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Straight Talk on Project Management

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IT Project Management: The need for speed and the greater need for flexibility

During the post-lockdown era, speed became the new business priority and, according to a McKinsey survey, the secret to outperforming your competition.

While other things like social distancing, mask wearing, and queuing round the carpark to get into the supermarket are fading memories, for IT Project teams there is, if anything, an even greater need for speed.

To react to fast-moving market developments, during and after the pandemic, IT Project teams and businesses in general were forced into accelerated change just to survive. It turns out that they didn’t simply persist though – they prospered. The most astute have maintained this need for speed and sewn it into the fabric of their organisations.

A word of caution though – the pandemic business landscape and the current environment are significantly different.

There are more obstacles!

Imagine if you’d used your lockdown hour of permitted exercise (remember that!?) to jog through the empty town square, you’d have enjoyed the health and fitness benefits, the fresh air and especially the space! Now, imagine going for a run through that same town square today – it would be much busier, you’d have to dart in and out of the crowds, avoid the “chuggers”, sidestep the tourists taking selfies in front of the town hall clock – you’d need extra flexibility.

The post pandemic business territory has different obstacles too – accelerated supply chain issues, talent shortages, increased competition, global financial problems, negative business consequences of the war in Ukraine, rising costs, etc, etc.

Fortunately, along with the need for speed, there was another factor that helped deliver business strategy during the pandemic and after the lockdowns. Just like you, jogging through the town square, it’s flexibility.

I’ve written about gymnastic enterprises previously, as well as speed, the best performing organisations created an environment where employees had the mindset, skills, tools, customer understanding, and business acumen needed to make their work more efficient and effective. They realised positive organisational improvements but also drove environmental and societal impact. Organisations developed a new agile-beyond-agile approach and reaped the rewards. I saw this for myself, all Stoneseed clients that have emerged stronger from the pandemic leveraged speed and flexibility, and the part we played is just as effective against those obstacles of the post-pandemic environment – PmaaS.           

PMAAS – PROJECT MANAGEMENT AS A SERVICE

In a short paragraph, Stoneseed’s PMaaS is a team of Project Management and Technical Professionals, available to you via a flexible, on-demand resourcing model. From strategy to service delivery, PMaaS is a cost-effective model for project delivery that is underpinned by Stoneseed’s PMO, methodology and toolset.

PMaaS delivers speed and flexibility in three key ways:

 

1 – The resource you need, when you need it, for how long you need it. Our services portfolio offers a true end to end service, from IT Technical Advisory, Business Analysis Services and PMO Services through to Programme and Project Delivery.

Thanks to Stoneseed’s innovative “Turn it on, turn it off, turn it up or turn it down” on-demand resource model you can dial up and down IT project resources in sync with your delivery needs – giving you full control and flexibility.

2 – The resource you need – how you need it. Stoneseed’s PMaaS services, including those  Project Managers, Business Analysts, Technical Advisory and PMO experts are available onsite or remote. Stoneseed were already experts in remote access Project Management, offering rapid response resources, long before the pandemic made this an operational necessity.

3 – Cost. Maybe you don’t need a BA on the payroll 365 days a year but would benefit from having one at the planning and scoping stage. Perhaps IT Technical Advisory expertise would be a great asset but would be sat on the bench most of the time awaiting a call to action. Maybe when projects overlap your PMO resource is overstretched but duplicating resources long-term to cover a short-term overlap would be a prohibitively expensive commitment…

With PMaaS you pay for what you need and use. You can align resources as and when you need them, on a cost effective, full-time or part-time basis.

At Stoneseed, we flex to support your project needs.

During the pandemic, speed and flexibility catalysts, like PMaaS, were used to great effect to help businesses react.

To quote McKinsey, “organizations are making extensive changes with one overriding goal: to increase the speed at which they adjust strategic direction, make and implement tactical decisions, and deploy resources. What’s more, survey findings indicate that making a special effort to gain speed pays off. Fast organizations outperform others by a wide margin on a range of outcomes, including profitability, operational resilience, organizational health, and growth.”

STRATEGY

Some IT Projects are still highly reactive, especially where an organisation has had to pivot its strategy to align with market needs.

Increasingly though, we are seeing a return to more projects that are delivering what feels like a more pre-pandemic, more established strategy through IT Project driven business change.

Expectations around timescales have not returned to pre-pandemic levels though. At the height of the Covid disruption, companies accelerated digitisation of key business functions from customer service to supply-chain to internal communication by three to four years. Think about it, how many businesses ever used Zoom or Teams before but have retained the platforms to communicate in ‘more normal times’?

This kind of digital transformation was replicated in other areas of businesses, it was done quickly and often years ahead of schedule. Breaking news: boards and stakeholders noticed, they loved it and want more of the same – high velocity strategy delivery!  

So, speed and flexibility are crucial, but these should be always aligned with your strategy.

To this end, Stoneseed has always had a ‘client-side’ perspective– we get to know you and your business, how you work and what your business and IT goals are before suggesting services or solutions. We become partners in delivering your strategy.

Sierra Hampton-Simmons, PMI Vice President (Products) writes, “speed cannot come at the expense of strategy. Even as they look to move faster, organizations need to revisit any rigid policies or gaps in strategic clarity that prevent them from making work more efficient and on point”.

So, the formula appears to be clarity on strategy + speed + flexibility = outperformance.

OPERATIONAL AGILITY 

Because of the need for speed and flexibility, business agility is under more focussed attention than ever.

Projects are unique, I’ve always said they’re like snowflakes, they can look alike but they’re so not! Sometimes, even the subtlest nuance can change the best way to approach the project, so having a default single, rigidly adhered to methodology, way of working, or way of resourcing your projects can cause inefficiencies in terms of time and cost budget.

More than ever, IT Project teams are delivering their best results by selecting the best methodology or way of working, not just for the project (as a whole), but for individual elements and tasks and hybrid approaches are more popular than ever and are delivering measurable efficiencies.

Resourcing using on demand models, like PMaaS, can open projects up to potential cost and time-efficiency savings, flexibility and speed.

So, the Stoneseed PMaaS formula could also be summed up as strategy + speed + flexibility = outperformance.

LIFE AND DEATH

I shared this blog with a Project Management friend of Stoneseed for feedback. Malc, has just made this equation very real and human for me with a story about driving his family along the Mansfield M1 stretch, very near where I’m writing this.

A few years back, Malc was zooming along the motorway at 70mph when the brake lights of traffic ahead lit up. Cars were ploughing into the back of those infront, meanwhile, in his rear view mirror, he also saw cars behind were colliding as they changed lane in an attempt to avert the collision ahead. Malc was in the middle of it all and had seconds to check his mirrors, swerve onto the hard shoulder, and round the initial pile up.

Malc’s strategy was delivering his family home, speed saved him from the colliding traffic behind, but without a bias to flexibility he would have smashed hard and fast into the accident ahead.

Project Management in the post pandemic era personified. By failing to combine those elements of the equation (strategy + speed + flexibility) could you be putting your projects at risk of disaster?

Conscious of your need for speed, flexibility and a project resources partner that will take time to understand your needs and strategy, call me on 01623 723910.

Find out more about Project Management as a Service from Stoneseed

 

Sources

Developing speed for the post-COVID-19 era | McKinsey

The Need for Speed | LinkedIn

Stoneseed IT | Project Management as a Service