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Quote of the week

In order to apply Benefits realisation Management in support to a successful implementation of business strategies, organisations need to redesign their success criteria to increase the relevance of dimensions related to the creation of value to business.

This is a quote from Benefit Realisation Management and its influence on project success and on the execution of business strategies written by C.E.M Serra and M. Kunc and published in the International journal of Project Management.
I’ve touched upon this subject in a previous post earlier during this course. The fulfilment of specifications and deliverables does not guarantee value being generated and benefits realized.

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An intressting article on sucessfull ITIL implementations

Another Monday – another week of studies. The focus of this week is to get the written assignment as close to finished as possible. I’ve gattered all my data, had a few formal and informal interviews with managers at the organization I’m investing but I’m still waiting for the longer, structured, interview with the head of the IT division.

I’ve already analysed most of the data and come to most of the conclusions but I would like to get my views confirmed before I hand in the report.
Since the organization I research have an outspoken ambition to implement ITIL and I’ve already started to look at articles about successfully implementing ITIL in general and Service Strategy in particular. I found a somewhat interesting article written by Malcolm Blumberg, Aileen Cater-Steel, Mohammad Mehdi Rajaeian and Jeffrey Soar called Effective organisational change to achieve successful ITIL implementation. Though their research focuses on the socio-technical systems (STS), something I haven’t quite grasped yet, it’s interesting to study their lessons learned. In their study they conclude that “the ITIL implementation was found to require greater effort to be applied to the people component of the STS, followed by process, technology and structure components”. In my experience any successful and effective change – organizational and technical – requires the support and authorization of the people effected by the change; changes are not implemented by formal documents but by discussions and interactions between people.

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A generic maturity model for processes

I’ve spend quite a bit of time to find a generic maturity model to use for the purpose of my report. The head if the IT division that I study have asked me to assess the maturity related to their processes. In order to fit this request into the scope of the course I’ve added “to evaluate the IT divisions maturity level with regards to benefit realization” as one of the objectives of the report. I’ve searched for a defined maturity model for BRM but I’m also going to need something generic.

I looked at the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and realized that if I remove the word software from “software process” I got a pretty good, generic, model to build upon. This is how far I’ve come:

  • initial – processes are characterized as ad hoc, and occasionally even chaotic. Few processes are defined, and success depends on individual effort;
  • repeatable – basic management practises are established to track cost, schedule, and functionality. The necessary process discipline is in place to repeat earlier successes;
  • defined – processes are documented, standardized and integrated into the standard operating procedure of the organization. Key performance indicators (KPI) are defined;
  • managed – processes and the outcome of the processes are measured, evaluated and controlled. Activities to identify improvements are performed;
  • optimized – continuous process improvement is enabled by quantitative feedback from the processes and their outcome. Identified improvements are actively being planned, prioritized, scheduled and implemented.

What do you think, have you found a good model that I could use instead? Please let me know by dropping a comment.

References

Paulk, M. C., Curtis, B., Chrissis, M. B., Weber, C. V., (1993). Capability Maturity Model for Software, Version 1.1 (Technical Report). Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh.

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Status update on the written assignement

Today, I managed to have a short interview with one of the process managers of the organization I’m studying for the written assignment of the course. It was an interesting discussion that reinforced the data I’ve been able to gather so far. I’ve managed to get most of the process flow charts and process descriptions related to the organizations service management. It’s interesting to see how the level of maturity within an organization differs from managed to initial depending on where you look.

Tomorrow I’ll try to get a bit more written on the assignment but for now, I need to get the kids to bed and take a shower.

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Weekly summery

Another week of masters studies is finally over! This week have been hectic as I’ve facilitated a three day workshop at work. The good part is I spent the week at a hotel so I’ve been able to read a lot of articles this week. “Benefits Realisation Management and its influence on project success and the execution of business strategies” was an extremely interesting read and “Project Categorization Systems and Their Role for Project Portfolio Management” which was recommended by Gunnar Wettergren held some intriguing conclusions.

The written assignment is slowly progressing; I’ve spend a ridicules amount of time trying to get my citations and references correct. The assignment is really challenging but fruitful as I get to reflect upon and apply the knowledge I gained throughout the course on a real organization.

References

  1. Serra, C.E.M., Kunc, M., (2015). Benefits Realisation Management and its influence on project success and the execution of business strategies. International Journal of Project Management, 2015 33(1), 53-66. doi: 10.1016/j.ijproman.2014.03.011
  2. Bich Nga Dao. (2011). Project Categorization Systems and Their Role for Project Portfolio Management (Unpublished master’s thesis). Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden.
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Benefits Realization Management vs. Service Strategy

This week is almost over and the introduction to the written assignment is now complete. I’ve looked at a lot of articles on benefit realization management (BRM) for my literature review and it’s interesting to see how BRM and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Service Strategy are aligned.

In the book Benefits realization management: a practice guide (Project Management Institute [PMI], 2019), BRM is said to encompass “standard methods and processes that an organization uses for identifying benefits, executing it’s benefits realization plans, and sustaining the realized benefits facilitated by portfolio, program or project initiatives”. Business strategy is central in BRM since benefits are derived, planed, managed and tracked holistically, beyond the scope of a particular portfolio, program or project.

