Sunday, June 24, 2012

The top 10 Project Management trends for 2012

As the project environment grows in complexity, project management will require team, stakeholder and executive collaboration in 2012 like never before. On-the-job application of training, custom-made project approaches, innovative project tools and smarter resource management will be essential for driving the greatest business impact.
Not only project management, but also the definition of “project success” has changed to encompass more than the triple constraint of time, cost and scope. Collaboration is a common theme throughout many of the 2012 top 10 trends for project management, which were determined by a global panel of ESI International senior executives and subject matter experts.
1. Project management will gain momentum, but resources remain in short supply
Increasingly, large initiatives undertaken by corporations and government agencies are being recognized for what they are and aren’t - namely programs, not projects, which require a highly advanced set of skills, supported by appropriate tools and methods to successfully execute. Yet many organizations struggle to find the right people and lack the management practices necessary to ensure success. In 2012 we will see more investments made in competency models, training, methodology development, tool use, and career paths to ensure that professionals who carry the title "Project Manager" are fit for the role.
2. Collaboration software solutions will become an essential business tool for project teams
The proliferation of collaborative software, such as SharePoint, in the project environment is going to intensify in 2012. Fueled by increasingly complex and virtual projects as well as tightened budgets, today’s environment demands a more efficient way to manage communication and workflow.
Collaboration is central to project management and having a site which allows project artifacts to be created, shared, and distributed within a repository that provides web-based access and critical functions such as automatic distribution and notification, version control, and user authentication, greatly enhances productivity.
3. Learning transfer will become the new mantra, but with little structured application
Learning transfer - the ability to apply training back on the job - will continue to be on the minds of project management office (PMO) chiefs and learning and development (L&D) professionals who want their project managers to return from training ready to apply what they learned immediately and accurately to their projects. While L&D and business heads agree that sustained learning is a sound idea, very few organizations will invest in a formal process to make it happen. In 2012 we will see many organizations discussing the importance of learning transfer without really putting in place a structured approach to ensure it happens.
4. Agile blends with waterfall for a new “hybrid” approach
Having moved from “manifesto to mainstream,” agile development has confronted project teams with the difficulty of implementing the experimental and hyper-collaborative approach. To transition an organization into fully adopting certain aspects of agile, project teams are combining traditional and agile elements to create their own hybrid approach. In areas such as planning, requirements, and team communication, organizations are designing custom-made methodologies to do what works for them.
5. Smarter project investments will require a stronger marriage between project management and business process management (BPM)     
In the financial services industry, and specifically in the insurance sector, there will be a continued laser-like focus on performing business processes as efficiently as possible to drive down operating costs. The philosophy of BPM is fast becoming a key factor in project selection. When new projects are proposed, their value will be judged to a large extent on the impact they will have on the organization’s business processes. The more impact the project has on reducing internal costs, the higher it will be ranked. The “smart” money will be spent on driving costs out of the business. Given the high premium being placed on efficient processes delivered through projects, BPM is a key concept with which project managers will need to be intimately familiar.
6. Internal certifications in corporations and public sector will eclipse the PMP
With roughly 470,000 Project Management Professional (PMP) credentials having been awarded worldwide thus far, the PMP remains the most popular and ubiquitous credential on the planet. However, it is not the prominent credential everywhere. In the US government as well as Fortune 500 corporations, a hierarchy of “internal” credentials has overshadowed the PMP in terms of prominence. To be sure, the PMP remains important, but it is now just one rung on the career ladder to get to the top.
7.  More PMO heads will measure effectiveness on business results
While introducing tools, using methodologies, mapping project management practices, sending project managers to training, and increasing the number of PMPs in the organization are important metrics for a PMO head to collect and report on, they do not speak to the effectiveness of the PMO from a business perspective. To judge business effectiveness, PMO heads need to determine if their work has had a positive, quantifiable effect on the business in terms of troubled project reduction, lower project manager attrition, and faster time to market. In 2012 the practice of measuring the outputs, not the inputs, of project management will gain traction.
8. Good project managers will buck unemployment trends
Even though unemployment is at record levels in many countries, good project managers are hard to find. Recruiting continues even in tough economies and organizations need individuals who can perform the basics flawlessly. The hunger for project management basics, in particular risk management, will continue to surge in 2012, especially in such countries as India and China where project manager attrition rates are disturbingly high and continuous training of new staff is critical.
9. Client-centric project management will outpace the “triple constraint”
For years, time, cost and scope were the metrics upon which the success of all projects and their managers were judged. While the triple constraints remain important, they are no longer the be-all-and-end-all for project success. While risk and quality have also been cited as additional “constraints,” the clear trend in 2012 is the value the project delivers to the organization. The new definition of project success is that a project can exceed its time and cost estimates so long as the client determines that it is successful by whatever criteria they use. In today’s environment, the “recipient” - or client - not the “provider”, determines project value.
10. HR professionals will seek assessments to identify high-potential project managers
Because project management is such an important function, human resources (HR) professionals will be tasked more intensely with identifying high-potential project managers in 2012. The challenge HR professionals will face is that there is no silver bullet assessment for identifying great project managers. Existing knowledge and skills assessments are of little use since they are not designed for entry-level project manager positions. Nonetheless, candidates must be measured not only on their technical abilities, but also on the all-important business and interpersonal skills. To the best of our knowledge, no one has yet developed such an assessment, but HR professionals will continue, and intensify, their assessment search this year.
J. LeRoy Ward, PMP, PgMP,  is executive vice president, product strategy & management, for ESI International.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Break Out Of The 80/20 Spending Trap

