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Derick Workman is a product management and marketing professional with more than 13 years’ experience on the leading edge of product, project, and portfolio management. He has worked side-by-side with leaders at some of the most innovative companies in the world. Derick is the lead Product Manager of pmNERDS training courses. He works with Instructional Designers and Content Experts to deliver the best learning-experience to our members possible while balancing today’s business and technology constraints. Derick has received certification and training in Pragmatic Marketing, Progressive Elaboration, StageGate, Systems Thinking, PDMA certification in New Product Development Processes, Six Sigma Business Scorecarding, Project Management, Cost Estimation, Agile Development, Lean Six Sigma Logistics, and Process Improvement. His interests reside in Supply Chain Management, E-Learning, Logistics, Value “Stream” Chain analysis, Management Science, Information Asset Management, Open Innovation, and Operational Research.

Performance Improvement Milestone Roadmap

If we establish a performance improvement roadmap, then all team members can anticipate upcoming changes and prepare for them, but establishing this roadmap requires team buy-in and specialized skills in performance constraint analysis and change adoption.

Process improvement efforts don’t always lead to overall performance improvement. You may improve how your team does a specific practice, but if it’s not the practice that is causing your performance constraint, you may not have any impact on performance, or possibly even make it worse. Without understanding your constraints, knowing where to focus performance improvement and in what order to tackle these initiatives is extremely difficult.

Leveraging our performance constraint analysis tool and the Performance Measure Framework, we can identify an appropriate starting point and build a milestone roadmap of the next set of performance constraints that need to be addressed to maximize the value or your process improvement efforts.

A milestone roadmap helps your team communicate the strategic intent of your performance improvement efforts to all stakeholders. This roadmap clearly indicates what process areas are going to be targeted for improvement, and in what order. A roadmap is made up of five characteristics:

Theme – The roadmap should have a theme associated with it. In this example the theme is Incremental Performance Improvement.

Milestones – The roadmap is made up of milestones related to the theme that will be worked on and delivered over time.

Milestone Owner – The milestone owner is the person who is responsible for ensuring that milestone is completed.

Sequence – The roadmap should list milestones in sequential order.

Time Periods – The roadmap should have time periods so people understand when the milestones will be worked on and which ones are bundled together. In this example, each phase represents a period.

The performance improvement milestone roadmap allows team members to anticipate changes and prepare to participate in these improvement efforts. The ability to anticipate changes and set expectations will increase new practice adoption and the effectiveness of performance improvement changes.

Cross-team collaboration is facilitated by communicating and sharing the performance improvement roadmap. Teams can work together to identify the necessary changes in each process area to address the performance constraint, and how those changes will impact the organization. Training needs and change adoption hurdles can be identified and addressed through cross-functional collaboration.

Through this communication, anticipation, and collaboration, the Performance Improvement Milestone Roadmap aligns team members, resources, and efforts to provide the most rapid performance improvement for the organization.

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Performance Scorecard

If we establish a standard set of performance measures, then we can compare practice performance, but establishing this standard requires specialized skills, understanding, and executive buy-in. ”

When trying to manage and improve practices, the measures you focus on will have a significant impact on behavior.

If performance measurement is focused on speed, then the practice’s speed will increase. If that is the only measure or the most heavily focused upon area, the improvements may come at the expense of the overall practice. Typically, when practices speed up, quality of the deliverables goes down.

By uploading practices into the CPI Performance Measure Framework, we can ensure that the measures needed to identify constraints, potential bottlenecks, and areas for improvement are easily identified.

There are many performance measures that should be monitored and are part of the performance measure framework, but the performance scorecard looks at 5 key performance measures that when used appropriately can quickly and accurately diagnose performance issues and practical solutions.

Each of these measures can help to identify issues whether they occur upstream, downstream, or within the practice:

Adoption monitors the percent of the time that people are following this practice to achieve the process objective. Often additional training, awareness, and communication activities are required to get better adoption of the practice.

Input Quality issues typically indicate an issue with the upstream practice, whether it is inferior quality or misidentified requirements on its deliverable.

Latency helps to monitor how efficiently resources are able leverage templates and assets to quickly complete the practice.

Throughput and Latency issues could be caused by lack of training, or too many unnecessary steps or overhead.

Capability Index is used to measure the output of the practice and can help identify quality issues.

There are many different constraints that can be identified that are tied to a combination of one or more of these measures. The performance scorecard helps to monitor and visualize these constraints.

In the Fast-Service™, we use the CPI Performance Measure Framework to instrument the practices with performance measures that will drive the desired behavior. The Performance Scorecard is a tool that will help to establish a performance baseline for the newly implemented practice, and can also be used for continuous performance improvement in the future.

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Create and Leverage Templates

If project managers co-develop standard practices and templates, then practice adoption and baseline performance would be higher, but with so many varying opinions, a ‘We’ culture is required.

