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Requirement Tracing

“If we conduct requirements tracing, then we can conduct change impact analysis, but we will need to maintain a Traceability Matrix.”

Where did that requirement come from, is that requirement satisfied, and how is that requirement being satisfied are three different questions that the PM needs to have an answer for. In the past, many methods have been used, but all approaches have similarities as well.

But, first we recognize all requirements are not the same. We have business requirements, source requirements, functional requirements, system requirements, technical requirements, test requirements, on and on it goes.

Where did that requirement come from? Regardless of the requirement type, we should be able to find this answer back in the project plan somewhere. Now, depending on the requirement type, the source requirement should be able to be identified.

The trick becomes identifying this source, and then tracking it from one requirement to another until it surfaces as perhaps a PERFORMANCE type of requirement or BASIC. The tracing method is designed this linking one requirement to the next, from head to tail.

Has the requirement been satisfied? Often referred to as the requirement portfolio. This question is normally addressed by a listing of the tail-end requirements’ status. Think of a tree, each tree branch represents a new level of requirement derivation. Requirements are traced through the tree all the way down to the leaves of the tree. These leaf requirements are thought of as the requirement tails. When all the tails of a branch are satisfied, then that branch is satisfied.

A Requirement centric WBS is a complete WBS developed through reductionism, each project task being a requirement for the delivery of a higher up deliverable. The parent task (or requirement) is completed when all children are completed or ‘Satisfied’. Notice that the project hierarchy provides the requirement tracing answering “where did that requirement come from?” within the project structure. “Has the requirement been satisfied?”, is also addressed by the parent task’s status.

How is that requirement being satisfied? Why this is just the tasked leading up to the completion of the parent task in the project plan. But, depending on the development process, you may not have all this powerful structure to lean on. In this case, “What to do?” You need to build a ‘Compliance Matrix’, which is easiest to describe if we go back and describe a tracing or ‘Traceability Matrix’.

The Traceability Matrix is simply a list of requirements in rows, and columns representing that requirement tree or hierarchy we reviewed already. In this way, source requirement will be placed in row one, column one, (1,1). Then in row one column two, (1,2) you might have a PERFORMANCE requirement that will satisfy the source requirement.

There are times that you will need two or even more PERFORMANCE requirements inserted into the structure to satisfy the source requirement. No problem, just insert the next PERFORMANCE requirement in row one, column two, (1,2) and the next requirement in (2,2).


For each PREFORMANCE requirement in column two you might need a set of BASIC requirements in column three. Place the BASICs in (1,3), (2,3), and (3,3) for three BASIC requirements needed for the single PERFORMANCE requirement in (2,1), then the next set of BASIC requirement will be placed in (4,3), and (5,3).

This matrix is referred to as a Traceability matrix, and traces the five Leaf-node requirements back to the source. It is normally used for change impact analysis, and indicates which BASIC requirements are suspect if a source requirement changes. Again, just want to point out that a proper WBS can add a lot of value to your project besides a task list.

The Compliance Matrix is much the same, but taken one step further, indicating the status of each requirement. In this way, not only can you conduct change impact analysis, but project completion, and value realization can easily be determined.

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The Project Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

"If I develop a WBS, then I will have a framework for capturing project information, but how do I create a WBS?"

From the initial Project Plan, we expand our project planning efforts. However, many times before we spend time on this additional planning effort, we go through some kind of review or approval process. Then, once approved, we will continue the planning activities to create a Work Breakdown Structure or WBS.

  • Projects are organized and comprehended by the practice of reductionism or the breaking of projects into progressively smaller pieces until they form a single task or work package.
  • This is different than taxonomy, where the year contains month, which contains project components.
  • There is more to projects than just that found in a project taxonomy; a million-dollar project is more than a collection of $10k projects. When managing a $10k project you just don’t do some of the tasks that you’d do in a bigger project. A large project is more than a bunch of smaller projects grouped together. It will at least contain additional management and communication steps demanded by the larger effort size.

The initial project concept can come from the roadmap. In fact, a roadmap has a time component, a theme, and a sequence of objectives or milestones. It has been argued that some roadmaps are high-level projects. However, one thing missing from the roadmap is the business structure provided by the Business Model Canvas.

The development of a WBS is an elaboration of the Initial Project.

We start with each of the Key Activities of the Business Model Canvas developed in the Initial Project if completed, or milestones from the Roadmap. These Key Activities are categorized by the project objectives. [This may require a discussion with the project sponsor if the attempt of categorization demonstrated misalignment. The cure for this is to break out a new project and put the misaligned objectives or activities into its own project.] With proper categorization, each Key Activity can be placed under an objective. The Key Activity is placed under only one category; a category may have multiple Key Activities.

In the listing above, Key Activity 1, was aligned with Project Objective 2. Then using the principle of reductionism Key Activity 1, was divided up into a set of smaller steps to complete or deliver Key Activity 1.

The Project Objective 2, seen here as line 9, didn't have any Key Activities in the Business Model Canvas, which is more normal than not. In this case, the objective is divided up into smaller steps or tasks using the principle of reductionism.

Project Objective 3, seen above on line 10, is interesting because it contains two Key Activities, which is unusual- but possible. Each of these Key Activities was then divided up into smaller steps or tasks using the principle of reductionism.

This activity breakdown is referred to as a WBS or Work Breakdown Structure. This WBS is often misunderstood to be the entire project plan, which is not true. Even in the case when the entire project consists of only one task, there is more to the project plan, as we have seen in the initial project, and we will see more later.

When additional activities are added to the project, additional project management activities are practiced and need to be inserted in the WBS, more interconnections are created, and their behavior becomes more complex.

Major categories of project attributes include:

  • Flows- such as information flows, workflows flows, queues, and reservoirs or buffers.
  • WBS Components and Boundaries- such as tasks, milestones, requirements, risks, costs, and issues.
  • Stimulus and response pairs such as inputs and outputs
  • Intent or purpose such as goals, objectives, and deliverables
  • Interconnections between all the project’s components and state variable values
  • State and observable behavior between state changes

So even though reductionism is used heavily in the development of the WBS, the entire project is much more than the sum of one or more of its WBS components. The more we understand the interrelationship between the WBS and the project’s other components, the more success we’ll have using projects.

The separation between a project and its environment means that there is a boundary somewhere. In fact, boundary selection is the most critical aspect of projects.

  • Boundary choice determines not only the nature of the change caused by the project,
  • Every project causes change somewhere, and the form of its outputs or results sometimes called ‘Workproducts’,
  • Who will benefit from the desired outputs and who will suffer any undesirable consequences. (For an example, the value of a task may be increased to the detriment of another task.)

Hence, we must justify the boundary choices made inside of the project as well as outside.

In general, we must first categorize our tasks. This, in turn, helps us gain insights into the correlation between the project tasks (interior), and the behavior of the project (Exterior).

With this insight, we're then able to use effect-cause-effect thinking to solve project problems. Project management doesn’t have to be an art; it can be a science that is repeatable, maintainable, and defendable; beginning with the right structure. In fact, all sciences have had to pass through these same three stages of growth; Categorization, Correlation, and Effect-Cause-Effect thinking. Integrated PM is no different. The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is used to provide a framework for this analysis process. We will begin with the information gathered from the initial project. This is our first level in the WBS. There are usually many ways to design a WBS for a particular project, and there are as many (or more) views as there are people in the process. It’s true, simple practicality usually provides the best approach.

But before we just blindly start following the practice of reductionism, there are a few rules that can be applied, which will save you lots of trial and error time.

Your WBS design should try to achieve these goals:

  1. Be compatible with how the work will be done, and how costs and schedules will be managed.
  2. Give visibility to important or risky work efforts
  3. Allow mapping or requirements, plans, testing, and deliverables
  4. Foster clear ownership by managers and task leaders
  5. Provide structure and data for performance measurement
  6. Align with historical database requirements
  7. Make sense to accountants and workers.
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The Project Charter’s Value Proposition

"If I identify the value proposition for the project, then I provide direction for downstream decisions, but I don’t have any standard way to clearly state it accurately."

The content of some of the boxes change depending on the project, but the placement of the 9 boxes of the Business Model Canvas is the same. I suppose just how you place these boxes isn’t as important as deciding and then sticking to it. A common look between projects helps identify patterns and facilitates comparisons. The critical thing is to address these characteristics about your projects, and provide a quick summary for comparisons.

The first step in the project charter based on the Business Model Canvas is getting to the value proposition. Your project may have other documents like the governance plan, communication plan, and vision scope document; all part of the larger Project Charter. In that case, this might become the summary of the business section of the assembled Project Charter. Depending on your needs this can be stand alone, or a section of a larger document.

Completion of these boxes may be the result of an extensive strategic planning effort, or a 30-minute interview. Get what you can, and then focus efforts on finding the answers you’re not feeling comfortable with.