My former colleague Bob Evans used to beat this issue hard, and it's no time to let up. With IT budgets relatively flat at most companies, and with competitors fighting for every scrap of business, CIOs can no longer afford to spend 70% to 80% of their precious funds supporting and maintaining existing systems. They must shift, permanently, a big chunk of their budgets into growth initiatives—IT projects and programs that open new markets and drive new business rather than just maintain the status quo. Even the most innovative IT users in the U.S., as represented by our annual InformationWeek 500 ranking, spend 63% of their IT budgets on ongoing operations as opposed to new initiatives—a percentage that has barely budged in a decade.
This isn't a theoretical exercise. Shifting from 80/20 or 70/30 spending to 60/40 or 50/50 won't happen if CIOs don't step forward with a detailed plan to make it happen. When he was CIO of Hewlett-Packard, Randy Mott got its IT pros spending just 30% of their time on maintenance, down from 70%, as part of a three-year master plan under which HP consolidated data centers, applications, and data marts and modernized its infrastructure. Mott's plan forced the company's IT pros to document every hour they spent on new versus legacy work, and it forced the company's LOB and IT execs to agree on the revenue and other benefits to be derived from each and every IT project.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Time to rethink your strategic planning process

By ,  CIO UK - February 14, 2012

Marcus Matic is Director of Forrester’s Strategic Planning Forrsights, and Khalid Kark is Vice President and Research Director at Forrester Research

CIOs that successfully take on the role of developing a joint business technology strategy and then executing on the technology components of this strategy will need to: 

1. Understand the customers and workforce: 
To increase workforce productivity at the lowest possible cost, business leaders need a baseline understanding of how their employees use the technology they are provided, and how that usage compares to other companies. In Forrester’s recent survey of information workers globally, we found 26 per cent of directors use their smartphones more than three hours per day compared to just 9 per cent of the individual workers. 
Facts on usage help optimize CIO investments.
2. Identify and capitalize on emerging technologies:  
CIOs must be aware of rapidly emerging and disruptive technology landscape, but more importantly they must put it in the context of their business. 
Developing an emerging-technology strategy requires coordination across IT. Like any strategic IT activity, it impacts relationship management, architecture, delivery, operations, and support. It is not just about technology selection, but also about IT's ability to help business users succeed. For example, mobile, social, cloud, and analytics each have vastly different implications across industries and applications.

3. Focus on business value through Budgets & Spending:  
In an uncertain business environment, made more challenging by everything from the debt crisis in Europe to erratic economic growth in the US, business budgets are under pressure. 
CIOs need help defending their budgets and building the case for increased IT spending. Budget benchmarks enable organizations to gauge their IT spending relative to their industry peers. They provide a baseline for discussions around size and composition of IT investments, as well as how much of their spending should be focused on operations and maintenance versus new initiatives.
4. Identify staffing and sourcing competencies: 
Many CIOs take pride in running their IT organizations efficiently but often struggle with determining appropriate staffing levels. 
We found the percentage of IT staff increases initially then levels off with the size of the organization; from small organizations (4.4 per cent), to medium-large organizations (5.4 per cent), to the largest organizations (5.5 per cent). While staffing ratios alone don’t provide all the answers, they are an objective and indispensable tool to identify outliers and justify needed additions to staff to deliver business results. CIOs need the ability to look outside of IT and across the spectrum of data and business trends impacting the business.

