Category: Technology-Enabled Business Transformation (TEBT) (Page 1 of 2)
This is an article I wrote around 2002 that was eventually published on the Satyam (new Tech Mahindra) blog. I can’t find the old Satyam blog now so here it is again.
Projects, Programmes, and Work streams (Part 1)
MegaProjects are large enough to be called a ‘programme’, but integrated enough to be called a ‘project’. In the end, all MegaProjects must be run as a programme; but it’s important to understand why. This is a slightly edited reprint of an article I wrote on delivering technology-enabled business transformation (TEBT) projects which describes the difference between a project and a work stream; and the challenges for project management on MegaProjects.
If you talk to a project manager or a programme manager for long enough you risk getting into a very long conversation about the differences between project management, programme management, and portfolio management. It’s easiest to define these first in terms of what a project is and secondly in terms of the objectives for grouping projects in certain ways:
1) A project utilises resources, has a specified duration, and delivers pre-defined objectives
2) A programme is a group of projects which are managed together as they relate to the same objectives and there are interdependencies between each projects’ deliverables
3 )A portfolio (of projects) is a group of projects which are managed together because they are part of the same organisation and therefore must have sufficient consistency in the way they are managed in order to manage resource allocation across projects, and risks across that organisation
There are added complexities around the definitions of operational vs. strategic programme and portfolio management. Management of the dependencies between each project is separate from the management of the mix of projects in the programme or portfolio itself. In other words, there is a difference between running a group of projects right (operational) and investing in the right group of projects (strategic). For MegaProjects their duration means a certain amount of the strategic process is required, but we are focused here on the operational side of MegaProject management.
So is a MegaProject a project, or a programme?
MegaProjects have two important characteristics that make them a unique challenge to the project management discipline. Firstly, MegaProjects are indeed projects because they share a single set of phases and milestones and all resources will be affected in some way be the overall project lifecycle. Secondly, MegaProjects must be managed as a programme in order to balance the need to manage accountability for deliverables within each part of the project and the need to manage dependencies across each part of the project.
Ultimately, all MegaProjects must be run as a programme. However, although each MegaProject must be run as a programme this isn’t because MegaProjects are a collection of projects. MegaProjects must be run as a programme because they will require more than one project manager! This is a vitally important point that shouldn’t be under-estimated. MegaProjects have objectives that are significant in scope and therefore are sufficient to require multiple project managers to deliver them. It is for this reason alone that you must run MegaProjects as a programme.
Project managers behave in predictable ways: they want to define the criteria for success at the beginning of the project, they want to manage scope, and they want to freeze requirements at a certain point. They will also expect access to the valuable time of stakeholders and subject matter experts. For regular projects, all of these behaviors bound and align a project in order to improve the odds of the project being successful.
These behaviors are the basis of good project management. However, MegaProjects require additional monitoring and control mechanisms to ensure that these behaviors don’t guarantee success of part of the MegaProject at the expense of failure or bottlenecks in another part of the MegaProject.
Projects vs Work Streams
One of the keys to a successful MegaProject is correctly identifying which parts of the MegaProject are projects and which parts are work streams. These projects and work streams can then be aligned through key programme-level processes which cross both types of activity.
Next week’s article focuses on the differences between projects and work streams and how to define these within a MegaProject…
Projects, Programmes, and Work streams (Part 2)
In part 1 we saw that MegaProjects must be run as a programme primarily because multiple project managers will be required in order to execute the project. Project managers behave in predicable ways and will try to manage the scope of their deliverables in order to achieve success for their part of the MegaProject. To ensure success of part of the MegaProject isn’t at the expense of other parts of the MegaProject this article introduces the difference between Projects and Work streams.
Difference between projects and workstreams….
- Scope tends to exist within only one or two areas of the TEBT programme planning worksheet
- not directly connected to the objectives of the programme
- fed work from other part of the programme in terms of level-2 requirements, defects, analysis requires, etc
- managed as a ‘cost centre’ in that resources are fixed or leveraged as a pay-per-use managed service with a fixed budget
- responsible for defining resource requirements based on solution
- directly accountable to objectives of the programme
- scope defined across the business transformation objectives and at least 2 layers down the TEBT programme planning worksheet
- utilises work streams for input or delivery of defined work packages
- responsible for defining resource requirements based on objectives
The TEBT Programme Planning worksheet also defines (on the left) some functional responsibilities (such as testing and implementation) which are by definition work streams.