Within the Value Proposition box, there is the optimal type of proposition to identify and the CORE proposition. Our first step is to decide what type of offering this project will be delivering. Granted, most projects have more than one deliverable. If this is you case, then think of the aggregate of all the deliverables. What is it that you will truly be delivering? Why are the clients coming to you for that deliverable? You want to simplify the answer down to one of three types of value proposition; Unique, Intimacy of familiarity, and cost.

UNIQUE: This is when your project team can deliver a product or service that cannot be acquired anywhere else. An example might be found in an IT organization that provides security credentials that can’t be gotten from anywhere else. You must go to the IT Department for the credentials. Another example could be a sales person’s rolodex full of past clients that can be called on. The company can’t get that unique set of names that can be called on from anywhere else. I’m not convinced of this value, but it is unique. However, typically, the Unique type of proposition yields the premium price. As a project manager and sponsor, you try to create a unique type of deliverable to increase the perceived value of the project.

INTIMATE: This type of proposition states that your project team has intimate experience with creating the desired deliverable. Due to your familiarity of the problem/solution space, your can deliver a product or service better than anyone, or can do it with less errors.

Maybe your intimate understanding will enable you to be more innovative. This type of proposition is a little more flexible than the UNIQUE proposition, and is slightly less competitive. Let’s face it, its hard to prove your better when there are three other teams both internal and external that have an “Intimate” knowledge of the problem/solution space.

Typically, your price point is lower than the UNIQUE type. Understand that price is the total “cost” of ownership. How much pain is the client willing to go through to acquire and own the deliverable. The lower the price you can ask, the better the deliverable must be. The INTIMATE value proposition must be better packaged, better supported, and easier to acquire than the UNIQUE deliverable. Client involvement is normally less, and mostly oversight in nature. After all, you know what they want, even better than they do.

COST: Think ‘Economy of Scale’. You can offer this deliverable faster, cheaper, and at higher quality than your competitors because you do this more often. You do this all the time, and one more just doesn’t impact the cost that much. An example would be a brochure printing. The artwork and design has already been completed. If your already set up, an additional printing just isn’t that much more cost. It’s easy. I call Frank and ask him for 100 more of the brochure. We don’t discuss the layout, the paper size, where to send it- nope its all done. It’s that easy. You just say, “Give me more!”

The ‘Economy of Scale’ deliverable is very desirable, and has the most demand. If using this type of value proposition, you expect to do it a lot, where as the UNIQUE type, you expect to do it less often, and so must charge more, in all aspects of cost.

Now once you have characterized the deliverable, hence the project, as to deliverable type, we want to take a look at the proposition itself. There are five types of valid propositions, you must select one.

MORE VALUE AT LESS COST: This is the easiest proposition to accept, and easiest to prove. You show what new value they will receive, and how this cost less than it did before. I this case, people like to know what has changed. They want to believe you wouldn’t just charge more than you had to. They are looking for a new competency, new technology, or even a reorganization. You need to point to something, and say because of this we can now do that, in order to maintain credibility.

MORE VALUE AT THE SAME COST: This is an easy proposition to accept. It feels like your giving me something for free. Of course, if I value the new free offering, then I will like it. Normally, this can be explained with process efficiencies, so it’s less important to point to the change enabler.

MORE VALUE AT MORE COST: This is a difficult proposition to accept. From the project team’s point of view, it makes the most sense. If you are going to deliver more value, then of course you will need to charge more. Well, you clients don’t see thing this way.

First you will have to prove that there is more value. More value in past offerings may not be so hard, but more value than delivered from a competitor may be difficult to demonstrate, and this proposition becomes expensive fast. Remember, you must justify more cost, and that seldom works out well.

SAME VALUE AT LESS COST: This is an easy proposition to accept. Demonstrate that the change caused by the project does create the same value. Next, demonstrate how it costs less, or is easier to get, or easier to own, or easier to use. Take away the change risk and bam, you got it.

LESS VALUE AT LESS COST: This is a difficult proposition to accept. Know one wants less value, but the real challenge is to demonstrate that the less value isn’t as much as the less cost. You must show that even though you client will lose a little, the reduction in cost is worth it. Prepare for a long adoption process with this proposition.

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A Risk Boundary Problem

“If I concern my project with risk assessment, then my project targets such as Budget, Schedule, and quality become more reliable, but this will require me to define better project boundaries between strategy, program mandates, and project requirements.”

What is risk? The answer to this question depends on who answers it and the boundaries the individual establishes around themselves. If the answer comes from someone who is responsible for all processes within the Integrated PM system boundary, a clear answer can be expected. Risk is obvious when people own their processes. The owner is anxious about resources being well spent and not wasted, and that the results are acceptable. They want to maximize the chance of success and looks for clues to act upon. In other words, the owner deliberately sees risks and responds to them. If they grow nonchalant and detached, they don’t see many risks or don’t feel like acting upon them. When nonowners see risks, and communicate them to those who run the process, the result is conflict.

Risk arises from factors beyond our control. A designer may consider requirement analysis as a source of risk because it is external to him and he is not sure whether the analysis results will be communicated completely and correctly. This is a "dependency risk." A boundary is drawn around the process, and risks that threaten the process from across the boundary are seen. Risk perception has a built-in boundary perception. Risk definition has meaning only with reference to this boundary.

Within the process owner's boundary, a problem is not immediately seen as a risk, even if it happens to be vague and uncertain. The propensity is to assign the problem to process control and process management.

Across the boundary, the propensities change. A process owner has no influence beyond her boundary. Neighboring processes are alien and appear to be sources of risk. Problems tend to get labeled as risks.

When the boss of the SBU (strategic business unit) looks at the same risk from a larger perspective, the risk looks smaller and local. The risk appears to have occurred due to lack of cooperation between two process owners. She does not want to think of this local issue as a major risk, as things can improve through better management. If provoked, she may term this an internal risk that can be solved by taking internal measures. The SEU boss realizes that the better the management, the fewer the internal risks.

There are some sensitive internal conditions, such as when a PM chooses to run a project without adequate resources and authority. The processes have weaknesses that are well known to the stakeholders. Process weaknesses are potential breeding grounds for risks. But the PM may not have the resources, power, and influence to improve process capabilities. All the PM can do is mitigate the harmful effects, promote awareness of the risks, and prepare contingency plans. Risks have a different connotation in this case.

It is important to define internal risks, because they contribute to more than 65 percent of risks in a typical business environment.

Internal risks are solved by internal response plans. Most internal risks evoke short-term plans that operate within the life of the project. These are dependency risks that are solved by better coordination and risk communication. Some internal risks arise because of lack of process capability. There is no quick solution to such problems. This calls for a well-designed process improvement plan. The nature of improvement can be a series of continual improvements or kaizens, or a major breakthrough improvement of the Six Sigma style. Such improvements require more resources and time.

Yet another type of internal risk is seen on comparing growth objectives with current performance levels. Today is fine, but tomorrow may bring hurdles. Perception of such risks comes from long-term vision. If growth goals are taken seriously, one finds more risks. If growth goals are taken as secondary concerns, one does not see risks. I find that architects of the organization will detect growth-related risks, while most PMs don’t. When an organization is divided, more boundaries appear and employees see more internal risks. When the organization is integrated, such as in Integrated PM, internal risks are called process management issues. In an integrated organization with boundaries, collaborative efforts make up for weaknesses and create an organizational capability that is greater than the sum of individual process capabilities. This is the Integrated PM system with sub-components. In fragmented organizations, risks multiply.

Internal risk is the probability of suffering losses while pursuing performance and growth goals because of inadequacies in process capability (including core and support processes) and organizational structure.

Beyond the organizational boundary, however, things are different.

External conditions are beyond our control. There are risk factors beyond our sphere of influence. Competitors cut prices and marketing times almost ruthlessly. Social forces may erode staff loyalty. The PM sees external risks as threats and develops strategies to deal with them.

External risk is the probability of suffering loss while pursuing performance and growth goals because of uncer-tainties in external conditions.

There cannot be a better example of external risk than requirements.

The requirements keep changing; they "creep." The volatility of requirements is a perennial source of uncertainty and, hence, risk. Requirements go through a metamorphosis, becoming bigger and clearer in each phase of their evolution. Requirement evolution is a subject for continuous observation and modeling. Requirement volatility is beyond our control and is uncertain. Change is inevitable and is beyond prediction. When the requirement risk occurs, it can cause numerous problems for the project. Managers are aware of this. They cannot avoid it, but are prepared. Those who have mastered this risk, experience fewer surprises when requirements change.

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Project Portfolios and the GOSPEL of Integrated PM.

"If I use the principles of project portfolio management, then I can drive increased value through projects, but our project management and program management practices aren’t mature enough for portfolio management."

The Project Portfolio G.O.S.P.E.L.

