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Archive for May, 2010

Three Reasons Why You Need a Project Management Office (PMO)

A lot of technology and application specialists who used to spearhead management of IT projects from beginning to end see project managers as competition. This becomes a source of disempowerment – the single biggest hurdle, in terms of organizational transformation in IT – when IT leaders start to introduce a Project Management Office (PMO) group. My point of view is completely the opposite. If there are enough project management resources, I would rather have PMO support all my projects. Here are the top three reasons why IT needs a PMO group: 

Bring More Bang for Your Buck 

A number of IT professionals are seeing increased budget and head-count reductions as more large business decision-makers turn to cost-cutting measures. Because of this, projects are watched very intimately by IT leaders – reining in projects more closely than ever. This challenge has lead IT to turn to project management offices (PMOs) as an approach to boost IT efficiency, optimize cost, and deliver projects on time and in full. We have to bear in mind, however, that establishing a PMO team is not a short term strategy for lowering costs. Numerous studies have indicated that the longer companies have been operating PMO, the better the results in terms of accomplishing project goals.

Standardize Project Management Practices 

For large corporations, scores of projects happen at the same time and more often, it is just too hard for the CIO to keep track of them. This is where PMO provides its biggest contribution to IT. PMO introduces economies of repetition in the execution of projects and makes it easier for the CIO to track progress and results. It is the job of the project management office to make sure that the projects follow the established project management standards. The PMO group is responsible for defining and maintaining the standards of processes related to project management. It is the source of documentation, guidance and metrics on the practice of project management and execution.

Facilitate IT Portfolio Management 

The implementation of a PMO group is a stepping stone to IT portfolio management. I have reiterated this several times but I think it is important to note that progression from project management to portfolio management is intertwined with the maturity of the IT organization. If the organization doesn’t have a strong project management discipline and Project Management Office, it is difficult to even imagine how IT portfolio management can be achieved. PMO should have a staff of program managers who can manage multiple projects that are related – such as infrastructure technologies, desktop applications, processes, business model implementation and so on – and allocate investments and resources accordingly. IT Portfolio Management is focused on investments and business results as compared to the focal point of Project Management which is project deliverables. This will bring IT (and the business) double bang for its buck!

Someone who has experienced working with an effective project management office surely can give more than measly three reasons – but to me the three that I have just mentioned are the most essential. There is no uniform recipe to success when establishing a Project Management Office (PMO). PMO is not a quick-fix solution only created to deliver immediate savings. It is an important component of the organizational maturity of an IT organization. It is important that the PMO structure is closely aligned to the team’s culture. A final note:  Projects exist in virtually all areas of the company – the  PMO practice can also be implemented there. In some companies, IT’s project management office provides support and internal consulting to other departments.

Follow Glenn Remoreras on Twitter.

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Promise, Practice, People and Performance- Four Key Components of IT Branding (Branding IT Organizations Part 4)

IT branding is the process of building and improving the IT brand identity. This identity is shared by employees and groups that control the way they interact with each other, with stakeholders and with internal customers. It is a powerful tool in transforming the IT group into people who perform calculated, yet seemingly spontaneous, service delivery in the best interests of its internal customers. 

This is part four of my series on IT branding. We have covered several perspectives on IT branding in the first three articles of this series. Part 1 talked about branding in general and how IT branding is linked to the Process Culture Maturity. In part two, the concept of IT branding was defined and how it was related to IT team culture. Part three talked about high quality IT service delivery as the best brand identity. 

This post will delve more into the subject of IT branding, understand its key components and examine how it shapes the IT organization. The four key components of the IT brand, the four Ps — Promise, Practice, People and Performance, will be defined. These can be seen in the diagram below: 

Promise 

One establishes the IT brand by building trust in a promise about what the company does, what it stands for, what its vision is, and what added business value it can provide the internal customers and stakeholders. This is represented through the established IT vision and mission statement, customer value proposition and service offers. This promise must be developed by IT top management and its sponsors through extensive analysis of internal and external environment, interviews, and research. The Promise component of the IT branding process is achieved through vital scoping, visioning and strategic planning.   

