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Stakeholders in Business

10 Things Stakeholders in Business Wish You Knew

 “For [a product] to surprise me, it must have satisfying expectations I didn't know I had. No focus group is going to discover those. Only a great designer can.” Paul GrahamMade in USA

He was commissioned in the US Army as a second lieutenant in 1958 and is a veteran of the Vietnam War from 1962 – 63 and 1968 – 69.

·He was promoted to a Four Star General in 1989 and was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993.

·He directed the deployment of the Panama Invasion in 1989 and Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

·He was honored with the Bronze Star, The Purple Heart, and was decorated with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.

 

Who is General Colin Powell?

Colin-powell


Colin Powell is an expert at managing expectations. Although he is known as one of the nation’s most influential black military leaders, the national security advisor to Ronald Reagan, Secretary of State during the George W. Bush administration from 2001 – 2005, and the Founding Chairman of America’s Promise, General Powell is astonishingly skilled at stakeholder management which he developed throughout his distinguished career.

Think of the different political, social, and personal agendas he has had to manage from various stakeholders to successfully execute consistently on events that have had global consequences.

General Powell was born in New York City in 1937 of Jamaican descent and was the youngest child born of Maud Arial and Luther Theophilus Powell. What’s amazing to me about General Powell was that he graduated from Morris High School with mediocre grades and started his college life at City College in New York City. Yet after discovering and joining ROTC, he developed a disciplined and continuous improvement focus that changed his life forever.

As stated in the book Soldier; the Life of Colin Powell by Karen DeYoung, “Colin found he liked leading others and had a talent for the delicate balancing act required to win the respect and affection of those he led while demanding their performance. He started a mental list of leadership qualities: A leader had to set an example and keep up standards. If he wanted his troops to drill an extra hour, he had to show he could do it with them.” He learned early in his military career that managing stakeholders’ expectations was more about leadership and setting the right example.

10 Things Every Stakeholder Wish You Knew: But Won’t Tell You.

What keeps them up at night

  

Bigstockphoto_Emoticon_Guy_Looking_Confused__254629


The key role of any program or project manager is to learn the hidden agendas and expectations of your main stakeholders. People only initiate programs or projects to move away from pain or to go towards gain. Your job is to learn which direction the stakeholders are going, and then ask them this question, “If you have the perfect solution to this issue, what would it look like and what would it allow you to do that you cannot do today?” A great resource to learn more about this line of thinking is the book Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play by Mahan Khalsa. 

  1. Understand their requirements and expectations from their perspective.

Requirements need to be collected and documented using best practices and standard documentation processes that are reviewed and approved by the key stakeholders. Whether you are developing software, building a house, or constructing a highway, requirements need to be recorded from the users of the solution perspective. A great site to learn more about requirements is:  Leading Answers 

  1. Their preferred method of communication and that you would tailor/target communications to their style and be consistent.

Real communication is how your message is perceived, not only by what you document or say. Brain Tracy in a post called “Making Strong Connections” states, “In communicating well with another person, time is the critical factor. The value of a relationship can increase for both you and the other person depending on the amount of time that you invest.” http://www.briantracy.com/blog/general/making-strong-connections . I would also add that we should ask our stakeholders how they would like to be communicated with and how frequent they would like to receive those communications.

  1. That you understand their personal stake in the project’s outcome and that the outcome will produce the benefits you promised.

Do you know how the success or failure of the program or project will personally impact your key stakeholders? Are their conflicting desires between key stakeholders (i.e. someone wants the project to succeed while someone else really wants the project to fail)?

  1. That you will involve them in the key decision-making process.

Key stakeholders in business want and need to be involved in making key decisions. Can you imagine Colin Powell not keeping other generals or the President informed about key decisions and still being successful in his missions? Stakeholder involvement is a major key to being successful at executing for results.

