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Should you outsource? https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/tags/should-you-outsource Thu, 17 Oct 2019 20:02:23 +0000 en-gb Is your IT Project Delivery a challenge? https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/is-your-it-project-delivery-a-challenge https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/is-your-it-project-delivery-a-challenge Is your IT Project Delivery a challenge?

Let me start by saying - it should be a challenge.

Ground-breaking IT Projects that disrupt markets, drive innovation and create new revenues should push you to the outer edges of your limits and capabilities. Otherwise, what's the point? Challenges are like bacteria, there are good and bad challenges. What you need is the Project Management equivalent of Yakult! It exists, read on!

Challenge is good when it fosters success but, increasingly, clients are telling me that they are struggling to find the right resources or the time that their project demands? That's not a good challenge.

Let me share some of the other 'bad challenges' I hear, and you tell me if they ring a bell with you.

Do you, for instance, struggle to keep costs contained and predictable? Do you find your Project Management capabilities lacking (projects are more and more complex but have your in-house capabilities developed at the same rate)? Do you encounter the same issues on successive projects? Can you identify the same failure points time and again? Do you lack business intelligence reporting? Is your Programme Management Office ineffective? Is it hard to find resources that can flex up and down as your project demands it? Do you find yourself constrained by a conventional contract resource model?

If one, a few or all of these chimed with you, there is a fix. PMaaS.

You can improve your IT project delivery with Project Management as a Service.

What is PMaaS?

PMaaS kind of does what it says on the tin. You can buy in project management services ... on demand. It gives your project team access to talent that specialises in cutting edge project management - skilled and talented IT Project professionals who can jump in and hit the ground running.

Stoneseed’s Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) offers you access to Project Management staff, resource and tools at a flexible and predictable cost via a fully structured Managed Service, underpinned by KPIs and SLAs.

With some reasonable planning, PMaaS provides access to a wide portfolio of project skills, made available against your demand schedule, so this could be a single Project Manager for a few days or a large team of fully utilised project professionals. We provide a complete range of Project Management and Business Analysis services, including full Programme Management Office (PMO) providing assessments, governance, tools and people to improve your delivery capability and performance.

Set to a tailored budget, in accordance with agreed service levels, your business can secure the consistently high-quality project delivery you need, often with no net increase in the overall portfolio costs. So, whether that’s skilled resource provision or a fully Managed Service, Stoneseed can help you maximise your project success and improve your IT project delivery.

So that's the sales pitch. But what are the actual benefits?

I asked colleagues and clients to each share a benefit of PMaaS and quickly started to feel like John Cleese as Reg in Monty Python's Life of Brian! You remember the scene? Reg asks what the Romans have done to help and everyone pitches in with suggestions until, in the end, Reg says, "All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a freshwater system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?" Then Xerxes pipes up, "Brought peace."

So, when I asked, "What has PMaaS ever done for us?" This is what you told me:

Flexible on-demand resources;

High-quality project delivery;

Predictable cost model;

Business Analyst And Project Management expertise;

Business Architecture;

Low-cost model;

Business/cultural alignment;

Honest Perspective (PMaaS tends to reveal truths that are hidden or brushed under the carpet. Having a fresh pair of eyes look over your operation often shines a light on missed opportunities);

Resource onboarding, retention and exiting;

Resource Planning;

No net increase in portfolio costs (With PMaaS, you pay for what you need);

Governance, metrics and reporting...

I bet, like The Life of Brian's Xerxes, you can add another! I’d love to hear from you. Actually, Xerxes suggestion of "brought peace" works both for the Romans and Project Management as a Service. Peace of mind is definitely one of the hidden benefits of engaging with a PMaaS partner.

To conclude and to return to my opening point. Great IT Projects SHOULD be a challenge, it's how you meet the challenge that counts, and this can be the fine line between failure and success. In any walk of life, deploying the best available resources yields the best return. In IT Project Management, PMaaS gives YOU access to the best resources - on demand.


Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed

Stoneseed PMaaS
Monty Python
You tube – Monty Python

Project Management Thu, 26 Sep 2019 14:50:31 +0000
You Have No New Massages - A Deep Tissue Lesson for IT Project Managers https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/you-have-no-new-massages-a-deep-tissue-lesson-for-it-project-managers https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/you-have-no-new-massages-a-deep-tissue-lesson-for-it-project-managers My Project Manager friend, Colette came back from her lunchtime massage today not as relaxed as she normally does.

"Well that's a good way to lose potential business!" she said.

The story she then told has lessons for project management teams and as it is also quite funny, I will share it with you.

Colette has been visiting a city centre salon for some time. She goes there for beauty treatments, like nails and waxing and things that, as a man, I don't fully understand and as mentioned she also enjoys a massage to help with the stresses of Project Management and being a Mum.

The salon is based in a hotel and has a gym and swimming pool attached. Colette has considered joining the gym, mainly so that she can swim during her lunch break, but the pool is quite small and Colette wondered whether she'd be able to achieve a sufficient work out in it. With this in mind, last time she had a massage she asked if she could do a couple of lengths to check it out on her next visit. The staff member said she didn't imagine that this would be a problem.

Anyway, today Colette went for her monthly massage and, before heading into the treatment room, she mentioned the 'trial swim' to the receptionist who again said, "Sure, no problem!"

After a thoroughly relaxing 25 minute massage (that cost £35, I'm in the wrong job!) Colette got changed into her swimming costume and was about to climb into the pool when she realised that her towel was in the back of the car. However, but she had noticed people collecting towels from reception so, dressed in her swimwear, she headed there. The receptionist obligingly handed over a towel and Colette went back to try out the pool.

Only this time she was chased down the stairs by, it turned out, the manager who asked if Collette was a member, or a hotel guest or there on a spa day. Colette explained she was none of these, she was there for a massage and was just trying the small pool, as previously agreed, to see if it were fit for her purpose before signing up to have £40 a month direct debited from her account.

The manager then said that as a customer "just here for a massage" (at £35 remember!!) this would not be OK and that they would have to ask her to pay to use the pool.

Colette asked, "How much?"

The manager said that she would be charged the 'special' day rate of £10. (Or considering Colette's intentions - £5 a length!)

Colette explained that she didn't have any money, swimming costumes are not really designed for purses and again explained about her intention to join the gym if the pool were fit for her needs and again said that it had been previously agreed.

The manager insisted that Colette would have to pay, but said that they could refund the £10 from Colette's first monthly subscription if she joined.

With reserve not normally associated with Colette, she declined the offer, got dressed and went back to work.

Now, the cost of an annual gym membership would have been £480, Colette also has a massage each month - so that's another £420 a year. Add to that the occasional nail and waxing sessions and in the space of ten minutes that manager has probably talked herself out about £1500 of business a year - because Colette won't be going back!

Plus, Colette is the "Culture Champion" at her firm and had previously asked at the spa about corporate membership deals. She was in the process of compiling a list of interested colleagues. If only half of them had signed up, the gym/pool/salon would have made tens of thousands of pounds. All gone now, for the sake of ten pounds.

There are, as I say, plenty of lessons from this story for those of us in Project Management, not least that you should never wander into reception dressed just in just a swimming costume! Here are just four more!!

1 - Always Think Bigger Picture

The manager of the spa did what a project manager on a large IT Project did recently. By over focussing on compliance and process for a relatively small part of the project, it's easy to take your eye off the long-term plan and potential benefits.

The IT PM ended up delaying several other dependent units of work and ultimately, the project as a whole delivered late because he was over cautious. If he'd used his gut instinct (which was that a software integration had gone well) they could have moved on and delivered the subsequent work, while still carrying out full tests to confirm his instinct. Instead, he followed process and carried out all testing before signing this particular module off so that the project could proceed. Sometimes, experienced Project Leaders have to trust their instinct (developed over years of experience) … and sometimes spa managers need to see how waiving a £10 fee could result in tens of thousands of pounds worth of business. 

