Increased Customer Satisfaction: Demonstrating the Value of PM

SAP PM-specific success stories: 2004-2006

Showing customer value: more comments on the first results of the PMI Value of PM study, earlier posts (here , here, and here).

SAP customer satisfaction scores have shown strong improvement over the last few years, but project management satisfaction is rising faster than the overall SAP Consulting customer satisfaction. While we have surveys that demonstrate this result, an even more tangible measure of this satisfaction is the huge increase in project management success stories.

The field loves success stories, because they highlight the role of SAP Project Management in ensuring customer success during implementation projects.  Customers go “on the record” to make powerful statements about exactly how SAP Project Management supported their projects and programs.  For examples in a number of industries, click here for a list of SAP Project Management success stories (or search here using the search string “SAP Project Management” success stories).

Demonstrating the ROI of project management

Guess which color is maturity and which is costs...

Guess which color is the maturity rating and which is cost/revenue...

Re: demonstrating tangible value — comments on the first results of the Value of PM study — earlier posts (here and here), the study’s preview PDF (here) and a 90 minute presentation by the lead authors (embedded here).

Only half of the case study organizations could demonstrate tangible value from their project management efforts and initiatives. The study had several observations about these two groups, the first applies directly to our PMO: “Organizations That Could Calculate ROI… those that deliver projects for customers”

The fact that we support units responsible for customers, revenues, and profit made a huge difference in our ability to measure ROI.  In no small measure, SAP’s increased margins over the past four years have come from our ability to better bid, monitor, and control projects.  Continue reading

Sustaining the Value of Project Management

As promised, I’m going to blog on the Researching the Value of Project Management study that PMI will release soon (preview PDF here).  This conclusion about value growth and persistence struck me first:

Where Value Is Being Sustained And Continuing To Grow, There Is On-going Focus And Improvement Underway

Well, that sounds a bit obvious. One would expect that value would grow with “on-going focus and improvement”. But is value already demonstrated and delivered automatically “being sustained”? The answer apparently is “No”…

Organizations That Stop Focusing On Value, Or Believe That They Are ‘Done’:
– Stop demonstrating value
– The act of not enhancing value appears to destroy value

Ah… now that’s something to remember. Our PMO fell into this trap.  We thought our “Level 2” project management training was just fine, thank you. Unfortunately, our customers didn’t think so.  It got to the point where one of our most important regions developed its own training to replace ours. 

Some of the value decline was real: our training missed topics that had emerged since its development.  However, the most critical part of the value decline was perceived.  Our unwillingness to address pain points — and the need for one of our customers to become self-sufficient — undermined our relevance. 

The bottom line is simple.  If my group doesn’t stay focused on sustaining and building value, people start to ask: Why do we have a Global PMO anyway?

Business Value Game — Prioritizing Requirements

While I haven’t gone through a live simulation of the game, I like a number of the concepts behind The Business Value Game (post here, game here).  Of course, I love learning through simulation (entire Complexity Set here). 

The game also has players assume the role of salespeople who have to prioritize the backlog that developers will have to implement.  This approach is great for both roles:

  • If you have salespeople play the game, they start to get a better feel for the real consequences of having made unfulfillable promises at deal time. 
  • As developers play the game, they should develop more empathy for the pressure that sales teams feel as they try to satisfy the customer and close deals.

Very promising stuff…  Now, when can I get the time to check it out?!

Value of Project Management Study

One of my first duties with the PMI Global Corporate Council was to give feedback and input to Janice Thomas, who was planning PMI-sponsored research into the value of project management.  After more than three years, it was great to see the first findings made public in Warsaw earlier this year.

The study itself, Researching the Value of Project Management, will be released soon.  Smartly, PMI released a preview PDF (here) and a 90 minute presentation by the lead authors Janice Thomas and Mark Mullaly, PMP (embedded here).

Mary Adams over at Hybrid Vigor will be particularly interested in the attention paid to intangible benefits (Crossderry posts here, here, and here) in the study, which Kelley Hunsberger highlighted (here).

PMOs in Real Estate Management

Per an earlier post on PMOs in law firms (here), I’m always fascinated by the new industries that are starting to see value in more formal project management. 

Pinnacle is a real estate investment management firm based in Seattle.  They’re establishing a PMO to put more consistent and repeatable practices in place (press release here).  Pinnacle expects more than process from its PMO, however. It was nice to see this quote from Pinnacle’s Chief Administrative Officer Ed Wolff:

Pinnacle has recognized the need to establish a PMO to facilitate excellence in the execution of strategic business initiatives. Our ultimate goal is creating greater value for the assets we manage and our customers.

