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The Importance of an Organisational Structure when Delivering Projects

The Importance of an Org Structure when Delivering Projects

When starting a new job or project, it is very important as a Project Manager or Business Analyst to have a good idea of how an organization or business operates.

This helps navigate the internal & external ways of the business, and understand how it affects the customer base. As organisations grow or change, there is a high chance that there will be more growth, responsibility, and opportunities, but the business can easily become chaotic if not properly structured. Normally when commencing a new project or role a request should be made for an organization structure chart, this will assist for where to for information or to execute certain tasks.

Organisational charts are vital for the following reasons:

1. It helps Project Managers and Business Analysts understand the different functions throughout the business, the team, and team members.
2. It is very important to understand who needs to be involved or the appropriate audience when it comes to sharing information for projects or initiatives.
3. There is always room for improvement.

If organization structures were more emphasized, there would be much more efficiency, productivity, and less stress and chaos for employees throughout the business.

Knowing Your Industry and Business

1. It helps boost productivity and performance. By understanding the organization and its structure, the Project Manager and Business Analyst will know exactly who to go to for tasks and get tasks done, instead of going around in circles. It is all about delivering and proving the return of investment (ROI) based what you delivered.

2. It allows you to network outside your team and gain relationships. Remember your network is your net. In a perfect world, everyone has a role and numerous responsibilities, and they are obligated to make sure they uphold their responsibility no matter what. But in the real world, that is not always the case. If a team member on a project does not know you well enough, there is a chance that he or she will be less motivated or enthusiastic to work with you, or even go above and beyond the call of duty to get last-minute extra tasks done for the project. It is also important for the organization to know who you are. You are a great professional, but now it is time for everyone else to know that you are great! Your reputation is everything. If no one knows who you are besides your team, what reputation do you really have?

3. Exposure is key to taking advantage of new opportunities and gaining new insights of what is going on in the organization. If you constantly perform to your greatest height, and continue to have a great reputation across the organization, people will come to you for input and new opportunities. Being a Project Manager or Business Analyst is a wonderful role with great rewards, but always allows you to grow when the opportunity knocks. As human beings, we must challenge ourselves often in order to grow and not become stagnant. As you accomplish a major challenge, another will come and that is how you improve physically, mentally, and spiritually. Always aim higher and be better! In addition, if there is a change in operations or process for a department and you have a good working relationship, there’s a high chance that information will be communicated to you, which you can communicate to your team. Yes, spread the word! From a team perspective, you are trustworthy and reliable when it comes to your say-do ratio and knowledge of information.

Putting the Pieces Together

During the initiation stage of a project after getting the project charter approved, it is the job of the Project Manager and/or Business Analyst to identify the stakeholders, and determine their expectations, influence, and impact of the project. In order to know the major and minor stakeholders, you must understand the structure, culture, existing systems, and project management processes of the company. Below are a few pointers when it comes to identifying the right stakeholders:

1. Understand the problem that needs to be solved. This is very important because it provides an opportunity to understand the current state and the people who are involved in the current process that needs to change. By understanding the current state and pain points, you automatically get buy-in from the end-users, and it is perceived as if you are intrigued and determined to be solving the problem. Believe it or not, this will be in your favour as the project continues. After determining the people involved in the current process, they should be listed in the stakeholder register and evaluated based on their impact and influence of the project. Most importantly, they must be kept in the loop of what’s going on throughout the project no matter if it is a weekly or monthly project status update and/ or meeting.

2. Ask your business sponsor and/or champion. Most of the time, the business sponsor/champion will let you know the details of the problem and/ or project that no one else will know or share, including the stakeholders who need to be involved. As you list these different stakeholders, try to understand their current role and responsibilities, and how they fit into the current business problem(s) that need to be resolved. By doing so, it will show their value and impact to the project. A “good” business sponsor/champion will be your best ally when it comes to the project, because they will provide as much support as possible to solve the problem because of the value added to the business.

BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR SPONSOR/CHAMPION. In order to build a relationship, you must gain trust. In order to gain trust, having a 100% say-do ratio is necessary. Always deliver what you say you are going to do, and then they will like you. Also, treat your champion how you want to be treated. Key words to apply are truth, respect, enthusiasm, reliability, inclusion, and help.

