Project Governance and Gate Reviews

Thought this may be helpful for those looking at a Governance Process and Gate Reviews for project management. 


This aligns the Capital Planning and Investment Controls (CPIC) process of select, control, and evaluate phases with the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC). 


There are 5 notional gate reviews with associated documentation for project conception, initiation, planning, execution, and launch.


Of course, this can be modified as needed based on the project threshold and governance stringency required and seeks to create strategic alignment with the goals of the organization. 


(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

Types of Project Management Office

This is a quick breakdown of the 3 types of Project Management Offices (PMOs).

  • Enabling (Supportive) — Provides best practices, templates, and tools “as needed,” and compliance is voluntary.
  • Delivery (Controlling) — Adopts framework or methodology, policy, and repeatable procedures, and a certain level of the standards are enforced.
  • Compliance (Directive) — Establishes strict standards, measures, and control over projects, and these are highly regulated.

A good place to start is with an enabling/supportive PMO and then progress to a more delivery/controlling model. Generally, a compliance/directive PMO is for more highly regulated organizations.


(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal and concept via CIO Magazine and Gartner)

UNDERpromise + OVERdeliver

Every manager is rightly taught to underpromise and overdeliver. 


It’s sound planning and good risk management to plan for contingencies–and certainly these do happen. 


Build in some buffer time and resources into your estimates, because reality bites and you need to have the ammunition to respond. 


My father used to tell me:

“A word is a word!”


When you say something, promise something, commit to something then that is it!”


To do otherwise is to have no honor, no character, and no fear of G-d. 


Similarly, when you overpromise and underdeliver, you fail yourself and your customers.


People commit time, resources, and faith in you, so you owe it to them to set realistic goals and plans to accomplish them.


To do otherwise, you risk damage to the longterm relationship, you hurt your credibility, and maybe most importantly, you hurt the chances of genuine progress. 


The philosophy that I believe works best is:  Be thoughtful. Be strategic. Be direct. Be honest.  


That’s what I would want from others and that’s also what I strive to be. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Getting The Biggest Bang For The Buck

So I had the opportunity to sit in on a colleague teaching a class in Performance Improvement. 


One tool that I really liked from the class was the Impact-Effort Matrix. 


To determine project worth doing, the matrix has the:


Impacts (Vertical) – Improved customer satisfaction, quality, delivery time, etc.


Effort (Horizontal) – Money, Time, etc. 


The best bang for the buck are the projects in upper left (“Quick Wins”) that have a high impact or return for not a lot of effort. 


In contract, the projects that are the least desirable are in the lower right (“Thankless Tasks”) that have a low impact or return but come at a high cost or lot of effort. 


This is simple to do and understand and yet really helps to prioritize projects and find the best choices among them. 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

What Are The Chances for IT Project Success?

So I was teaching a class in Enterprise Architecture and IT Governance this week. 


In one of the class exercises, one of the students presented something like this bell-shaped distribution curve in explaining a business case for an IT Project. 


The student took a nice business approach and utilized a bell-shaped curve distribution to explain to his executives the pros and cons of a project. 


Basically, depending on the projects success, the middle (1-2 standard deviations, between 68-95% chance), the project will yield a moderate level of efficiencies and cost-savings or not. 


Beyond that:


– To the left are the downside risks for significant losses–project failure, creating dysfunction, increased costs, and operational risks to the mission/business. 


– To the right is the upside potential for big gains–innovations, major process reengineering, automation gains, and competitive advantages. 


This curve is probably a fairly accurate representation based on the high IT project failure rate in most organizations (whether they want to admit it or not). 


I believe that with:

– More user-centric enterprise architecture planning on the front-end

– Better IT governance throughout

– Agile development and scrum management in execution 

that we can achieve ever higher project success rates along the big upside potential that comes with it!  


We still have a way to go to improve, but the bell-curve helps explains what organizations are most of the time getting from their investments. 😉


(Source Graphic: Adapted by Andy Blumenthal from here)

Contributors and Whiners

Have you ever noticed the relationship between those that contribute and those that whine. 

The bad news is there is a highly inverse relationship between contributing and whining.

– Those that contribute, don’t whine–they are focused on how to make things better!

– Those that whine, don’t contribute–they complain and naysay, but add no real value.

The good news is that some solid contributors can more than counterbalance the whiners.

– Unfortunately, too often the whiners outnumber the contributors.

– But fortunately the contributors outweigh the whiners.

Despite your best efforts, you may not be able to make the whiners stop whining and throwing up roadblocks. 

You’re often best-off spending your time working with the other contributors who want to see things through to success. 

Be a leader, not a babysitter and help the contributors win! 😉

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal adapted from here with attribution to mediamodifier)

Project Suicide

This was sort of a funny scene in a project meeting. 


One person describing the challenges at one point, spontaneously and dramatically motions to take a knife and slit both wrists.


This absolutely got people’s attention.


Understanding the struggles the person was expressing, and trying to add a little lightheartedness to the situation, I say:


“This is a tough project, pass around the knife.”


This got a good hearty laugh around the table, with one person saying that this was the quote of the day. 


Anyway, we want to make operations as effortless as possible on people, but the project work to get there is definitely making people work for it. 


Let’s avoid project or people suicide–be supportive of each other, pace ourselves, team together, and problem-solve to get it successfully over the finish line.

 

Soon we can celebrate all the challenges we overcame together and from our determined efforts, all the wonderful results. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)