training Skills Watch

As a barometer of what's hot and what's not in IT, the IT Training Skills Watch table is based on what's flying off the bookshelves as the IT industry bring themselves up to speed with new products and services. Interestingly then, the positioing of PRINCE2 2009 at #12 amongst a list of technical titles could be a reflection that the method for delivering new technology is as critical as knowing the new technology..... you can read the full IITT article here

Monday, 15 November 2010

Assurance.... next on the agenda?

Has sponsorship or assurance grown in importance in your organisation? I ask because we're seeing a significant demand for sponsorship training from senior managers as their perception of the importance of project management grows. Up until a few months ago, training for members of the project board was organized by those managing the projects who felt that they were not getting the support they needed. Concerns by project managers included senior managers failing to keep up to date with the progress of the projects they are responsible for or not prepared to take the tough decisions during the life of the project as issues and risks demand attention.

Now we are seeing demand from managers who recognise that they must give their projects serious attention. The financial environment means that all organisations are keen to control expenditure. Projects are a source of discretionary spend and it seems senior managers have decided to find out how to get control and start governing this work.

In predicting trends in PPM the next logical step would be an increased interest in project assurance. After all, effective sponsorship means knowing if the project team are doing the right things in the right way, but few organisations have the funding for internal assurance services so, as the pressure increases to ensure project delivery is timely and appropriate, focusing on assurance would seem likely.

BTW, thanks to all who attended the briefing on Friday 12th - it was a great session! If you missed it, check out our new schedule and join us.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Project Completion is not Project Closedown

Over the weekend, Maven completed a series of office moves that has seen us relocate our training centre and co-locate our administrative offices. The project was forced upon us by the discovery earlier in the year that the Crossrail project was going to leave us working next to a building site for the next 6 years - hardly conducive to effective learning!

Now that all of the crates have been unpacked and people have worked out how to log back on we can settle back, safe in the knowledge that the project has come to a close...well, that's one view anyway.

In project management terms, we have completed the deliverables (slightly under budget, on time and having exceeded the quality expectations of the Board). However, we are still experiencing the impact of change - on each of us, and as an organisation. Individual experiences of change have included learning a new route to work, remembering to carry security passes and finding where the best local coffee shops are. As an organisation, the process of change is harder to define, but it is a powerful force nevertheless. The main impact is the speed at which things get done in the first few days after a move as all the things we need to do the job are not as easily to hand, telephone extensions have changed and remembering where the contents of a particular desk have ended up can be a challenge.

The critical thing for our Board to remember is that the benefits of our move will not be felt for several months. The financial business case will only be realised as we stop paying for services in the old office, and start seeing the reduction in costs from our new building. The strategic benefits of co-locating to fully exploit the potential for efficiencies, will only be felt once everyone has got used to the new situation and have formed new teams and working relationships.

We have scheduled a post implementatation review in 6 weeks, but I am conscious that this will only be a meeting to sign post that we are on course to realise the benefits, not that we have data to prove that we have realised them - that will not be available until the early part of the new year. The thing we must remember is that these benefits management responsibilities are still with us, and even though the project manager has been released to manage the next big project she will have to schedule some time for the review to finally consider the project closed - and be able to enjoy that large gin and tonic.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Be Kind to your Sponsor

This week my attention has been focused on how to explain the role of Project Sponsor to senior managers. As a project manager myself I am well versed in how an effective sponsor can really move the project forward, and how a disinterested sponsor can slow things down…

When I deliver project sponsorship coaching, it’s very common to have to start with the basics of the project lifecycle - because this is new territory for the manager. It’s not because they are stupid, it’s because they have not been expected to understand the details of project management before, and they are concerned that on top of everything else they have to do, they are expected to learn a whole new language.

In my experience, sponsors are not being deliberately obstructive when they don't read the project reports, or fail to turn up for meetings, it’s just that the project (your project!) is just one of many initiatives they are involved with so it’s up to you to capture their attention, explain to them what you need from them - and possibly, be prepared to explain how you are managing the project.

I have been putting some of my thoughts together on the new website www.mavenprojectsponsorship.co.uk - have a look and let me know how you help your sponsors.