In ITIL, the practices related to strategy management for IT services, suggests similar activities as BRM. In Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and the book ITIL® Service Strategy (The Cabinet Office [TCO], 2011) the purpose of service strategy is described as a way to “articulate how a service provider will enable an organization to achieve its business outcomes”. Service strategy “establishes the criteria and mechanisms to decide which services will be best suited to meet the business outcomes and the most effective and efficient way to manage these services”. This involves activities such as analysing the internal and external environment to identify risks, constraints or opportunities; engage and to keep relevant stakeholders informed; and to ensure that “strategic plans are translated into tactical and operational plans for each organizational unit that is expected to deliver on the strategy”.

References

  1. Project Management Institute. (2019). Benefits realization management: a practice guide. Newtown Square, US-PA: Project Management Institute, Inc.
  2. The Cabinett Office. (2011). ITIL® Service Strategy. London: The Stationery Office.
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Quote of the week

The findings of this research conclude that categorization systems contribute to overall project portfolio performance by ‘doing the right projects’ and ‘doing the projects right’

This is a quite interesting quote from a masters thesis from Chalmers written by Bich Nga Dao that was recommended by Gunnar wettergren. So far we discussed methods of doing the selecting and executing the right project but carrying out the project in the right way is crucial for project success and benefit realization. The thesis was quite an interesting read and can be found here.

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Mission-type tactics – A project management approach

Today is Tuesday which means that another lecture of the course “Strategies, benefits and alignment” was held by Gunnar Wettergren. It was an interesting lecture that covered most of what I already read in the textbook but also some interesting reflections and examples of how to balance your portfolio and how to assess the maturity level of an organization related to portfolio management.

There’s a chain of thought that keep coming back throughout the lectures of the course; it’s interesting how the strategic management of benefit realization and portfolio management kind of relates to the military tactic used by the Swedish Armed Forces. The Swedish Armed Forces uses mission-type tactics which is a form of military tactics where the emphasis is on the outcome of a mission rather than the specific means of achieving it. Wikipedia has an extensive article about mission-type tactics which state that “in mission-type tactics, the military commander gives subordinate leaders a clearly defined goal (the objective), the forces needed to accomplish that goal and a time frame within which the goal must be reached. The subordinate leaders then implement the order independently. The subordinate leader is given, to a large extent, the planning initiative and a freedom in execution which allows a high degree of flexibility at the operational and tactical levels of command” and “the success of the mission-type tactics it is especially important that the subordinate leaders understand the intent of the orders and are given proper guidance and that they are trained so they can act independently.“.

Agile is nothing new; there is an old german, military, saying that states “nothing is enduring, except the change of situation”. The Wikipedia article continues with “a key aspect of mission-type tactics is forward control. In order to understand what is happening at the point of action and to be able to take decisions quickly, the operational commander needs to be able to observe results. The decision to deviate from original plans in pursuit of the mission must be made here for ‘friction’ to be overcome and momentum to be sustained” and “the success of the doctrine rests upon the recipient of orders understanding the intent of whoever issues the orders and acting to achieve the goal even if their actions violate other guidance or orders they have received”.

Could we see an increase in realized benefits if project managers were given the proper guidance to focus on the intent of the project rather then deliverables and requirements?

What do you think? Did you learn anything new from todays lecture? Please leave a comment!

References
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission-type_tactics

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Weekly summery

Today is Sunday which means that it’s time for yet another weekly summery. This has been quite a good week – professionally and as a student – and I’ve managed to get a lot of things done and made some really interesting discoveries. The podcast from Projectified™ that was included in last weeks material raised some interesting questions for me. I’ve had some discussions on the topic with a personal friend of mine who works within HR in the IT industry. It would be entreating to read more about how todays recruiters manage these challenges and the future of our industry.

I’ve held my first interview for the written assignment of the course this week, I’ve also managed to collect a few of the official documents from the organization. By studying these documents it’s already clear that there are discrepancies between the strategic goals of the organization and the goals pursued within the organization. I’ll follow up on this with an secondary interview once I’ve gone through all the documents.

This weeks lecture was interesting. I wish I had the possibility to join the live lectures but I’m restricted by my responsibilities at work to do so. There were some really interesting discussions between Gunnar and the students which I’ve covered in the previous posts this week. It’s frustrating to listen to the recorded lecture when discussions are held without being able to join in or ask complementary questions.

I stumbled upon an interesting report from Forbes this week. The report is called “Delivering value to today’s digital enterprise – the state of IT service management”. You can find it at https://www.bmc.com/content/dam/bmc/migration/pdf/Delivering-Value-to-Today%27s-Digital-Enterprise-FINAL.pdf.

Next week I’ll be hosting a workshop at work, it will probably turn out to be a quite hectic week but I’ll be staying at a hotel which means that I get the spend the evenings with my books.

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PMI’s definition of a portfolio

Today I did the first interview for the written assignment of the course. I had to document quite a lot so I haven’t had time to write anything fruitful on the blog this evening.

This weeks lecture ended up in a bit of a heated discussion on whether operations, by definition, should be included in portfolios or not.

According to PMBOK Guide (p. 13) a portfolio refers to a collection of projects, programs, subsidiary portfolios, and operations managed as a group to achieve strategic objectives.

I guess this case is closed for now.