The Multiproject Management Executives Dilemma – and how a change in perspective may help
Maybe this is a situation that sounds familiar to you.
Your company is very successful in what it is doing. So the number of projects did increase rapidly over the last years – and the number is still increasing.
With so many projects running in parallel more and more resource and process bottlenecks emerge, interrupting project workflow and severely damaging overall company performance. That is why you start looking for a solution providing overview and early-warning-for-bottlenecks in a multiproject environment.
Project and Portfolio Management Vendors being asked whether they offer such a solution will all answer: Of course. Good thing is: there are so many of them out there. Bad thing is: how do you find out who to select?
So, you probably ask one of your favorite consulting companies to give you a hand in finding the right tool to get back overview, transparency and agility. You probably will get the following answer: “Not so fast. First you need to achieve the appropriate project-management-maturity-level. Then you are able to tackle these challenges”.
The whole process will probably look like this:
- The consulting firm first needs to assess the level of project management maturity of your company. Outcome will be: they tell you, where you have to improve your organization and processes. Then, and only then you are able to lift your organization to the required level of (multi-)project management maturity.
- Having identified the “Hot Spots” in your company, the consulting company will suggest a “change project” to work on mindset of your people, improvement of processes and overall readiness of your organization for handling hundreds of projects.
- Once your processes are re-designed, then and only then it is possible to identify and select a professional project management tool. So, assisted by the consulting company you start an appropriate benchmarking and selection process.
- As soon as the tool is selected, the selected vendor will tell you, that top management commitment is a critical success factor. Without that chances are, the goals cannot be achieved.
by the way: very often the request for “top management commitment” actually translates to:
- Future failure relates to lack of support by top management
- Don’t allow projects not being planned with the tool, even if they don’t require such a powerful tool
- Top Management need to be ready to spend lots of money upfront, beyond all money already spend so far for “improving project-management-maturity”
The Executives Dilemma
This whole process will take at least months, if not years and many, many Euros. It will distract your people from doing their daily business and still: you don’t have any answer to your initial question. This, of course will cool down enthusiasm of top management. So results – as the vendor warned upfront – are not guaranteed at all.
Very many executives are somehow suspicious about that. That is why they stick to their current processes and tools.
The solution: change of perspective.
Very often, it goes unquestioned, that you first need to improve processes, then you can expect to gain benefits.
VISBO just turns that around: First gain benefits, then improve processes. We call that Lean Multiproject Management.
The ratio behind that is very simple: If you can show benefits first, then top management commitment, motivation and readiness for ongoing process improvements will be a matter-of-fact.
Here is just an very easy example for starting with Lean Multiproject Management:
- Answer the question “What is your currently most challenging bottleneck in your company?” (let’s assume for this example: it is the Testlab)
- Ask your project managers to shortly describe a very simple “lean project brief”, just in Excel:
- Project start, Project End
- Testlab Start, Testlab End
- Use VISBO Visual Board to visualize and analyze even hundreds of such lean project briefs for potential future bottlenecks (let’s assume for this example: because your head of testlab knows out of experience that – as a rule of thumb – he cannot handle more than 4 projects a month in the Testlab); –> see picture
- Use VISBO Visual Board to perform quick what-if-simulations in order to find ways to avoid these bottlenecks upfront. –> see picture
- Use VISBO Visual Board to create Powerpoint reports of all these findings in order to easily report various scenarios to executives, stakeholders and board.
- Define and implement a sustainable process in your company to always know and avoid future Testlab bottlenecks.
- Once that “most challenging bottleneck” problem is solved , continue with Step 1
(let’s assume for this example: it might be to look for resource bottlenecks of test engineers by describing the amount of test engineer days needed for preparing the test lab phase. This information is then just added to the existing lean project briefs. And so on … )
First results are available within days, maybe even within one day. That only depends on how long it takes the project managers to deliver the lean project brief. Of course, it then takes longer to implement the sustainable process making sure you never again run into unforeseen testlab bottlenecks.
This is just an example. You might start as well with an more elaborated lean project brief, describing the most important milestones, expected deliverables, phases and resource / cost needs of a project altogether. But the underlying principles remain just the same.
VISBO principles and software tools for Lean Multiproject Management
- Focus on the most important milestones, phases, resource needs. Avoid micro-management, when asking your project managers for lean project briefs.
- all current and, if necessary, potential project-ideas, -proposals, -requests, no matter whether being small, huge, simple or complex; no matter what planning tool is used.
- upcoming potential process- and resource bottlenecks; if necessary under consideration of all current and future project-ideas, -proposals, -requests.
- Reduce non-value-adding-work
- Avoid wasting lots of time for manually creating plans for project-ideas , -proposals, -request not even yet decided: Use VISBO rule-based 1Click project creation which utilizes your inhouse knowledge about several kinds of projects.
- Minimize efforts needed for creating reports and completely eliminate efforts for updating reports: Use VISBO report creation of reports able to synchronize themselves with the plan snapshot database.
- Allow people working with planning tools suited to their needs: complex projects require sophisticated planning tools, simple projects don’t. Use VISBO import connectors for Excel, MS project and other project management tools to import various plan formats and visualize them all together on the VISBO Visual Board.
These principles are applicable no matter what project-management-maturity-level your company currently enjoys.
- With having reached first benefits quickly people start thinking themselves about where else this approach may show quick and measurable benefits.
- Project managers are relieved from the cumbersome report creation and updating workload and more than happy to contribute to the improvement process.
- Top management is enthusiastic about transparency and benefits from the very beginning and eager to further support the improvement process.
There are many ways on “How to start”
In our example we just described one possible first step. We believe the VISBO Lean Principles and software tools might be valuable to companies of all kind of maturity levels.
For further information please check out our blog article “it doesn’t matter what project-management-maturity-level-your-company-is-on”
That is why we should talk to find out what would be your ideal next step to create benefits upfront.