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Straight Talk on Project Management

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New Broom, Sweeps Lean! Four ROI, Efficiency and Productivity Hacks for The New IT Project Decision Maker

“A new broom sweeps clean, but an old broom knows the corners.”

I always think of this proverb when a project leader tells me about their new, more senior role and the radical plans they have to “shake things up”.

It IS tempting to make a grand, headline grabbing move to justify your organisation’s faith in you, investing in a new portfolio software application or churning your talent, for instance. When new to a role (in many business environments, not just IT Project Management), new managers tend to lean into making sweeping changes, it’s human nature. Often though, hindsight shows that making small tweaks could have been more productive.

Rather than shake things up, it can be quicker, and less stressful to shape things up! If you’re new to a role, instead of slashing or splashing budget and drastically altering project team structure, how about looking at the small step changes you can make that can quickly unlock ROI. Less broom, more polish!  

FOUR ROI, EFFICIENCY AND PRODUCTIVITY HACKS FOR THE NEW IT PROJECT DECISION MAKER

1 – Governance And Metrics – Improve Your Reporting with a P3mo Platform (Instead of a Sweeping Investment in a New Software)

Often, a new portfolio management software application can feel like the silver bullet, but a new system can bring challenges:

  1. Implementation can incur significant costs.
  2. Integration of new portfolio management software with existing applications across the organisation can be difficult.
  3. Building and refining the portfolio management system can be time-consuming, when you need results fast.
  4. Capturing diverse data types across various locations with varied access levels can be complex.
  5. Collaboration and communication across different areas of an organisation can be difficult.
  6. End Users can take time to adapt, leaking efficiency at a time when you need to be more efficient.

Did you know? You can successfully implement a project portfolio that works for your organisation by utilising your existing Microsoft platform more effectively and improve efficiency and quality of delivery across your portfolio by deploying Stoneseed’s P3MO Platform.

Stoneseed’s innovative P3MO Platform can help:

  1. Optimise cutting-edge technologies for unprecedented efficiency and innovation.
  2. Provide a dynamic and intuitive platform for project planning and execution.
  3. Enable seamless collaboration within Teams.
  4. Take project management to a higher level with robust data analytics capabilities.
  5. Transform project-related data into actionable insights.
  6. Gain a deeper understanding of project performance and facilitate informed decision-making.
  7. Use Planner (Microsoft Project) and Power BI to foster a culture of teamwork and shared knowledge.
  8. Contribute to a holistic portfolio management approach.
  9. Oversee multiple projects with greater visibility and strategic alignment.

Call Stoneseed to find out more about the P3MO Platform and PMO Services on 01623 723910 or click here.

2 – Use A Business Analyst Properly to Improve Stakeholder Buy-In and Make Projects Fit for Purpose and Need.

Using a Business Analyst effectively can significantly boost stakeholder engagement in many ways, here are just THREE:

a) Improving Communication and Understanding

Good Business Analysts act as intermediaries between stakeholders and project teams, ensuring that communication is clear, concise, and, perhaps crucially, meaningful. BAs facilitate requirements gathering sessions, workshops, and meetings to ensure that stakeholders’ needs and expectations are first understood and documented accurately. BAs are great at translating technical jargon into business terms and vice versa, so Business Analysts bridge the communication gap between stakeholders and tech teams.

b) Data-Driven Decision Making

It’s a joy to watch an effective BA analyse data and information, business processes, performance metrics, market trends, customer feedback, etc, distilling it into comprehensive intelligence to help you make big decisions! It’s a talent that should be fully leveraged!

BAs provide stakeholders with valuable insights and data-driven recommendations that support informed decision-making and presented in an actionable manner, they are insights that empower stakeholders to make decisions based on facts and analysis rather than assumption, bias or opinion.

c) Aligning Business Objectives

Business Analysts ensure that project initiatives and deliverables align with your organisation’s strategic goals and priorities. Through business impact assessments and feasibility studies, BAs help you assess the viability and potential impact of proposed IT projects and business change.

By demonstrating how project outcomes contribute to achieving business objectives, Business Analysts engage stakeholders, and the compelling data they create can really hold an IT Project team’s feet to the fire. The more defined a scope is, and the more everyone buys into its alignment with business goals, the less likely it is to creep.

