“If we use standardized policies and procedures, then our projects will deliver their strategic intent, but this requires micro-management of projects. ”
High quality, repeatable, and consistent project performance is a goal of most organizations. Governance, whether in the form of a PMO, Committee, or just policies and procedures, attempts to address this need. The complexity that must be managed for a project to be successful can be overwhelming. For managers to be able to understand correlations and interrelationships between factors in project, portfolio and program management and perform effect-cause-effect thinking that leads to higher levels of performance, the system components must be defined and categorized. Instead of trying to define policies and procedures for every practice and monitor all aspects of the project, the Integrated PM approach to governance leverages system thinking to identify critical variables, leverage points, and constraint analysis to identify the strategic practices that need to be managed through governance.
By boiling down the complexity of your project or portfolio systems to key practices, the overall performance of your organization can be standardized and improved. We attempt to define all the components of your organizational structure that come together to accomplish the strategic goals. Systems Thinking enables a holistic governance while still being able to drill down into smaller components when necessary. Procedures and policies are used to clarify roles, guide practitioners, define state variables used to monitor and manage practices, and provide the desired set of responses to address system constraints and issues.
We develop policies and procedures to ensure that each strategic practice is functioning properly and driving towards its strategic purpose. These policies and procedures define what the practice is supposed to accomplish. The first step is to define the strategic intent of the system, in this case the integrated PM domain, and all the individual practices that make up the system components. Next, we identify the system variables and gain an understanding as to how they interact with, or impact each other. Through systems thinking analysis, we define the process steps and identify leverage points within each practice that will have the most dramatic impact to performance. We set thresholds for these variables and a set of policies and procedures as to how you should respond when certain variable states are reached.
When defining policies and procedures for Integrated PM, the focus should always be on breaking the constraint of the system. The actions and procedures outlined and enforced as part of governance are to guide the project team through the necessary process steps to achieve the highest levels of performance, and will highlight the appropriate responses and actions that should be taken to break the system constraints. When things go off track, the policies and procedures help to identify the issues and propose the procedures that will most effectively address this issue. With policies and procedures defined ahead of time, you will be able to deliver your projects with consistency and continually improve performance.
The END doesn’t justify the means. Getting the project completed doesn’t justify the heroics needed to get there. Policy and procedure get us there in one piece, and enables the organization as a whole to be dependable and perform at predictable performance levels. Governance isn’t micromanagement, it is targeted management. Governance policies and procedures ensure that each individual project team member behaves and takes actions that will deliver the highest performance levels in line with the strategic objectives.