Monday, 28 February 2011

How do I implement change?

Maven is getting ready to change its booking system over to a new learning management system. We have piloted it with a few of our courses, but we are now planning the full launch. As a company that trains change management courses I feel the pressure to get this change right, which I think means that no-one outside of the company notices any differences and it feels just like business as usual.

One guide I use when planning any change is the warning I was given by one of my first managers “people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers”. Although it’s the managers at Maven who have identified the need for the new system, decided the high level functionality and selected the supplier, everyone in the company will be using it. Failure by the management team to involve, engage and inspire people will lead to failure in the adoption of the system.

That’s why this week we are busy putting up posters with quotes from staff about why they think the system is going to make things easier, and why we are putting up a chart showing our progress through each of the baby steps we are taking between now and Easter to get the system up and running. Every time we achieve one of these tasks we cross it off this ‘journey planner’ as a visual guide to how close we are to success.

We are using the information we gained from a survey ( we did last week that asked everyone in the office to rate from low to high their level of annoyance with the current system, their level of excitement for the new system and their level of confidence with our ability to move to the new system. This generated lots of points from people which were very relevant to their jobs but which had not been fully appreciated by the project team – we will do this survey again before we go live so we can check out any more comments, concerns and ideas.

What do you do to make change feel real and exciting and in your office – as ever let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

MSP made easy?

Today I had to try and explain MSP to a group of senior managers who have no formal experience of Programme management - I say formal because anyone who has reached a senior position will have had experience of managing multiple initiatives and delivering strategic outcomes. Anyway, I was trying to explain how the structure of MSP can help make sure that any piece of work stays on track. By using the governance themes we have a ready made agenda for testing viability and progress. See below for my agenda for any decision point:

• Organisation – ensure that the roles, responsibilities of the programme remain fit for purpose (too many people involved, overly bureaucratic application of responsibilities stifles action and progress)
• Leadership and stakeholder engagement – ensure identification of stakeholders and their level of influence and the amount the programme is impacting them is current
• Vision – ensure that vision remains aligned to strategic objectives of the organisation and that nuances in drivers for change are communicated to the programme manager
• Blueprint – ensure that further details are added as more is known and that there is challenge of the blueprint in line with changes to the vision/strategic direction of the organisation. Ensure that current and next tranche of the blueprint continue to ‘make sense’
• Business case – ensure that analysis is reworked on the basis of changes to resources, duration of activities, risks and activities elsewhere in the organisation
• Benefits realisation – ensure expected benefits are challenged against changes to strategic objectives, drivers for change and programme progress. Ensure that measurements of ‘As Is’ have been recorded as evidence base for success of programme
• Planning – ensure alignment with other areas of the organisation including: Financial control, Resource planning and protocols for use of external resources
• Risk management and issue resolution – ensure that information from the programme is being escalated and communicated across the organisation and that impacts from other initiatives are being drawn into the programme (prevent programme becoming too internally focused)
• Quality management – ensure that quality processes are aligned with overall strategic direction

Monday, 14 February 2011

Change your location, change your motivation

As always I have too much work to do and not enough time to do it, and recently its got to a point where I go home after a really busy day, not having done anything on my To Do list – which is becoming such a size that its now a database rather than a list!
This week I hit a wall – too much doing X not enough thinking = no productive work!

So I took the advice of some of my learners on a recent Project Leadership course – remove yourself from your current environment, your location, the people you are with, the systems you are using. Change your physical perspective to change how you feel. By changing your perspective you break the negative cycle which in my case was being busy on all the wrong things because I could not see the wood for the trees.

Of course, being me I followed the advice to the max and booked myself into a hotel on Park Lane! But it definitely worked, a swim, some sleep, some room service and I got my motivation back and could take a more analytical approach to prioritising my work.

So what works for you – where do you go when you need to change your perspective? As ever, let me know, I love hearing from you.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

What can portfolio management do for you?

I have just attended the MoP launch which included two useful presentations from people who are applying portfolio management:

David Pitchford is the Executive Director of the Major Projects Directorate (Cabinet Office) and is responsible for creating the portfolio of major projects for the UK government. He started his presentation by explaining that in common with many organisations the UK government does not have a complete understanding of all the major projects planned or already underway. Different government departments run multiple projects and change initiatives and whilst some of these are already visible because of their impact on society or their political sensitivity/media interest there are many more that are not included in the wider view of everything that is happening.

From a cost saving perspective this is interesting because research shows that merely by forming a portfolio an organisation can expect an upfront cost saving of 20% to 30% by removing duplication and stopping low value initiatives.

David made a strong case for the benefits of establishing a portfolio and how this is essential in ensuring transparency of where money and effort are being spent.

Paul Hirst is Head of Project and Programme Management at HMRC. He explained how HMRC have completed the ground work for making portfolio management work. Part of their planning included the creation of a governance structure where responsibilities, levels of authority and relationships with other groups has been agreed, overseen by the Senior Responsible Owner who is also the Chief Executive (I cannot think of a more effective way of gaining senior management commitment to the portfolio that putting the CEO in charge).

Paul talked about the reality of the austerity measures and the need to cut as a result of strategic need and not sentiment. He was very clear that authorisation of each element of the portfolio will be driven by evidence based evaluation of project ideas and the era of ‘pet projects’ has ended. Whilst this might seem a threatening message for some, in common with David’s first speech, Paul believes that the transparency offered by portfolio management is an essential element of getting a grip on expenditure and is a strong force for good in any type of organisation.

If you are interested in finding out more about portfolio management download my free whitepaper or sign up for the Effective Portfolio Management Workshop on the 30th March