I tell my clients that I have one of the best jobs in the World; I go all over the world teaching the GOSPEL. That is, the GOSPEL of Integrated PM. This is a common acronym used to teach project strategic planning, and project portfolio management. These two disciplines are tightly coordinated within Integrated PM. Below I’ll quickly explain the acronym. They represent the fundamental capabilities required for a successful portfolio management process.

GOAL

This represents the long-term purpose of your organization. A change here would require major structural reorganization, and seldom happens. Your goal in the GOSPEL, represents your organization’s mission. Many times, the goal of the organization isn’t even measured. Of course, this needs to change, as the Goal drives all other activity within the organization, and the activities of Integrated PM. Every system must have a single purpose, each sub-system within the system must also have a single purpose or ‘Goal. Every portfolio (or sub-portfolio) requires a goal.

OBJECTIVES

During strategic planning the Goal is segmented into the Key Strategic Areas which your organization must be successful in for the Goal to be achieved. Normally there are three to six Key Strategic Areas. If you can’t identify enough Key Strategic Ares, go down a level in abstraction. If you identify too many Key Strategic Areas, the combine some and go up a level in abstraction. Success in these Key Strategic Areas is not an option, failure in one is failure in the organization as a system. They therefore, all have the same priority. These Key Strategic Areas are called objectives for ease.

In Integrated PM, Objectives join to achieve the organizational goal. Think of them as separate components within the same system. Objective measures are critical to portfolio value decisions, and balancing.

STRATEGY

Because each of the organization’s objectives are so critical to your organizational success, you typically want to develop multiple strategies for accomplishing each objective which reduces the risk of failure. The strategy defines the operational concept, or technical approach to the objective. Strategies are typically controlled with guidelines, constraints, capabilities, and practical limitations.

PLANS

Our project plans should be linked to one strategy. Of course, typically multiple projects and programs are normally linked to a single strategy, but where it makes sense, a single project might support multiple strategies. This is referred to as a many-to-many relationship. The best-practice here is to focus more on authority and responsibility than on links. The links are used for reporting, alignment scoring models, finance and resource balancing, and shouldn’t become structural constraints.

EXECUTION

This is where the ‘rubber hits the road’ so to say. Your projects should cause strategic change when done right, but nothing can happen if resources aren’t available. Project ranking and prioritization enables limited resources to be applied where the most value can be produced. Once the portfolio management question can be answered, “Out of all the things that could be done, what should be done, given the limited resources?”, execution becomes paramount. The capacity plan kicks in at this point, and optimally places the right resources, at the right project, at the right time.

LEARNING

Now remember this, the entire purpose of this activity to drive change in the value indicators. There are six ways that projects can impact organizational value. Some of these value drivers cause change to the organization’s perceived value. While other drivers cause change to operational cost. At the end of the day, they all drive changes which increase the organization’s competitive advantage.

The question is, “How well did the project meet expectations?” Can we learn from the past, by measuring the present, to improve the future? This is the challenge of every Integrated PM team. To address this challenge, we use systems thinking and a measure framework that helps improve project portfolio decisions, resulting in improved project performance.

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What types of problems can risk assessment be applied to?

“If I use risk management practices then I might be able to determine a range of possibilities, but I'm not sure of the type of problems risk assessment can be applied?”

Risk management may not be everything you think. Here are some examples of how project estimates other than traditional 'Risk’ logs are used in project planning and project portfolio management.

The Legal Model - A model that calculated the net benefit of settlement vs. litigation was built to aid in legal decisions. The net benefit of a settlement, net cost of litigation, the net cost of the settlement, a total cost of a verdict, and other outputs were calculated. Input variables that comprised broad categories included parameters such as litigation costs, total damages, the likelihood of a verdict, and other probabilistic and economic aspects. Project selection and ranking were then based on the estimates of this risk model. Maintaining a 'risk log' wasn't even part of the effort, but the use of anticipated risk events and the associated probabilities certainly are.

An Environmental Health and Safety Model- Models were built that calculated the total environmental, health, and safety risk and cost associated with entry by the company into various countries around the world. Risk of subcomponents of the model were also calculated and presented. Input-variable categories (many variables per category) included public perception considerations, government approvals/permits, ecological/cultural parameters, health and safety considerations, and evaluation of preexisting damage. In this case, risk assessment happened during strategic program planning and then downstream to provide guidelines and constraints to project managers.

Pipeline Route-Selection model- Oh boy, a comprehensive time-series model was constructed to help a consortium decide which of several routes would be selected to construct a pipeline for a major oil field. The pipeline route-selection model calculated tariffs and other parameters from variables that represented major categories of consideration. These included political concerns, environmental problems, commercial considerations, financial parameters, technical considerations, taxes (for many countries), and other parameters. This model was used with great success to rank and prioritize the routes of pipeline projects. Financial estimates then drove project constraints. Notice when in the project planning cycle, risk management practices and risk events were considered.

Political models- Models were constructed that evaluated other countries based on categories of variables. Categories included political stability, foreign investment conditions, operating environment, transportation infrastructure, and other considerations. Results from the models facilitated comparison of countries on a common scale. Once again, these models drove selection criteria based on risk factors, not during the execution of a project already committed to.

Capital Project Ranking and Portfolio Management model- This model calculated profitability index (PI), internal rate of return (IRR), net present value (NPV), and other financial outputs. Input variables included project safety and environmental aspects, cost estimates, incentives, discount rates, taxes, maintenance and insurance costs, and other considerations. This model was run on all capital projects at a manufacturing facility. The projects were ranked and portfolio-managed based upon the model outputs. No this wasn't the only model used. Before this model was used, other assessments were leveraged while financial information wasn't yet available. These capital projects had already gone through capacity planning and were now going through the second level of estimation. Notice that risk modeling of risk events are used throughout the project planning lifecycle to provide probabilistic estimates. Too many times, as project managers, we use the single value, deterministic estimates of performance factors which are not fixed.

New Products model- Research and development organizations generate products and processes, each of which may have commercial value. It is, however, expensive to launch a new product in the marketplace. Therefore, products and processes need to be ranked. A model was built that included categories of variables. Some of the categories were technical considerations, marketing aspects, financial/commercial facets, and others. The model facilitated the application of weights to the various considerations. Results from the model allowed the prioritization of potential new products. These models can be complex, but depending on when the estimates are being used, can take less than 5 minutes per project to estimate.

Fate/Transport model - A model was constructed to calculate inhalation exposure. Exposure was represented in the model as the average daily dose for noncarcinogens and the lifetime average daily dose for carcinogens. Among the input variables were parameters such as the concentration of chemicals in the air, inhalation rate, bioavailability, exposure duration, exposure frequency, body weight, average lifetime, and other considerations.

My point is that risk management efforts involve more than only the maintenance of the project risk log, and typically models save the organization time, and make their project planning efforts more robust and consistent, smoothing the way for project management activities.

 

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Project Management Fast-Service™ Package

“If we select the pmNERDS' Fast-Service™ package, then we get rapid performance improvement, but we’ll need to answer questions and provide feedback.”

We all occasionally get major hankerings, it’s usually something that we can’t wait for and need within a very short period of time. For us it is usually food related, the Fast Food Industry utilizes the notion of standardization to produce food at minimal cost and preparation time while maximizing value within their business constraints. The question is can they make a compelling product while being profitable?

At pmNERDS, that’s our goal with these Fast-Service™ packages. Using product templates, standardized processes, and focused training we’re able to deliver consulting products faster than our clients and competitors, with sustainable margins.

Very few of us look forward to overly complex Project Management processes. We want it to be easier and faster, so process performance in this area looks rather attractive, but what area should be addressed first?

Using some rapid assessment techniques, the Performance Measure Framework, and our performance constraint analysis tool, we help you identify that practice that is holding you back. Then we will propose modifications or creation of a new practice that addresses your specific constraint. This is not about investing lots of time to do it yourself, or just going without, we are offering a third choice…

Our clients hire us do some of the data collection, constraint analysis, process documentation, and change management activities that are part of effective Project Management performance improvement practices. With only a total of 8 hrs. of your time, spread out in 8 sessions over 4 weeks, we complete the analysis and build the necessary deliverables to adopt a new practice, that will improve your Project Management performance. All of this is accomplished within 20 business days.

We’re experts in performance improvement and Project Management practices, you know your business and organization. By using our Fast-Service™ package, you can leave the specialized practices to us, and focus on running your business.

Below is a set of Fast-Service™ package deliverables used to improve your Project Management performance.

SELF-ASSESSMENT REPORT- This is an Excel spreadsheet and chart that is used to identify the major problem areas and bottlenecks of the organizations’ innovation process. The Self-Assessment contains a series of questions related to current practices for gathering ideas, converting ideas into business opportunities, and finally diffusing ideas throughout organization and to market. Using the self-assessment, we can quickly identify the perceived system constraints, and dive deeper into specific process areas that could be causing bottlenecks.

