PM Blog: achieving successful outcomes

Caroline Birkby

Caroline Birkby, Programme Director and Change Agent.

Professional programme & project management: achieving successful outcomes for businesses

Having completed the commercial phase of the proposed project, carried out all the initiation tasks successfully and engaged the project team, everyone is anxious to start work and make some progress. However, despite all this enthusiasm and commitment, projects can still go off the rails if key tasks are not carried out to correctly engage the business, set expectations and lay down a framework for future phases.

Similarly, the entire journey through the project lifecycle needs careful scrutiny, forethought and planning. Prudent businesses engage the services of a professional project manager to help them to navigate their way along this journey, put appropriate governance structures in place, and regularly communicate progress to key stakeholders.

Even after a successful initiation of a project, many businesses need the services of professional programme and project managers to drive the achievement of their desired outcome.

Once roles and responsibilities for all parties have been agreed, key business people need to ensure that they can allocate the right amount of time to fulfil their tasks, and planners need to avoid busy times in the business calendar in order to facilitate this. Where this is not possible, business people should be backfilled with competent temporary staff.

Multi-year programmes and projects can be impacted by changes in the business which cannot always be foreseen, so plans need to have elapsed time contingency built in to enable projects to be flexible enough to deal with these unexpected events. A change control process should be invoked to analyse the impact of any changes, and all options should be evaluated before recommendations on the most optimal way forward are presented to the Business Sponsor for approval. At nil plus ultra, our project and programme managers use their experience to keep projects on track despite these changes, and help businesses to achieve the benefits envisaged in the business case.

As the project progresses, Change Management activities need to be carried out with key stakeholders to ensure business readiness for the new solution. These include:

  • communicating the delivery dates of the new solution and progress against key milestones to all stakeholders,
  • informing the user community about the proposed changes to existing processes and procedures,
  • gaining user buy-in through close involvement with the shaping of the new solution,
  • ensuring users allocate time for attendance at training events, and
  • ensuring that users thoroughly test that the solution meets their business needs as they work through the new procedures.

After implementation, checks need to be made that users are not slipping back into old habits based on their legacy solution, as this will negate the achievement of efficiency gains.

Caroline Birkby, one of nil plus ultra’s most senior Programme Directors, said “Many organisations end up using modern solutions to carry out the same processing as they used to do on their legacy solution, hence benefits are not realised and processing on the new solution is just as labour intensive and error-prone as on the legacy system. This is only detected if someone is assigned to check that everyone has adopted the ‘To Be’ process flows and is using the new solution according to the new processes. No matter how well the project has been delivered, it is important to continue to track that the business benefits are being realised long after the project has ended”.

nil plus ultra’s programme managers are experienced and accredited Prince2 and PMI professionals.

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Posted on 17 Jun 2013
Posted in NilPlusUltra News, Programme Management, Services, Solutions

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