  1. That you would speak their language using terms they understand.

Learning to speak the language of your business stakeholders is a critical success factor for gaining their buy-in and support. Most highly skilled experts are cursed with the ignorance of knowledge. We have become so comfortable with the gobbledygook technical terminology of our profession that we fail to remember how difficult it was for us to speak that language and now that we have mastered it, we cannot remember what it was like not knowing it. Our stakeholders will be more impressed and influenced when we speak their language and present our ideas in terms that they understand and are comfortable with.

  1. That you communicate their role and responsibility clearly and understand what role they really want to play.

Do your stakeholders know who’s on first and what they are supposed to do while they are there? One of the keys to building a great project team is when everyone on the team understands their roles. Managing projects are more like managing a baseball or football team. Each player has a position and the team will win games if everyone plays their best within their position. A great resource for document roles and responsibility can be found on the blog “The Critical Path”. By clicking on the link, you will gain access to a free project team organization worksheet that contains a RACI chart. A RACI chart helps you define the roles, but also who is Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed on the project regarding any major tasks.

  1. That they need to be educated about your Methodology or PM processes.

Do you prefer to be sold a new car or to buy a new car? Most of us would prefer to buy the new car and to make the decision to buy the car the salesman educates you on during the entire buying process. We need to teach our stakeholders about our methodology and process to educate them so that they can buy into our processes. Stakeholders want to know how your processes and methodologies work in a simple understandable language.

  1. That you understand their learning style and that you respect their limited time.

Are you aware of your stakeholders’ learning style? Do they really need to sit in a 1 or 2 day class to learn the new system or process you have implemented? Do they learn better by conducting role playing scenarios, typing at the keyboard, reading a case study, or attending a presentation? Some of the best advice I have ever received regarding training stakeholders was to ask the questions, “What should my students be able to do once they have attended my training or learning program?”

  1. That their feedback is valued and that you will act on it.

Ken Blanchard is famous for the axiom “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Do your stakeholders see you as a champion for proactively eliciting their feedback? Companies and individuals who are consistently seeking feedback from their customers are on a path of continuous improvement. When was the last time you sought feedback from your customers?  

Share your ideas or thought! Do you have other ideas regarding what stakeholders wish we knew, but won’t tell us? Has this list of stakeholder concerns helped you to think differently?

Principles of Execution Key Concepts:

  • General Colin Powell
  • Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Stakeholder Management
Operating Model

What is an Operating Model

Strategy and Operations

“The art of leading, in operations large or small, is the art of dealing with humanity, of working diligently on behalf of men, of being sympathetic with them, but equally, of insisting that they make a square facing toward their own problems.” -S.L.A. Marshall

Establishing the correct level of process standardization and integration is a fundamental building block for identifying an organization’s strategic road map and target enterprise architecture. The strategic road map and reference architecture (current and target architecture) sets the stage for the development of the IT investment portfolio. These are critical tools for aligning the business and IT capability that will enable an organization to achieve its strategic intent and answers the question, “What are we attempting to accomplish?”


The critical need of organization's today is to align the IT strategy with the business strategy, establish the target enterprise architecture or desired IT capability, determine the right mix of IT assets (services, information, applications and infrastructure) and execute the IT project portfolio while optimizing the use of the organization's resources while remaining agile enough to response to market variability. The operating model provides the guidance necessary to reduction duplicative  services, contracts, solutions and commodity technologies (laptops, desktops, servers and data centers) while providing the blueprint for business transformation.

The operating model will also assist management with breaking down organizational silos and building a better alignment between the business's needs and the IT Service organization's delivery capabilities.

 So, what are the challenges with defining an organization’s Operating Model? What are the culture and implementation challenges of transforming an organizations Operating Model? “For Lenovo’s IT organization, charting how to support the new operating model was daunting. Inherited legacy IT systems had to be replaced by an enterprise-resource-planning (ERP) system that could foster standardized processes yet remain flexible enough to handle important variations in local markets. Rolling out a global IT system is an enormous challenge that many CIOs have taken on but few have managed to pull off,” according to a McKinsey interview with Xiaoyan Wang in an article titled, “The IT factor in a global business transformation: An interview with Lenovo’s CIO.”