Hat tip: Real Estate Central (here)

Berkun on PMs and Respect

Since I riffed on Manny Ramirez and Theo Epstein earlier (here), let’s continue the baseball metaphor.  Scott Berkun drives a “hanger” a long way when he highlights how PMs sabotage their personal brands (here).  The money quote:

Many PMs unintentionally reinforce this view by trying to get everyone to pay attention to the work they do produce: the meta work of spreadsheets, specifications, presentations and status reports, failing to realize that to most in any organization, these are the least interesting and most bureaucratic things produced in the building. This mismatch of value sends the PM and his/her team into a downward spiral: the PM asking for more and more respect in ways guaranteed to push people further away.

I’ve hammered on this point again and again, but when you’re focused on “work vs. outcomes”, you’re consciously or unconsciously telling others that you’re not a business leader, you’re a technician.  Mastering your project’s business case and its elevator speech — and using it to describe your project instead of the issues log — will enhance your personal brand immensely.  As Scott notes:

Our culture does not think of movie directors, executive chefs, astronauts, brain surgeons, or rock stars as project managers…. The difference is these individuals would never describe themselves primarily as project managers. They’d describe themselves as directors, architects or rock stars first, and as a projects manager or team leaders second. They are committed first to the output, not the process.

SAP ERP Upgrade Surge

Eric Samuels at the SAP Watch blog has an interview with Steve Strout, the new ASUG CEO (here).  This post focuses on the recent surge in upgrades in process or completed (the SAP press release is here).  A couple of key quotes:

First, it’s an extremely stable release. People are able to do a technical upgrade without much hassle. I know of people who have eliminated upwards of 70% of their custom code just by moving to this release. I also think SAP has done a tremendous job of making the migration a relatively easy one. I know that when I went from 4.6c to 6.0, it was a pretty straight forward process and we didn’t find any real surprises.

SAP has worked diligently on easing upgrade hassles and reducing downtime for years (full disclosure, I was part of the Upgrade Competence Center back in the day and I’ve led three major upgrades).  We also have continually updated our ASAP for Upgrades roadmap (you’ll need to be registered in Service Marketplace to access the upgrade roadmap entry page here, online version here).

In addition…they will start taking advantage of Service Oriented Architecture and expose access to their SAP environment and create new ways of taking out steps of a business process – thus reducing their overall costs. We are starting to see people use SOA technologies to innovate and create new ways for their business to do all new things. And this innovation can’t occur at the same price point with the older technology.

Yup…Enterprise SOA is coming and our customers are putting in the business process platform to support it.

More on the Triple Constraint

I’ve gotten a lot of good comments on my previous post on the Triple Constraint.  Just a couple of clarifications, at least from my perspective:

  • I don’t want to minimize how useful the Triple Constraint is in understanding the basic trade-offs that one must make among scope, time, and resources. 
  • That said, it is a basic heuristic and is most useful when initiating and planning a project.  In other words, project, program, and portfolio managers need to insist on these choices before the project is chartered.  That is when we have the most leverage to ensure an appropriate mix among the three.  Saying “scope, time, resources — pick two” when a project is in the midst of execution is too late. 
  • Project and program managers must focus harder on understanding scope, especially in relation to the business case that justified the project in the first case.  There is an implied baseline in that business case — it should inform our decisions about product scope and change control.

I’ve gone into the quality dimension earlier — especially w/r/t scope — so I won’t beat that over the head again. 

The relationship among scope, time, resources, quality, etc.

Thought-provoking post by mysticMundane on the Triple Constraint (here) — hat-tip to Michael at IT Project Failures (here).  IMO, both yielded good insights, with some caveats.  The good:

  • I always like to see quality included as essential to the triple constraint — Michael has the picture here — the scope isn’t delivered unless the work product conforms to requirements.
  • Scope change control is impossible without a baseline.  Good luck trying to get changes when the only baseline is a vague statement that the project is supposed to “boil the ocean.”
  • I like the second graph (here) with reservations…moving the scope frontier out nicely shows how hard it is for each time/resource combination to satisfy the new scope.

The caveats:

  • While I understand their intent, the graphs make it appear that scope is a function of time and resources.  Perhaps building each product feature can be represented by that, but is simply summing “features delivered” the scope? 
  • Do we fully understand scope deeply enough; in particular, isn’t the project ultimately supposed to create deliverables that generate benefits over time?  My experience is that too many project managers focus solely on features, which are derived from the business benefits, the deliverables, and their requirements.  Continue reading
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