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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 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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The Project Charter of Integrated PM

“If I use a project charter, then common comparisons, strategic alignment, and other guidelines and constraints can be stated, but what should a project charter contain for Integrated PM projects?”

There are many different thoughts about what a project charter is, and is not. Organizations using the Project Charter have found what works for them, and culture certainly plays a role in determining the characteristics of a successful or non-successful project charter. Much like purchasing a car, the sticker might not be the biggest consideration when looking at a project.

The type of project also must impact what must ultimately be included, highlighted, and stressed in the project charter. You should be able to anticipate there would be differences in a Cosmetic R&D project charter compered to project charters for new products, a newly commissioned hospital, and a new marketing brochure.

However, in all the discussions, there are some charter objectives held in common, with some objectives holding more priority and weight than in others. Common characteristics include:

  • Transition from strategic intent to project tasks
  • Transfer of specific decision-making authority from the sponsor (sometimes the product manager, or product owner) to the Project Manager including guidelines, and constraints.
  • Identification of client, targeted consumer, customers, or market.
  • Key Strategic Areas in which the project must be successful in.
  • Budget governance
  • Key resources, roles & responsibilities
  • Project milestones
  • Value proposition to stakeholders, to organization and/or sponsor, and project clients

In each case, the project charter will differ in focus, sometimes highlighting one set of characteristics, while other times barely providing any information on it. This charter variance also depends on what other project documentation is completed. The Project communication plan, Project budget, Risk Plan, Vision Scope Document, Governance Plan, and even WBS may function as part of the charter.

So, within this quagmire of supporting documents, what is the general best-practice for the project charter in Integrated PM; where a holistic, systems view is used? My findings might surprise you, but I don’t think the reasoning will. Let me ease you into the best-practice.

What I find is that across the board, the typical charter is too light on the business focus. Much like the car sticker, project charters don’t tell you the business part of your purchase. Now consider this, all projects are about change. The question about “Why change?” has got to come up. If the business vision is unclear, what makes anyone think that the business objectives will be reached. In reality, most business objectives of projects are left unachieved, even when the tactical tasks and deliverables are completed.

Due to this issue, a shifting-trend in the project charter is taking place in Integrated PM, and it is becoming much more business oriented. Another issue with project charters, is that when they are completed, they sit on a shelf and never again looked at. A new trend in Integrated PM is to look for ways that the charter information can be baked into the project structure. In this way, you don’t go back to the charter, but look forward in the project plan for business purpose.

Another issue with project charters, is that they need to be standardized, for meaningful approval comparisons and project rankings, portfolio monitoring and program governance, and capacity planning. This standardization is required in Integrated PM as things need to work more like a unified system.

With these considerations, I’ve found that the Business Model Canvas works well for the Integrated PM project charter. I will explain this at a high level here, then go into more detail with future posts.

The Business Model Canvas is a graphical representation of the project’s business model. It can be quickly reviewed and compared with other existing projects, and with past successful projects, to identify business structures that work as a system within your organization; independent of who is running the project.

The Business Model Canvas captures the strategic intent of the sponsor, and captures marketing and communication information developed upstream, and projects it through the lens of the project. This transition from the World of Strategy into the World of Projects is a critical objective of all project charters.

The Key Strategic Areas of the Business Model Canvas are used by the portfolio manager to place the project into sub portfolios and provide reporting on portfolio strategic alignment, project deliverable focus, product features, requirements, and value realization. The point here is that the information is used to further derive guidelines and constraints of the project, and do not become stale information placed on a shelf.

A review of the other Business Model Canvas blogs will make this point clear, and how to modify the Business Model Canvas for use in Integrated PM projects.

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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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Product 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 Product 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 Product 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 Product Management performance. All of this is accomplished within 20 business days.

We’re experts in performance improvement and Product 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 Product 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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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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The Scientific Approach to Innovation

Doing performance modeling as a consultant, the biggest problem we had wasn't building the model, the devil was always in the model's validation. How do you know that the model is connected to reality? This issue was such a common occurrence that I named it the Excel Syndrome. I don't know if you've noticed, but Excel spreadsheets are this way. You may have all the formulas right, but those who haven't built it, or reviewed it in every detail, have little faith in the results. All modeling is this way, even fun simulators with fancy animations.The Excel Syndrome is such a basic truth that it extends way beyond modeling.

