Posts

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A summery of Benefit Realization Management

Today is the final day of the “Strategies, Benefits and Alignment” course. I can’t believe that almost two months have past since the program introduction and the initial lecture. As I stated in my previous blog post I will try to summarize the essence of the two books “The standard for Portfolio Management” and “Benefit Realization Management – A practical guide” in the two final blog posts of the course. Today, it’s time for “Benefit Realization Management – A practical guide”.

What is Benefit Realization Management
Benefit Realization Management (BRM) is a framework, developed by PMI, that aim to provides organizations a way to measure how portfolios, programs and project deliverer value to the organization. Business strategy is fundamental to BRM as it utilizes a holistic approach to derive, plan, manage and track the identified benefits, beyond the scope of a particular portfolio, program or project.

BRM is constituted by three phases: identify, execute and sustain. During the identify phase, senior management identify the benefits to be pursued by the organization and determine whether a portfolio, program or project could produce the intended business result. During the execute stage, portfolio managers, program managers and project managers plan and execute activates to achieve the requested outputs that realize the identified benefit. The goal of this stage is to maximize the opportunity of benefits being realized while minimizing the risk of future benefit being forfeit. The last phase, sustain, is where plans and activities are executed to sustain the values obtained if or when the current conditions (market, strategy, legislations etc.) change.

Core principals
PMI have identified five core principles of BRM: net benefits justify the use of invested resources; commencement of work is driven by benefits identification; planned benefits are identified in authorizing documents; benefits realization is holistically planned and managed; and governance and adequate resources are essential to BRM success. When applied, these core principals align and structure the work of the organization to ensure that the organization strive towards the right set of goals and resources are well spent.

Benefit tracking
BRM emphasizes on benefit tracking as a critical success enabler. In order to monitor the identified benefits throughout their lifecycle, identified benefits needs to be organized, categories and assigned to the different initiatives of the organization. Tools, such a benefit register, a benefit map or a benefit traceability matrix could constitutes a charter of authorized benefits and visualize the plan of how they will be achieved. This will also help senior management to illustrate how changes of strategy or priorities affect the overall benefit realization plan.

Culture
BRM emphasize on building the right culture with clear roles and responsibilities. To enable the successful implementation of BRM a culture that embrace changes must be established and where executives, initiative leaders, suppliers, individual contributors, and stakeholders are able to easily identify the intended outcome of each initiative; not just the deliverables. Some might even argue that the definitions of project success must be redefined within organizations implementing BRM.

According to me, these are the foundations to begin your implementation of benefit realization management. However, there are more subjects and several critical success enablers that should be considered. Please read the full book for further details.

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Zombie projects and how to kill them

It’s the last week of the course “Strategies, benefits and alignment” but also it’s about time for Halloween! In celebration of this spooky festivity I found an interesting post about zombie projects (project that won’t end, are impossible to kill and drains all the energy of the organization) at girlsguidetopm.com.

We’ve all seen these projects and probably been involved in them as well. It’s important to spot them and know how to handle them – garlic won’t help!

Read the full post here: https://www.girlsguidetopm.com/zombie-projects-and-how-to-kill-them/

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An agile framework to assign resources

Last week I wrote a short paragraph about how the organization I examined for the written assignment used an agile framework to allocate resources from their line organization to projects. The organization had implemented a framework based upon the book “Agil Organisering med Pulse” (Agile Organization with Pulse). Though I didn’t have the time to witness one of their pulse meetings, the concept seemed to work pretty good in the department where it was implemented.

The first week of every month, project managers could request resources from the line. The project were then prioritized based on criteria that were never really revealed to me; I assume the basis was intangible and agreed upon on during each monthly meeting.
The work packages were not allowed to be bigger then 40 man hours and were usually said to be around 8-24 work hours. In addition, the project managers were not allowed to request individuals only the amount of resources and the specific skillsets they needed. Once the meeting was held, line managers went back to perform their internal monthly planning.
Each week a short meeting was held where line managers allocated their available resources to the planed work packages of the following week. Since the projects were prioritized the available resources were assigned accordingly. When a common capability was needed in multiple projects they tried to balance the resources pool in such a way that most project (usually all project) received their requested resources.