Practice 

After writing the organization’s promise, the next step is to build the engine that will enable service delivery. This is the IT Practice – comprised of IT operating model, mode of service delivery and various other methodologies. It ensures that IT teams achieve optimum results and performance. It will define the discipline in which IT systems, operations, projects and evolution will be managed. However, this discipline should not be constrained to a particular use of a vendor’s product; rather, it should focus on providing a framework to structure IT related activities and the interaction of IT personnel with business customers and users. 

People 

The most important element of the IT brand is the People component. Everyone in IT must be in sync. For new team members, this is achieved through an adequate on-boarding process. For existing employees, ongoing organizational development and engagement initiatives will work. Communication is critical in this aspect. Top management must fully engage employees. It starts by communicating the Promise (IT mission and vision, strategy) and Practice (IT operating model and methodologies).  Each team member must know his role and value in the overall service delivery system. It is important to note that the internal perception of the IT brand are affected by the IT team members’ behavior, and that one must therefore shape the IT team culture in ways that encourage IT brand-committed actions on the part of all IT employees. 

Performance 

As discussed in part three of my articles on IT branding—what is central to IT branding is the relentless pursuit of quality IT services. Organizations build its IT brand by living up to its promise. IT teams strengthen its IT brand by relentlessly improving its IT brand promise. The surest way to do this is improving performance. IT managers must define key performance indicators to monitor performance against objectives. Measuring the success of IT branding initiatives is challenging; however, it is essential that every effort be made to measure results versus targets set forth. 

A Final Note: 

One’s perception of the IT service is often reduced to a phone conversation with a helpdesk service agent. IT branding depends on each and every individual working in the IT organization—the “People”—from the top, the CIO to middle IT managers then to the frontline helpdesk service agents. It is important that all IT personnel are in sync because the service brand is all about them. It is strengthened by the established “Promise” and “Practices” that enables IT organization to deliver with high “Performance”.

Facets of High Quality IT Services (Branding IT Organization Part 3)

In Part 1 of this series I talked about branding in general and how IT branding is linked to the Process Culture maturity of an IT organization. In Part 2, I listed the different rewards IT organizations can derive directly or indirectly from having a strong IT brand. I also defined the concept of IT Brand Identity and IT Branding. 

  • IT Brand Identity marks the tangible representation of your IT brand. This representation can be in different forms – your mission and vision, your service offers, culture and style.
  • IT Branding is the process of building and improving IT brand identity.  This identity or culture is shared by employees and groups that control the way you interact with each other and with stakeholders outside of t he company.  

I derived the idea of associating quality of IT service delivery and IT branding from the opinion shared to me by William Gearhart. Bill is the VP of Information Technology of the organization I work with. Bill’s comment was as follows: 

“Critical to the success of any company or its branding is the business model and the success of delivering it hourly, daily, weekly, etc. You can brand any identity but it is the delivery and focus of the team that moves you up the ladder of respect within an organization.” 

Bill goes on to say: 

“I believe you establish the partnership and respect, apply your brand and then focus on assuring your service delivery and processes move forward with the organization(s) you are supporting and enabling.” 

The relentless pursuit of high quality IT services is central to IT branding. It is the factory that creates meaningful stories in the hearts and minds of our internal customers. These stories ultimately shape the perception of your internal customers – thus, strengthening your IT brand identity. High quality IT service is the best IT brand identity. For a service organization like IT, the surest way to create trust is consistency in the delivery of services. 

Facets of Quality in IT Services 

Quality is the best problem solver. IT organizations that consciously pursue quality in all its services take a proactive approach in problem management. This pursuit guides IT organizations on which problems to solve first and which opportunity to seize. Problem management practices are essential in this effort. First of all, problem management should be proactive. It should be focused on studying trends in order to reduce recurring issues and ensure long-term solutions by addressing root causes. Reducing IT incidents directly helps in improving customer or end-user experience in using IT services.   

Quality is the best customer relationship. High quality in IT services is the silent salesman. Consistency in IT service delivery will create good perceptions and a positive experience for internal customers. I think that a high level of quality enables IT to function as a business partner of its customers. Somehow it is the same as selling a product in the market. No matter how much you spend in advertising and promotions, if the product is questionable and does not have good quality, it will be difficult to sell. It is important for IT to focus on delivering high quality products and services right the first time. This is done through effective change management and high quality implementations. 

