cargo ship underway viewed from bowThis article was written by guest author Mats Malmstrom, who who will be presenting the upcoming webinar on value management.

Mats  is a multi-talented management consultant with more than 25 years of experience as executive sponsor, program and project manager, as well as the owner of LYM innovation Consulting, a firm coaching and training organizations in the art and science of Project Management in North and Latin America.

Introduction to traditional value management

Traditionally value in projects has been expressed with the following formula: Value(outcome)=Scope/Cost

Thus, theoretically we have two options to increase project value: we increase the scope more than we increase the cost,or decrease the cost more than the scope. Mathematically, there is no possible objection to these two possibilities, which are enabled by the initial formula.

Here’s where the problem starts. As we all know, project management is the art and science of producing results never achieved before (which is quite amazing, if you think of it). Unfortunately, the beautiful simplicity of the value formula doesn’t quite capture the complexity and dynamics of the project. It’s a bit like trying to predict the weather using the laws of thermodynamics.

In other words: exploring opportunities to increase the scope alone will not guarantee an increased value; nor will a decrease in cost, without looking very carefully at the impact on the scope that is delivered.

The success of a project is measured in the terms of how well it manages to deliver the wanted result/outcome at a predicted delivery time and cost. These terms are expressed in the form of project goals. All projects have different priorities set between these constraints, and project requirements are ranked accordingly to focus the project on “doing the right things”.

While the traditional approach provides a good baseline for value management in terms of setting the broad parameters of value creation, following the “mathematical tactics” blindly could result in critical value being forgotten or lost.

Webinar How do you optimize project value?

Project value straddles beyond usual project management parameters

Historically we have been defining and monitoring project success and performance in terms of Scope (requirements implemented), Time (Project outcome delivered on time), Cost (Project cost vs initial budget) and Quality (Quality KPI’s fulfilled). Projects meeting those goals have been considered successful and thus have generated the expected value for the organization and its business.

Though these parameters give a good indication of project performance they often fail to show the complete picture of the value expected or created by a project.

That’s why it’s increasingly important to talk about value in its own terms, as opposed to treating it as a by-product of the parameters listed above.

The PMI has recognized this reality for many editions. Take, for example, the definition of business value in the glossary of the PMBOK 5th edition, where it is noted that the concept is unique for each organization, and includes both tangible and non-tangible elements.

When we start consider value as the reason for doing what we do, value management becomes a central process driving business success., In the latest Pulse of Profession report from PMI(r) indicates that organizations applying Benefit realization management (Value management) are reaching better project results.

Also, defining project goals around those terms does have an impact on how the project is organized, managed and how the project governance is implemented in the organization.

Some examples of poor value management

Problem statement:

The project manager could not report on the new financial KPI’s required for a more thorough financial follow up of the project because of the way the line organization had structured the cost collection in the ERP system. This generated an additional cost for the project, as cost information had to be manually collected and synthesized from the project organization.

Diagnostic:

There was a misalignment in the matrix organization, making it very difficult to measure the value of the project accurately.

Problem statement:

The project manager prioritized delivery performance (Time) without understanding what the customer’s most urgent needs were. The project was showing excellent progress while the customer complaints escalated.

Diagnostic:

In this case the value tracking did not include some of the values expected to be delivered  by the project.

Problem statement:

The standard project reporting did not meet the organization’s/stakeholders’ needs for business information, adding extra work for the project team.

Diagnostic:

This is a typical situation that occurs when there is no standard procedure for monitoring value for the project across the organization.

Problem statement:

Another project started up a number of project activities in order to meet the deadline without considering how the large negative cashflow impacted the financial performance of the company.

Diagnostic:

This could have been an approved project execution strategy from the start, but what if it wasn’t? Sound businesses strives to make the financial operations as effective i.e. increase liquidity to reduce the cost of capital, and so have cash available to cover expenses and invest in new ventures.

Structuring Value Management

You may ask what these situations have in common, and what they have to do with value management. In all these cases, a structured value management process across the operation End-to-End would have helped the projects avoid the situation, or at least minimized the project impact.

