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A short article on communication

Communication is key for leaders within organizations. Today I stumbled upon an article at projecttimes.com that categorize strategic communication, project management communication, and change management in an easy way; story, status and transformation.

Read the full article here: https://www.projecttimes.com/articles/stories-vs-status-large-complex-projects-call-for-roles-that-are-defined-and-aligned-from-the-start.html

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Are “soft skills” important? Yes they are!

Today I quickly browsed through the “Project Manager of the Future – Developing Digital Age Skills to Thrive in Disruptive Times” by PMI. I’m in chock of a quote I read in the introduction by the CEO of PMI, Mark Langley. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is a just a bad phrase, poor sarcasm or if I’m just missing the point but in the introduction to the report he states “Isn’t it interesting that some of the ‘softer’ skills, such as innovation and collaboration, also show up as being important in the digital age?”

The agile manifesto was published in 2001 and has since then been one of the driving forces of improving software development processes. The agile manifesto build upon these four “cornerstones”:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

With these cornerstones as foundation, I’m amazed that anyone would be surprised that “soft skills” would be important in the digital age of 2018. I’m going to give Mark the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s just poorly formulated sarcasm.

What do you think? Are soft skills important? Please leave a comment.

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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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Handling capabilities in a hierarchical organization

As I previously stated, I’m employed by the Swedish Armed Forces; an extremely hierarchical organization. You would assume that decisive leadership for the optimization of utilization would be common in such an organization – believe me, it is! However, in such a hieratical structure, I imagine it’s hard for management to get an overview of the organizational capabilities. I know for a fact that key competence that could be utilized disappear when they are organized in inappropriate organizational structures; making them “invisible” in the organization as a whole.

A few years ago, the Swedish Armed Forces implemented a new IT system. In the “internal commercial campaign” a mission commander could find specialized skills anywhere in the organization using this tool. He then deployed combat ready specialist, with full gear, with just the click of a mouse. To be fair I’ve never seen these functions be used and we still use excel sheets to report which courses, competences and certificates our civilian staff hold.

This would be a really interesting masters thesis to look into. How are organizational capabilities balanced and optimized in such a hierarchical organization.

What do you think? Do you work in a larger organization with good control, balance and optimization of capabilities? Please leave a comment.

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Alignment of ITSM

Today I reopened the report “Delivering value to todays digital enterprise” published by Forbes and found a really interesting section.

When asked which most closely describes the state of their ITSM efforts as they relate to the business, 37% of executives indicate their “ITSM effort is mainly focused on delivering IT services at this time”.

The organization I study is one of these 37% percent. I haven’t analysed all the data yet but it seems quite obvious that the processes implemented are done so to structure the day to day work within operations rather then an attempt to improve the execution of business strategies.

What’s really interesting is that only 8% claim that their ITSM efforts are “closely aligned with the success of our overall business”. I honestly thought that we’ve come further then this.

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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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Tips for project managers

Today I stumbled upon a short post with concrete tips and tricks for project managers. In my opinion staying organized as a project manager is key to ensure the progress of the project. This however, is not always as easy as it might seem…

Read the full post here: https://www.pmworld360.com/blog/2019/09/26/how-to-stay-organized-as-a-project-or-program-manager/

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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.