2 - Stick To What's Been Agreed Unless It's Gonna Totally Scupper Your Project And Empower Staff To Make Basic Calls!

I love it when a team is functioning so well that the project leader can delegate the small stuff. The trouble comes when the project leader then destroys that culture by interfering where it is not needed. As part of a project to improve customer experience last year, a team had to install 15 iPads into a retail shop floor environment. The iPads had been unboxed and the firm's app installed, the staff had been trained on how the get the best out of it. The plan was that when a customer asked for something not in stock, it could easily be ordered in store and delivered to their home the next day.

Two days before the project was to go live it was discovered that, when the rubbish from the accompanying refit was cleared away, 15 iPad boxes complete with 15 iPad chargers had gone off to landfill too. A quick-thinking team member ran to the Apple store (in the same shopping centre) and bought replacements using her own debit card. Instead of heaping praise upon her and thanking her for saving the day, the project leader was not happy!! There was no requisition note, no order number, the purchasing team had not been consulted, this wasn't in the budget ... he reeled off a volley of moans and told her to take the chargers back - this really demotivated the team. It also made the project leader look a bit daft when, because the preferred supplier couldn't fulfil the order in time, the purchasing manager said, "Just run round to the Apple Store and buy some. You can claim it back on expenses."

In the same way that there was no need for the spa manager to interfere with the two lengths swim Colette had agreed, there is often no need for project leaders to sweat the small stuff - unless, as I say, it's going to scupper the project!      

3 - How A Good Experience Can Turn Sour

Colette's massage was all about relieving stress. It worked. What followed totally erased this though!

In IT Projects it can be very easy to deliver lots of good experiences but have them erased with a bad one. Imagine an IT Project team that accommodates scope creep requests but then delivers the project late or over budget. This actually happens more than you think! The accommodation of lots of little extras feels great for the client, stakeholders and the project team at the time but it is funny how, when faced with a bigger bill or a delayed "go live" day, the joy those extras delivered is soon forgotten.

4 - Not Being Clear About Deliverables, Not Realistically Managing Expectations - Isn't That (Sort Of) Lying?  

In my early days, I remember an IT Project Manager at an IT services provider whose motto was "The answer is ALWAYS yes". He would agree to all manner of requests from clients (via the sales team) and worry about it delivering it later. It was all about getting the business! Often, it worked out, but sometimes it didn't and the account manager would have to go back to the client and explain on behalf of the firm why a project would be late or how much more it was going to cost. One day, an exasperated customer asked, "Why does your company always lie?".

Reputationally, failure to deliver doesn't reflect on the sales team or the IT project manager and their team, it reflects on the view that customers have of the business. Your business.

Back the spa, Colette was told that the receptionist, who was new, was to blame. The manager could not apologise enough. It was the receptionist's lack of training, her inexperience … Colette didn't have a problem with the girl, she had a problem with the spa business, in not being honest and realistically managing expectations, "it" had lied.

The upshot of all of this is that Colette has joined another fitness centre!

And the fitness centre does massages too, so the spa back at the hotel can kiss that business goodbye as well.

I do have some sympathy with the spa manager - she probably has her targets and pressures and perhaps thought Colette was trying to blag a free swim! Sometimes we, in IT Project Management, can get lost in our day to day stress and not always make the best judgements. Fortunately, YOU can always call on a Project Management partner who can make the whole thing as a relaxing as, well, as relaxing as having a nice massage (and we won't chase you down the stairs in your swimming costume afterwards!).

Project Management Wed, 10 Oct 2018 11:12:43 +0000
IT Project Talent Shortage. Is PMaaS Plugging The Gap? https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/it-project-talent-shortage-is-pmaas-plugging-the-gap https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/it-project-talent-shortage-is-pmaas-plugging-the-gap A quarter of digital leaders (25%) believe that their business has an IT Project Management talent shortage.

In many ways this is good news, I mean, this suggests that three quarters don't have a shortage, right?!

Actually, it's even better news than that! The same report back in 2015 suggested 34% of CIOs had an IT Project Management talent gap,  a healthy nine-point move in the right direction is music to my ears!

