scope

Applying The 80/20 Principle To Portfolio Management

The 80/20 principle posits that 80% of organizational value comes from 20% of your projects. The 80/20 allocation seems to hold true for a lot of things: I know I wear 20% of my clothing 80% of the time, and I use my pots and pans the same way. Nevertheless, the 80/20 principle is a particularly handy concept when thinking about managing the projects in your portfolio.

First, using the 80/20 principle, think about which projects are critical, must-haves, and core to your mission (about 20% of the whole array), and set aside those that are discretionary or not vital. During this exercise, projects that should be eliminated altogether should be obvious. (Be ruthless.) Of the mission-critical projects, decide which should proceed and which should be deferred based on urgency and capacity. Considerations during your deliberations should include:

Second, having decided which projects should proceed, it is time to collaborate with the entire range of managers, from line managers to senior managers, to prioritize them. Each will contribute something to the debate, and it is better to debate now than waste valuable resources (time, money, and people) later. Line managers will have first-hand knowledge of processes and capacity; middle management will have a better view of the interplay and inter-relationships between departments and activities, and top management will possess the long view that encompasses the overall organization direction and strategy. And obviously, inviting greater participation overall means greater cooperation and commitment.

Third, once your projects have been prioritized, it is time to figure out who will be doing what. Streamlining your projects down to the vital few has the added benefit of not stretching the capacity you have, but concentrating it where it is needed most. Here I
[ Read More ]

Now, Take The Apple, Dearie, And Make A Wish

By |December 5th, 2013|Categories: time|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

In 1934 southern California, a successful animator of cartoon shorts embarked on a project to make, for the first time, a feature-length cartoon. The cost to create it was estimated to be $250,000 over two years. But when the story line kept changing, the budget skyrocketed to $1.4 million, and the project timeline nearly doubled.

If you haven’t already guessed it, the animator was Walt Disney and the film was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. It earned over $7 million in its first run, paving the way for Walt Disney Company to deliver other astonishing firsts.

In terms of project success measures, the project was abysmal. Disney blew the schedule, budget and scope, but for understandable reasons:

Nevertheless, in terms of sponsorship, the project was wildly successful. Here’s why:

This imbalance of strong sponsorship on the one hand, and an insufficient project management process on the other, is fairly common for companies at the 1.2 to 1.7 maturity level. This is a people-centric model centered on passionate individuals, but it doesn’t scale when four or five projects are being pursued in tandem. Assuming everyone at a company doesn’t have the passion or vision to drive his project à la Mr. Disney, it becomes essential to install and implement process, which moves you closer  to crossing over the level 2 maturity hurdle.

Disney did just that. Over time, he learned from his project management mistakes, leveraged this learning to build a repeatable process, and further developed his visionary sponsorship to give his customers something new and extraordinary time and time again.  For Walt Disney, it wasn’t all just wishing on a star—he is one of the greatest American innovators because of his mastery of realization.

If you’ve worked on a
[ Read More ]

With A Little Help From My Friends

By |September 30th, 2013|Categories: time|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

In my travels, I try to pick up tidbits to help me be more effective at managing projects. We’ve all seen the various tools, techniques, methodologies, etc. to help us deliver against The Big Three: cost, scope and time—but is that really all there is? The funny thing about projects is that success is declared despite most of the project participants knowing that the outcome was somewhat less than successful. Why is that? You hear things like, “It came in on time, under budget and was executed exactly as documented in the requirements.” So it must have been a success, right? And yet there is an unspoken disappointment because it’s not really entirely what was envisioned.

The other day, I ran across a great piece by Gartner about improving project success. Its premise was that if you focus on three things—Partnership, Requirements and Resources—you can really increase the probability of a successful project outcome. Wow! . . .something different from The Big Three!! I was easily able to relate requirements and resources back to the big three, but what about partnership? The formal definition of “partnership” (courtesy of my dictionary) was of little use, but when I looked at its synonyms, I found words like alliance, collaboration, connection, relation, and union. And that’s when it hit me. Partnership doesn’t relate to the big three but rather comprises the foundation that enables us to deliver on them. Without true partnership, project realization or the ability to deliver the expected value from the project is unlikely.

This should have been obvious considering the successful projects I’ve participated in and led. It was partnership at all levels that helped drive realization. From various IT organizations to external partners to
[ Read More ]

Mark that project APPROVED…

By |October 17th, 2011|Categories: Planning|Tags: , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

Today, every company is pursuing more projects than it can successfully handle, and that puts your project at risk of not getting the approval it needs to move forward. So, what can you do to make sure that a governance committee review doesn’t leave you and your project on the outside looking-in? Follow these steps to give your project an advantage over other projects in the queue for review.

 

Understand and communicate the business case for your project.
This starts with understanding the business strategy and business drivers that prompted your project in the first place. If you don’t understand what the business is trying to accomplish, you have very little chance of your project hitting the mark.Once the business strategy and drivers are clear, identify very specifically—and quantitatively where possible—exactly how your project will provide benefit relative to the business drivers and business strategy.

Work with key people in the business area to develop and review the business case to ensure that it is sound and strong.

Creating a solid, strong business case is the most important factor in not only getting the project approved, but also in ensuring that the project team clearly understands what is to be accomplished, why, and how it will help the business.
Identify resourcing needs by role.
Resources, especially people, are always in high demand, and you need to be very clear about the resources that your project will require (people, facilities, equipment, etc.). Clearly identify your resource needs by being specific. Assuming that your request for two technical analysts you will get you what you actually need might be a mistake. Having the right skills, expertise and individuals detailed on a project can greatly improve the probability of project success.
Identify project interdependencies.
As
[ Read More ]