Tag Archives: Program

A Health-Check for Our PPM Practice

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff.

Is it time now, to “Declare Victory?” You’ll have to read more than this article’s “teaser” to find out.

The Backstory
We founded IPMA-USA in 2001 with a vision of accelerating the advancement of the project and program management (PM) discipline for beneficial change in organizations, the USA, and the world. But first we had to reverse a downward trend.

Our founders——many of whom had key roles in the success of other professional associations——believed that PM had not kept pace with the increased complexity of initiatives. Despite the heroic efforts of PM thought leaders like Lew Ireland, William Duncan, Bob Youker, and others, during the 1990s the momentum of beneficial change through PM had dramatically slowed and showed few signs of regaining traction. And so these same people met to share their insights about the symptoms and causes of the downward trend, and about how to regain momentum.

Downward or Upward? The Insights
Our IPMA-USA founders collected their insights into seven areas that needed serious attention to halt the downward trend and begin its upward acceleration. The areas (numbered here for easier referencing; no ranking implied) are:

  1. Author ownership of PM intellectual property
  2. Learning focused on improving PM performance, not just passing k-based exams
  3. Demonstrating PM performance
  4. Improving communication with stakeholders
  5. Improving integration and coordination across Project/Program-related groups
  6. Managing projects to fulfill business objectives and deliver business success
  7. Establishing PM as a core, life competence

Some of the areas required redirecting the practice of PM in general. Some required establishing ways to demonstrate and measure PM performance and business value. Some areas would be easier to measure than others. And some areas would require a seismic shift in thoughts and acts about who we serve and why. Continue reading

Chilean Mining Rescue Miracle—A Program Success

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff

“Viva Chile!” Our World watched with awe, soaring hearts, and huge appreciation for the rescuers when the first two miners emerged from their Phoenix rescue capsule. We held off posting or celebrating project success until all the miners—and their rescuers—were safely above ground. And now, in addition to the backstories about the after-effects of 69 days underground, we can reflect on the magnificent Project Management performances of each participant in this most-watched rescue.

Just look at the many heroes, talented team members, inspiring leaders and willing families and pride-full citizens, all focused on one objective: Get our miners out safely. And it appears our entire World is the stakeholder group, as reports surface that this is one of the most-watched web events in history. This is such a lesson about not just passing an exam, but leaders and team members working in synch to successfully manage one of the most-important projects in recent history. With IPMA’s recent activities to certify competent Project Managers and Senior Project Managers in Chile, here is a great opportunity to identify clearly competent and performing end-to-end project managers; most might qualify for Senior Project Manager certification, demonstrating mastery in complex projects.

But was this a project? Two answers: Yes, of course it was, because any time mankind changes the path of fate, inertia, and the status quo, that is what the practice of competent project management brings to society. And no, not just a project, it was an entire complex program, consisting of many projects, some relatively simple (such as providing sufficient electrical power at this remote site), and some very complex, and all working together to achieve the objective: Get our miners out safely.

Repeatedly, the media has mentioned the flawless planning, the contingency actions, the attention to crucial details, the exquisite performance of the plan, and the individual heroics that accentuate success. Note that both the success and the tributes note the combination of technical aspects of project and program management with the contextual and behavioral aspects. This program of related projects will serve case studies for years after our starring miners have recovered from their ordeal. And what shall be the highlights of those case studies? Continue reading

The Work To the Left of Proposal, part 2

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff

In Part 1 of this 2-part series, we discussed the importance of the actions of the first 10% of any project or program, the Buyer/Seller relationship in any complex project, and the role of Business Development in assuring success in each of those areas. In this part, we disclose a bit more of the attraction of Business Development, then introduce another key role that every complex project or program requires.

The Attraction of Business Development
Why should Project and Program Managers include and embrace the role of Business Development (BD) Managers in our initiatives? Several reasons, from our perspective. First, despite our best efforts, PM has been relegated from strategic to tactical in too many organizations. It was not always this way. In an earlier era, the PM was the “go-to person” who not only participated in the analysis of changes needed to establish competitive strategies, but also planned those needed to implement them.