CONSTRAINT ANALYSIS REPORT- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to identify key system constraints. We use Sufficient Cause diagrams to look at effects and potential causes from the perspective of Resources, Inputs, Controls, and Processes. These diagrams are used to verify effects, validate relationships between causes and effects, and look for additional effects to gain a clear understanding of the current system constraints.

PERFORMANCE MEASURE FRAMEWORK- This is a set of Excel spreadsheets and Power Point diagrams used to manage process improvement. Focusing on 1 of the 16 domains, we will load the selected practice into the Performance Measure Framework. By adding your standardized plans and information assets, such as process diagrams and performance thresholds, into the framework, you can do trade-offs and make process improvement decisions.

PROPOSED PRACTICE EFBD- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to establish a process definition. The EFBD (Enhanced Function Block Diagram) Illustrates control logic, information flow, and process steps. We build this by looking at past project plans and documenting the current state. Based on constraint analysis, we can make modifications to the EFBD of the practice. We do this with things such as review gates, control activities, additional input screening, and resources inputs. This EFBD standardizes the practice and makes the proposed practice easier to understand, adopt, as well as improve over time.

NEW PRACTICE POLICIES & PROCEDURES- This is a set of Word documents that are used to outline process policies and procedures that enable standardization and improvement. Policies and procedures establish a standard set of minimum expectations and guidelines that are expected to be followed by anyone performing the practice. We create a new baseline of process performance, based on the constraint analysis and EFBD process analysis, by adding policies, process steps or procedural guidelines. This information is used to train people on new process, and monitor process execution and performance.

BUSINESS CASE- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to analyze, establish and communicate the business case of implementing the proposed practice change. When change is desired, the value delivered through the change must outweigh the negative impacts, cost, and natural friction that change will cause. All business cases derive from the ability to impact one of the six business drivers: Revenue, Efficiency, Sustainability, Endorsement, Cost and Risk. We will then define the type of value proposition that the new practice will deliver: uniqueness, familiarity, or economy of scale. Lastly, we determine the Cost/Value combination. This process will achieve same value for less cost, or more value for less cost, etc. The business case is used to overcome change hurdles and help people to quickly adopted the proposed change. 

PERFORMANCE SCORECARD- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to measure practice performance and drive improvement. The performance scorecard is built from information captured in the Performance Measure Framework. Using the five key performance measures, you can diagnose causes of performance constraints and identify process adjustments to address them. The Performance Scorecard will keep people focused on the key measures that impact overall performance, making improvement efforts more effective.

STRATEGY DIAGRAM- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the strategic intent of the performance improvement initiative.  The strategy diagram sets a common vision and outlines how different teams/roles work together to perform the key activities needed to deliver the value of the initiative. The strategy diagram helps team members to understand their role, adopt the proposed changes, and buy-in to the initiative solution vision.

COMMUNICATION PLAN- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to communicate to and engage all stakeholders and team members of a project. A Communication Plan will identify the target personas and actions that you want them to take, anticipate potential objections, and provide a message that addresses the objections and provokes action. We will develop a communication plan that identifies target stakeholders, develops compelling messages that engage them to act towards the achievement of project objectives.

ROLE BASED TRAINING DIAGRAM- This is a set of Power Point diagrams that are used to identify training needs of job roles. These roles based training diagrams provide standardized capabilities, job role expectations, and training demand analysis by process. These diagrams are used to create training and adoption activities for each role as part of the new practice deployment. Each Role can clearly understand their roles & responsibilities regarding the new practice. This means the activities will get done more efficiently with better performance results. 

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT MILESTONE ROADMAP- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the performance improvement efforts of the organization over time. Based on the performance constraints, this roadmap identifies the sequence of performance improvements as well as the target process areas. The Performance Improvement Milestone Roadmap will align team members, resources, and efforts to provide the most rapid performance improvement for the organization.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through email or phone.

 

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Project Management with ‘FACET’ Process-Services™

“Project Management with FACET is a Process-Services™ offering of pmNERDS. This offering provides a process umbrella of FACET, and then line-items of an S.O.W. that can be chosen a la carte.”

Each surface, or facet of this gem represents an information structure of a project, program, or portfolio. Think of these facets as an information architecture. One architecture would contain the project activities or tasks. Another facet of this gem (project) could be a cost structure, another one a contract structure. There exists many structures or architectures for projects programs, and portfolios. Much of the information within these architectures have inter-connecting links and correlations to behavior or performance.

During our process consultancy, we address:

Facets- In Integrated PM, there are many facets of the project. In the PMI, they recognize knowledge areas, which become structures, or knowledge management frameworks in Integrated PM. Each information asset in the framework maybe interconnected with other assets.

Adapt- The PM has a plan, but even the best laid plan needs to adapt to the changing environments of projects. Good plans can be quickly adapted to deal with new conditions, poorer ones- well not so.

Communicate- Communication is KING during project execution. The communication plan facilitates communication. The project manager must communicate with the client, stakeholders, and project resources to keep the perceived value high, and optimize engagement.

Execute- With all the emphases on high-level thinking, who’s getting things done. Project Management is about getting things done, and must result in many people working together. They must crystallize thought and anticipate roadblocks. They require the sound judgement that comes only through execution of past projects.

Teamwork- As projects grow, the need for Teamwork is obvious, but even for a project when you’re doing everything, the feeling of ‘Team’ should exist between the client, stakeholders, and project members. Teamwork is the work required to keep the team functioning, not the work to accomplish the team’s goal.

The pmNERDS process consultancy provides a standard Project Management capability described by the acronym above. This is an umbrella capability needed regardless of any additional practices selected from our a la carte practice menu.

Project Management practices available for selection from the a la carte S.O.W. include Conflict Resolution, Monitoring Mechanisms, Governance, Performing Quality Control, Performing Cost Control, Team Management, Schedule Control, Project End-of-Life, Communicating, Performance Reporting, Stakeholder Management, and Responding to Risk.

Organizations that depend on projects to create value and increase process efficiencies, as seen in business units such as IT, Marketing, and NPD, should talk with us if they’re interested in increasing project performance.

After a quick discussion, we can direct you to the best process offering and a la carte practices based on your process improvement goals. By putting together a service package that addresses your key performance constraint, our sales team can help you get the quickest time-to-value, while minimizing risk and cost.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through email or phone.

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Project Management Performance-Service™

“If we engage pmNERDS’ Performance-Service™ for Project Management, then we’ll increase the organization’s competitive advantage, realize higher value from projects, and complete projects more efficiently, but it will require change leadership.”

Our performance improvement consulting practice for Project Management, begins with gathering information about your organization and engagement goals. We conduct a quick gap analysis to construct an engagement roadmap.

Once approved, we will build this roadmap out into a complete project plan and review it with our clients going over roles and responsibilities. We schedule weekly meetings to review the project and discuss relevant decisions. Depending of the length of engagement, steering committee meetings are also scheduled.

Daily scrums are scheduled to address issues and schedule any needed ad hoc meetings. Performance improvement consulting involves a great deal of planning and communicating. Underlying each practice is an element of process improvement and use of a standard performance measure framework.

Within this engagement we focus on:

  • the project request process,
  • ranking projects,
  • conducting the project initiation phase,
  • leading a project kickoff,
  • maintaining the communication and adoption plan.
  • Managing the risk log

Much of our time is spent addressing what is sometimes called the soft-skills of Project Management. But this differentiation isn’t complete. This is the “Doing” tasks of project management, after the plan has been specified.

Best practices performed by the project manager will be detailed. These facets of projects will be defined within the client’s environment. Coordinating tasks, managing plan buffers, expenses, and risks to name a few are detailed and examined with the objective to optimally categorize these activities as separate facets of Integrated PM. Then a study is conducted to begin the definition of correlations and inter-relationships between categorized components and project behavior.

We will review with the client the process of identifying the key performance constraints, and walk through effect-cause-effect thinking to validate assumptions and break project performance constraints.

By leveraging our experience, you can reach expected benefits quicker and with less false starts while being assured that you won’t paint yourself into a ‘process’ corner, and isolate information asset flow to downstream processes. Our performance consulting practice requires a discussion to determine goals, scope of effort, consultant alignment, and the development of a business proposal. We deliver an analysis of current project management process performance and constraints, a roadmap to performance improvement, process design, process exercise, process enablement, deployment, and measurement.

A large part of this effort is process training, skills mentoring, and performance coaching. Depending on the engagement, technology configuration or deployment may or may not be part of this effort.

You can discover more about this service offering by clicking the icon (email or phone) in the top right corner of our website. We’d love to discuss this Performance-Service™ offering and answer any questions you might have.

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Project Planning Fast-Service™ Package

“If we select the pmNERDS' Fast-Service™ package, then we get rapid performance improvement, but we’ll need to answer questions and provide feedback.”

We all occasionally get major hankerings, it’s usually something that we can’t wait for and need within a very short period of time. For us it is usually food related, the Fast Food Industry utilizes the notion of standardization to produce food at minimal cost and preparation time while maximizing value within their business constraints. The question is can they make a compelling product while being profitable?