3. After gathering your initial list of stakeholders, sit down with your manager and review the list to get feedback. This is very important to fill any gaps. Your manager is in that position for a reason, so use them for your benefit. If you are successful, your manager is successful. It is a win-win situation!

There are ALWAYS Opportunities for Improvement

Two of the greatest traits that a Project Manager or Business Analyst should have is being inquisitive and innovative by looking at how things are currently done and can be improved. As you get a better understanding of the organization, the roles and responsibilities of all teams and their team members, ask questions. Why is the person doing this task? Why is the person doing the task this way? Is there an easier way to get the same output? As Project Managers and Business Analysts, it is our sole responsibility to create value, efficiency, and productivity throughout the entire organization. This might not be easy to get the top people (executives, senior management) on your side, but this is where your influencing skills apply.

Although eliminating waste and creating value should be coming from the top-down that is not always the case. There are times where you must step up and be a change leader. Yes, you will have to open your mouth and communicate this to senior management, but you can back it up with facts, pain points that affect productivity, the potential solutions, and quantitative benefits (dollar amounts is highly suggested) when the pain points are resolved by one or more a combination of the solutions. By including these factors to your story while presenting the opportunity, you can make a difference and also shift the company culture to innovating constant improvement.

Sum It Up

Organization structure is necessary in order to complete projects successfully. The Project Manager must “determine company culture and existing systems”. Existing systems include an organisational chart where you must understand the roles and responsibilities for every team and team member. For business analysts, in order to conduct a successful strategy analysis, they must have the organization chart as part of understanding the current state. If there is no order, there is chaos; and this applies to projects or initiatives, which create tons of value.

A Practical Project-based Model of the Enterprise

A Practical Project-based Model of the Enterprise

The Enterprise-level Project Management Model (EPMM) dispels the assumption that project management existence occurs with little discussion of where that project comes from.  The business validation and expected business value; why there is even a project and how to manage it within the constraints of the enterprise. In effect projects are treated as if they were islands independent of external constraints and factors. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Imbedding the project into an enterprise context introduces a number of factors external to the project that impact the project management life cycle (PMLC). Many of those factors are related to resource capacity and schedule availability.

The origins of the EPMM date from the 1960s. The Objective/Strategy/Tactic Process was in its embryonic stage at that time and in use at Texas Instruments in its Corporate Research & Development Division in Dallas, Texas.

The Business Environment

The Business Environment is fickle, somewhat unpredictable and continuously changing. In the past 60 years it has been heavily influenced by the relentless march of technology and the intrusion of the internet into all aspects of our economic and social lives.

Business is global

Outsourcing dominates the support service businesses (call centers and help desks, for example) and software development . The US is trending towards becoming a knowledge-based economy and suffered the loss of many jobs that will never return. The number of displaced workers continues to grow as businesses struggle to recoup their market positions. You may not sell in the international markets but your competitors sell in your markets and your business decisions are forced to take on an international perspective.

Success goes to the creative and courageous

Those who can envision products and services put themselves at great risk. The early entrants into social media applications are testimonials to that success. But the secret is more than a matter of creativity. The business idea must include barriers to entry or an unknown software developer will replicate your idea from another part of the world, set themselves up as a competitor and your business will be in harm’s way. So the business environment is one of high speed and high change with technology and the internet as the driving force. On the positive side, the world is your market. Place has no place in the marketing mix! It is obvious that an EPMM is a critical success factor (CSF) in the 21st century marketplace.

The Business Environment

The Business Environment is fickle, somewhat unpredictable and continuously changing. In the past 60 years it has been heavily influenced by the relentless march of technology and the intrusion of the internet into all aspects of our economic and social lives.

Enterprise Capacity

Clearly Enterprise Capacity is the driver of any strategic model. So any Tactic that relates to the creation or maintenance of Enterprise Capacity will be a strategic project. Capacity is defined at the resource level and was first discussed in EPM1e. When we elevate the discussion to the enterprise level, resources take on a different perspective and become an enabling factor and a constraining factor. Management decisions regarding Resource Capacity are complex and challenging due to the number of dependent factors.

