Working together consistently produces better results than working alone or in silos. Engendering a collaborative working environment is not always easy, but is well worth the effort.
Managing a portfolio of projects or smaller programmes of work requires different disciplines and a different mindset to those required to deliver the projects themselves. The focus is more strategic and more closely aligned to the overall demands of the business. Managing a portfolio requires a strong, senior governance regime with the responsibility to understand how those projects interact, the dependencies between them to be understood and to make key strategic decisions on priorities and the timing of their introduction. Budget and resource control and to ensure the business understand the reasons for change are key skills required.
Successfully managing a project from inception to post implementation and benefits realisation is something that requires experience, flexibility, adaptability and a way to organise and enthuse all the resources to achieve the goals demanded. There are a number of techniques well documented that help ensure the correct skills are brought to the lifecycle including Managing Successful Programmes (MSP), Prince2 and Agile as just two of the many Project Management Methodologies and many more. Experience in multiple industry sectors within environments with strict versus flexible adoption of those methodologies is key to being able to ensure the best approach is adopted. Rigid adoption of those techniques is not always the best approach and, above all else, the most important factor are the resources required to undertake the work required. Subject to having the required skills and in myh experience, a happy team can be encouraged and challenged to be a productive team.
Programme Office Management
There are a number of key activities and controls required to effectively manage a programme of work and the disciplines required to successfully deliver the projects within it. Having set up Programme Offices from scratch and also worked in environments where the disciplines required have needed to be adapted demonstrate a clear understanding of those skills and deliverables required to run an effective programme. An ability to have standards across all disciplines required helps key stakeholders have a consistent approach to those elements that are important to them. Project plans, Status Reports, Meeting agendas and minutes, Financial controls (budgets, actuals, depreciation etc.), Constraints, Assumptions, Risks, Decisions, Issues, Actions and many more all provided in a consistent way with quality control of the content help programmes to run smoothly.
Business Process Management
The subtleties of managing business change projects and programmes only requires a slightly modified approach to those that require system or infrastructure based solutions. The biggest challenge is to adapt the project management methodologies to suit the stakeholder community involved. The importance of documentation targeted to the correct levels in the organisation is an important factor. Although the material utilised might be at a more summary level for senior business stakeholders it is critically important to maintain the information at a detailed level that underpins it. A more analytical approach is required alongside the project controls with an ability to challenge and query the changes being proposed. The focus has to be on understanding the demands of the business alongside the strategic intent.
Many contractors and consultants would state they offer one or more of the services defined. They may also have significant experience performing similar or related roles for many years in a variety of business sectors. Some may even have had repeat business from the same client(s). There will even have been a few that consistently deliver to expectations, quality and budget. Some may undertake the work whilst maintaining a professional, yet positive and engaging demeanour.
However … how many give you ALL of the above?