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Straight Talk on Project Management

IT project spring cleaning

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IT Project Management Capability Assessment and other project spring cleaning tips

“Thanks for your email. I’ve disconnected for two days for our annual spring clean of processes and capabilities …”

I love this out of office reply from Collette, an IT Project leader who takes herself out of the project portfolio the first Friday and Monday of every March just to have a proper delve into how they do things, assess how aligned their resources and ambitions are, and imagine how they could operate better. A Spring Clean – what a great idea.

IT PROJECT MANAGEMENT CAPABILITY ASSESSMENT

We measure how successful our projects are all year round, in terms of Return On Investment (ROI), budgets, delivery times met, etc but an IT Project Management Capability Assessment checks in on how effective the delivery frameworks and processes that underpin project success are.

Collette uses the time to identify both individual and departmental strengths, plus any development needs at all levels of IT project management within the organisation. It’s a non-hierarchical process too, from CIO to project leaders to team members, the magnifying glass scrutinises them all. What you’re left with is a hyper-targeted set of developmental pathways and programmes that are aligned with organisational priorities and goals.

By identifying overall competency and capability across all project roles, Collette collates objective, demonstrably unbiased and clear data that can be used to support investment decisions, upskilling needs, capability gaps and an effective metric to scope return on investment. Subsequently, her organisation’s project portfolio and resources and skills becoming more strategically aligned. It also informs and creates a framework for the project team to work within, that Collette aims to have in place by the start of the new financial year in April.

“The framework is effectively a fancy way of saying that we’ve formalised the institutionalised habits that become like an unconscious operating system, the ‘how we do things’ without intentionally and deliberately realising. By highlighting the good, erasing or improving the not so good, we’re left with a blueprint for both the organisation and all stakeholders and team members to understand what ideal IT project management knowledge, processes, performance, and behaviour look like specifically to our situation. It’s a powerful tool.” Collette told me.

PMOverhaul

The Project Management Office (PMO) is the beating heart of every successful IT Project team, the overseer of well-defined processes, governance, planning, forecasting, and project resourcing. Who doesn’t pay careful attention to their health of their heart!!!?

Part of your IT project spring clean probably should be to assess whether your PMO provision is fit for purpose. Your PMO provides the foundations upon which you build your success, sometimes you have to check on those foundations!

From smaller Project Support Offices to full enterprise PMOs (there is no “one size fits all” approach) the PMO sets and maintains standards for project management throughout your organisation, overseeing the creation, design, implementation and embedding of procedures and best practices.

Stoneseed’s PMO Consultancy and Technical Advisory Services are great, when you have a PMO you wish to refine and improve.

There’s also a new trend emerging of accidental project management teams seeking to formalise what they do.

Everything is a project these days, and as digitisation spreads, that means everything is an IT Project! Employees with no project management experience are finding themselves tasked with the responsibility for delivering huge business change by leading these, effectively, projects. It can be exhilarating at first but in time it is wise to patch in experience and expertise to complement your accidental project managers.

At Stoneseed our Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Office, with P3O qualified staff, is the backbone of every service we deliver via our Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) model. From onboarding clients to resourcing projects, through consultancy, service provision and transition, it is integral to the success of all our services – it can provide a backbone for all that you do too!

At Stoneseed, we offer a complete range of PMO services from provision of single resources to a team of PMO experts, or a full PMO service package via a Managed Service, and advisory expertise if you want to assess and refine.

Your PMO is the bridge between your business goals and IT project delivery, no one wants a bridge that creaks under too much pressure.

WORK/LIFE BALANCE

IT project management life is hectic! It’s all too easy to get caught up in the daily drama of deadlines, deliverables and dependencies, often at the expense of your own well-being.

A healthy work-life balance within IT project management teams is vital, and spring is a good time to check in on this with your team. Mental health in the workplace is, rightly, getting more attention these days, especially with more and more team members working remotely. Stoneseed are experts at remote project resourcing, and we make sure that we keep in touch with colleagues working this way just as much as we do those we see at the kettle!

It’s more than just a kindness to score well in employee surveys, it’s a vital aspect of team dynamics.

Encouraging a balance between work and personal life is important from a human perspective, I want all my Stoneseed colleagues to be happy, and strategically it can deliver business value too, in terms of team morale and productivity, for instance. When a team member feels supported in prioritising their well-being, they’re more likely to bring their best self to their work. Creativity, innovation, and resilience in the face of IT Project Management’s (many) challenges are all bonus benefits of ensuring your team is recharged. Recognising this human aspect of IT Project Management cultivates loyalty too, and who doesn’t want longevity within the team, reduced turnover and continuity in project execution and delivery?

Spring is a really good time to look at this afresh. Many new IT projects get a green light for commencement at the start of the new financial year, so a “start as you mean to go on” refresh of those softer leadership skills now, can help develop self-care habits that will pay dividends all year. Sunnier and warmer days are perfect for leaving your screen for a moment and “taking five”!

Last spring, IT Project Team Leader Terri introduced what she calls a 50/10 approach to each working hour. Her colleagues are encouraged to go full on for fifty minutes and then recharge for ten minutes with what they call “The Boost”: go out for a walk by the adjacent canal towpath; make a brew; meditate; read a book; etc. I remember suggesting that surely there must a caveat along the lines of “only if the schedule permits” but Terri insists that refreshed colleagues achieve more in the first few minutes of returning from “The Boost” than they would, had they stayed at their desk for those ten minutes. I’ve deployed 50/10 while writing this blog – it actually works!!

I love a culture that values and prioritises the holistic well-being of IT project management teams, a happy balanced team is a powerhouse prepared for success!!

AN ACTUAL, LITERAL SPRING CLEAN!

Up to now we’ve been considering metaphorically spring cleaning but there are massive benefits to be gained from taking the phrase literally. Clutter busting around the office (where does all that stuff come from?!?), buying in some pot plants (remember to water them), creating a pleasant scent with reed diffusers, moving furniture into more productive positions within the office {Didn’t have you down as a Feng Shui master – Ed} – all of these make a difference. You could even tackle that dreaded overloaded email inbox!

Sam, an IT Project Manager in Newcastle ‘deep cleaned’ the cutlery drawer last spring and created such a pile of food debris and crumbs that they committed as a team to do it on a weekly basis! It may seem like a small, silly thing but since they stopped putting clean forks, knives and spoons back in an unclean drawer, absenteeism through illness fell this last year!! Remember, Dave Brailsford had the inside of the British Cycling’s trucks painted white to make dust easier to spot and they went from winning nothing to winning everything! Don’t knock the power of marginal gains!!

SPRING FORWARD

Spring is a time for rejuvenation and rebirth, a time of green shoots, brighter days and a time to release old bad habits and practices and cultivate new ones. Let me know if you’re planning a spring clean within your IT Project team, or if you need talent and resources from our Project Management as a Service portfolio or the fresh pair of eyes that is Stoneseed’s advisory offer to fine-tune your PMO.

Do you know what, I’ve even inspired myself with all this talk of spring cleaning – I might have a crack at that inbox! Oh no! That’s 50 minutes up, time for “The Boost”. Maybe next year, eh!?

 

Find out more about PMO Services from Stoneseed