CPO – Chief Project Officer

February 27, 2011

CPOs should become CP3Os – Chief Project, Program and Portfolio Officers! It is impossible to deliver value to an organisation if any of the layers of project governance are ineffective. Like C-3PO in Star Wars, the CP3O needs to be an expert in communication and understand the right language and protocols to use at different levels of the organisation to tie the project, program and portfolio management processes directly to the creation of value.

The original C-3PO

At the portfolio management level, selecting the ‘right’ projects and programs to continue, cancel or start is vital to the future success of the organisation. The CP3O should be a key advisor to the executive team responsible for the strategic plan and selecting the on-going mix of work for the organisation; balancing high-risk, high-reward projects that may define the future of the organisation with ‘safer’ projects that help keep the lights on and grow today’s business. The capacity and capability of the organisation’s program and project delivery systems is a key enabler and the primary constraint on this process. The CP3O should be the person with the knowledge to facilitate effective decision making.

Program management focuses on the efficient coordination of multiple projects to deliver benefits. Each program is focused on delivering key elements of the organisation’s overall strategy and consequently has a significant contribution to make to the organisation’s ability to deliver value to its stakeholders. The CP3O should be actively engaged in ensuring the programs meet their businesses objectives. The program sponsor and other managers may have line responsibility for the initiative, the CP3O focuses on skills and support.

Project management is focused on the efficient creation of the deliverables defined in the Project Charter. Projects are most effective when their objectives are clearly defined and unnecessary change is minimised. Whilst Project Managers may report to a variety of managers, the CP3O should focus on skills development and performance.

Most organisations have developed PMOs to support the delivery of Projects and Programs and to provide the data needed for both governance and Portfolio Management decisions. The development and operation of the organisation’s PMO structure should be a core responsibility of the CP3O.

The role of a Project Director (at least in Australia) is as the manger of project managers. The difference between Project Directors and Program Managers is the Program is created to deliver a defined benefit (the responsibility of the Program Manager) and projects are created to deliver the outputs required to enable the benefit. The Program Manager has overall responsibility for both the performance of the projects within the program and enabling the benefit; whereas Project Directors tend to be responsible for oversighting the performance of the projects within their area of responsibility. The Project Director is typically discipline and location based; eg, the Director for IT projects in Sydney. The project deliverables may contribute to a range of initiatives within the organisation. Project Directors should be direct reports of the CP3O.

The CP3O (or CPO) role is becoming more common. Defining the value proposition for this executive will be critically important to the improvement in delivering value through projects and programs. One of the key initiatives a CP3O can use to drive continuing improvements within the organisation is to develop a focus on process improvement using an effective maturity model. PMI’s OPM3 is probably the best tool from the perspectives of rigour and its focus on projects, programs and portfolio management.

This post has covered a lot of ground. For more information on specific topics see:
Portfolio Management: See White Paper1017
Types of Program: See White Paper1022
Programs -v- Projects: See White Paper1002
PMOs: See White Paper1034
OPM3: http://www.mosaicprojects.com.au/OPM3.html

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Engagement – learning from Games

February 14, 2011

The developers of computer games are focused on creating and maintaining engagement. The longer players play, the better the game! Some of the ideas that can be used to help build team engagement in the workplace include:

  • Recognising individual engagement is easier if there is a sense of collective engagement.
  • Appealing to the emotions of both individuals and the group, encourage collaboration.
  • Clearly show a players progress through ‘experience bars’ and similar.
  • Provide multiple long and short term aims.
  • Reward effort; provide graduated and scaled rewards.
  • Provide rapid, frequent and clear feedback with windows of enhanced learning.
  • Create an element of uncertainty, the occasional exceptional reward.

Use these elements wisely and engagement in you team may become almost addictive – games are!! For more on this topic see Tom Chatfield’s talk on TED


New West Australia Partner

February 14, 2011

Grover Projects has joined the Stakeholder Circle partnership to offer clients in West Australia training and consultancy based on the Stakeholder Circle® methodology. Grover Projects is an independent strategy and business consulting firm specializing in developing innovative strategies for the successful delivery of major projects by providing end-to-end support to their clients. Effective stakeholder engagement is crucial element in maximising business benefits.

To contact Grover Projects go to: http://www.groverprojects.com.au/


Motivation, Happiness and Engagement

February 12, 2011

This is the first of a series of posts looking at the interlinked but independent elements of satisfaction, happiness, engagement and motivation. Ideally the members of your team will enjoy all four feelings but this is not always possible or even necessary. A soldier engaged in a pitch battle is unlikely to be ‘happy’ but would certainly be engaged and should be motivated.

Research suggests people have a deep need for Autonomy (the desire to direct our own lives), Mastery (the urge to get better and better at something), and Purpose (the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves). If your team provides these elements, you are likely to have satisfied and motivated people.

Happiness is different. It would seem happiness is internal, created by the person within themselves. The human mind can synthesize happiness. Shakespeare said it best, of course (Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 239–251):
Why, then ’tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

On the engagement front, in November 2010 the Australian Institute of Management (AIM) found in a member’s survey that ‘that negativity, apathy and disillusionment are present in the executive ranks of too many Australian organisations.’ A few of the findings included:

  • 40 per cent of respondents surveyed do not feel appreciated by their employer
  • 20 per cent of participants expressed negative sentiments about working at their current organisation
  • Almost one in three of those surveyed criticised the workplace culture of their organisation
  • 34 per cent of respondents admitted they could be putting more effort into their current role.
  • 33 per cent of those we surveyed said they are considering leaving their employer.

The last piece of the framework is a series of studies in the UK focused on ‘civil servants’ (public servants), the ‘Whitehall Studies’. One key finding is the inverse relationship between coronary heart disease (CHD) and the level of job control. People in highly demanding jobs they could control had half the rate of CHD experienced by people with less control over their work.

Creating an environment where people are engaged motivated and happy has a direct link to their wellbeing as well as delivering your requirements. My next few posts will focus on how to create this win-win situation.


The Project Delivery Strategy

February 6, 2011

One element missing in much of the discussion around project management is a focus on optimising the project delivery strategy.

At the project level, strategic decision-making focuses on the way the project will be structured and managed. Choosing between using Agile or Waterfall, pre-fabrication or on-site assembly, won’t change the required project deliverables but will have a major influence on how the project is delivered and its likely success.

One size does not fit all; simply following previous choices ignores opportunities to enhance the overall probability of the project meeting or exceeding its stakeholder’s expectations.

Some of the key steps in designing a strategy for success include:

  • Familiarization with the overall requirements of the project and its stakeholders
  • Determining the key elements of value and success for the project
  • Outlining the delivery methodology and getting approval from key stakeholders
  • Developing the project’s strategic plan based on the available know-how, resources and risk appetite of the stakeholders (including the project management team)

The problem with implementing this critical stage of the overall project delivery lifecycle is that it crosses between the project initiators and the project delivery team. Both parties need to be involved in developing a project delivery strategy that optimizes the opportunity for a successful outcome within the acceptable risk tolerance of the individuals.

Unfortunately, the opportunities to engage in discussion and planning for project delivery are difficult to arrange. Frequently contract documents effectively prescribe a delivery process, and/or the client and senior management don’t know they need to be engaged at this critical stage of the project lifecycle.

Maybe its time for a change…… chose the wrong strategy and the project is destined for failure!