For many organizations the requirement is to determine which operating model quadrant is positioned to support their desired process integration and standardization needs. According to Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill and David C. Robertson in the book Enterprise Architecture as Strategy, “the operating model is a choice about what strategies are going to be supported.”

There are 4 types of operating model positions according to Ross, Weill and Robertson; they are:

  • Diversification (Low process integration / low process standardization)
  • Coordination (High process integration / low process standardization)
  • Unification (High process integration / high process standardization)]
  • Replication (Low process integration / high process standardization)

Operating Model

Microsoft SharePoint and Project Server solutions can enable organizations to move to the unification quadrant if high integration and standardization are required. These applications are designed to support a global integrated business process and for increasing visibility of the investments portfolio into a single web view.  They also support the elimination of overlapping processes, administration, and standardization of workflows to enable better governance compliance.

Project Server Project Inventory:

Project Server Dashboard - OM

Project Governance Workflow:

Project Governance Workflow - OM

 

Are you using SharePoint and Project Server to help enable your organization's current and target operating model? What are the benefits of conquering these challenges for your organization?

Additional Resources

Reference

 

Buffer and Project Management

How Buffer Management Improves Project Performance

  Buffer Management

“A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes

Variability is a fact of life!

The first image in this post is from an actual project that I managed using Microsoft Project Professional 2010 and the ProChain add-on. This was also my first time using Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) instead of the normal critical path methodology that is common in the market today.


The greatest benefit I received from using CCPM as my project management methodology is visibility into how I use slack or buffer on my project. I also incorporated a specific planning process that ensured that I include the full scope of work from my project’s charter, WBS and project team; this is called Network Building. My project team benefited by gaining insight into the critical integration points that could cause major delays in executing the initiative. Although we hoped for the best and planned for the worst, we experienced a tremendous amount of variability (the worst scenario) which we all know is a fact of life. Here are some of the challenges that we encountered:

  • Delays with on boarding my vendor and consultants
  • Our hardware vendor placed the wrong order and could not deliver the required hardware until 2 weeks after I needed the solution.
  • A member of the consulting teams family needed to relocate because of the floods in the Midwest which pulled him off the project for 2 weeks.
  • We experienced scope creep and code development delays and issues. We missed 2 critical deadlines because of code or configuration issues.
  • My brother, who was 5 years older than I, passed away.
  • Another team member got married and went on a 2 week honeymoon.

All of these challenges created the buffer image at the top of this post. What saved us from total disaster? We used the processes and procedures that are core to any key CCPM project. Each task has only two estimates:

  1. Highly Probable (Estimate C)      
  2. Aggressive But Possible (Estimate B)

  HP-ABP

  1. The project buffer is calculated by removing the slack or buffer from each individual task and aggregating it into the project buffer.
  2. We watched and managed the project buffer like a HAWK!

 What’s the point?

  1. Task variability is protected by an aggregated buffer. The project buffer is divided into three sections so that the project team can measure when to relax, when to plan and when to act on our plan to recover the project.

 

  Buffer Zones

  1. Buffer Management provides better visibility into how the project team will us the slack or buffer in the project. In critical path management, project slack is distributed within each task which normally is used by the project team to accomplish other tasks until the current task has to be delivered, this is called student syndrome. This usually results in a misuse of the project’s buffer because the buffer is not visible at the project level but only within each task.
Attitude

Your Attitude Makes the Difference: Kindness with Competence

Attitude “It’s not what you do once in a while; it’s what you do day in and day out that makes the difference.” Jenny Craig

He was known for making a difference. One of his favorite sayings was “Digging for gold is more important than the gold itself; that's why I say let's play two.” 

 


He understood the principle that who you become in pursuit of a goal is more important than the goal itself, so for 19 years, he took responsibility for his attitude and showed up every day with a grateful disposition and a smile. His influence opened the door for a number of colored baseball players to enter into major league baseball. He changed the way baseball fans saw colored athletes because of his competence and kindness.

Who was Ernie Banks?

