Something for Everybody
Continuing on from the first and second blogs in the series on the implementation of a PPM tool, I want to focus on stakeholders for this one. I’ve spent a bit of time over the years with change management professionals and they’ve taught me a lot about stakeholder management. Implementing a PPM system is of course a project in itself so a similar approach can (and should) be taken to ensuring everybody involved in inputting, managing, consuming and deciding/acting on system information is consulted.
So much time is wasted on data entry and reporting that is not even seen, let alone consumed and acted upon. We see it time and time again; “…Why do we have to do this report?… we need it for the PMO… what do they do with it?… don’t know… who reads it?… not sure…” A standard set of ‘PMO’ reports or data that ‘must be entered into the system’…
Here are some of the things we always look at addressing in the stakeholder analysis and implementation planning phases of a tool implementation. We do however, recommend this as a continuous improvement exercise, not just at the start.
1. Be clear on ‘why’ data entry and reporting is required. Predominantly for the PMs, make them aware of why the particular piece of information or report is important. Often there is a standard set of project outputs or reports but it is worth re-thinking at this point; who will be consuming the information, what other elements may be connected to it and what someone may need to do with the data? Having an awareness of consequence can really help with data hygiene and quality, especially in systems that allow for ‘real time’ reporting or self service.
2. Business Value. As a project or product manager, it is your role to deliver the agreed change into the business. But who and what are ‘the Business’? The old “business and IT” delineation is no more. Increasingly, information and data is embedded within the all elements of the business from marketing through to service delivery. It follows then that the information and reporting that may be required for these different business consumers is different. Check in with each of these groups and ensure that your project teams are capturing and playing back relevant data. A product marketing or sales campaign will almost certainly require different data points to a business process optimisation project.
3. KPIs and metrics. Similar to the above, engage with business stakeholders early and try to incorporate their ‘language’ into your project reporting. It makes sense to keep consistency where possible, but referencing KPIs or metrics that are used by (or specific to) certain business areas really helps connect the project to the business, especially if project performance (ie. time, cost, scope, value) can be aligned to these impacted business metrics.
4. Governance & decision making. Try to ensure stakeholders are aware of the decisions they need to make. I have experienced a number of steering committees that have been brought together based on their business areas being impacted by the project. This is fine, but it doesn’t mean that person is aware of how to act as a member. Ideally the PMO will ensure effective steering/governance, but where possible, ensure projects make it clear where and when decisions are required. Efficiency or ‘minimum viable’ governance is great to keep things moving but it needs to be consistently applied and based on solid data.
5. Regular reviews and relevance checkpoints – with stakeholders directly. Don’t wait for meetings to get feedback and then make changes. Engage with stakeholders ahead of the meeting and make the changes ahead of time. Use the meeting to present and fine tune rather than having to bring them on the journey. This is much more efficient and really shows your organisation’s key decision makers that you are continually improving.
A robust stakeholder impact assessment, implementation and communications plan will ensure the “i”s are dotted and the “t”s are crossed, but the above should give some pointers on just keeping it relevant to those that are important as far as the project’s delivery is concerned. They may be receiving the change or are impacted by it. Listen and engage them. Don’t assume the standard reports or measures are acceptable and always seek to personally connect.
* Note you may also find some additional points of relevance in my blog on the PMO Leadership Conference we sponsored in Sydney in late Feb 2019. In this post, I talk about some of the key take-aways for PMOs as they look to evolve capability and drive value to both the executive, business and project communities.
To extend the discussion or to offer any more viewpoints, contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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