Mention the programme phases, milestones, and the delivery roadmap… future post.
Relationship to SDLC
While it’s true that each piece of code must go through a software development lifecycle; pieces of code will be changed for the duration of the project so the programme itself is never at a stage in the software development lifecycle. Also, MegaProjects produce many deliverables which are not code but that have relationships with code (and other deliverables that must be managed).
TEBT Programme Definition Worksheet
Part of the delivery roadmap for the overall programme
- oDefine objectives, budget
- oDetermine partners and capabilities required
- Solution Blueprinting and Delivery Roadmap
- oDefine a cross-partner solution
- oDefine a delivery roadmap
- Project & Workstream Definition
- oDevelop project and work stream accountabilities
- oDevelop charters per project and work stream
- Analyse and Planning per Project / Work Stream
- oAllow initial analysis to complete for each work stream and project
- oConfirm resource requirements
- oConfirm dependencies across projects and work streams
- oDefine shared programme level processes
- Development of Deliverables
- oDevelopment of deliverables for each work stream
- oExecution of shared ‘Development’ programme level processes
- Integration of Deliverables
- Test execution
- Integrated test management
Vendors may join or leave at various phases.
I would have loved to have seen the presentation that’s been given some positive press here. Westpac are putting some meat around their transformation agenda after having learnt from the experiences of other banks.
Many of these large scale transformation programs (think ERPs, CRMs, core systems replacements, etc) have a tendency to teach the organisation about a product. The whole organisation will learn how to implement that product – they’ll learn it’s strengths and weaknesses, and the right and wrong ways to successfully exploit them. Those in the organisation who aren’t part of the solution will at least learn that they have an opinion about these things.
Now, the actual benefits of these programs aside, this is a strange way to for your organisation to spend a few years. These programs become a distraction that take up executive, management, and operational attention. But what if you changed the conversations so that rather than learning about a product, you completed the same program but what you where really doing was learning about your customers and how to better orientate your organisation towards their needs?
I think the approach Dave Curran has managed to convey (again, based on the reporting – I wasn’t there) starts to do that. This approach means that effort is first and foremost about the customer. Now I’m the first to say it’s not that simple. There is still a lot of work to make that vision operational. But it completely changes what the organisation will primarily be learning during program.
The key lessons now will be about customers – what Westpac knows about them, what they don’t, what decisions they are making every day, and how that might be understood by Westpac staff when making their decisions. The other lesson they will be learning is how technologies they already have, combined with technologies available in the market, can be used together to support various customer scenarios. Not trying to find “the best” solution without any context, but trying to design solutions across a well informed view of what is important to customers.
I think too that if this is done right, the discussions won’t be broad sweeping generalisations. They won’t be “is this one monolithic system really customer focused?” Likewise, there shouldn’t be that tendency to continuously revert to “yeah, but what is a customer?” That conversation seems out-of-the-box but is typically only asked because the people in the room have never met a customer (!) so they revert to broad open questions rather than use their experience.
Done right, this approach will draw out rich, informed conversations that admit that we have to bring components together to support specific customer scenarios. It will draw out conversation about what we don’t (!) and ensure we find out. Done right, this approach keeps up the sustained momentum these programs need to do the hard work that will truly transform the organisation.
I have a few grounding concepts that I think are relevant here. They are quite simple in their nature but powerful as the basis for governing change. I’d suggest these should be established for the program.
The Customer Advocacy Office
We talk about the importance of customers all the time but often the question we don’t ask is “what is the business unit in our organisation that advocates for our customers?” I don’t mean lets give somebody the responsibility for customer and then split the role into “Contact Centre” and “Web site”. I mean real, serious thinking about customers. Being able to understand and back up with facts. Being able to offer targeted operational changes – backed by evidence – that will improve the experience of customers.