Banks, born in 1931 as the oldest son of 12 children, grew up in Dallas, TX. His father worked in the cotton fields earning $10 a day. Ernie was a keen observer during his early childhood, watching and learning from the older kids as they played baseball. Banks quickly learned as a young man that he could make everyone around him smile and a lot more comfortable by how he managed his attitude. He focused his energy on his circle of influence instead of his areas of concern, which he had no control over.

What did developing his competence while growing his grateful and positive attitude achieve for Ernie?

·He was signed by the Chicago Cubs when he was 22 years old.

·He hit a home-run his first time at bat in the major leagues.

·He was the first Negro player on the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

·He was the ninth player in the history of the game to reach 500 home runs and ended his career with 512.

·He won two MVP awards, one in 1958 and the other in 1959

·He was chosen to be on the National League All Star team for 11 years.

·He was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977

  Ernie Banks  What can we learn from Ernie Banks?

1.    Take responsibility for your attitude — create your own weather. (To learn more about taking charge of your attitude, read John Maxwell's book, “The Difference Maker: Making Your Attitude Your Greatest Asset.”)

2.    Set the tempo; be a trend-setter.

3.    Be loyal to your friends, family members, colleagues, and organization. (Ernie remained with the Chicago Cubs for 19 seasons.)

4.    Focus on your circle of influence and not your areas of concern over which you have no control.

5.    Take responsibility for your education and learning goals.

6.    Learn to excel despite the political or social pressures or obstacles you'll face.

7.    Strive to stay humble and grateful; no one is a self-made person.

a.    (Ernie Banks understood he was blessed; between games he would walk through the poor neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago to remind himself of other people's lives.)

8.    Give back and mentor someone less fortunate. (Ernie visited and supported little league teams in Illinois.)

 

Are you taking responsibility for your attitude and competence development?

One of the key attributes of being a high-performing project manager is taking ownership and responsibility for your project's outcome. Leaders take responsibility for both their results and outcome.

Aligning Strategy

Aligning Strategy With Culture

Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” The goal of strategy and culture alignment is to keep the organization working together like a well-oiled machine that’s ready for a cross-country excursion. What changes does your organization need to make to align its strategy, culture, and talent?

Portfolio Management Trends and Insights

PwC’s 2017 Portfolio Management Trends and Insights


I've updated the post on Portfolio Management Maturity, I received the link below highlighting PwC's 2017 global project management report which includes key survey results on Portfolio Management insights collected from over 1500 IT leaders in 38 countries.

In the spirit of sharing, I have provided a list of lessons learned or takeaways I gleaned from reading the report along with a link to the document.


Here's what I learned:

  • To stay competitive organizations must adopt project and portfolio management as a core part of the business processes.
  • Poor project estimating is the number one culprit for project failure.
  • Project Portfolio Management adoption has not increased but organizations that have implemented PPM are seeing an increase in performance improvements in the areas of project quality, scope, schedule, cost and benefits realization.
  • Organizations that have adopted PPM are seeing significant performance improvements due to the enabling of better IT alignment with the organization's business objectives, increase oversight from an enterprise program management office and a monthly cadence of PPM review meetings.
  • PPM software has increasingly matured in the past few years and organizations that have implemented an enterprise PPM solution are reaping the results with greater stakeholder satisfaction from increase project performance.
  • Project management maturity has increased and higher PM maturity means higher business performance. 

To learn more click on the link below to access the full report.

https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/advisory-services/assets/ppm-service-catalogue-june-2017.pdf

 

Project Portfolio Management Maturity Modeling

Project Portfolio Management Maturity Modeling

  Bigstock-The-words-Time-to-Evaluate
“Maturity comes not with age but with the acceptance of responsibility. You are only young once but immaturity can last a lifetime!” -Edwin Louis Cole

The essence of an IT strategic plan is to align the IT department with the organization’s strategic intent, vision and business objectives in concert with the senior executive team. The goal is to develop a road map of initiatives and activities that will enable the organization to achieve the vision, and optimize the IT resource capability to deliver on the promised benefits and outcomes needed to accomplish the firm’s mission.


