Why business cases are important to making things happen.

 

Person with book on face to denote finding writing or reading a business case difficult

 

Great things can come out of business cases.  After all, without a business case, an idea just remains an idea - a lightbulb forever floating in the ether.  We like the things that come out of business cases, the latest Apple device, a new gin, Netflix series or bypass that makes our journey to work easier but who actually likes business cases?  And why are they important to making things happen?

 

 

 

I just cant wait to write/read this business case! Said no one ever.  If you think about it, when have you ever looked forward to writing a business case or reading one?  It's probably fair to say no-one settles down to read a business case with a sense of exciting anticipation.   The trouble with business cases is that they are a bit dull.  Even for life-changing, cutting edge stuff exciting stuff.  And because they live in the world of dull, nobody really reads them.  Not really - and certainly not with passionate engagement.

 

So, why bother with a business case?

 

What's the point of putting the time, thought and effort into something that is so unenthusiastically approached and received?

Well, in a budget-conscious, results-oriented world, it is no longer enough to simply deliver what you promised. Now, you also need to be sure that what you propose justifies the investment of time and resources needed to create it.

The business case focuses on the value that a project or programme brings to an organisation. In spite of the use of the word business, it is equally applicable to non-commercial organisations, such as government entities and non-profits, where it is sometimes referred to as a ‘use case statement’.

The aim of the business case is to justify the existence of the project or programme. It should clearly demonstrate the value of the work being done and the deliverables being created. The business case is outlined during the concept phase of the project life cycle and is used to assess whether the project should go ahead.

Preparing the business case is generally the responsibility of the project manager. Often, they will have input from other experts and specialist agencies. Once the business case is approved and the project moves forward, the business case must be regularly updated to reflect any changes to the project as a whole. It is used at gateway reviews to ensure that the project is continuing to progress in a way that will deliver the required value to the organisation.

 

What does a good business case look like?

 

The business case should tell a story.  This is the story of the benefits of the idea. It puts into context the value that a project or programme will bring to the organisation.

So the narrative of the story will flow like this:

 

  • The problem or situation that led to the project being considered
  • Why the project is needed
  • What might change about the situation that could make the project unnecessary
  • An options appraisal setting forward options considered, and options chosen
  • An appraisal of the “do nothing” option – what is the scenario if no action is taken?
  • Expected results and benefits, and their value to the organisation
  • The timescale in which the benefits are expected to be delivered
  • How the project team will assess whether benefits have been realised
  • Any unavoidable dis-benefits, with justification for why they are acceptable
  • Costs and funding arrangements
  • The risks involved, and their impact on the business case

 

The Reality Check

 

Assessing whether benefits have been realised is an essential part of the business case. This is mentioned above, but it is important enough that it generally gets its own separate document, known as the benefits review plan. This should be developed by the project manager alongside the business case and should be updated as the project progresses through the project life cycle.

The benefits review plan identifies specific benefits to be measured. These are taken directly from the business case. It should also state how benefits will be measured, who will be accountable for measuring them, and what information and data will be needed by those accountable. It will also state when the benefits assessments will take place, who will carry out these reviews, and what the baseline measurements are, in order to measure improvement.

 

How it benefits the organisation

 

Every project undertaken should clearly benefit the organisation. The business case demonstrates in advance exactly why a project is being put in place and how much value the successful completion of the project will add to the organisation as a whole.

The business case encourages the project manager and team to focus on not just what they are building, but also how it will be used. It helps the organisation avoid wasted resources on projects that do not yield a justifiable amount and quality of benefits. It also allows the organisation to prioritise multiple projects, by making the immediate value of each project clear.

 

How it works

 

The business case is a guide and reference point, before, during and after a project. Before the project begins, the business case establishes and justifies the goal of the project. It puts the outcomes of the project in context, by clearly stating not just what needs to be achieved, but also why it is necessary.

During the project, the business case remains central to day-to-day project management decisions. When different options present themselves, the project manager can refer to the business case to ensure that the chosen option not only moves the project closer to the deliverables, but also closer to the real values to which those deliverables are aiming to contribute.