Increasingly though, IT Projects are linked to business strategy so the fact that 25% of CIOs report a shortage should still send a ripple of concern across the industry.

The figures come from the recently released HARVEY NASH / KPMG CIO SURVEY 2018 and, as always, the survey of almost 4,000 digital leaders across 84 countries makes for interesting reading.

Across IT as a whole, 65% of leaders report a lack of talent is holding their organisation back. Significantly, almost half (46%) now use outsourcing to access skills. Certainly, over the last four years, we have seen an increase in demand for and supply of Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) talent and resources.

A vibrant services market could explain why the skills shortage, in Project Management at least, is trending down whereas across the wider industry over two-thirds report strategic delays caused by a lack of talent.

To test this theory, I decided to look at some talent shortage areas as expressed to me by IT Project leaders and consider how the PMaaS market was used to fill such gaps.

1 - Initiators - Not Just Facilitators

Many project managers are still super focussed on resource management and while it is important that people and resources are where they're meant to be, most strategic IT change projects demand greater emphasis on Project Managers to be in the thick of the decision-making process. For many projects, it is no longer enough for the PM to turn up and execute a plan, they have to understand the business case, the risks and how the goals of the business and those of the IT Project are linked. Rather than just facilitate projects they are actively a part of the decision-making process based on a firm understanding of the needs of the business.

End to end project management services have certainly helped fill shortages here. When there is clarity of purpose, the right talent can be drafted in to efficiently execute change projects from initiation to delivery - BUT you have to make sure that your services partner gets to know your culture and your business needs.

2 - End Goal Focussed PMs Who Are Great Communicators

Many businesses are looking for greater transparency throughout the life cycle of a project - it is essential for more complex projects. I've seen a few examples recently where Project Managers have been super efficient at breaking down project tasks into manageable chunks but haven't also had an eye on the overall health of their project. Change initiatives, which many IT Projects are now, attract cynicism from change-resistant stakeholders and if you give the slightest sign that a project has veered off its long-term course - or you don't give feedback at all you can quickly lose their confidence.

The ability to take a 'helicopter snapshot' of both the immediate and long-term health of a project is a strong trait of many working in the PMaaS sector. I suppose it comes from the nature of the work, when you are parachuted into a new environment you have to be able to make quick and accurate judgements and communicate your understanding and action plan.

3 - PMs Who Spot Issues And Who Have The Bravery To Hit The Stop Button

I've seen this scenario play out a couple of times where something is wrong with an IT Project but no-one flags it up. Either someone else will, or team members don't feel empowered to do it - I actually heard a project manager say that pressing the brake pedal was "above his pay grade". When an IT Project shows the first sign of a problem EVERYONE has the responsibility to bring it to a senior manager's attention - at least.

There is still WAY too much politeness and thinking that flagging up an issue makes you a trouble closer.

Funny how talent hired through a PMaaS arrangement don't have these hang-ups, it's not that they don't care about hurting feelings or treading on toes it's just that they weren't hired to sugar coat issues - they were hired to deliver the project. If there's an obstacle standing the way they make sure that they get the attention of whoever can remove it!

4 - PMs With Big Tool Kits

How organisations run projects has changed. Now that digital is at the core of most businesses, IT Projects are almost always business change projects. This usually requires a great deal of flexibility in approach - one size no longer fits all.

Agile often allows teams to keep pace with organisational demand and has been deployed as the go-to, default methodology for many. To have it as the only trick up your sleeve though is short-sighted in the extreme. Project Managers who have a range of skills in their locker are increasingly in demand but often are thin on the ground.

PMaaS provides this in spades! In the same way that travel broadens the mind, exposure to many methodologies and approaches organically grows a Project Manager's response options.

5 - Stakeholder Savvy PMs

A CIO I know doesn't measure success just on how near project delivery is to the promised date or how close it is to the forecast budget. She believes stakeholder satisfaction is more valuable than these traditional metrics - so a project that delivers late and is a tad over budget but which delivers business benefits for all stakeholders (end users, customers, etc) is considered more successful than one that comes home on time and on budget but has a neutral effect on the business.