Market Opportunities can only be exploited within the capacity of the Enterprise to support them. The Business Environment is in a constant state of flux so Market Opportunities will come and go. Any of those opportunities can be exploited if and only if Enterprise Capacity adjusts to align with those opportunities. One of the big questions for senior management is how to spend enterprise resources and how to adjust that allocation as Strategy Portfolio performance occurs.

The reference here is to the resources that are available for allocation to projects. In a multi-year planning horizon resource capacity might be upgraded or increased through projects, programs or portfolios designed for the purpose of expanding or enhancing enterprise capacity to more effectively align to and to support attainment of the Objectives defined in the Strategic Plan.

As stated above resource capacity, availability and the interdependencies among those resources are both a constraining factor and an enabling factor. As a constraining factor what the enterprise should do is limited by what the enterprise can do and finally leads to what the enterprise will do. As a counter measure to the constraining factor the enterprise needs to assure the alignment of not only resource supply but also resource availability against the business demands for those resources. So resource capacity is a dynamic tool that can be adjusted as a deliverable from the planning exercises. Expanding or enhancing resources will reduce the schedule contention between resources but that is a business decision that arises during the fulfilment of the Strategic Plan.

As an enabling factor resource managers collaborate with functional business managers and LOB managers to creatively solve problems and enable the exploitation of new business opportunities. These collaborative efforts result in the commissioning of projects, programs and portfolios to project managers who function as the enablers.

Objectives

The integration of Objectives/Strategies/Tactics (OST) into a system is an embodiment of the Strategic Planning Process (SPP). OST has its roots in the emerging product planning processes developed and used by Texas Instruments in its Corporate Research & Engineering Division in the early 1960s. TI/OST required one quarter each year for the development of the strategic plan.

Objectives are generated at the highest levels of enterprise management as a direction-setting guide for those who will suggest Tactics for reaching the Objectives of the enterprise. In effect, the enterprise knows where it is (its current state) and knows where it would like to be (its desired end state). The missing ingredient is how to get there? Strategies and their aligned Tactics describe that journey. As Figure 1-1 clearly shows, those Tactics are defined through a collection of projects, programs and portfolios.

projects, programs and portfolios.

Strategies

Strategies are the guide for proposing Tactics and are the short-term variables in the SPP.

Each Strategy has a Strategy Manager. They are assigned as part of the SPP and manage their Strategy until all projects in their Strategy Portfolio are completed. The responsibilities of a Strategy Manager include:

  • Strategy Portfolio planning and management
  • Monitor portfolio performance and content in order to maximum expected business value contributions from their portfolio
  • Adjusting project scope and schedules to accommodate resource capacity and availability
  • Monitor portfolio performance and adjust resource allocation to assure maximal business value to the enterprise.
  • Negotiating resource requirements and utilization among all Strategy Managers

The relationship between Objectives, Strategies and Tactics can be complex and create interdependencies due to resource capacities and dependencies among and between resources.

Tactics

These will be offered in the form of potential project, program or portfolio ideas to be carried out within the planning horizon (3 or 5 years is common). Tactics are ideas for products, services or processes submitted to the EPMM in the form of one page documents called Project Overview Statements (POS). (The POS was first introduced in 1995 in EPM1e and has matured to its present form.). The extent to which a Tactic aligns with the Strategies of the enterprise is an important factor in any prioritization exercise of the proposed Tactics. The strength of that alignment and other factors (like risk and expected incremental business value) are the basis for decisions on which Tactics will be prioritized and approved. These projects, programs and portfolios represent the Tactics that convert available resources into incremental business value.

Do Processes take over your Projects?

When processes become all too consuming, it means that they have stopped being a means to an end and have become the end themselves. They have become integral part of the project and in some instances can consume projects. This can get to the point that they impede continuous improvement because the people who do them are emotionally invested in them. This sometimes leads to resistance to change when change is badly needed.

That is not to say processes aren’t needed, only that they should act as a support to achieving desired outcomes, not become the desired outcome. Doing things in a consistent way, using a process, is the most effective way to experiment with changes and understand what worked and what didn’t, but it can become a trap, if the end result isn’t kept in mind.