While there isn’t a catch-all mistake in all the examples, a more holistic approach to understanding project value at the outset of the project, and more consistency in managing the generation of value during the project’s life cycle can help identify misalignments with stakeholders, and between the productivity interests of the project manager and those of the organization.

What do we mean with business value?

Find out more in the webinar: How do you optimize project value?

Let’s go back to this important notion. We have already seen that in order for us to understand the business value of a project we have to put it into the context of the organization: its mission, vision, strategy and goals. We must understand the environment it operates in: customers, competitors, regulatory and legal considerations. How does the organization get things done, i.e. what are the processes and tools used?  What resources and competences does the organization have? How is the organization structured and governed?

The expected business value is expressed exclusively for each project in both tangible and intangible goals in various dimensions related to company strategy, business goals, the customers, resource availability, operational improvements, competence development, to name a few.

Of course, financial aspects are crucial -although not sufficient per se. The financial performance of the project must be in for measuring success, and  rigorous financial metrics must be used to measure the value of the project (and its feasibility!) over the project life cycle. Hence it is vital for the project manager to have a good understanding of how the project performance is impacting both the general company financials and the project financials in order to lead the project and take corrective actions when necessary.

Successful business value creation starts with a comprehensive, purposeful strategic planning on company level and is then broken down into a portfolio of business critical initiatives that are realized by executing programs or projects.

Capturing the  business value for the project is a quite complex work of collecting and understanding its complete context. Unfortunately, very often project managers are not self-sufficient in this type of activity, since they may not access to have relevant information, either because it has not been communicated properly, because it is sitting in an organizational silo, or, in the worst case scenario, because it may be classified or beyond his level of authority.

For the project manager to lead the project effectively often means to realize what he doesn’t know about the project and untap many unknown unknowns. Of course, this is a daunting task without proper information sharing policies that enforce a culture of collaboration and interaction with stakeholders that help lead resources in the right direction.

In conclusion: You might not have an organizational structure and processes in place to follow up or ensure value creation in the project. However, there are some relatively easy things that you could do within the limit of your level of authority.

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dna, flat design, vector illustration, isolated on white backgroundTraditional change management systems are based on a transition from an old model to a new one.

These change systems could be seen as a journey, in which one begins at the origin and directs the steps towards a destination, considering that success has been achieved when the objectives established in a given time have been achieved.

However, is this model the right one?

In this present, ever changing world, setting a fixed destination is probably not the best idea. What would probably be more appropriate for the current market, the socio-economic context and our clients, will not be the same in a few months.

Given this, the established destination for our journey, the objective of change, will no longer be our preference once we achieve it.

Therefore, it will be necessary to establish another destination and to chart a new course, initiating a new cycle that is on course to repeat itself.

This concept of change is probably due to its traditional relationship with project management. After all, this has been based precisely on that: in establishing a project to achieve, to chart a course, to define work methodologies and to fulfil them.

However, in today's world, this isn’t enough. A change management system must be able to anticipate the environment, change course to a new destination and adapt to the needs of the company.

Therefore, another way of understanding change management is as a system that, instead of directing change in one direction, seeks to establish structures or systems that allow a paradigm shift in the company. The objective of the change is to make structures more flexible, to improve adaptation mechanisms and, in short, to facilitate the establishment of all future changes without altering the workflows and productivity already instilled, to be able to adapt to market needs.

In this new paradigm, the classic concept of work methodology disappears, since it does not exist as a stable concept, but a dynamic and changing methodology instead.

Essentially moving from a system of sequential change to a system of permanent mobilization.

Ingredients for a mobilized system

Mobilization systems, despite being characterized as having no fixed methodologies, consist of a series of structures necessary to ensure that an efficient change is produced permanently.