In April of 2000, Cirque du Soleil engaged Danielle Savoie as the first CIO of the famous Cirque and she placed the organization on a course of upward maturity by developing their first IT Strategic Plan. According to a CIO.com 2002 article titled “Rapid Deployment: IT at Cirque du Soleil”, Ms. Savoie delivered on her department’s strategic intent to streamline the Cirque IT infrastructure to provide a perfect show under the big top night after night.


So what does IT Strategic Planning and Cirque du Soleil’s accomplishments have to do with Project Portfolio Management Maturity Modeling? Everything!

When an organization starts down the road of maturing its IT department to execute the right projects more efficient and effectively, they have embarked on a form of Project Portfolio Management Maturity. They are addressing the questions: are we doing the right thing and are we doing them right?


Organizations are made up of individuals who will only change their behavior for one or two reasons: avoiding pain or going for gain. Pains that prompt an organization to pursue maturing their PPM capability are:

  • Lack of accountability regarding who owns the oversight of the IT portfolio.
  • Project investments are not aligned to the business objectives of the corporation.
  • Lack of standardized processes leading to project execution heroics.
  • Roles and responsibilities are not clearly defined which creates confusion within the organization.
  • Investments are approved regardless of critical information being absent.
  • Limited or no visibility into the portfolio performance.
  • Project outcomes are not verified to determine if the investment produce the expected return. (Try that with your 401K you’re expected to retire on).
  • Constrained resources are used sub-optimally due to lack of appropriate alignment and allocation.

One of the greatest challenges to Project Portfolio Management Maturity assessment is the lack of industry standardization. There are a number of recommended ways to conduct an assessment but no official methodology or process has been sanctioned. 

Free Assessment

PMO 360 Assessment

According, to James S. Pennypacker in his book “Project Portfolio Management Maturity Model”, there are 5 Levels of PPM maturity that an organization can use to assess its organizations PPM processes. They are:

  • Level 1 – Initial Process
  • Level 2 – Structured Process and Standards
  • Level 3 – Organizational Standards and Institutionalized Process
  • Level 4 – Managed Process
  • Level 5 – Optimizing Process

Each level is then subdivided into (6) six sections which are:

  1. Portfolio Governance
  2. Project Opportunity Assessment (Demand Management)
  3. Project Prioritization and Selection
  4. Portfolio and Project Communication Management
  5. Portfolio Performance Management
  6. Portfolio Resource Management

Gartner developed the Five Progressive Levels of the Maturity Model which is displayed below.


Gartner PPM Maturity Model

Source:
Gartner (April 2012)


Also, in their book, “IT Portfolio Management Step-by-Step,” Maizlish and Handler state that, “The overall goal of IT portfolio management is to optimize the risk reward trade-off when allocating resources in support of organization objectives.” Their PPM Maturity Model follows the steps below:

  • (0) Admitting
  • (1) Communicating
  • (2) Governing
  • (3) Managing
  • (4) Optimizing

Maizlish and Handler’s maturity model is further sub divided into the following section:

  • Projects
  • Application
  • Infrastructure
  • People
  • Process
  • Information

Organizations embarking on a Project Portfolio Management Maturity Modeling journey need to select a maturity model that is aligned to their company’s culture. In my experience, this is more important than the specific vendor model chosen to perform the assessment.  In the end, the executive leadership’s goal is to impact the following areas of their organizations:


PPM Components

 

Project Server can be configured and modified to enable an organization to align it's project investments with its strategic objectives. Whether on premise or online, Project Server can provide:

  • Portfolio Visibility
  • Portfolio Scenario Planning and Optimization
  • Portfolio Selection and Alignment
  • Budget and Cost Planning
  • Resource Alignment and Capacity Planning

 
Project Server Portfolio

Sources:

  

Kanban Board Management

Enhance Workplace Productivity using project portfolio management

In August 2013, I spoke at the Project Management Institute (PMI), and the International Legal Technical Association (ILTA) conference in Las Vegas. The audience and a panel I was on debated about the value of the PMO. We were discussing how the PMO helps organizations enhance workplace productivity. And, as the conversation went on, we began to realize that people were confused about which PMO we were discussing. Was it the project PMO, was the program PMO, or the portfolio PMO? Because those three are very different environments in which to operate, and they all have different governance processes.