Let's take a look at The Scientific Approach to Innovation!

To turn your innovation initiatives into a science, the organization must go through three distinct stages:

1) Categorization–Creating boundaries around what is being included and what is not. Yes, you mathematicians will recognize this as stating the domain and range. I'm not very good at English, maybe this is setting the theses of a paper. Perhaps others will call it defining you name space, or the scope of the experiment. In the case of social targeting from Beth's post, this categorization was required before any random sample could be taken, before any hypothesis made, and before any targeting could happen. She says that Ghani called them, those who were useful to the campaign team. You can be sure that the selection criteria for those people was well known. It always surprises me how many people trying to improve their innovation practices shy away from this task. Well, OK, not really, it's a big job. But I am surprised at how many try to proceed without it. This cripples the next step, correlation.

2) Correlation–Which is about understanding the relationships between what was categorized in the previous step. Let me call these things elements. In Beth's posting, these elements were people useful to the campaign team. A certain amount of experimentation took place discern those relationships she mentions, including email frequency, and dollars requested. Sensitivity analysis on the parameters of the model is a prerequisite for all performance modeling. You certainly don't want to build a model with a parameter for everything the universe has to offer. The beauty of a performance model is in its simplicity. 

3)Effect-Cause-Effect Thinking–Now with stages one and two in place, we're in a position to hypothesize, and test that hypothesis through observation using well defined experimentation methods. Observe an effect, hypothesize about its cause, and look for other effects that should be present if your hypothesized cause was correct. With experimentation like this, we take the guess work out of process improvement, turning innovation into a science.

In the case of innovation, systems thinking is extremely useful if the elements in the last step have been strategically selected to be information assets. If, we further use the categorization provided freely by the Seven Pillars which is a Knowledge Management Architecture. We end-up with a system-of-systems model, which has been well studied, and keeps the management and improvement task simple.

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Stakeholder Analysis

This is not optional! I know, many product management teams today think it is, and pay the price for ignoring it down stream. Do yourself, your team, and your product a favor, conduct at least a little stakeholder analysis with each iteration of market sensing. A lot of product management teams have thought this was optional, leading to derailment of the effort because of failure to address the issues of a key stakeholder. Has anyone had their roadmap turned upside-down by a stakeholder who's issues weren't being addressed? I'm sure they get to you right at the start, before any real commitments have been made, just to make life easy for you. Am I right?

Stakeholder analysis is designed to identify key players who have a stake in product management so that they can be addressed appropriately. In rudimentary stakeholder analysis, individuals who have a stake in a product initiative are identified, then their issues are captured and addressed. I advocate taking stakeholder analysis a bit further. While product management might have its roots in features and product, people are critical to its success. Key stakeholders must be identified and their support secured. To do this, however, the personal benefits to them must be identified, associated with the product initiative, and subsequently communicated to them to secure their involvement and support.

This is a continuous process. Just because you told them you loved them once, doesn't mean you can quit telling them. Now, stakeholders are generally identified as those with formal or informal power. Formal power can often be associated with funding ability. Informal power relates to the ability to influence others. (often those with funding ability). Stakeholder groups can also be identified. For example, the product-line team might be considered a stakeholder group. If your product initiative impacts a product-line, or product-line metrics, then the product-line stake holder issues must be addressed.

Once key stakeholders are identified, their attributes must be collected. Often, these attributes are qualitative or even educated guesses. The minimum attributes about each stakeholder (or stakeholder group) that should be collected are shown in this table.


Often, stakeholders make their issues and opportunities known. These become the objectives of their subordinates and are included in internal communications. Stakeholder analysis will enable extremely effective communications and can make the difference between success and failure. Stakeholder analysis is generally considered to be a unpublished document. It should almost never be published or discussed outside the core product management team, but should be referred to when developing the communication plan for the product initiative.

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