She particularly prioritises customers - the rest of the business is very focused on customer requirements so why shouldn't IT Project Management?

"Our competitive edge comes from our ability to identify an opportunity and quickly deliver IT Projects that monetise it," she says, "finding Project Managers who have the ability to spot such opportunities and quickly act can be tricky."

Having identified this business need, your IT Project Management as a Service partner can help by supplying exactly the right resources that you need – when you and for as long as you need them.

As an exponent of PMaaS, I have been banging this drum for many years - the sector really does have a solution for most IT Project deficiencies. Now that almost half of leaders are outsourcing resources and at the same time talent shortages are trending down, it's not a huge leap to imagine that the two are connected.

Take the PMaaS challenge - if you have a shortage anywhere in your portfolio - PMaaS will have the answer.

source: KPMG cio survey

Project Management Thu, 04 Oct 2018 13:37:44 +0000
How mergers and acquisitions can cement IT as a strategic business partner https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/how-mergers-and-acquisitions-can-cement-it-as-a-strategic-business-partner https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/how-mergers-and-acquisitions-can-cement-it-as-a-strategic-business-partner Last year saw record-breaking levels of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) involving UK firms.

In 2016, there were 227 successful inward M&A transactions (overseas firm buys UK one) worth £187.4 billion - the highest annual number since 2011 and the highest yearly value since data was first published in 1969.

Meanwhile, 400 domestic M&A deals (UK firm buys UK firm) were successful worth £23.9 billion, that's the highest number and value since 2008.

During the second quarter of 2017, the value of successful mergers and acquisitions (M&A) involving UK companies almost doubled quarter on quarter (£16.5bn Q1/17 vs £30bn Q2/17). In total there were 155 successful domestic and cross-border acquisitions and disposals in this three-month period alone.

You get the picture!

Best of all ... at the heart of every successful corporate merger is a successful integration of IT systems.

What a great opportunity for CIOs and IT Project teams to cement the role of IT as a strategic business partner!

If you've ever been on the IT side of a merger you'll know what a rollercoaster it can be. For every seamless "plug and play", hit the ground running alignment of IT systems there are a dozen spaghetti nests of legacy architecture that somehow need joining together. Then there's a handful that just won't integrate easily and some kind of new way has to be engineered without eroding the value of the merger. Oh ... and while you do all this ... you have to keep the lights on and provide support as usual. You should be given a cape!

IT no longer merely supports the business, in most cases, IT now IS the business. Core business strategies, operational functions and often the entire means of production are now so inherently underpinned by IT that I can think of no other department who can contribute as much to the success of a merger or acquisition.

I was asked last year to consult on a takeover that had gone smoothly until it came to the integration of IT systems. By the time the IT teams had been called in, the senior executives who had brokered the deal had long since taken their fountain pens off into the sunset. 

The takeover itself had been carried out with military precision but comparatively, little thought had been given to the IT integration project and costs were spiralling. For this project, the horse had bolted, but one lesson everyone can take from this is that in an M&A scenario the CIO must be brought in at the very earliest opportunity.

If the CIO had been engaged sooner he could have created reliable integration cost estimates, scoped out issues that may be faced and secured the resources, skills and leadership ready for implementation, he could have accessed extra resources from the Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) sector. Instead, he told me that he felt like banging his head against a wall.

It just makes sense.

If you were tinkering with any other form of architecture, say joining two buildings together, you'd call in the architect at a very early stage to give you the value of their experience. What are CIOs and Project Managers, if not the architects and designers of IT systems? When you are joining two IT infrastructures together these resources should be deployed at the earliest possible planning meetings to avoid higher than planned implementation costs. Not consulting the architects in either scenario risks the whole thing collapsing into a pile of rubble.

This CIO told me that he was summoned before the board and asked to justify why costs had spiralled and why delivery was delayed. He told them that it was because he hadn't been called by the board sooner. The cost model was designed by the CFO, the time frame for integration was devised by the CEO and yet it was the CIO who had to explain himself.