Using this framework, the organization had increased their productivity by utilizing the full capacity and capability of the department where the framework was implemented. It also illustrated when the organization had executed to many project simultaneity as some projects were not assigned the required resources.

References

  • Ulla Sebestyén. (2017). Agil Organisering med Puls – Dynamik på osäkerhetens arena. Rönninge: Parmatur HB.
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Project Closure Review

Whenever a project or sprint has come to an end, a period of retrospect is due to identify what went well, what could be improved and what should be done to improve the situation.

Today, I stumbled upon a post at projecttimes.com related to project review processes. The author have compiled a list of reasons why reviews aren’t performed and I’m pretty sure it’s spot on! Lack of time, fear of confrontation and a culture of blame will hurt the overall progress of continual improvement within an organization.

The author continues to describe the process, agendas and how to involve your team in this progress – it was a good read!

Read the full article here: https://www.projecttimes.com/articles/establish-an-effective-project-review-process-overcome-the-obstacles-to-improve-performance.html

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Thoughts of last weeks lecture

Times fly when you’re having fun. I completely missed that a lecture was posted last week so I have a lot of catching up to do. I can’t believe this course is almost over and unless I’ve been misinformed, this was the last “lecture” of the course even there is another QA planed.

The title of last weeks lecture was “Capacity, Capability, Stakeholders and Risk management” and was held by Gunnar Wettergren. Once again Gunnar delivered and interesting and entertaining lecture, I appreciate the informal style and tone of his lectures.

I’ve written a previous post on utilization of capability in large, hieratical organizations and how it would be interesting to study this in a later assignment or thesis. In this lecture Gunnar, and the students, talked about this in the context of portfolio managers not owning resources.
In the written assignment I looked at an organization that used an agile framework to handle this in one of their departments. There were limitations but the framework seemed to be working really well for smaller projects and initiatives. I’ll write a blog post about it later this week.

I agree with Gunnar that stakeholder is a tricky bit. Identifying stakeholders are perceived as easy but my experience tells me it’s harder then most people think. Getting stakeholders involved and getting them to realize they are important for the success of a project or that they will be affected by the deliverables of the project can be a time consuming task. Assessing the engagement level to identify possible activities seems appropriate. I found the visual representation to be really useful.

What’s your thoughts on the lecture? Did you take anything with you? Please, leave a comment!

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The written assignement is complete

Finally, the written assignment is complete. This assignment took much longer time then I expected it to but it have been highly rewarding. I’ve might have taken Gunnars word a bit to literal but I embraced the role of a consultant and evaluated the organization and came up with a lot off suggestions to improve their current situation. Yesterday I presented my conclusions to managers of the organization and even though they already identified much of their problems, they were happy with my conclusion and recommendations.

Abstract

This report aims to assist a Swedish government agency in their ongoing improvement initiative to increase the return of investment and strategic alignment of their IT division. The objective of this report is to investigate how the strategic objectives and identified benefits of the agency are tracked, prioritized and realized by the IT division and to present suitable suggestions on how improve the current situation.

The ability to continually prioritize, track and align the provided services, executed projects and day-to-day operations to the strategic objectives of the agency is vital to ensure that the invested resources deliver the expected outcomes and that the balance between organizational capabilities are maintained.

The conclusions of this report are primarily based on the review of formal documentation and the internal processes of the IT division. To complement this review, three interviews with managers within the IT division were conducted.

The findings of this report indicate a disconnect between the strategic management of the agency and the management of the IT division. This disconnect had already been identified within the agency and actions to mitigate the situation was already initialized. To improve the current situation the author of this report suggests that initiatives should be commenced to promote a holistic approach and governing body to ensure that:

  • strategic objectives are echoed throughout the organizational body;
  • commenced work contribute to the strategic objectives; and
  • activities are registered, prioritized, evaluated and tracked throughout their lifecycle.

If anyone would be interested in peer reviewing the report before hand in I would highly appreciate it.

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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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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/