Gary stares at his computer monitor, bewildered, as he scrolls through a large folder of project template files, “Just ask the top project managers to share their templates”, he mockingly mumbles to himself. With project performance varying greatly across the different project management teams, Gary, as part of the Governance team, has been tasked with establishing a standard set of project templates to improve project performance across his business unit. Just like a fancy dessert, without a recipe or set of repeatable steps, consistent results aren’t guaranteed.

Creating templates that are leveraged across the organization is something that requires consolidation of input from many sources. Just asking the top performers to give you their templates and combining those into one set of templates, is a daunting task that will not get much buy-in from other project managers. You will get better adoption and leverage of these templates if members of the project management team are involved in developing them. Using a “We” thinking approach and leveraging their diverse knowledge, skills, and experience, you can define much more competitive standard practices and templates.

Even though Gary has been given the authority to define the standard templates, he knows that if he builds them on his own and dictates them to the rest of the organization, not only will very few people adopt them, but they will be much less effective than templates co-developed with the entire team. To lead this initiative, he needs to exercise “We” leadership principles. Key aspects of “We” leadership are to share power, be inclusive, seek feedback, break down silos, celebrate diversity, and encourage discussion.

1) We start by first defining what the characteristics of a good project management process are. 2) Rank these factors based on importance using a simple pair-wise comparison method. 3) We need to define the project phases and their objectives/deliverables. What must we achieve before we move on? 4) Brainstorm on the different tools, methods, templates that could help achieve those objectives. In portfolio management decision making we refer to this step as listing alternatives. Since we don’t have unlimited time, we need to decide out of all the practices we could include in our template, which ones will provide the most value to us.

Using the factors of a good project management practice we defined earlier, we can rank the impact of each proposed practice. When selecting from these ranked practices, the team should keep in mind their current practices and try not to introduce an overwhelming amount of change.These selected practices are included in the baseline template that will be used going forward. This establishes the standard set of practices that Gary was tasked to produce.

By leveraging these standard templates, project performance is no longer solely dependent on the individual managing the project. If we follow the recipe, our desert will turn out well. Performance of your project management teams can now be predicted, measured, and improved. By establishing a fair and inclusive process, that leverages “We” thinking, you can capitalize on the diverse knowledge and experience of your team to create competitive templates that the team is excited to leverage.

 

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Establish Policies & Procedures for Strategic Practices

If we use standardized policies and procedures, then our projects will deliver their strategic intent, but this requires micro-management of projects.

High quality, repeatable, and consistent project performance is a goal of most organizations. Governance, whether in the form of a PMO, Committee, or just policies and procedures, attempts to address this need. The complexity that must be managed for a project to be successful can be overwhelming. For managers to be able to understand correlations and interrelationships between factors in project, portfolio and program management and perform effect-cause-effect thinking that leads to higher levels of performance, the system components must be defined and categorized. Instead of trying to define policies and procedures for every practice and monitor all aspects of the project, the Integrated PM approach to governance leverages system thinking to identify critical variables, leverage points, and constraint analysis to identify the strategic practices that need to be managed through governance.

By boiling down the complexity of your project or portfolio systems to key practices, the overall performance of your organization can be standardized and improved. We attempt to define all the components of your organizational structure that come together to accomplish the strategic goals. Systems Thinking enables a holistic governance while still being able to drill down into smaller components when necessary. Procedures and policies are used to clarify roles, guide practitioners, define state variables used to monitor and manage practices, and provide the desired set of responses to address system constraints and issues.

We develop policies and procedures to ensure that each strategic practice is functioning properly and driving towards its strategic purpose. These policies and procedures define what the practice is supposed to accomplish. The first step is to define the strategic intent of the system, in this case the integrated PM domain, and all the individual practices that make up the system components. Next, we identify the system variables and gain an understanding as to how they interact with, or impact each other. Through systems thinking analysis, we define the process steps and identify leverage points within each practice that will have the most dramatic impact to performance. We set thresholds for these variables and a set of policies and procedures as to how you should respond when certain variable states are reached.

When defining policies and procedures for Integrated PM, the focus should always be on breaking the constraint of the system. The actions and procedures outlined and enforced as part of governance are to guide the project team through the necessary process steps to achieve the highest levels of performance, and will highlight the appropriate responses and actions that should be taken to break the system constraints. When things go off track, the policies and procedures help to identify the issues and propose the procedures that will most effectively address this issue. With policies and procedures defined ahead of time, you will be able to deliver your projects with consistency and continually improve performance.

The END doesn’t justify the means. Getting the project completed doesn’t justify the heroics needed to get there. Policy and procedure get us there in one piece, and enables the organization as a whole to be dependable and perform at predictable performance levels. Governance isn’t micromanagement, it is targeted management. Governance policies and procedures ensure that each individual project team member behaves and takes actions that will deliver the highest performance levels in line with the strategic objectives.

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