It's like a soccer chairman appointing a director of football, then deciding which players to buy between them and blaming the manager when results don't go the club's way. 

Back in his office was a team of burnt out talent who had been working hard on an upgrade to the firm's enterprise resource planning capability - they had been burning the candle at both ends integrating cross-departmental software and a new CRM system when the CIO had brought them the news that all this had to be put on hold while they tackled the IT integration.

It's more than saving money and reducing operational risk though.

Several CIOs have told me that they have actually added significant value to M&A transactions by driving IT initiatives they identified at an early planning stage. This value would have been lost had they been brought into play after the final deal was agreed. It's surely a no-brainer!

So how soon should CIOs be brought in?

I'd say IT integration planning needs to start at the same time as all other pre-merger or acquisition processes. When you're carrying out due diligence and scoping out a share grab - that's when you need to begin planning the IT side of a merger or takeover.

So as a CIO how can you maximise and leverage your significance?

1 - Always Take A Helicopter View

Have a trusted third party who can take an independent view and advise on any capability gaps. IT teams are sometimes so busy working on the day to day that issues become invisible. You can habitualise them like you might habitualise stepping around a loose paving stone or driving around long-term roadworks to the point where they have no impact on the routine operation.

However, when you throw in a new challenge, like integrating IT following a merger, small issues can become huge problems that really suck value out of the transaction. For example, the ERP upgrade mentioned above was progressing nicely, despite the team being a member short because of maternity leave. Tasks had been shared out and although they were working at full stretch - the project was on time. When the new, more urgent integration project was announced the team visibly collapsed. They had been working all hours on a project that had now been shelved and were expected to drop everything and attack the new project with gusto and enthusiasm. Yeah right!

Regular capability gap analysis would have predicted this and recommended solutions, like buying in resources from the PMaaS market.

2 - Manage Things, Lead People

One of the greatest challenges with any IT integration is that on one side of the merger or take over there will be staff who are used to working in a certain way. When ABC Inc. takes over XYZ Ltd and the staff at the latter are expected to start using the CRM system favoured by the former you can't expect the XYZ team to be as proficient as their ABC counterparts on day one.

Great CIOs know this. They factor in the need for extra IT support and prepare themselves for "obvious", “dumb” questions.

Also, the staff on both sides of the merger are likely to be rather worried about their job security, you need to be on your best game as a leader to get the best out of people, stakeholders, who are feeling this way.

Then there are the members of your team. Think of the impact that dropping everything they are working on to switch to the integration could have on morale, imagine the toll that the extra support provision and the pressure of the integration timeframe may take and be ready to put your arm around them. They're human too. Know the PMaaS options available to help your team.

3 - Never Take Your Eye Off The Business As Usual

In an increasingly digitised economy, mergers and take-overs can be all-consuming for IT teams. Sometimes this can mean unknowingly switching resources that compromise keeping the lights on day to day. The problem comes when a major issue develops with your routine operation and the support that previously underpinned it is deployed elsewhere.

Again, carrying out regular analysis exercises will allow you an insight and present you with available options. When you start to imagine how a future IT landscape might look, what infrastructure requirements you may have post-merger you should also seek to ensure adequate support for your day to day running.

4 - Become A Knowledge Sponge

Often integrations fail because the IT team has little experience planning and delivering this type of project.

This stands to reason. Categorise all the different projects you've been involved in ... the application developments, systems developments, the utility design projects ... now number how many IT integrations following a merger you've been involved in. It's likely to be fewer so you have less banked knowledge to draw upon.

There are plenty of case studies to read online and, as with every capability challenge, a trusted IT advisory partner will be in a position to help, usually from a perspective of "been there, done that." The Project Management as a Service market has resources for M&A integration projects just like it does for any IT test that you face.

5 - Business Case Alignment

Many IT integrations fail simply because the IT team is not aligned with the business case for the merger or acquisition. This is surprising because CIOs and Project Teams are expert in delivering business change and facilitating commercial strategy through IT projects.

An IT integration is effectively just an IT Project so why is there often a disconnect between business case and the IT team delivering integration? The most commonly cited cause is the speed of a merger. Large corporate transactions are sensitive matters so information is shared by business executives on a need to know basis and these execs are more likely to make snap decisions during a takeover situation than at any other time. For IT teams this can often mean a lot of reading between the lines and playing catch up.

By quickly understanding the business case for the transaction and scoping out the future IT landscape that will support the merged businesses' operations, CIOs can switch the balance of power and control in their favour. You will find that IT has a lot of dependencies with other departments during this time so aligning governance, transparency and progress reporting measures with this broader structure will ensure that you are not working as a stand-alone silo and remain in touch with the latest news. 

I started by suggesting that a merger or acquisition is a great opportunity for CIOs and IT Project teams to cement the role of IT as a strategic business partner, hopefully the next time you get that call from the CEO telling you to "drop everything" you will be able to see it as an opportunity and not a reason to bang your head against the nearest wall.

Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed

ons.gov.uk - M&A 2016
ons.gov.uk - M&A 2017

Project Management Fri, 13 Oct 2017 11:29:26 +0000
Still haven't found what you're looking for? https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/still-haven-t-found-what-you-re-looking-for-an-alternative-to-it-project-apps https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/still-haven-t-found-what-you-re-looking-for-an-alternative-to-it-project-apps Need an alternative to IT project apps? 

The Project Management app market seems to be saturated, each promising that theirs is the definitive solution. It's like diets and self-help books! If each is so great why do we need so many? It does make choosing the right one very hard.

Of course, no two IT Projects are the same so how do you find the right tool? Can you function with just one? Can you function with more than one? And ... is there an alternative that makes the search redundant?

I just read a great piece on Forbes written by Brian Rashid, "What People Want From Their Project Management Apps In 2017". In the article, he explores the gap between what you want from your project management apps and what they actually deliver.

Brian reports that GetApp, the business software directory company carried out a survey into how Project management tech solutions need to improve to sync better with the needs of users. It makes interesting reading and Brian suggests there are three key takeaways.

1 – Everyone (95%) is Running Multiple Tools

2 - The Most Valued (but Often Missing) Feature Is Task Management

3 - Firms Are Throwing Money At Tools That Don't Deliver The Best Possible Value

The last of those points is really jumped out at me. On a number of occasions recently I've been with clients trying to unpick the issues that are reducing their Project Management capability and found good money being thrown after bad on the latest Project Management fix. Not small budgets either. Brian Rashid writes, "58% of those surveyed by GetApp have budgets of $2,000 (over £1550) or more per year for project management tools." He also asserts that over nine out of ten (91%) of project managers would allocate additional funding to buy more project management software.

The holy grail they are seeking is the one app with all the features they need.

Many never find it.

Which explains why point one, that everyone is running multiple tools, rings true for most Project Managers I know. If one tool won't deliver everything, of course, you are going to seek others until you have a complementary range of apps at your disposal.

I honestly think, that a decade ago, this was fine.

As a Project Manager, you could live on a little island populated by as many tech solutions as you thought you needed. The thing that made them all work together was you! As long as you were in control of spinning the plates few of them would fall off the poles.

Collaborative Project Management changed this though. Now your working practices need to mesh with others, information has to be shared with people who could be in a different department, location or even on a different continent. Every chink in the chain is a weakness that saps your potential to deliver the best possible outcomes.

So what should you do?

In his article, Brian Rashid suggests some solutions to each of the key points that he'd taken from the GetApp survey. WorfklowMax, Trello, Basecamp ...all excellent suggestions and worth looking at, however, sometimes it pays to unpick the issue further. When you buy a Project Management app you buy a POTENTIAL solution to a challenge, but could it be as easy and cost effective to outsource the challenge itself? 

As one end to end Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) client succinctly put it to me this week, "When I have a leak at home I don't agonise over which spanner or wrench to use - I call the plumber."