At pmNERDS, that’s our goal with these Fast-Service™ packages. Using product templates, standardized processes, and focused training we’re able to deliver consulting products faster than our clients and competitors, with sustainable margins.

Very few of us look forward to overly complex Project Planning processes. We want it to be easier and faster, so process performance in this area looks rather attractive, but what area should be addressed first?

Using some rapid assessment techniques, the Performance Measure Framework, and our performance constraint analysis tool, we help you identify that practice that is holding you back. Then we will propose modifications or creation of a new practice that addresses your specific constraint. This is not about investing lots of time to do it yourself, or just going without, we are offering a third choice…

Our clients hire us do some of the data collection, constraint analysis, process documentation, and change management activities that are part of effective Project Planning performance improvement practices. With only a total of 8 hrs. of your time, spread out in 8 sessions over 4 weeks, we complete the analysis and build the necessary deliverables to adopt a new practice, that will improve your Project Planning performance. All of this is accomplished within 20 business days.

We’re experts in performance improvement and Project Planning practices, you know your business and organization. By using our Fast-Service™ package, you can leave the specialized practices to us, and focus on running your business.

Below is a set of Fast-Service™ package deliverables used to improve your Project Planning performance.

SELF-ASSESSMENT REPORT- This is an Excel spreadsheet and chart that is used to identify the major problem areas and bottlenecks of the organizations’ innovation process. The Self-Assessment contains a series of questions related to current practices for gathering ideas, converting ideas into business opportunities, and finally diffusing ideas throughout organization and to market. Using the self-assessment, we can quickly identify the perceived system constraints, and dive deeper into specific process areas that could be causing bottlenecks.

CONSTRAINT ANALYSIS REPORT- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to identify key system constraints. We use Sufficient Cause diagrams to look at effects and potential causes from the perspective of Resources, Inputs, Controls, and Processes. These diagrams are used to verify effects, validate relationships between causes and effects, and look for additional effects to gain a clear understanding of the current system constraints.

PERFORMANCE MEASURE FRAMEWORK- This is a set of Excel spreadsheets and Power Point diagrams used to manage process improvement. Focusing on 1 of the 16 domains, we will load the selected practice into the Performance Measure Framework. By adding your standardized plans and information assets, such as process diagrams and performance thresholds, into the framework, you can do trade-offs and make process improvement decisions.

PROPOSED PRACTICE EFBD- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to establish a process definition. The EFBD (Enhanced Function Block Diagram) Illustrates control logic, information flow, and process steps. We build this by looking at past project plans and documenting the current state. Based on constraint analysis, we can make modifications to the EFBD of the practice. We do this with things such as review gates, control activities, additional input screening, and resources inputs. This EFBD standardizes the practice and makes the proposed practice easier to understand, adopt, as well as improve over time.

NEW PRACTICE POLICIES & PROCEDURES- This is a set of Word documents that are used to outline process policies and procedures that enable standardization and improvement. Policies and procedures establish a standard set of minimum expectations and guidelines that are expected to be followed by anyone performing the practice. We create a new baseline of process performance, based on the constraint analysis and EFBD process analysis, by adding policies, process steps or procedural guidelines. This information is used to train people on new process, and monitor process execution and performance.

BUSINESS CASE- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to analyze, establish and communicate the business case of implementing the proposed practice change. When change is desired, the value delivered through the change must outweigh the negative impacts, cost, and natural friction that change will cause. All business cases derive from the ability to impact one of the six business drivers: Revenue, Efficiency, Sustainability, Endorsement, Cost and Risk. We will then define the type of value proposition that the new practice will deliver: uniqueness, familiarity, or economy of scale. Lastly, we determine the Cost/Value combination. This process will achieve same value for less cost, or more value for less cost, etc. The business case is used to overcome change hurdles and help people to quickly adopted the proposed change. 

PERFORMANCE SCORECARD- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to measure practice performance and drive improvement. The performance scorecard is built from information captured in the Performance Measure Framework. Using the five key performance measures, you can diagnose causes of performance constraints and identify process adjustments to address them. The Performance Scorecard will keep people focused on the key measures that impact overall performance, making improvement efforts more effective.

STRATEGY DIAGRAM- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the strategic intent of the performance improvement initiative.  The strategy diagram sets a common vision and outlines how different teams/roles work together to perform the key activities needed to deliver the value of the initiative. The strategy diagram helps team members to understand their role, adopt the proposed changes, and buy-in to the initiative solution vision.

COMMUNICATION PLAN- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to communicate to and engage all stakeholders and team members of a project. A Communication Plan will identify the target personas and actions that you want them to take, anticipate potential objections, and provide a message that addresses the objections and provokes action. We will develop a communication plan that identifies target stakeholders, develops compelling messages that engage them to act towards the achievement of project objectives.

ROLE BASED TRAINING DIAGRAM- This is a set of Power Point diagrams that are used to identify training needs of job roles. These roles based training diagrams provide standardized capabilities, job role expectations, and training demand analysis by process. These diagrams are used to create training and adoption activities for each role as part of the new practice deployment. Each Role can clearly understand their roles & responsibilities regarding the new practice. This means the activities will get done more efficiently with better performance results. 

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT MILESTONE ROADMAP- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the performance improvement efforts of the organization over time. Based on the performance constraints, this roadmap identifies the sequence of performance improvements as well as the target process areas. The Performance Improvement Milestone Roadmap will align team members, resources, and efforts to provide the most rapid performance improvement for the organization.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through email or phone. 

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Project Planning with ‘NEEDS’ Process-Service™

“Project Planning with NEEDS is a Process-Service™ offering of pmNERDS. This offering provides a process umbrella of NEEDS, and then line-items of an S.O.W. that can be chosen a la carte.”

I sure hope this guy has what he needs before the winter starts in, or when his project begins. I find that most issues in projects could have been avoided if a better job of planning was done. Likewise, most issues with project plans arise when the gathering and understanding of client, customer, and stakeholder needs weren’t understood, or keep front and center during the planning activity. On the other hand, there is nothing like a winter in a log cabin when everything has been addressed properly.

During our process consultancy, we address:

Necessary- In terms of the minimal viable product/deliverable, what is necessary to satisfy client’s need for the project? Once we know the necessary, we can use our experience to define the sufficient plan.

Expectations- What are the client’s, stakeholder’s, and resource’s expectations. The plan should address any gap between expectations and plan. The plan should mold and set final expectations before final commitment of irrevocable resources.

Estimates- The plan’s estimates are an essential characteristic of the plan’s performance. Without an estimate, the plan is merely a check list. The accuracy of the estimate is the perceived accuracy of the plan. The planner must know the required accuracy, and balance it against planning costs.

Deliverables- Products and services produced by the project are different than the consequence of the project, which is always a change. Deliverables are not necessarily the change, but instead are the strategy the planner uses to cause the change.

Success Criteria- Plan for success. What must be accomplished for the project to be successful? How will the change caused by the project be measured? What is the plan to cause this change? Understand what is a sufficient plan.

The pmNERDS process consultancy provides a standard Project Planning capability described by the acronym above. This is an umbrella capability needed regardless of any additional practices selected from our a la carte practice menu.

Project Planning practices available for selection from the a la carte S.O.W. include Chartering, Value Realization Planning, Requirements, Project Scope Planning, Problem Statements, Change Management Planning, Deliverable Centric WBS, Verification Planning, Predecessors, Resource Estimating, Duration Estimating, Resource Balancing, The Critical Chain, Cost Estimating, Risk Analysis, Risk Response Planning, Cost Budgeting, Quality Planning, Communication Planning, Adoption Planning, Information Asset Management Plan, Contracting Plan, and the Contract Administration Plan.

Organizations that depend on projects to create value and increase process efficiencies, as seen in business units such as IT, Marketing, and NPD, should talk with us if they’re interested in increasing project performance.

After a quick discussion, we can direct you to the best process offering and a la carte practices based on your process improvement goals. By putting together a service package that addresses your key performance constraint, our sales team can help you get the quickest time-to-value, while minimizing risk and cost.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through email or phone.

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Project Planning Performance-Service™

“If we engage pmNERDS’ Performance-Service™ for Project Planning then we’ll increase the organization’s competitive advantage, realize higher value from projects, and complete projects more efficiently, but it will require change leadership.”

Our performance improvement consulting practice for Project Planning, begins with gathering information about your organization and engagement goals. We conduct a quick gap analysis to construct an engagement roadmap.

Once approved, we will build this roadmap out into a complete project plan and review it with our clients going over roles and responsibilities. We schedule weekly meetings to review the project and discuss relevant decisions. Depending of the length of engagement, steering committee meetings are also scheduled.

Daily scrums are scheduled to address issues and schedule any needed ad hoc meetings. Performance improvement Consulting involves a great deal of planning and communicating. Underlying each practice is an element of process improvement and use of a standard performance measure framework.

