Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Human Factor in Project Management

By Kevin Ciccotti.

If you’re a Project Management Professional, one thing I know about you is that you tend to love data and statistics. You’re constantly collecting, analyzing, and combing through information to validate or mitigate project issues that you may encounter. Fair enough. Data is incredibly important in our world. And sometimes we become so obsessed with data and statistics, that we miss what’s right in front of us.

Let’s talk for a moment about why projects fail. I know, not very sexy. We don’t like to focus on things that make us feel uncomfortable. And yet, by avoiding those things, we set ourselves up to repeat them. I was involved in project work for my former company for about 18 years, and have been working with PM’s as a coach for more than four years now, and the one thing I know is that projects can and do fail.

When we hold post mortem meetings to review “What went wrong?” we typically have as many answers to that question as there are people in the room. Poor communication, unclear expectations, scope creep, lack of engagement, and on and on. Certainly many of those things can and do impact our projects. When it comes to managing projects, you can have the best resources, well-defined processes, a terrific blueprint, and clearly articulated goals and outcomes. Still, the success or failure of your project will depend largely on one decisive factor – The Human Factor.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Strategic Importance of the Enterprise Project Management Office

By Michael Stanleigh.

Many project management offices (PMOs) are not successful in addressing the strategic priorities of their organization because they are departmentally based and not enterprise-wide. This reduces their span of influence and limits corporate support. This is a finding from a comprehensive research study of 750 global organizations that was conducted by Business Improvement Architects. The research shows that PMO’s are more effective and can better impact the bottom line, when they are operating at the corporate enterprise-wide strategic level, rather than at the departmental level.

According to the study, fifty-seven percent (57%) of survey respondents indicated that all levels within an organization had not embraced the direction of the PMO. However, sixty (60%) of interviewees who headed departmentally based PMOs indicated that all levels of their departments embraced the direction of the PMO. The findings suggest that departmentally based Project Management Offices are successful in their own silos but not accepted outside their span of influence, and therefore, are unable to influence the organization as a whole.

An examination of the traditional Project Management Office model compared to the more current corporate-wide (Enterprise) approach helps in building this case for moving the PMO to this more strategic, enterprise-wide position.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Is Your IT Aligned With The Business?

By Nicholas Colisto

Year after year, IT survey results inevitably state that one of the top priorities for the coming year will be to align IT with the business. It is as if alignment is some unattainable and mysterious process and IT leaders prefer to avoid it out of fear of failure - or perhaps out of fear of receiving more work as a result. The topic certainly gets a lot of attention and is often the source of many articles and postings - such as this one, as well as presentations at IT conferences. After the requisite Google search, I found 3,300,000 results on the topic!

To make this posting standout and ascend above the rest of the chatter, I will describe what alignment is and precisely how to build it for your organization. That's right, the first practical guide to achieving IT alignment!

According to Control Objectives for Information and related Technology (COBIT), an IT governance framework, strategic alignment focuses on ensuring the linkage of business and IT plans; on defining, maintaining and validating the IT value proposition; and on aligning IT operations with enterprise operations. While COBIT provides the definition of what alignment is all about, I will help explain how you actually get there in the proverbial "real world." There are three stages of alignment: Order taking, Priority setting, and Strategy setting. If you get these right, you will be aligned with your business and be able to answer a resounding "YES, I HAVE ALIGNMENT" in the next CIO survey you receive on the topic.