The first identifier of a project being consumed by the process is its overabundance of documentation. Typically, this involves multiple volumes of manuals, protected by a complicated and byzantine approval process. Any change requires a thorough review by several committees and multiple sign offs, by which time the requirements for the change will have become out of date, and all involved will throw up their hands and claim that the whole process is too hard but won’t do anything to fix that either.

Another sign is knowledge hoarding. If you find that only one or two people have full knowledge of how things work, and they jealously guard the information, it’s probably a good candidate for a consumed process. In this instance, there will be very little documentation to enable others to evaluate or analyze the process. Subject Matter Experts (SME) will be reluctant to share or will frequently claim that things are “too complicated” to explain to someone else.

If the work has become more important than the outcomes it produces, then you have encountered a consumed process. Look at the metrics used to measure the process success. Do they relate to business objectives, or are they measurements of execution? Number of complaints processed with a goal that goes up is a process measurement. Number of customers rating their customer service experience as a 4 or better on a 5 point scale measures a business objective of satisfied customers.

Once a process has consumed a project, what can be done about it? The most critical element in this case isn’t the business, but the people in it. There are a number of techniques which are useful in this instance: Acknowledging concerns, and involvement in the solution.

When acknowledging concerns, the pattern to use is Feel-Felt-Found. Start by acknowledging the person’s concerns are legitimate by saying “I know how you feel, many of the people I talk to felt the same way about changing how they work.” Then reassure them with other people’s experiences. “People who’ve been through this process have found that it really made things work better. Can we give it a try?”

Involvement in the solution is the best way to build ownership in the new process and prevent people from subverting change by passively or actively resisting it. The important thing is that they will feel that they improved the process rather than had the changes imposed on them.

Assuming you’ve managed to successfully implement a new process, how do you prevent it consuming the project all over again? It’s easy to assume that the hard work is over, but if you fail to plan for changes to the contexts the process operates within, it’s possible that the next change will require you to start from the beginning rather than make another incremental change. Your first objective is to make sure that you don’t rest on your laurels.

If you’ve taken time during your process review and rework to incorporate a continuous improvement culture, then much of your work is already done, as people will already be thinking about how to review and rework the process on a regular basis. If not, take the time now to set up regular reviews and identify metrics that will allow you to validate that the process is achieving its desired objectives. Make sure that you focus on business objectives, not process objectives. If business objectives aren’t being met, adjust and try again. The most important thing is to avoid falling into the same trap of measuring the process not the outcome.

The second objective to strive for is to make change easy. Keep feedback loops in place to allow the people who provide inputs information on how to improve the quality and usability of those inputs. Make sure that any feedback provided from the people who receive the output is reviewed and acted on a regular basis. Try as much as possible to use a “black box” approach. That means that the people outside the process don’t necessarily have to know the details of how the process works, just that it produces consistent, predictable results. Keep your processes as independent as possible to minimize the impact of changes on other business areas when changes are required.

The final objective is to keep documentation simple and readily available. At all times, the current version of the process documentation should be online and available to everyone who performs the process. Keep the documentation in a centralised easily accessible location. While it’s important to have version control, it doesn’t hurt to make the documentation easy to change when it’s needed. Focus on pictures and short paragraphs. Avoid writing novels. Flowcharts are one of the best ways to describe processes. Keeping the documentation simple means it’s less likely to end up in a paper copy on someone’s desk, which means it’s out of date by definition.

Missing Link between Project and Corporate Strategy

The way that projects are managed and executed has a direct relationship to organisational success because everything that people do in a business should be linked back to its strategy. A strategy is a plan of action that allows a long-term goal to be achieved. If a project fails, then this costs the organisation time and money. The organisation will not achieve its short-term goals, and this will prevent it from achieving its longer-term goals – or it will at least slow it up. Considering this thought process then it makes sense that projects are managed according to a strategy, and that this strategy is aligned with the corporate strategy. Here we will consider the relationship between the project strategy and the corporate strategy and portfolio and program management.

How the Corporate Strategy Impacts on the Project Strategy

The project or program strategy will be informed by the corporate strategy. This allows the business to implement its overall strategy. Since strategies are usually developed at the upper echelons of the organisation, these will cascade down to lower levels, to be managed and delivered through portfolios, programs and projects. This occurs in a hierarchical and systematic manner. If performed well, there will be cohesion, visibility and an effective means of communication. Communication is important, since without it there may be difficulties for the project team in understanding what they are doing and why. Without this, there can be project management failure.