There are real reasons for addressing the business objectives of project planning and project management separately. Besides the ethical conflicts that always occur and must be constantly governed, there are different practices and skills between a planner and a leader.

At pmNERDS we recognize and celebrate these different perspectives instead of ignoring them and delivering a watered-down blend of both. Why compromise when you can have everything?

Within this engagement we address the specific planning activities for projects. This will include both top-down and bottom-up approaches. We recognize that the project plan is a part of your organizations intellectual property. It is a valuable information asset, and when done right, can generate value for many years.

We will work with you to build and refine a set of plans that maximize value. We will also work with your team to teach planning practices that improve over time; maximizing process efficiency, increasing the perceived value of deliverables, and reducing variance. By leveraging our experience, you can reach expected benefits quicker and with less false starts while being assured that you won’t paint yourself into a ‘process’ corner, and isolate information asset flow to downstream processes.

Our performance improvement consulting practice requires a discussion to determine goals, scope of effort, consultant alignment, and the development of a business proposal. We deliver an analysis of current project planning process performance and constraints, a roadmap to performance improvement, process design, process exercise, process enablement, deployment, and measurement.

A large part of this effort is process training, skills mentoring, and performance coaching. Depending on the engagement, technology configuration or deployment may or may not be part of this effort.

You can discover more about this service offering by clicking the icon (email or phone) in the top right corner of our website. We’d love to discuss this Performance-Service™ offering and answer any questions you might have.

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Strategic Project Planning Fast-Service™ Package

“If we select the pmNERDS' Fast-Service™ package, then we get rapid performance improvement, but we'll need to answer questions and provide feedback."

We all occasionally get major hankerings, it’s usually something that we can’t wait for and need within a very short period of time. For us it is usually food related, the Fast Food Industry utilizes the notion of standardization to produce food at minimal cost and preparation time while maximizing value within their business constraints. The question is can they make a compelling product while being profitable?

At pmNERDS, that’s our goal with these Fast-Service™ packages. Using product templates, standardized processes, and focused training we’re able to deliver consulting products faster than our clients and competitors, with sustainable margins.

Very few of us look forward to overly complex Strategic Planning processes. We want it to be easier and faster, so process performance in this area looks rather attractive, but what area should be addressed first?

Using some rapid assessment techniques, the Performance Measure Framework, and our performance constraint analysis tool, we help you identify that practice that is holding you back. Then we will propose modifications or creation of a new practice that addresses your specific constraint. This is not about investing lots of time to do it yourself, or just going without, we are offering a third choice…

Our clients hire us do some of the data collection, constraint analysis, process documentation, and change management activities that are part of effective Strategic Planning performance improvement practices. With only a total of 8 hrs. of your time, spread out in 8 sessions over 4 weeks, we complete the analysis and build the necessary deliverables to adopt a new practice, that will improve your Strategic Planning performance. All of this is accomplished within 20 business days.

We’re experts in performance improvement and Strategic Planning practices, you know your business and organization. By using our Fast-Service™ package, you can leave the specialized practices to us, and focus on running your business.

Below is a set of Fast-Service™ package deliverables used to improve your Strategic Planning performance.

SELF-ASSESSMENT REPORT- This is an Excel spreadsheet and chart that is used to identify the major problem areas and bottlenecks of the organizations’ innovation process. The Self-Assessment contains a series of questions related to current practices for gathering ideas, converting ideas into business opportunities, and finally diffusing ideas throughout organization and to market. Using the self-assessment, we can quickly identify the perceived system constraints, and dive deeper into specific process areas that could be causing bottlenecks.

CONSTRAINT ANALYSIS REPORT- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to identify key system constraints. We use Sufficient Cause diagrams to look at effects and potential causes from the perspective of Resources, Inputs, Controls, and Processes. These diagrams are used to verify effects, validate relationships between causes and effects, and look for additional effects to gain a clear understanding of the current system constraints.

PERFORMANCE MEASURE FRAMEWORK- This is a set of Excel spreadsheets and Power Point diagrams used to manage process improvement. Focusing on 1 of the 16 domains, we will load the selected practice into the Performance Measure Framework. By adding your standardized plans and information assets, such as process diagrams and performance thresholds, into the framework, you can do trade-offs and make process improvement decisions.

PROPOSED PRACTICE EFBD- This is a set of Power Point diagrams used to establish a process definition. The EFBD (Enhanced Function Block Diagram) Illustrates control logic, information flow, and process steps. We build this by looking at past project plans and documenting the current state. Based on constraint analysis, we can make modifications to the EFBD of the practice. We do this with things such as review gates, control activities, additional input screening, and resources inputs. This EFBD standardizes the practice and makes the proposed practice easier to understand, adopt, as well as improve over time.

NEW PRACTICE POLICIES & PROCEDURES- This is a set of Word documents that are used to outline process policies and procedures that enable standardization and improvement. Policies and procedures establish a standard set of minimum expectations and guidelines that are expected to be followed by anyone performing the practice. We create a new baseline of process performance, based on the constraint analysis and EFBD process analysis, by adding policies, process steps or procedural guidelines. This information is used to train people on new process, and monitor process execution and performance.

BUSINESS CASE- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to analyze, establish and communicate the business case of implementing the proposed practice change. When change is desired, the value delivered through the change must outweigh the negative impacts, cost, and natural friction that change will cause. All business cases derive from the ability to impact one of the six business drivers: Revenue, Efficiency, Sustainability, Endorsement, Cost and Risk. We will then define the type of value proposition that the new practice will deliver: uniqueness, familiarity, or economy of scale. Lastly, we determine the Cost/Value combination. This process will achieve same value for less cost, or more value for less cost, etc. The business case is used to overcome change hurdles and help people to quickly adopted the proposed change. 

PERFORMANCE SCORECARD- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to measure practice performance and drive improvement. The performance scorecard is built from information captured in the Performance Measure Framework. Using the five key performance measures, you can diagnose causes of performance constraints and identify process adjustments to address them. The Performance Scorecard will keep people focused on the key measures that impact overall performance, making improvement efforts more effective.

STRATEGY DIAGRAM- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the strategic intent of the performance improvement initiative.  The strategy diagram sets a common vision and outlines how different teams/roles work together to perform the key activities needed to deliver the value of the initiative. The strategy diagram helps team members to understand their role, adopt the proposed changes, and buy-in to the initiative solution vision.

COMMUNICATION PLAN- This is an Excel spreadsheet that is used to communicate to and engage all stakeholders and team members of a project. A Communication Plan will identify the target personas and actions that you want them to take, anticipate potential objections, and provide a message that addresses the objections and provokes action. We will develop a communication plan that identifies target stakeholders, develops compelling messages that engage them to act towards the achievement of project objectives.

ROLE BASED TRAINING DIAGRAM- This is a set of Power Point diagrams that are used to identify training needs of job roles. These roles based training diagrams provide standardized capabilities, job role expectations, and training demand analysis by process. These diagrams are used to create training and adoption activities for each role as part of the new practice deployment. Each Role can clearly understand their roles & responsibilities regarding the new practice. This means the activities will get done more efficiently with better performance results. 

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT MILESTONE ROADMAP- This is a Power Point diagram that is used to communicate the performance improvement efforts of the organization over time. Based on the performance constraints, this roadmap identifies the sequence of performance improvements as well as the target process areas. The Performance Improvement Milestone Roadmap will align team members, resources, and efforts to provide the most rapid performance improvement for the organization.

To learn more about our Strategic Project Planning Fast-Service™, contact us through the email or phone icons.

 

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Strategic Project Planning with ‘SHAPE’ Process-Services™

“Strategic Project Planning with SHAPE is a Process-Service™ offering of pmNERDS. This offering provides a process umbrella of SHAPE, and then line-items of an S.O.W. that can be chosen a la carte.”

Strategic Project Planning shapes (i.e. this awesome car) the environment, expectations, initial thresholds, guidelines, and constraints. It’s like priming the old well pump of innovation. It gets the juices flowing. It’s the catalyst of great things. As it progresses, you should see things start to take shape. The innovation process should flow as a single process which transforms initial strategic plan data into living information assets driving decisions in daily activities.

During our process consulting, we address:

Stakeholders– Know the strategic intent of your stakeholders. Now, how can you do that, if you haven’t identified their strategic intent. Do you have enough stakeholders, you may have to recruit some. Align the Goals, Objectives, Strategy, Plan, Execute, and learn; G.O.S.P.E.L. Establish the Guidelines and Constraints. Conduct a situational analysis. Verify the conflict resolution plan and establish a planning milestone roadmap. Create an innovation charter.

Hear– Identify target markets, analyze segmentation opportunities, understand initial market forces, needs, and competition. Define key strategic areas, and critical success factors for each segment. Gather information about existing job roles, capabilities, and capacity. Establish budget constraints for key strategic areas.

