This page gives some tips on key factors when performing a health check from the market to the service.
WHY: To improve the standard of the end to end delivery and products for sponsors, executives and stakeholders
WHEN: It can be conducted at any stage to help grow the maturity of the organisation.
WHAT: Scope covers the end to end internal and external processes that constitute Governance, Portfolio, Programme / Project, Service Management and the status of the projects and products within.
HOW: Benchmark against best practice, PRINCE2, ITIL, Agile, M_O_R…
The Health check is a great way to initiate a Project engagement.
It will clarify to all parties, exactly where we are and suggest a roadmap for where we need to be.
We will conduct the standard engagement process outlined in my main methodology.
The first stage is to:
- Understand the overall business position
- Define the scope of project, from project (s) to business wide, timescales, cost, risk, benefits or quality.
- Scope and conduct interviews with your team
- Create a baselined agreement to conduct the health check
- Define a reporting structure
2 REPORT STRUCTURE FOR HEALTH CHECKS
The report is typically structured into four components, which link to my figure of 8.
- Investment and strategy.
- Portfolio management.
- Project and service management.
The report structure is agreed in advance and could be structured in many different ways.
- It will contain my view on how well your organisation adopts best practice, together with my findings to give you to a stronger (to be) maturity across PPM.
3 ISSUES TO CONSIDER
Is the Vision clear?
Constructing a postcard from the future, provides everyone with a clear strategic target. It is a great starting point to bring everybody together and to ensure the target for the overall organisation is needle point sharp.
With segregation of roles, there can be a disconnect between demand and supply, because:
- roles at investment, strategy, portfolio, programme, project, service level need to be integrated across the whole organisation. Connection of roles is often overlooked.
- culture, dictated by the understanding of the vision and resultant behaviour, dictates the attitude to change.
- The purpose of understanding the culture, is so that we can see and can model the effect of the improved data, communications etc towards a maturer organisation and stronger Governance.
- I believe the best approach is to develop a culture, is to monitor a minimum number of transparent “rules”.
Do organisational wide issues exist?
- Does the the organisation accept a simple RACI matrix, that is easy to implement and is recognised by best practice.
- Are processes strong or lacking,
- Are internal and external communications structured with a timely and clear delivery
- Is there a resistance to change, and at what skills / levels?
- Are there are barriers to current and future quality management?
- Is contract and service management adequate?
- Is intervention needed to balance RAID, process, change management and communication, or is there a process to manage it end to end.
- Are there gaps in the accuracy of key data for the running Portfolio Management? (Scope, demand / supply …)
Is there an organisational plan to get you to a reasonable level of maturity (“To be”)?
My approach is a “light touch”providing non- invasive control and communication. We may examine additional options with you to develop further maturity.
- Best practice includes industry standards, such as RACI, tolerance, risk management, the application of Prince 2….
- We will consider the need to maintain the optimum balance between scientific, technical and business priorities, improve decision making tools and focus on time, cost, risk, benefits and quality.
- Once the plan is baselined, then the resultant “light touch” project to improve PPM will need change control.
This makes sure we can track any improvements that the team may spot, and even develop maturity further.
The dataset of interview responses, used to compile your report, can be used for reference. This should give the Board reassurance that the review is thorough. It also sets a culture of transparency and trust that is key to successful transition from the “As is” to “To be” state.
This is not a complete list, but raises some questions that cut across all roles, processes and disciplines.
Ascertain the maturity of the Investment, Strategy, Portfolio Management, Programme, Project, Service management process that needs to provide a list of MOSCOW prioritised projects that you MUST, SHOULD, COULD, WOULD NOT do.
Is the Market, Strategy and Portfolio Management data capture process working?
4 DOES THE END TO END (figure of 8) PROCESS WORK?
- Identify the dreams and goals of the organisation, short and long term?
- Link visions to Board members, to focus on producinga roadmap for the team, who then feel empowered in the right culture.
- Understand strategy segment targets that link to portfolio and project management?
- Drive out culture, risks, competency, tensions, preferences, personality types, passion, energy levels and motives? This will highlight the particular concerns of the team?
- Confirm whether Portfolio demand is valued correctly?
- Are capacity and capability are being managed clearly
- Are your Portfolio criteria selecting correctly?