Within a solid framework and with good communication, project strategy can be managed dynamically. But what is the project strategy? In most cases, the project strategy typically refers to all aspects of the project lifecycle. Usually, clear review points are decided on to make sure that the project is being well managed. If it is not, then optimisation can occur, as the project strategy continues to develop.

When the organisation’s senior management team devise the corporate strategy, they decide what they are going to do, and how to achieve it. Running projects is often a major component of how they are going to go about delivering the strategy. It is all very well having a finely-polished mission statement presented on the company website, and a thorough five-year plan documented, but without action, nothing happens. As noted earlier, the word strategy means having a plan of action. Putting aside the five-year plan and failing to take any action will usually mean that the strategy is not delivered, and long-term goals do not get met. Steps must be taken to ensure that processes are in place to deliver projects and achieve goals. This requires that a number of activities occur. First, it must be decided what projects would be needed to deliver the strategy. There will usually be various projects needed, but not sufficient resources to complete all of them at the same time. Resources are precious. The senior management team must communicate the priorities and assign resources to these.

A clear direction must be provided by the senior management, and a business owner is assigned to ensure that the project stays on track to help the business achieve its strategy through the project strategy employed. The Project Management team will then report to this business owner. The project or program manager thus has a critical role in impacting strategy delivery and achieving organisational goals. If the PMO runs the project efficiently and effectively, with good communication throughout then there is a greater chance of the strategy being achieved, and long-term results being delivered.

Project management is usually a core process within the overall business enterprise model. Programs and projects allow the organisation to effect change in a managed and controlled way. It is worth noting that in many cases, companies consider that program management implies the management of business benefits, as well as the idea of product or brand. This distinguishes it somewhat from project management.

How Project Management Tools and Principles Help Advance Business Strategy

Project management tools and principles are important in effectively advancing business strategy. This is because they help the people working on the project to stay on track and align with the overall vision. As part of the project strategy, projects must be properly defined, with a clear scope and related to corporate goals and strategies. From there, Gantt charts and other project tools help track who needs to be doing what and when, so that milestones can be delivered in a timely manner. Controlling changes to the project is also important to keep it on target. If senior management requires a major change in scope at the last minute, a change control process helps because it assesses what the impact of the change will be in terms of time and cost. This can then be communicated effectively back up the hierarchy so a decision can be made regarding what is most important – delivering on time and to budget or including this change. This helps with effective strategic decision making. Portfolio management is often of fundamental importance for project and program prioritisation, as well as for resource allocation.

It is also important to realise that value management is a key aspect of project strategy. Value management works to ensure that value is being created through undertaking the project. Meanwhile, risk management is also deployed to ensure that all risks to the project strategy (and consequently the overall corporate strategy) are identified, assessed, understood and mitigated. With continuous review and change it is possible to ensure that the project strategy works to deliver the most value possible, with risks well managed.

In short, if a project is to be successful, it will be run according to a project strategy that is clearly aligned with the overall corporate strategy. These links will be communicated and understood, and the organisation will have checks and balances in place to ensure the project is managed such that it can deliver.

PRINCE2 Process: The Reigning Project Management Methodology

We continue our series on PRINCE2, as previous posts covered PRINCE2 Fundamentals and roles. This post is concerned with the 7 phase processes of PRINCE2.

The 7 phase process of PRINCE2

The PRINCE2 process is broken up into 7 (surprise!) phases:

1. Starting up a project

  • Someone submits a request for a new project, called the project mandate. The project mandate is very brief, covering only why the project is necessary and what it will ideally accomplish.
  • Someone assesses every project mandate to make sure the company is capable of taking on the project.
  • If approved, the person who initiated the project then submits a more detailed project brief, which covers the actions, resources, manpower, etc. needed to execute the project.

2. Directing a project

  • The project board reviews and evaluates project briefs based on business justification and viability for another round of approval/disapproval.
  • The project board decides what it needs to do in order to organize and execute each approved project, and what/how they’re going to delegate to the project manager.