Analyze & Synthesize– Conduct market attractiveness and business strength analysis. Identify potential addressable market problems, opportunities, initial features and capabilities, requirements, and potential launch plan milestones.

Propose– State the value proposition. Elaborate on the communication plan for both internal and external uses. Create an initial adoption plan. Coordinate with the enterprise roadmap.

Empower– Validate plans through the lens of the business model canvas. Complete initial project description. Go through a project approval process, and engage portfolio management for prioritization. Conduct capacity planning for start dates. Conduct project planning, Project Kick off and Project management.

The pmNERDS' process consulting provides a standard Strategic Project Planning capability described by the acronym above. This is an umbrella capability needed regardless of any additional practices selected from our a la carte practice menu.

Strategic Project Planning Practices available for selection from the a la carte S.O.W. include Initial Innovation Charter, Strategy Statement, Strategy Diagram, List of Ranked Initiative Values, List of Ranked Driving Forces, New Opportunities, Risk Mitigation Plans, Initiative milestones, Steering Committee, Market Segment Grid, Client Endorsement Program, Communication Plan, Adoption Plan, Conflict Resolution Plan, Initial Product Features, Initial Product Roadmap, Critical Success Factors Data, Market Segmentation Data, Driving Forces Data, Perceived Strength Data, Market Limitation Data, Market Opportunity Data, Market Risk Data, Financial Risk Data, Cost/Benefit Analysis Data, Capability Analysis Data, Technology Forecast Analysis Data, McKinsey 7S Analysis Data, Product Line Analysis Data, Strategic Relationship Analysis Data, Value Propositions, CoP Charter, CoP Membership, Sponsored CoP Activities, and the Business Model Canvas.

Organizations that depend on projects to create value and increase process efficiencies as seen in business units such as IT, Marketing, and NPD, should talk with us if they’re interested in increasing project performance.

After a quick discussion, we can direct you to the best process offering and a la carte practices based on your process improvement goals. By putting together a service package that addresses your key performance constraint, our sales team can help you get the quickest time-to-value, while minimizing risk and cost.

Want to learn more? Contact us either through the email or phone icons.

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Strategic Project Planning Performance-Service™

“If we engage pmNERDS’ Performance-Service™ for Strategic Project Planning, then we’ll increase the organization’s competitive advantage, realize higher value from projects, and complete projects more efficiently, but it will require change leadership.”

Our performance improvement consulting begins with gathering information about your organization and engagement goals. We conduct a quick gap analysis to construct an engagement roadmap.

Once approved, we will build this roadmap out into a complete project plan and review it with our clients going over roles and responsibilities. We schedule weekly meetings to review the project and discuss relevant decisions. Depending of the length of engagement, steering committee meetings are also scheduled.

Daily scrums are scheduled to address issues and schedule any needed ad hoc meetings. Performance improvement consulting involves a great deal of planning and communicating. Underlying each practice is an element of process improvement and use of a standard performance measure framework.

Strategic Project Planning is about putting some shape into your future. In terms of projects, what do you see? What are your projects’, I mean all of them, primary purpose? What business objective are they supporting? These are typical, strategic planning questions for projects. Tradition would suggest that they were necessary, but are they sufficient?

It’s convenient to group strategic planning into two fundamental types being performed today. These planning types are characterized by the status of information assets within the information flows they cause.

Referential Strategy - produces information assets which are referred to in downstream project planning activities. As an example, portfolio, program, product, and project thresholds, guidelines, policies, and constraints would be provided by the strategic planning effort.

Evolutional Strategy - produces information assets which evolve and mature in downstream project planning activities. As an example, the Critical Success Factors developed during the market analysis of strategic planning, evolve into the key strategic areas of the portfolio’s sub-portfolios, the focus areas in programs, initial features in products, and project deliverable prioritization factors and budgets.

Referential Strategy becomes stale over time, and fails to have the power needed to impact daily activities. For strategy to impact daily activities, strategic information assets must become the information assets used in daily activities. During our consulting activities, we teach and practice these principles.

The five key strategic areas of our strategic project planning services are explained below.

1- Identify Stakeholders & Objectives - To create an initial innovation charter, which provides direction and constraints to the rest of the strategy planning session. Throughout the rest of this process, the charter will be modified to reflect the results of the planning analysis and decisions. Portions of this charter will be reused in the chartering of portfolios, programs, products, and projects.

2- Identify Market & Plan Communications - To create a repeatable, maintainable, and defendable document describing the characteristics of the targeted market/clients through market analysis, competitive analysis, and customer satisfaction programs. Utilize this information to create an initial communication plan for internal team members, stakeholders, and potential markets and clients which will be passed downstream for use in all project communication plans. And finally, to outline a conflict management plan that is put in place to resolve conflicts during the rest of the planning activities, and throughout the life of the initiative, involving the entire product innovation team.

3- Analyze & Synthesize Arena - The objective of this step is to determine the degrees of competitive advantage that could be gained by making various strategic decisions, through evaluating market attractiveness (Critical Success Factors, Market Segment Analysis, Driving Force Analysis, Perceived Strength Analysis, Market Limitation Analysis, Market Opportunity Analysis, Market Risk Analysis) and business strength factors (Financial Risk Analysis, Cost/Benefit Analysis, Capability Analysis, Technology Forecast Analysis, McKinsey 7S Analysis, Product/Service Line Analysis, Strategic Relationship Analysis).

4- Propose Business Intent - To place the initiative's objective before the rest of the organization in terms as plain and clear as to command their assent. To sell the importance of the initiative. To help stakeholders continue investment and determine if the initiative is still workable, serviceable, or fundable. To persuade and engage supporting stakeholders. To provide focus to the activities contained within, and indicate if and when it is accomplished. To increase your organization's project initiative success rate.

5- Empower Strategy - The initiative is empowered through the community of practice. Many organizations don't recognize the existence of their CoP, yet it's there, however ad hoc it may be. With each new product initiative, more formalization to the community’s communication channel is provided. This step's business objective is to aid formalization to your CoP at whatever level it is in, and proceed with this product innovation initiative through activities of the CoP. The business Model Canvas is used as a second lens of strategic analysis and helps drive financial models and value realization efforts.

By leveraging our experience, you can reach expected benefits quicker and with less false starts, while being assured that you won’t paint yourself into a ‘process’ corner, and isolate information asset flow to downstream processes. Our performance improvement consulting practice requires a discussion to determine goals, scope of effort, consultant alignment, and the development of a business proposal. We deliver an analysis of current capacity planning process performance and constraints, a roadmap to performance improvement, process design, process exercise, process enablement, deployment, and measurement.

A large part of this effort is process training, skills mentoring, and performance coaching. Depending on the engagement, technology configuration or deployment may or may not be part of this effort. You can discover more about this service offering by clicking the icon (email or phone) in the top right corner of our website. We'd love to explain our Performance-Service™ offering and answer any questions you might have.

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Define Acceptance Criteria

If projects have defined acceptance criteria, then project managers will be able to better manage stakeholder expectations, but how project outcomes will meet the needs should be discussed and documented early in the planning.

Boy oh boy! Isn’t it “fun" trying to define acceptance criteria? You have to know your requirements cold. And usually you have to do this early on in the project scope. when you know least about the project.

“The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want.” - Ben Stein

What sets acceptance criteria apart from other ways of evaluating the goodness of project outcomes? Acceptance criteria describe what constitutes a successful outcome; but successful to whom? The buyer is the one who cares most about acceptance criteria, but you have to help the buyer know that.

In the minds of all the project contributors the end product may be perfectly functional, having met the requirements. But that does not necessarily mean that the product buyer is going to be happy with it.

Take perhaps a common kitchen scene at home with a grade school age girl and boy right after dinner, where fresh baked cookies just came out of the oven. The kids are no stranger to cookies. And these are the kind with M&Ms and NO nuts. Dad actually made them up from a mix and formed them on the cookie sheet. He didn’t just thaw the frozen kind. Dad was pleased with the outcome - warm, delicious cookies that the kids would love. What could go wrong?

Evan didn’t like that a few cookies had melted into each other and had to be cut apart. Laurie thought they did not have enough M&Ms, and they both wished there were more of them. Plus, they didn’t like waiting so long for the cookies to cool down.

The missing element? Assumed, mistaken, or weak acceptance criteria.

To get going on defining effective acceptance criteria, you want to establish open lines of communication with your buyers throughout the project, not just during planning and “user acceptance” testing where these criteria normally rear their heads.

Plan for collaborative working sessions between your product designers and all product end-users, where you jointly “nail down” how the product will be evaluated for “acceptability” at various stages in the project. Take a hard line: if a requirement cannot be measured or tested objectively it should be re-stated.

Once defined and agreed upon, as for deliverables and requirements, you need to control changes to acceptance criteria.

There are many ways to document this, such as in the scope statement. The Volere Requirements Specification Template has a particularly useful spot for acceptance criteria, right there on its requirements specification “SNOW" card that is used to capture requirements, called the “Fit Criterion.” It is the objective measure of a requirement’s meaning, and is used to evaluate how a solution fits the requirement.