Customer Experience Campaigns
Your organisation is probably comfortable with marketing campaigns. But what if the concept of a campaign was expended to include any situation where your customer had a defining positive or negative experience with your brand? Customer Experience Campaigns apply the basic concepts that are used to manage a marketing campaigns to all of the individual experiences of your customers. This is actually really difficult, and really important. And it’s what we mean when we say we want to be customer focused – but do we actually do it?
Customer Information Management
There is a lot of work required to get a single view of a customer. There is even more work required to repurpose that view so that it highlights the information required for different groups to make decisions (i.e. single core data, multiple views). But that’s still not “customer information” – that’s just consolidating and presenting data effectively. A true responsibly for customer information management means knowing what you don’t know about your customers, and understanding the value of finding out. It also means understanding how modern technology allows us to understand and predict the complex decisions that our customers are making by using big, social, cheap, integrated data to act as a proxy for intimacy when you can’t always get inside your customer’s heads.
Customer Return on Operations
Things like Net Promotor Score (NPS) are great but they are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using customer-driven metrics to improve your organisation. These “voice of the customer” metrics are great but they are “lag” indicators until you do the correlation required to make them “lead” indicators. Measuring you customer return on operations combines how your customers think you perform with how you think you perform. It’s hard, it takes a prolonged effort, but who could argue that it’s not important?
Competency Centre -based Business Transformation
Many transformation programs are top-down. This means they are limited to the types of transformation that you can achieve top-down. The Westpac approach will required a middle-out approach. There are many functions within the organisation that will need to be transformed to execute on the vision. Thankfully, competency-centre based business transformation is an excellent alternative to top-down transformation – if your transformation team “gets it”.
This approach also includes the question of which type of “core” you want your organisation to have (accounting, versus product customisation, versus customer hub). When you’ve done the right homework, you can then make clear and informed decisions on whether something is differentiating or not differentiating. This decision drives standardisation but it is so mixed up in a tight bundle or current power struggles it needs an informed third party to arbitrate.
I’m not saying just talk about the concepts above in the executive management team. I’m saying that in addition to the other governance required for this sort of program there are executive roles for each of the above areas. There are charters and terms of reference for each of the above areas. Each of these areas should be managed as a business capability where the executive in charge is responsible for working across functions so that the people, process, information, and technology all work together to support the capability.
By the way, I’m not sure I get the title “Dancing About Architecture” that the article I link to above uses. I’m assuming it’s a reference to the “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture” quote that I, like everybody else, mis-attributed to Elvis Costello until I just looked it up. It’s a nice image – the idea that you might use something other than architecture (such as your customers) to guide the direction of your architecture. You dance around (or “about”) your architecture so it knows where to look. Though by alluding to the music quote the author seems critical of the approach. Anyway – looking forward to part 2…
“1. Introduce a common unit of currency – must be scarce”
“2. Provide a marketplace for buyers to bid on units of supply using common unit of currency”
“3. Provide just-in-time information to promote market liquidity”
Excellent overview on Industrialised Adhocracy and The Future of Work:
Okay, so this has the scientific due diligence of an art installation rather than an actual proof of utility. But it shows why market-based management is so important.
One project is Michael Marcovici’s Rat Trader. The book describes the training of laboratory rats to trade in foreign exchange and commodity futures markets. Marcovici says the rats “outperformed some of the world’s leading human fund managers.” The rats were trained to press a red or green button to give buy or sell signals, after listening to ticker tape movements represented as sounds. If they called the market right they were fed, if they called it wrong they got a small electric shock. Male and female rats performed equally well. The second generation of rattraders, cross-bred from the best performers in the first generation, appeared to have even better performance, although this is a preliminary result, according to the text. Marcovici’s plan, he writes, is to breed enough of them to set up a hedge fund.
If the above scenario actually works it means a dramatic change in the way we think about the “decision-making” part of the management process.
If the stream of data (think “big data”) can be processed by an arbitrary meat-based neural network – and proven to be effective – what is the point of performance management on the rats?
I just found a nice overview diagram (nice in content, not in style) where I thought I’d solved the problem of creating a customer-centric organisation just by breaking the challenge into its components.
It’s a year or so old but to be honest it still looks about right: