Re-Frame Project Success for the Strategic Business

Project success is most often measured by answering two questions. (A) Did we meet the schedule goal? And (B) Did we meet the budget goal? A good indicator project success will improve over time is periodic review of the Time and Budget Dashboard by management. This approach is valid but not sufficient for framing project success over the long-term.

Time and Budget Dashboard Integration Professionals Stephen Wise
Time and Budget Dashboard

It is very common that once a project is closed, it falls off management reporting dashboards. This is a serious mistake! Strategic success is dependent on the outputs of the project, not the inputs of Time and Budget.

The outputs / benefits of the project are measured after project close and take the dimensions of customer satisfaction and business success. It will take several months or quarters after the project is finished until customer satisfaction can be measured. It will take even longer until business success can be measured.

By re-framing the measurement time-horizons for projects and their outputs, we can provide more effective visibility and accountability at the management level for the strategic success of projects. The re-frame is to include medium-term and long-term results as part of project tracking and reporting.

Team success

can be measured in the Short-term. That is Time, Budget and other metrics such as scope, quality, stakeholder engagement, and others.

Customer success

can be measured in the Medium-term. Customer success is the metrics that indicate how well the product is meeting actual needs and how well the product is providing customer net benefits.

Business/Strategy success

can be measured in the long-term. Business success is the metrics that indicate how well the overall strategy is benefiting the enterprise, such as market development and risk profile.

Measurement Time Horizons Integration Professionals Stephen Wise
Measurement Time Horizons

Organizations have made great strides implementing project methodology and management reporting on time and budget. However a systemic flaw is introduced by reporting only short-term project success measures. There is correlation between success in short-term and success in the long-term but there is more to the picture.

We need to re-frame and extend the time horizon for tracking project success to include medium and long-term measures. By linking Customer (medium-term) and Business (long-term) actual measures to project reporting we will gain improved insights on the projects that have either advanced or held-back the realization of strategic objectives.

Stephen Wise
http://www.IntegrationProfessionals.com/

Two themes for Portfolio Agility

I have seen the future and it is agile. The agile I am talking about is not a tool, or methodology, or a movement. It is the outcome when Project Managers have discussions with Sponsors on how to go faster, or how to beat competitors, or how to win new business.

Portfolio management is listing, prioritizing, selecting, and controlling business ideas/investments in the context of the top success drivers and constraints affecting the business.

In my experience, many projects are handed to the Project Manager that have risks or budget or schedule issues that the PM can’t even quantify. Unfortunately, these very items are likely to be the root cause of missed expectations, budget overruns or schedule delays. Our challenge is to enter into an ongoing conversation to ensure the right investments are being made at the right time.

We need to develop and design a new way of thinking to respond to the needs of the business. Here are two themes to help support this change:

1. Focus on enhancing the collaboration and communication between the person managing the work (Project Manager) and the person who wants the work done (Sponsor).

  • Create visibility anytime and to any desired level of detail.
  • Speed everything up so that we can see business benefits/failures faster.

2. Gain trust by eliminating multiple sources of data/truth by bringing data integrity into the project and program environment.

  • Ensure culture is conducive to increased reporting.
  • Communicate better about those things that people care about.

I first head the following from an industry research analyst, “We need better brakes … so we can go faster”. How true! By investing in portfolio management skills and tools to improve communication and data quality, the organizations we support will have improved agility to amplify successes and reallocate resources from underperforming projects.