The following are components that must be found in any business structure to constitute a mobilization system:

  • An ecosystem prepared for change. These environments must have some sort of performance algorithms that allow the adoption certain attitudes when in an environment with previously established order. When the market presents a certain change, the reaction must be one that adapts to the necessities imposed by the new market circumstances. In the same way, action protocols can be drawn up that allow modification of attitudes according to the circumstances.
  • Informal systems within the company. Although the company must have clearly established and formal channels of communication and hierarchy, there must also be other informal, agile systems within the company. This way, communication and change will be more dynamic and agile, and will allow a quick reaction to a change in the circumstances of the company.
  • Establishing a culture based on change. Change must be understood as a way of working, a way of conducting within the company. "Today more than yesterday but less than tomorrow" and a principle of constant improvement, must be printed on the company's DNA.

Conclusion

Change has come to stay. And it affects not only the working methodologies of companies, but also the change system itself.

The "Change in change", on a constant basis, ensures real-time adaptation to market circumstances and customer needs.

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fashion trend colors seamless pattern For change to be carried out under optimal conditions, it must influence a series of attitude changes in the workforce to ensure that it is carried out successfully, both individually and collectively.

However, it may be complex to produce changes in business organisations and its working methodologies, both in large and small corporations.

Some studies indicate that approximately 70% of attempted company change or transformation end in failure. This is not surprising, because human beings, by nature, are conformist and tend to be resistant to change.

According to a 2016 study by consulting firm McKinsey, there are four building blocks that determine the influence on employee behaviour.

All the models focus in the mindset of the worker and assume that the worker will accept the change if he observes or finds positive attitudes around his or her working environment. Therefore, the exposition of each of the attitudes will begin by articulating a phrase that summarises the worker's feeling towards them. Below, we will analyze why each of the attitudes work.

Text "I will change my mind-set and behavior if..."

Role Modelling

"I observe that my colleagues, leaders, and in general the whole team behave differently."

This theory works because people tend to imitate the attitudes of a group and to integrate within it, both consciously and unconsciously.

If the whole team behaves in a certain way, the tendency is that all workers try to adopt the same attitudes to blend in.

All new members will be conscious of the active working model and, therefore, will adopt it immediately.

Knowledge, understanding and conviction

"I understand what is being asked of me and it makes sense to me" 

In a company, or in any other organization, there are critical voices, and they must always exist. They are necessary for both individual and collective growth. 

However, both criticisms as well as the adoption of collective standards, especially among highly qualified teams, should not be destructive but constructive. In this way, the company can present a certain flexibility to adapt to the specific needs and methodologies of each of its employees. 

At the same time, as they are rules that are not completely imposed, but are collectively established, understood and accepted by all workers, compliance is guaranteed. 

The worker should not understand the new methodologies of work as an imposition but as a necessity that makes his work more productive and efficient. 

Development of talents and abilities

"I have the skills, the talent and the opportunity to adopt the new working methodologies."

In order to adopt new working methodologies, firstly, it is necessary to learn to use them from a theoretical point of view and then proceed to a practical tutored period. To do this, the company must conceive the adoption of new work methodologies and new project management systems as an investment for the future. After all, the work, products or services developed by the company are channelled through projects, so working on their optimization means facilitating the success of the company as a whole.

In addition to the worker feeling that what is good for the company is good for him, he must also feel accompanied and guided during the process of change. Therefore, it is necessary to teach already established workers to adopt to the new working methodologies.

Reinforcement of adopted attitudes

"I note that structures, processes, and systems support the change that is required of me."

The dissonance between the demands of behavioural change and the infrastructure of technology and methodologies can definitely inhibit not only motivation for change, but the employee's own commitment to the organization and leadership. On the other hand, if the employee is able to see that the required change is not only a necessary consequence of the organization's processes, but that its new behaviour is prolonged and supported by those same processes, leadership will be perceived as responsible, considerate and capable to take into account all the details.

If workers observe, feel, and understand that change leads to a more successful business and that this is beneficial to them, they will be happy to continue adopting new work systems. Therefore, the greater productivity achieved through change must be transferred to their daily work and demonstrated through data and also through improvements in their daily lives.

 

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