For this client, Project Management is a function that facilitates delivery of business outcomes - it is not a business outcome itself. It is a means to an end. A means to an end, as it happens, that this client finds fraught with pitfalls and dangers that risk those very outcomes unless managed with robust governance and competence. Not unlike tackling plumbing at home, it can get very messy, very quickly.  

As a Project Management geek I feigned mock hurt at my beloved profession being compared to plumbing but, of course, I can see his point.

In the same way that a leaky pipe at home demands the attention of someone who knows one end of a wrench from the other, IT Projects demand assessments, governance, tools and people that will provide consistently high-quality Project Delivery. Doing it yourself may seem like a cheaper option but it doesn't feel that way when faced with water ruined carpets and flood damaged foundations, or for that matter, late and over budget IT project delivery and performance that falls short of expectations. Ironically, in IT Project Management terms, there is often a decrease or at least no net increase in the overall portfolio costs - so getting an expert in may be the cheaper alternative!  

Another advantage that the PMaaS route has over trying the latest PM app is alignment with you, how you get things done and your organisational culture. To be fair to the apps, they have to target a larger market so their offer is designed to match as many end user needs as possible. The result is that you could get exactly what you want but with some extra functionality that you don't use but still have to pay for or your chosen app falls short of your requirements. A PMaaS partner worth their salt always gets to know you before laying out their proposal and their service provision should be as flexible as your needs in terms of time, depth of involvement and cost, etc.

In conclusion, the right wrench or spanner is probably out there but if there's a guy who already has it in his toolbox and more importantly knows how to use it, it might be worth giving him a call.

Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed


Project Management Fri, 16 Jun 2017 09:09:56 +0000
UK Government Learns a lesson in Multisourcing vs Outsourcing https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/29-uk-government-learns-a-lesson-in-multisourcing-vs-outsourcing https://www.stoneseed.co.uk/stoneseed-blog/29-uk-government-learns-a-lesson-in-multisourcing-vs-outsourcing Outsourcing is getting a bit of a bashing lately.

Analysis of the (UK) Government’s controversial £100bn “outsourcing” programmes found private firms “creaming off” easy cases while “parking” problematic ones. The implication being that they could make easy profits from the easy cases, “gaming the system” to make money for their shareholders at the expense of the taxpayer.

The Government outsources many of the services that traditionally the public sector would have handled, such as its scheme to help unemployed people back into work and this whole episode is a timely lesson in why multisourcing trumps outsourcing.

The difference?

Outsourcing puts you at the mercy of the capabilities, experience and often limitations of the supplier, multisourcing opens you up to a world of opportunities from scores of suppliers.

Outsourcing ties you into a single service provider, locks you into a limited knowledge base and resource pool. Multisourcing gives you access to that supplier but through a mechanism that also gives you access to their competitor's knowledge base and resource pool and that of their infinite rival businesses.

The multisourcing model is geared to find what best fits you and the supplier. Take the example of the UK Government, outsourcing to companies who have tendered so low that they have to "cherry pick" the lucrative cases to make the contract work for them. A multisourced approach provides a buffer between your need and ever expanding available solutions that weighs up cost, ability, expertise and all the criteria that guarantee delivery.

Be honest how often in a client meeting is the answer "always yes"? How often are the means of delivering on a promise deliberated afterwards. That's you acting as a supplier. Why should your supplier be any different. Of course they're not. They'll tell you "yes" and start worrying about "how" before the ink is even dry on the contract.

The multisource model is geared to win/win. Suppliers efficiently working in their area of expertise at a cost that won't bankrupt you or them!

This report into Government outsourcing, by the Institute for Government (IfG), concluded that the Government did not have the skills to manage private sector contracts effectively.

It recommended ministers slowed down plans for further outsourcing and carry out a review of all major new contracts.

Or alternatively ... multisource. Multisourcing would solve all these problems for the Government. The UK Government should wake up to multisourcing. And there are lessons in this for everyone.

Contact us to learn more about how Multisourcing from Stoneseed can help you to ensure high-quality, dynamic and cost effective IT services.

Find out more about Multisourcing from Stoneseed]]>
Project Management Sun, 29 Dec 2013 14:50:57 +0000