- Has the demand and supply of the business needs been clearly defined, so that the business operates with clear expectations set through the agreed process.
- Assess current maturity status, cultural challenges and process strength
- how fast and to what level of maturity is the organisation keen to transition?
- how will your financials set the pace of the investment through a process that delivers product and service?
- understand which products are delivered on the roadmap to create the timescale for the net benefits line.
- Allocate Resource and availability by skill and identify gaps, so that peaks and troughs can be identified in advance.
- Create the project scope for each of the resultant projects with a clear viable business case.
- Present to the Stakeholders / Board with a view to agreeing Portfolio information.
- Create a roadmap that shows path to strategic targets.
- Are all risks are being captured?
- Are budgets defined, approved and tracked, in line with Finance’s standards.
- Establish whether there are any interdependencies.
- Projects will need an evaluation of the best way to interface and communicate with the team, which will be planned, estimated, scheduled individually, in groups, ad hoc, with Board level support.
- There is a sequential stepwise improvement in maturity required which considers:
- Clarification of Governance (including RACI)
- Introduction of basic project management
- Financial measurement and link to all data.
- Risk, Quality, Configuration and communication strategy, processes and management
- There may be a need to redefine the end to end process that will:
- define the team deliverables and what decisions are made by the Senior Management Group/Board, and any associated gaps
- strengthen customer journey, quality criteria and process
- finalise end to end process to discuss scope, identify teams, resourcing, test facilities management, approved plan, sign off, and disseminate actions
- sharpen deliverables, cost/benefits, timeframes, state of play, targets, audits throughout
- assess which documentation needs to be improved,
- define supply chain principles and relationship approach,
- integrate high level Prince 2 principles,
- ensure continuous improvement.
- keep a daily log so that all changes can be tracked and the team can easily add and track their own concerns / issues.
5 NEXT STEPS
Customer and product targets must appear on the roadmap, so that projects are baselined and tracked in context of the overall vision.
Directors might consider:
- a process management tool across investment, strategy, portfolio and project management, to make a coherent team and communicate better.
- an integrated and robust project management database and tool in place.
Efficiency gain through:
- Improved RACI mechanism,
- A good PM structure that tackles customers with complexity and confidentiality challenges,
- Individual projects will have proper structure, timelines, risks etc …
6 BENEFITS OF THE HEALTH CHECK PROJECT
- Investment in the right Strategy with clear targets, aligned to the Portfolio, allows the Board to delegate with confidence once Governance is agreed, so that net benefits can be tracked.
- Portfolio and project database provides a base to control the majority of communication, board, sponsor, stakeholders, team, suppliers, media, through drop ins, broadcasts, intranet, press releases, website….
- Project selection criteria are akey part of the overall business process, linking strategy and projects. Selection criteria need to be carefully thought through, to create the right project portfolio that matches the right demand. The selection process, needs to pick the best ideas through a corridor of criteria, which selects the right projects, allocates budgets and oversees changes in resource. It ascertains whether your capacity is sufficient to do all work and prioritise all organisation activities across functions such as manufacture, development and research. It provides a think tank to manage internal funding. The Board should approve both the process and the outcomes of each selection process, and make them visible to everyone.
- Project management situations do vary. If employee numbers are growing or falling, quality is being challenged, risks are rising, project management must keep up with change and simplify control and communication. This will sharpen the team and increase the challenge to focus business decisions on the right data, and make sure that team members don’t just follow individuals. You do not want decisions going to and fro when the whole ship is rocky.
- There is an element of tailoring best practice to the industry, maturity, pace and financial situation. The balance of decision making with the Board is vital (within the overall Governance structure).
RACI defines different levels of responsibility and accountability in a business, project entity or process ie who does what, based on why.
Tolerance defines certain limits within which different people retain autonomy. Eg If the project manager is successfully managing a project within set boundaries he/she continues. However if limits are exceeded it moves to the sponsor or another person to review and decide on next steps. It allows delegation with confidence.
PPM is Project and Portfolio Management, which seeks to control selection of your projects and manage the dataset and processes for project success, which is linked to strategic targets.
About the Author
Bob’s background in Programme and Project Management, covers 25 years delivering and improving for profit, in leading edge technology across AI in the 90’s, Satellite communication, Going Digital, Change Management to Cloud.