3. Initiating a project

  • The project manager creates the Project Initiation Documentation, including a comprehensive project plan and baselines for 6 performance targets: time, cost, quality, scope, risk, and benefits.
  • Initiation documents are sent to the project board for approval. Once the board is confident in the project plan, they give their approval once again and work begins.

4. Controlling a stage

  • The project manager breaks down the project into smaller “work packages” and passes them off to team managers and teams to complete.
  • The project manager oversees the progress of work packages during each stage and steps in to help overcome roadblocks or correct any mistakes, if necessary.
  • Team managers coordinate detailed daily work and act as the link between the project manager and individual team members, helping to make sure everything goes according to plan.

5. Managing product delivery

  • The project manager checks progress against the project brief and makes sure deliverables meet PRINCE2 quality expectations.
  • The project board evaluates completed work packages and either approves them or requests revisions/changes.

6. Managing stage boundaries

  • The project manager and project board review each stage to make sure the project is progressing according to plan and meeting project assurance requirements.
  • At each review, the project board decides whether to continue with the next stage or to abandon the project completely.
  • Project managers hold a retrospective with the project team to record any lessons learned and improve the next stage.

7. Closing the project

  • When the project is complete, the project manager wraps up any loose threads, including PRINCE2 documentation, outcomes, and reporting.

Types of PRINCE2 documentation

Throughout the 7 stages of PRINCE2, records are kept so the project stays organized and on track. These records are also used to report to the project board, check deliverables against quality requirements, and improve future work processes.

  • Business case: Detailed description of why the project is needed and its expected benefits to users and the business.
  • Risk register: Lists the probability and potential impacts of risks and opportunities.
  • Quality register: A running log of quality checks that ensure deliverables meet expectations.
  • Issues register: A list of problems and concerns from project team members.
  • Lessons log: Notes on lessons learned to apply to the next work stage and/or future projects.
  • Daily log: A daily diary written by the project manager that reports activity and progress.

PRINCE2 in project management

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PRINCE2 Roles: The Reigning Project Management Methodology

A carry on from our previous post, PRINCE2 Fundamentals: The Reigning Project Management Methodology. This post is concerned with the 7 roles of PRINCE2

The 7 roles in PRINCE2

There are 3 principle roles for PRINCE2: the project board, the project manager, and the project team. But there are many supplemental roles that help ensure requirements and standards are met and that work runs smoothly.

  • The customer is the person paying for the project to be completed.
  • The user will either use the project deliverables or will be impacted by the project’s outcome. (For some projects, the customer and user may be the same person.)
  • The supplier is a subject matter expert who provides the knowledge needed to complete the project by designing or building the end result.
  • The project manager is responsible for organizing, planning and overseeing work on the project. They select and manage the people who complete project tasks, and they’re responsible for making sure work is done correctly and on time.
  • The project team and team manager actually roll up their sleeves and get project tasks done. Team managers oversee the detailed aspects of daily work and report directly to the project manager.
  • The administrator sets up meetings, keeps everyone updated, tracks documentation, etc. On small projects, project managers will often take over this responsibility, but if there are multiple projects running at once or the project is large/complex, a project support office is typically set up to manage these duties.

One of the 3 main roles, the project board typically includes multiple people: the customer (typically a senior executive), the end user (or a representative), and the supplier. It checks for project assurance from three unique perspectives:

  • The customer ensures the project is still viable financially, typically through cost benefit analysis.
  • The user ensures user needs are being met.
  • The supplier checks whether the project is working towards a realistic, practical solution.

On some projects, PRINCE2 assurance is done by an unbiased, third-party team.

The Art of Project Management, a discipline for initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve a specific goal. A project is a temporary endeavour designed to produce a unique product, service or outcome. The end to end delivery of the project, known as the project lifecycle is affected by resource, time management and a fixed budget. The purpose of project management is to enhance a particular situation through the avenue of delivery and change. The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all the project goals within the given constraints, normally defined in a user or project manual, created at the beginning of the development process. The primary constraints are scope, time, quality and budget. The secondary and more ambitious challenge is to optimize the allocation of necessary inputs and integrate them to meet a pre-defined objective.