Quality is your best identity. IT branding and quality of IT services delivery are two sides of the same coin, in that high quality IT services creates a good IT brand identity. The level of quality in your company’s IT services determines how your organization is perceived by your partners and internal customers. It is important for IT managers to understand that the organization establishes its brand by building trust. The best way to create trust is consistency in providing high quality services.   

A Final Note: 

One can define quality in many different ways depending on the point of view. However, quality in the perspective of a service organization such as IT is defined entirely by the customers. The customers’ perception is reality. Quality is based on the customer’s assessment of his or her entire customer experience which is the consolidated evaluation of the organization’s different touch points. Again, I believe that the persistent pursuit of high quality IT services is central to IT branding. High quality IT service is the best IT brand identity. For a service organization like IT, the surest way to create trust is consistency in the delivery of services.

Photo courtesy of  www.zebratranslations.co.uk

Business Lessons from My Wii Fit Plus Experience

I have gained some extra pounds since the beginning of this year and this has hurt my right ankle a bit. For the past 3 months, I have been planning but failing to have a continuous physical regimen that will bring my body to a comfortable weight …until I found my new buddy – my Wii Fit Plus! It has been more than a week of Wii Fit training and I have not missed a day of fun workout. I definitely feel much better now. There is no hidden secret why Wii Fit has been so effective. What keep me coming back are the daily body tests that allows me to monitor my progress as compared to the goal that I set. The Wii Fit performance dashboards are amazing control measures! 

If performance measures are so effective in driving personal results, how does it relate to business? This is what this article is about — my reflections on the business of my Wii Fit Plus experience. 

Set Your Goals and Charting Progress 

When I first played Wii Fit Plus, I was asked to set a goal for myself concerning my Body Mass Index (BMI). So I set where I’d like to end up — including the timeframe. Goals and graphs appear on the calendar so it’s easy to visually see my progress towards my goal. Another fun thing was receiving feedback from my personal Wii trainer – giving me pointers and encouraging me towards meeting my goals. 

In business, this can be likened to the combination of your strategic objectives setting and performance management system. Normally, you start the year off with a planning session. This is the time when you lay out your strategic plans and goals. Once you have those strategic plans, they are translated to tactical objectives and then into operational goals. Most organizations have multiple business units, divisions and departments, each with their own responsibilities, processes and applications. Those tactical and operational goals trickle downward to individual employees. As you can imagine, in such a complex organization, the question is: How can you monitor and measure your progress towards the organization’s business goals? How do you encourage each department to continue working towards meeting those goals? 

Business Intelligence and Performance Dashboards 

Wii Fit Plus provided simple graphs detailing my progress with my BMI, weight, Wii Fit Age and Fit Credits, as well as a calendar to monitor my training and goals. I was able to compare the calendar and graphs with my wife’s on the same Wii Fit Plus game, so both of us got involved. 

In my opinion, the graphs represent the Business Intelligence (BI) and Performance Dashboard. The BI and Performance Dashboards are part of the company’s performance management system and is also the organization’s magnifying glass. It is composed of anything from daily operational reports to weekly tactical analysis and a single-screen cockpit that provides Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the business. Business Intelligence and Performance Dashboards allow the business to: 

  • Monitor – supervise key processes using key performance indicators that prompt alerts when potential deviation and problems arises.
  • Evaluate – analyze the possible causes of the problem by exploring relevant and timely information from different levels and multiple perspectives.
  • Manage – direct organization and processes to improve decision, optimize performance, refine strategy and steer the business in the right direction. 

The best way that executives can drive their business today is through an interactive dashboard that contains both historic and forward looking measures. Using performance dashboards, executives can view and analyze information about business results and the activities they manage. For middle managers, it will help them view departmental business metrics at a glance and drill down quickly to smaller segments of actionable information. 

Business Intelligence and Performance Dashboards are powerful agents of change. They help business reach their goals. This is much like how my Wii Plus charts has helped me achieve my personal targets!

Photo courtesy of Wii Fit Plus and SAP Business Suite.

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