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As I write this, February 14th is approaching fast and the shops are full of roses, chocolates and teddy bears clutching hearts. HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!
Don't tell Mrs C, but as I make my preparations to remind her why she's the luckiest woman in the world I'm also preparing to lavish attention on my other true love.
A month and a half into the New Year, it's also a really good time to give your IT Project portfolio a little TLC.
However, Valentine’s Day is more than just an excuse for a cute blog on showing your IT Projects some love, it is actually a strategically crucial point in the calendar when considered in the context of your plans for the whole year.
The Day 45 Marker.
February 14th, 45 days into the New Year is a great time to pause and assess how your IT Project plans are going.
Probably like most professionals, you monitor the progress of your business across the year in chunks - monthly and quarterly. Also, like most IT professionals you probably take particular interest in the latter. The quarterly measure is most useful because you can really chart business change initiatives across a three-month span.
This is why Valentine’s Day matters so much.
The end of quarter one, March 31st, is day 90. On Valentine’s Day you're halfway to this crucial first quarter point of 2017 - are you halfway toward achieving the IT goals you had set for that first quarter?
Here are five areas where you might consider giving you portfolio some love as part of your Valentine’s Day progress check.
1 - Check Goals and Objectives
45 days in, does everyone on your team understand why they are doing what they are doing? Do they know how important their project or individual task is to the strategic success of your business? Clearly defined goals are crucial for all IT projects and most set off thinking that they have this covered. Trouble is that in the heat of battle those roles and goals can become less clear so it's great occasionally to stop and check that everyone knows why they clock in each day.
Strategically, it's also a good time to check that your project mission remains aligned to the corporate mission.
2 - Can The Project Management as a Service Market Help You Achieve Better Results?
The Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) market offers you a complete range of Project Management services, including full Programme Management Office (PMO) providing assessments, governance, tools and people to improve your delivery capability and performance.
Day 45 is a great time to benchmark your capabilities against what might be available 'off the rack' or individually tailored in this ever expanding market.
Your business can secure consistently high-quality Project Delivery standards often with no net increase in the overall portfolio costs.
3 - Are You Still The Boss Of Your Project?
Control is key to the success of any IT project. Day 45 is a good time to check in with your scope and budget and make sure that no significant threats have arisen from those little stakeholder requests that pop up along the way.
It's very important that project stakeholders understand that any change to the scope, budget or timeline can have a hugely detrimental impact on the potential project outcome. It's also vital that you chart any changes and the effect that they are having. Use this intelligence to make adjustments.
You should also report your findings back to your stakeholders - you'd be amazed how many think about the consequences of future change requests when they get regular updates on the repercussions of their last one!
4 - Check Your Measurables
I heard a story recently about an industrial scale vegetable grower whose greenhouses had to be set at a specific temperature and regularly checked to get optimum results. The temperature controlled environment was monitored by software and it was then the responsibility of the gardeners to cast a regular glance at the screen. The problem was at some point the software had frozen and no-one noticed that as well as a constant temperature the greenhouses appeared to have a constant date and time too!
Governance of any system is only ever as good the data that is feeding the metrics. Day 45 is a fabulous time to check that yours are fit for purpose! If they're not it's also a good time to check out what's available in the PMaaS universe!
5 - Where Can You Be Better
Finally, I think that Day 45 of the year is a great opportunity for some calm, measured reflection on how well you and your team are performing and where, based on experience so far, you can improve. I tend to focus on two key areas ...
SKILLS GAP ASSESSMENT Assess how to improve the skill sets of your team with training but also garner the lessons that the first 45 days of the year have taught you about any gaps in your capability. It may be that you get benefit from commissioning an independent assessment of any gaps from a trusted partner who will be able to give you the benefit of their knowledge of best in class solutions from the PMaaS market.
SHARPEN UP YOUR TECH The technology that supports IT Project delivery is advancing all the time. Day 45 (and regularly thereafter) is a splendid time to check that the tech, systems and software that support yours ... actually are.
So Valentine’s Day is a great time to show your Projects some love but remember, just like matters of the heart love isn't just a one-day thing ... it's a verb, not a noun. Give your projects a little TLC on a regular basis and hopefully, they'll start to love you right back ... have a great February 14th.