Over the last 30 years we have seen and lamented what we have called in our articles, “The Dumbing Down of Project Management”. While we came to PM from a Strategic Planning background, most others do not. And that is where BD comes in. Just as with Strategic Planning, BD is wide and thin; Project Management tends to be narrow and deep. A match made in heaven. Not only that, PMs could learn a thing or two about getting close to customers, alignment to organization strategy, and fixation with business results. On the other hand, this divergence in perspectives helps explain why some PMs don’t get along well with BD Managers. Continue reading

The Work To the Left of Proposal, part 1

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff

What is the work to the left of Proposal? The answer depends on your role, your program or project, and your perspective. For example, although many programs involve proposals, many projects do not. In engagements that involve proposals, the majority of success often depends on the work that occurs before the Proposal is ever signed. What is that work, who performs it, and why is it so essential to both Proposal and engagement success? Let us begin by clarifying the actions that occur early in a successful engagements that do not involve contracts, then expand to the more-complex engagements that do involve contracts. Note that this complexity of multiple organizations in contracts is a key distinction between two Advanced Performance-Competence-based certifications, certified Project Manager (IPMA-USA’s IPMA-C) and certified Senior Project Manager (IPMA-USA’s IPMA-B).

Engagements Not Involving Contracts
Many engagements are intended for internal implementation, and do not significantly rely on proposals and contracts. In these projects, the actions that take place in the window of opportunity between inspiration and the beginning of Requirements elicitation are primary factors of success. For example, we’ve shown for years that the first 10% of any project or program’s effort is responsible for 90% of its success. Continue reading

A Rainbow of Different Purposes for Your PMO

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff

In the previous post about PMOs, Program or Project Management Offices, we discussed the different flavors of PMOs, and made an assertion that everyone has one, but some are informal, rather than formal. And, the informal ones can be at least as effective as the formal ones. In this post, we discuss the different purposes of your PMO. Once again, as a reminder: what brings this topic to our blog was the IPMA-USA-supported November 8-10 PMO Symposium, in Atlanta Georgia. We hope you attended!

PMO Purposes
This summary list of purposes, functions and services for your Program or Project Management Office (PMO) is from ProjectExperts’ Modular Project Management® series. I usually offer it as a coaching session for organizations that wish to establish or extend the effectiveness of their PMO. Continue reading

What Is a PMO, and What Flavor Is Yours?

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff

What is a PMO?
A Project Management Office, or Program Management Office, is a formal or informal group that accepts responsibility for one or more Program/Project governance, support and/or mentoring functions, with the explicit purpose (in the best cases) of improving PM Performance.

What brings this topic to our blog at this time is IPMA-USA’s sponsorship and support for the PMO Symposium 2009, held November 8-10 in Atlanta, GA. Presented by the PMI® PMO SIG (Program Management Office Specific Interest Group), this event was one of your best opportunities this year to tap into the burgeoning world of effective PMOs. See: PMO Symposium site. Continue reading

The Elephant in the Room

PM Commentary, by Stacy Goff.

In the World of Project Management, any discussion about PM Societies must consider what we call  The Other Organization (the elephant in the room). Many IPMA-USA members are also members of the other organzation. In fact, a handful of our members can take credit for helping make it the success it is today.

If it is a great, successful organization, why does the USA need IPMA-USA? We are often asked that when we staff booths at major Conferences. There are several answers. First, any discipline that is dominated by just one strong provider is a discipline that is in decline. Part of the reason we started IPMA-USA was to increase the rate of advancements in Program and Project Management that slowed during the 1990’s.

Second, we saw the need for Advanced PM certifications, that actually assess and certify Project and Program Performance. This initiative has taken our volunteers three years to deliver. The good news, by the end of 2009, the entire suite of Advanced, Performance-Competence-based certifications of Project Manager, Senior Project Manager and Program Manager will be available. There are more reasons why the USA needed IPMA-USA. But they will be the subject for some later posting. Continue reading