PMI and Agilests?

Cats and dogs, living together...

Cats and dogs, living together...

Greg Balestrero — CEO of the Project Management Institute — recently posted (here) on his experiences at the Scrum Gathering in Orlando.  In my experience, Greg and the PMI staff have been very eager to foster a better relationship among the various methodology camps.  Per Greg’s post,

[t]he intent of the visit was to bridge the gap between the Scrum Alliance and PMI. But I guess the real reason we attended was to dispel the myths that surround the PMBOK® Guide and Agile practice. There is a widely held opinion that the PMBOK® Guide and Agile don’t mix… they can’t be “shaken, nor stirred” together. 

Please read the post…it gives an interesting perspective on how to build alliances among disparate points of view and how to overcome misconceptions.

Project Management as “table stakes”

Regular readers know that I’ve been harping on the increasing importance of program management, especially when it comes to realizing the benefits or value of projects.  Project managers who simply run projects without reference to the larger business environment are becoming a commodity. 

During the recent Global Corporate Council forum, I heard two thoughts that illustrated the challenge for PMs:

  • Greg Balestrero, the CEO of the Project Management Institute (Greg’s blog is here), calls project management “table stakes”.  In other words, PM has become so widespread that it is no longer differentiating for an organization or person to be good at PM.  In Greg’s opinion, PM-only lets/keeps you in the game…no more.
  • One council member quanitified the value of the PMP in terms of experience.  He had to counsel a project manager who was very itchy to advance but was perplexed that his PMP hadn’t taken him further.  The council member put it to him bluntly: “A PMP is worth about two years of experience in our organization, which is something…  But it isn’t equivalent to leading and delivering a multi-year project or program.”

Thanks to my peers on the Global Corporate Council

Not my leadership role model...

Not my leadership role model...

In the latest in an occasional series of horn-tooting posts, I’m pleased that my colleagues in PMI’s Global Corporate Council recently selected me to join the council’s leadership team. 

I’m currently serving as First Vice Chair; in April 2009 I’ll succeed Steven Borowski from Accenture as the council’s Chair.

Value of PM Academic Programs?

Last week I attended the PMI Global Corporate Council‘s semi-annual executive forum.  This meeting included a one-day symposium with education leaders on the challenges and trends facing academic programs in project management.

I was a bit of a skeptic going in.  I had known of PM programs in a few schools — my brother had attended courses with Frank Anbari at George Washington University — but I wondered how mainstream or widespread they had become.   From what I saw last week, I must admit that there is more traction than I had expected. 

In particular, the best programs are no longer strictly focusing on tools and techniques and are moving towards practical applications, teaching leadership skills, and providing hands-on opportunities via a variety of means, including internships, mentor programs, simulations, etc. Among the programs that impressed based on presentations and conversations:

PMBOK 4th Edition Features — Data models per process

Scope Defintion section of Scope Knowledge Area -- 3rd Edition PMBOK Guide (Copyright PMI 2004)

Scope Defintion section of Scope Knowledge Area -- 3rd Edition PMBOK Guide (Copyright PMI 2004)

When I saw the pre-release PMBOK Guide 4th edition draft, the new data models attached to each process caught my eye. 

I liked the 3rd edition’s attempt to capture data and process flow.  However, the approach was a bit clumsy, largely because it was done by knowledge area.  To be fair, the 3rd does have a set of process group diagrams in Chapter 3 with a decent overview of the flow.

Scope Definition Process Data Model -- 4th Edition PMBOK Guide (Copyright PMI 2008)

Scope Definition Process Data Model -- 4th Edition PMBOK Guide (Copyright PMI 2008)

While the big picture view those diagrams provided was nice — versions of them exist in the 4th edition — mapping the data inputs/outputs by process is more rigorous and intuitive IMHO.  I was OK with  the boxes listing the data I/O, but the models are much more effective visual representations of the individual processes.

I’ve provided a couple of examples of the different approaches FYI.

PMBOK Guide 4th Edition — First Impressions

As a registered education provider for PMI, SAP gets to see pre-release drafts of certain PMI standards.  And sure enough, we just got a late draft of the pending 4th Edition of the PMBOK Guide

My first impressions were that the 4th edition was a fairly straightforward continuous improvement of the 3rd.  This relatively small set of changes is in contrast to some of the big changes between editions two and three, never mind the giant leap between editions one and two.

Which is IMHO, a good thing and a measure of the maturity of the profession.  As regular readers know, my take is that most of the “action” should be in managing complexity, which takes us out of the project world and into programs and portfolios.  I would have been a bit worried if the profession — as represented by the PMBOK Guide project team — had felt the need to do a large-scale revision.

More on the specifics in later posts…

Executive Support: Demonstrating the Value of PM

Executive buy-in and support: more comments on the first results of the PMI Value of PM study, earlier posts (here , here, here, here, and here).

Value measures should first focus on the tangible (e.g., ROI, better margin) or making the intangible more tangible (e.g., tying customer satisfaction to revenue or reduced escalation costs).  In addition, I would also suggest that one should also look at how much value one’s executives attribute to project management.  Of course, the initiative has to have delivered results.  But many PMOs forget to ensure that senior leadership understands exactly how PM improvement translates to the firm’s bottom-line, top-line, brand value, etc.

One of the most powerful endorsements of SAP’s project management efforts came from the current CEO of SAP America, Greg Tomb.  During our global services leadership summit, each regional leader presents a short presentation on the “whats and whys” of his/her unit’s performance.  When Greg was discussing the excellent revenue, margin, and customer satisfaction results in the Americas, he explicitly credited project management as the foundation for all three.

“Public” and vocal executive references are some of the best intangible value proof points.  Not only was the recognition appreciated by the Americas PMO leadership, it also reinforced the global PMO message to the rest of the global leadership team: project management works.

Why DID we need the value of PM study?

Per a recent comment by Dr. Paul Gianmalvo (URL here, post and comment here), the results of the value of PM study do sound like they simply confirm the value of motherhood, apple pie, and clean living.  As Paul notes:

Yes, project management adds value. Of course it does!!! What alternatives are there?

I agree that the answer is obvious: competent project management is indispensable.  In fact, I believe that outstanding project management is a competitive advantage.  But that fact hasn’t always been obvious to the folks who approve project management: senior executives.  When pitching PMO and other project performance improvement initiatives, too many project management professionals launch into assertions of the value of PM.  I know… I’ve done it and see it again and again.

To me, the stunning results from the study are not that PM has value, but how poorly we still calculate and communicate the returns on our organizations’ investments.  Only 50 percent of PM organizations bother to calculate ROI?  Those must be some confident, complacent, or perhaps foolish PMOs.

When it comes time to show benefits from a PM improvement program’s outcomes, silence is death.

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

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