Well designed, well-constructed, and well understood acceptance criteria will make, not break, a project, and will enhance your reputation as a professional and successful project manager. It is time well invested.

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Establish Project Scope

If you establish proper project scope, then your project planning and execution is much more effective, but you must spend time with your customers ahead of planning to define and agree on what’s in and what’s out.

If your day job is building houses, you can call me “Captain Obvious” after hearing what I am about to say. What goes into a house and what doesn’t is an ongoing source of negotiation, compromise, and often controversy. So, builders are well aware of the importance of knowing what their housing projects include and don’t include; it’s the “air” that they breathe.

The line that is drawn in any project, like building a house, is where you should look to see what is included and what is not included in the project, this is called the scope.

Defining the scope for a project does a number of good things in setting up a project for success. But primarily, it defines what “done” means for a project. With a project scope, you can easily tell if the expected work was done or it wasn’t.

As a project manager, you will want to include in project scope, the components of the product to be delivered (e.g., the house) of course. But also remember to include the events or other products that will be needed to finish the project, like conducting an owner walk through.

Image a Box

So that you avoid a muddy statement of project scope, i.e., what the project will “do” and what it won’t “do”, imagine your project as being in a box that is closed on all 6 sides. Leave a slot open on one side where you will insert things. The things you will insert are called deliverables, what the project will produce.

Next draw a circle around the box and label it, "Project Boundaries.” Inside the circle, identify things that the project will do on the way to producing deliverables, such as “owner walk through”, “aerial photo of finished property”, “filing deed of ownership."

Finally, get agreement on the project scope from your buyers. This should not be a problem if you involved them throughout the project scope definition process.

“True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.” - Winston Churchill

The purpose of establishing project scope is to clearly articulate what you are taking responsibility for delivering on the project. With it, you can plan your project more confidently, you put yourself in control of wandering scope, and you empower your project team to work efficiently and proudly. Without it, you run the risk of expensive product rework, blown expectations, and a never-ending project.

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Enable Value Realization

If a project enables value realization, then the business will experience a higher return on its investment, but the worth of the project outcome and the cost to produce it needs to be calculated and measured before and after the project is finished.

What exactly do we mean by “value realization”? And if we should help it come to be, what is “value” then?

A simple definition of value is the worth that something has, or what its benefits are, compared to the “cost” of the thing. For example, a toaster wide enough for bagels that doesn’t burn them is important me. I will likely value most the lowest cost toaster with those 2 features.

So, in order to help the value of a developed product or service come to be in a project, we and our buyers need to get real clear about what that is. This discovery effort is the first phase of the value engineering process, sometimes called the Information phase. What distinguishes value engineering from other methods of design, is its focus on function, establishing the monetary value for that function, and how to provide that function at the lowest cost.

Preparing for Value Realization

To get started, identify the project deliverables and understand what function the deliverables play in the buyer’s value chain. Function is what makes a deliverable work or sell, like "toaster slot accommodates 2-inch thick bagel half, and “user can adjust toaster heat."

A very important tool used in the value engineering Information phase is the Function Analysis System Technique diagram (FAST). FAST organizes functions into cause and effect relationships, and helps to:

1) identify product functions, 2) reveal linkage among all functions, and 3) analyze and evaluate functions.

One slightly more sophisticated way to estimate value for projects is called Expected Commercial Value or ECV. ECV uses money to quantify value. ECV is first estimated when developing the project business case for funding decisions. That formula considers the future income stream, commercialization costs, development costs, and the probabilities of commercial and technical success.

Realization

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” - Yogi Berra

After you have completed value engineering of the deliverables you will need to figure the current value of the deliverables during the payback period. For our wide-mouth toaster, you might ask, “How popular is this toaster compared to what we thought it would be?”

The important thing is that you set the expectations up front, in your project planning and during project scope, so that project outcomes will be defined and measured, how, and over what time frames.

When you help a business produce products or services, that are of high value in the eyes of buyers, at costs lower than its peers, that business will experience an increasing market share and enjoy a nice return.

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A Capacity Planner: How Many Can You Lift?

“If I am a capacity planner, then I am always looking for optimal functionality, but really, what do I do?”

 

Who is a capacity planner? A capacity planner gathers performance data and measures the output to determine optimal fit within the production scheduling. A person in this position is normally at the business unit level, but there are enterprise level capacity planners that look at the whole organization, such as Resource Forecasters or Resource Estimators. A business unit capacity planner may be called a Performance Manager or a Performance Engineer among other titles, but who are they really? Every job is more than just a title.

In previous posts, I have determined the best way to describe a project manager to a child is to classify them as a superhero, like Batman. So, if a project manager is Batman, then a capacity planner is a lot like Alfred, Batman’s butler. Don’t be mistaken, Alfred was way more than Batman’s routine servant. He pretty much raised him. If Bruce was being foolish, then Alfred efficiently reprimanded him. In the background, he never stopped guiding him in the right direction. This is a capacity planner.

A capacity planner can go by many different names, but at the end of the day, the goals are still the same. As a capacity planner, you are here to understand the priorities, the resources available, the true cash flow, as well as the intricacies of the time frame. Alfred understood Batman’s true priorities. Batman wanted to destroy all his foes and save every single maiden, but it took Alfred to continuously remind him that he is only one man. As one man, he only has so much capacity. This inevitably led to the introduction of Robin and later Batgirl. Batman increased his capacity to match the increasing demand.

It might seem trivial to say that the capacity planner needs to understand priority, the cash flow, the time frame and everything else, but it is more complex than you think. It is a balance of continuously fixing the past, adjusting the present actions, and planning for future growth. Planning for growth could entail adding more physical locations, adding personnel, or capital to raise for any given expansion. This plan is always a factor in determining how many transformational/major change projects you can accomplish in a year. How many projects can you really afford given the resources as well as the budget? Sure, you could run yourself and your team down, but as Alfred understood, you still must eat and sleep, even if you're a superhero. In capacity planning, you can’t invoke only major change if you have requests for maintenance/utility or compliance mandate projects.

Your business unit and organization needs a continuous spectrum of projects. If you can do three transformational projects given your organizational constraints than you would need to sufficiently space them across the next few quarters. In between these major projects, you always have a spot for last minute projects or required maintenance projects. A capacity planner is working to design an optimal project schedule by weighing the risk, priority, cash flow, and organizational capacity.

Capacity planning involves looking at what resources are being utilized and making sure these are being allocated correctly for optimal functionality. Managers with this mission are leading their Batmans’ in the direction that means success and growth of the organization by considering the priority, resource availability, and the fluctuating cash flow within a given time frame. Alfred is the only real father figure Batman has in his life. The one force that Bruce Wayne knows will always have his back in any situation. He is the man behind the man. He is the capacity planner.

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Capacity Planning: How Much Can You Lift?

“If I invest significant resources to capacity planning, then I understand the production capacity needed to meet the changing demands, but I am not sure what capacity planning really entails.”

My morning is never complete without a cup of coffee. So, when I first came across the term “capacity planning,” I automatically went to my regular morning struggle, how much coffee can I put into this travel mug without burning myself? This might seem trivial, but it is a delicate process. How big is the mug? Do I want to leave room for cream? How much cream? If your calculation is even slightly off you burn yourself at some point, have a subpar cup of joe, or you managed to cheat yourself out of some coffee.

After some research, I now understand that capacity planning is slightly more complex than filling up a cup of coffee. Capacity planning is the process of determining the production capacity needed by an organization to meet changing demands for its product or services. The goal of capacity planning is to understand the capacity of the organization, and the demand of the customer, to minimize a discrepancy between the two forces.

If only it was as easy as filling your travel mug in the morning, but really, most of capacity planning comes down to two questions. Given the resources I have, how many projects can I do? Given my projects, how much resources do I need?

You might be reading those two questions and think it is that easy, but just like pouring coffee, there are lots of variables involved. The cream to coffee ratio and the size of the travel mug, turns into skill sets, number of projects, strategic plans, as well as the number of resources. If the path to high performance is a pipe, then each of these variables are something blocking the flow.

The key to successful capacity planning is identifying the biggest blockage. You could have a reasonable number of employees and projects, but have a gap in the job roles that can be filled by your resources. Alternatively, you could have resources that are being severely overworked. You have too many projects and not enough resources, in which case, you can reevaluate the number of future projects that can be attempted. The first step to unplugging the pipe or filling that mug is to understand what you have, and what you can do with it, and that is capacity planning.

The luckiest of us out there no longer need to worry about filling up our coffee mugs to the appropriate level. We have Starbucks or an automatic machine that fills our cups to that perfect full, but not too full point. If only real world capacity planning were the same way. The more you understand the more you can plan for at your organization. Capacity planning ensures the long and short term success of key business initiatives at a reduced cost, and who doesn’t want that?

 

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