The data is just the start. We recommend CIOs:

 - Start with Strategic Visioning. Understand key consumer, employee and business technology adoption and usage trends, and analyze how and why these trends will impact your business.
 - Use Data-driven insights to set business technology strategy. Support the front-end of the planning process with digital business facts: end customer behaviors, business leader priorities, and employee expectations.

 - Conduct a Plan Review to stress-test the strategic plan. Make sure that plans are consistent, realistic, comprehensive, and ready for broader distribution.

 - Measure business outcomes with an Impact Review. Solicit useful, structured and directed feedback on the Plan and planning process itself from those involved in creating it. 

CIOs need an end-to-end strategic planning process, data-driven insights and comparative data to help them understand critical technology and customer trends, ensures the company adopts the right technologies at the right time, continuously innovates, and measures progress effectively against business goals.
It’s time to rethink your IT planning process.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Virtual CIO" - A CIO in the Cloud?

Large corporations today rely upon Chief Information Officers (CIOs) to bridge the knowledge gap between executive management and Information Technology management. As opposed to an IT Director, CIOs make long-term, high-level technology planning and spending decisions as it relates to current and future business needs. While small and mid-sized companies have the same need for CIOs as large corporations, most cannot afford a full time CIO.

In addition to moving applications, data, and other services "to the cloud", many smaller organizations are taking advantage of the services of a Virtual or “part time” CIO for either a finite period or on an ongoing basis. It's a cost-effective solution that helps small and medium sized businesses take advantage of the benefits of a high level resource who can understand their business needs and align those needs properly with the right technology strategy.

According to IT experts, using a “vCIO” or  "CIO in the Cloud" makes sense for small and mid-sized businesses that:
  • Could use the expertise but can’t afford to pay someone full time
  • Has outgrown its current IT capabilities, needs to upgrade, and wants input from someone who is vendor-neutral, and knows the marketplace well enough to suggest solutions that would be a good fit
  • Has a large technology project that calls for more expertise than the company’s in-house IT resources can offer
  • Is involved in a merger or acquisition and could use an outsider’s advice on how to blend different IT systems
  • Want to take their IT operations “in a new direction”

There are a number of organizations today that offer this service. Is it right for your organization and it's needs? 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Aligning Technology with Business Needs

The buzz word in most corporate offices today is "alignment", specifically, ensuring that investments in technology are linked to business goals. The best way to achieve this is through a shared governance process. Typically, IT is responsible for making all the technical decisions. However, best practices have shown that the best decisions are made with input from both business units and IT. Jeanne W. Ross and Peter Weill, authors of "Six Decisions Your IT People Shouldn't Make (Harvard Business Review), explain that many non-technical executives leave key technology decisions to IT executives because they don't feel comfortable enough with technology to manage it in detail. The results, say Ross and Weill, are technology choices that inadvertently clash with corporate strategy. IT should however, certainly be responsible for decisions regarding technology standards, operations, and organization, but not decisions that determine the impact upon a company's business strategy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why is IT Strategic Planning Important?

In basic terms, strategic planning can be defined as the process of defining business strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating resources (capital and people) to pursue this strategy. In the case of information technology this definition is more aptly described as the process of defining your IT strategy and making decisions on IT investments that support the business strategy. The “business strategy” in this case is your organization’s strategic plan. An IT strategic plan therefore becomes a critical factor in successfully achieving the organization’s mission and vision. Given this importance, the implications of not having an IT strategy are many, but typically result in the following situations: (1) IT investments are made that do not support organizational goals, (2) systems are not integrated, typically resulting in a duplication of effort, (3) there are no means for setting priorities for projects or resources, (4) projects are evaluated on a financial basis only, and (5) there is the constant disconnect between IT and the user community.

As CIO, you have the primary responsibility for creating, communicating, and implementing a vision that identifies how technology can be used to support these priorities. CIO Magazine's 2008 State of the CIO report found that nearly 60% of CIOs surveyed say long-term strategic thinking and planning is the executive leadership skill most critical in their current role, followed by collaboration and influence (47%), and expertise running IT (39%). This new reality has forced technology departments to operate more as a strategic business partner as opposed to a traditional functional unit. Accordingly, CEO's now look to their CIOs to: (1) ensure that their annual investments in technology are being effectively leveraged to achieve the strategic goals of the business, (2) evaluate and recommend new or existing technologies that reduce costs and offer business value, and (3), ensure that the organization does not overextend its dependence on end-of-life technologies. As a result, the development and implementation of an IT strategic plan is critical. The purpose of this blog is to share experiences and details regarding the "best practices" in bringing this plan to fruition.