Regardless of which PMO we were discussing, we all agreed on one thing, all of these environments enhance workforce productivity. The value of project portfolio management is in its ability to move the needle with accomplishing goals and objectives in a consistent, reliable, and predictable manner. It's how value gets delivered to an organization.

Enhance Workplace Productivity
Mastering the concepts of project, program, and portfolio management.

No matter which role you play, we all leverage these processes to deliver value to our companies and improve workplace productivity.  So, the ideal audience for mastering the concepts of project, program, and portfolio management should include:

  • Decision-makers and other executives who participate in the selection of products and services that will enhance the capabilities of their organization.
  • Consultants and strategic planners who are responsible for the development of the organization's strategic roadmap, long-range planning, business planning, or short-term goal development will have a repeatable and consistent process that will align to strategic objectives.
  • Business owners who need to understand how to allocate limited resources to achieve their organization's strategic objectives and goals will have the visibility to address project synchronization and reduce resource bottlenecks.
  • Project and program managers who need a foundational understanding of the principles, processes, and procedures of project portfolio management.

So, if portfolio management is the apex of the project management ladder, then project management, is like starting at the base camp. And, as you ascend the mountain to the summit, it requires multiple activities which encompasses program management. Below are three comprehensive definitions for each of these areas, starting with portfolio management, program management, and then project management.

Portfolio Management

  • Business processes, usually conducted at the highest level within an organization that decides; which projects, programs, and other initiatives will be undertaken in a given period. The criteria for selecting their actions; and the active management of these initiatives through then life cycle to ensure that benefits will be realized, including their termination as required.

Program Management

  • Coordinated management of a related series of projects over time, to accomplish broad business goals to which the individual projects contribute, including benefits realization, stakeholder management, and program governance.

Project Management

  • Application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet or exceed stakeholder needs and expectations from a project.

Dictionary of Project Management Terms, 3rd edition.

In summary, the value of project programs and portfolios is that they provide the structure which enhances the workplace productivity and align with your overall goals and objectives.

To learn more, click here.

Sincerely,

Gerald J. Leonard PfMP, PMP

Project Portfolio Management Assessment

Project Portfolio Management Assessment

The Project Portfolio Management 360 Maturity Assessment allows you to define the present state of your organization’s project, program and portfolio management processes.

It takes less than 5 minutes to complete the assessment and you will receive a free customized report of your results!

“Gerald presented a professional assessment that directly addressed the issues we are facing and provided a road map which included quick-win solutions that we could act on immediately.”

Ibrahim El-Araby, PMP, PMOC, CSSBB Project Manager at EBA Engineering

Benefits

The benefits of a portfolio management assessment are:

• The ability to integrate the portfolio within your organization to improve best practices and knowledge sharing
• Find a common set of tools to share information, processes and manage project resources
• Enhance your portfolio management systems to improve and deliver consistent monitoring and tracking of project status and key performance indicators so that, the executive team has greater visibility and insight on how the portfolio is performing.
• Improve the performance of project and program managers managing projects within your organization by helping them to know the impact of project schedules and resource constraints on the portfolio.

To learn more about the PPM 360 Assessment, click here.

Sincerely,

Gerald J. Leonard PfMP, PMP

Culture Is The Bass

Culture Is The Bass is listed in the Top 15 Books on Business Culture on Entrepreneur Magazine

I’m honored to have my book listed on Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the “Top 15 Books on Business Culture That You Need to Read Today”. https://www-entrepreneur-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.entrepreneur.com/amphtml/342806

Music already serves as a relatable metaphor for so many things in life, so it makes sense that this newly released book uses music to explain how to develop high performing teams for your company. Leonard sees the creation of high-performing teams has the pathway to an effective project management culture that delivers a symphony of balance, unified vision, and harmony for an organization

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