If you don’t have a Business Analyst, Stoneseed’s BAaaS (Business Analysis as a Service) can help fill this vital role.

Our years of experience inform this next suggestion too…

3 – Benchmark Your Project Team and Your Project Management Office to Establish Where and Why You’re Missing Your Targets.

Especially when you’ve been hired to fix a failing team, it can be tempting to deploy a scorched earth approach, but burning everything to the ground and rebuilding destroys the good, as well as the bad. There might be some things that your new team is doing really well.

Remember, you have a major weapon to deploy here – your fresh pair of eyes! You will see things that your new team and its previous leader have become blind to. We’ve found this too, after years of Stoneseed providing advisory services we’ve lost count of the little tweaks, pivots, small improvements that yield big returns and the “A-ha” moments when a client sees things the way you have with your baggage free perspective.

CASE STUDY: Simon’s promotion put him in charge of a struggling team, and he told me he deployed benchmarking to identify why they’d been missing targets. Here are three ways he conducted benchmarking:

a) Performance Metrics Comparison

First, identify key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to the project’s goals, so, schedule adherence, budget utilisation, resource allocation, quality metrics, customer satisfaction, etc.

By comparing the project team’s performance against industry benchmarks and historical data from similar projects within the organisation, Simon could analyse variances and trends in performance metrics to pinpoint areas where the team was falling short of targets. The project team was consistently behind schedule, by investigating factors like task dependencies, resource allocation, or scope changes he was able to identify pain points that were causing delays.

b) Process Benchmarking

By evaluating the project team’s processes and workflows, again against their best practice or benchmarks from market leading organisations in the industry, i.e. measuring his team against the best, Simon quickly identified areas for process improvement and optimisation meaning the team achieved targets more often.

Using process mapping and analysis to identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, or gaps in the project execution process and comparing his team’s approach to project planning, execution, risk management, communication, and stakeholder engagement with industry standards or recognised frameworks (such as PMBOK, Agile principles), Simon turned this team around.

c) Lessons Learned

Tony Robbins said, “There are no failures, only outcomes. As long as you learn something, you’re succeeding.”

Often, ‘failing’ projects don’t tap this vital resource. Simon conducted “lessons learned sessions” or “post-mortem reviews” to gather insights from past projects.  When you do this, be sure to include both successes and failures – both will provide lessons. Identify common patterns, recurring issues, and success factors, encourage knowledge sharing and cross-functional collaboration to leverage best practices and avoid pitfalls that may have contributed to missing targets in previous projects.

Again, Stoneseed can help by providing a completely impartial, fresh take on your team’s performance with our PMO advisory services.

4 – Recognise The Strengths of Your New Team, Identify and Fill the Gaps with PMaaS.

Your new team will have some top-level performers, an abundance of experience and all the inside information on how things have been going before you took over – listen to them.

When outcomes are below what you expect of teams made of experienced project talent, there is usually a fairly straightforward explanation. Often top talent underperforms when they are stretched too thin, covering a gap or operating out of their field of best performance.

Stoneseed’s PMaaS gives you “on tap” access to project professionals, resources and tools and as our portfolio offers a true end to end service, from IT Technical Advisory, Business Analysis Services and PMO Services through to Programme & Project Delivery, we can help fill most resource gaps.

PMaaS is an innovative on-demand resource model that allows you to dial up and down IT project resources in sync with your delivery needs, giving you the flexibility and control of resources that a new project leader needs and, thanks to the simple, transparent pricing model, you’ll have control of the costs too.

CONCLUSION

If you’re reading this having just received a promotion – congratulations! I hope this post has given you food for thought.

If you’re an established CIO, or key project decision maker, looking for new ways to do what you do, hopefully you’ll have found some insights here too.

Remember, there’s huge value to be gained from a fresh pair of eyes looking at existing operational performance and infrastructure.

Adjusting processes and “how we do things”, shifting mindsets and paradigms, ensuring the right talent is in the right place (or even that you have the right talent to allocate) are just some ways that new managers can boost productivity and maximise return on investment – without having to demolish and rebuild.

It’s all about working smarter not harder!

As always, we’d love to hear from you with any thoughts or discuss how Stoneseed can help you and your new team thrive!

 

Find out more about PMO Services from Stoneseed