Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Is there a rope holding you in managing a Project, Program or PMO?

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.
He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.
As a project manager, program manager, portfolio manager or someone managing PMO, we all have our cycles of uncertainty and a fear of failure when a belief overcomes us that we cannot possibly do something, simply because we have failed at it before. During those uncertain times, its very important to remind us that failure is part of learning and we should never give up the ability to believe in ourselves. Personally, the best managers with whom i have crossed paths are those who have been fearless in going after goals without carrying the overhead thought of failure because in their mind there is nothing as failure. If a project has not delivered desired output or a program has not delivered planned outcome or a portfolio or PMO has not delivered laid out strategic objectives, we always end up learning how to manage it better the next time.
Always remind yourself that people judge us by what we have done till date and we judge ourselves by what we are capable of doing. Even though we all get it but seldom practice the art and science of learning from our past failures and making the most use of the lessons learned or retrospections for future success. With social media becoming a big part and parcel of our daily life, networking with professionals while sharing lessons learned and learning from each other’s experience, does go a long way to always challenge the status quo and help you keep raising your bar. As Charles Darwin famously quoted, "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."
Is there a rope that is holding you back today? Please share your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Maryhill Stonehenge, Washington State, United States

It was a beautiful Sunday morning and a perfect timing to be back to Portland, Oregon after a year.  These snaps are of Maryhill Stonehenge in the Washington State of United States
Referring wikipediaMaryhill Stonehenge is a replica of Stonehenge located in Maryhill, Washington. It was commissioned in the early 20th century by businessman Samuel Hill and dedicated on July 4, 1918 as a memorial to those that died in World War I. Driving on Historic Columbia River Highway, it was a beautiful scenic drive all along Columbia River to reach this place. On a clear day with Mt. Hood looking majestic in the backdrop, this place is simply gorgeous to enjoy natural beauty.  

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Inside and Outside Project Comparison and Prioritization

We understand the needs of a Project Management Office (PMO) to help drive IT efficiency, cut costs and improve the quality of project delivery in terms of time and budget. In my earlier blog 7 Questions to Ask Before Establishing a Project Management Office (PMO), I shared three types of roles a PMO plays in an organization in terms of supporting, controlling or directing. A PMO can boost productivity while ensuring that priority projects get the most attention, but it is important to perform the right comparisons between projects to prioritize them. The PMO should not be comparing 'inside' of a project in terms of which department/business unit the project belongs to with 'outside' of another project in terms of goals it's achieving. While reviewing projects, the PMO should go over the project charter or SOW, which includes:

  • High-level scope of the project 
  • Goals and objectives 
  • Cost 
  • Schedule
  • Critical measures
  • Potential gains
  • Risks
  • Assumptions
  • Issues
  • Dependencies
  • Constraints
  • Identification of key stakeholders
  • Project's impact on the entire organization

Use a common basis for comparing projects while prioritizing them. One way of prioritizing projects is to group them in terms of:

  • Business critical, strategic objectives or initiatives of the organization
  • Business unit/department critical (one or multiple)
  • Business unit/department need (one or multiple)
  • Internal process improvements or exploring long-term growth by adopting new technologies and/or business models 

Note that the above mentioned grouping of priorities can change according to the strategic goals of an organization. After grouping priorities, there might be a potential need to do project sequencing for execution within each prioritized group. Harold R. Kerzner in his Project Management - Best Practices: Achieving Global Excellence book shares key decision criteria for project sequencing, which includes:

  • Strategic priority
  • Window of opportunity
  • Project interdependencies
  • Resource availability

Share your thoughts on how you compare and prioritize projects within your organization.
Inside and Outside Project Comparison and Prioritization was originally posted under Prokarma blog on Feb 26th 2015.