After the project, the business case allows for an assessment based on actual value added to the organisation. Instead of measuring success based on whether the deliverables were completed, the organisation can easily assess whether the expected benefits were delivered. If not, then why not? Perhaps benefits were not accurately estimated, or maybe the deliverables developed were the wrong ones, incomplete, or badly implemented. This allows the organisation to learn valuable lessons.

 

How the business case creates project success

 

The business case can be the guiding light that creates project success. Communicated clearly, it can keep the entire team focused not just on their tasks and deliverables, but also on how they are providing the value that is at the heart of the change they are implementing. The proper development and maintenance of the business case allows for:

  • A clear definition of the value that a project is intended to deliver
  • A way to prioritise projects and ensure that resources are used to deliver real value
  • An ongoing way to assess whether the project is worth continuing
  • A tool to facilitate decisions on when and how the project plan needs to be changed
  • A well-managed business case substantially increases the chances of a project being completed successfully, to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.

 

To see what Verto can do to improve the success of your project management techniques, register for our free 30-day trial today or contact us for a demo!


10 ways project teams can leverage the power of technology

old rotary phone to show advancement of digital technology for project teams

 

Unless your company is still using typewriters and rotary phones (and in that case, you need more help than we can offer here!),  digital transformation is probably already an integral part of your project management methodologies.

Here are our top tips for leveraging the power of digital transformation in project management teams.

 

 

1. Stay calm

 

Project management is constantly evolving and even though new methods and approaches can seem initially disruptive to an established framework, the payoffs in agility and results are well worth making adjustments. Remember to use all the digital tools at your disposal to help take some of the weight off of your shoulders.  Build your digital fluency using your own learning style - whether it's being shown, attending a training course or following notes it doesn't matter as long as you are gaining incremental knowledge and confidence.

 

2. Organise for flexibility

 

The speed at which the project management life cycle moves means that keeping things simple by using the best software as a result of digital transformation is key.   The easiest teams to manage are small, collaborative and flexible - with adaptable technology supporting their agility.

 

3. Don't forget to keep it simple

 

Simplicity is the golden egg of productivity and effectiveness. You can keep things moving even faster by taking a simplified approach. Test rapid prototyping or break down complex projects into smaller, more manageable phases. Just be sure these sprints aren't too rushed, as this can mean significant defects or problems may go unnoticed until it's too late.  Work management software such as Verto helps by keeping track of multiple project variables and risks so you can confidently stay on top of a complex workload.  Whether this means you can get more personal quality time or get ahead in your field, it gives you capacity for what is important to you.

 

4. Work together

 

Keep lines of communication open, seek multiple viewpoints and encourage collaboration. This is especially important for large-scale project management concepts that span teams, departments or physical locations. It's essential for team members to stay open-minded and build up a tolerance for failure.  Cross-boundary knowledge and communication are key differentials in harnessing a critical thinking approach.  Critical thinking allows for different and innovative ways of doing things which is central to genuine transformation.

 

5. Emphasise results over process

 

Planning, budgeting, forecasting, risk assessment and all the rest are still essential to project management, but be sure to stay focused on results. Becoming a slave to 'the plan' can be a significant obstacle to reaching goals and project objectives. Don't be afraid to take advantage of the knowledge through data that work management software provides.  Pivot and adjust when necessary.

 

6. Communicate

 

Digital transformation also requires an adjustment in the way you communicate with project stakeholders. One of the biggest ways to improve here is by building tools that facilitate faster, more accurate communication in real time, such as an online community where project stakeholders can access the latest updates and information.

 

7. Make time for face time

 

Digital communication can help keep things moving and allow on-the-go face-to-face meetings with key stakeholders and your team to take place. This ease of communication and the speed at which it can happen is vital in the current digital age.

 

8. Be insightful

 

Programme management data is vital to leveraging successful project outcomes.   Quality data gives your the confidence to keep the vision on track while allowing for change in routing.   Data mining supports the early identification of problems or trends and in effect is a heads up display of what is going right, or wrong across your work programme.  Such insight bolsters effective stewardship whether at project sponsor or project manager level and enables the right decisions to be made to keep the project on track, not just the usual, obvious or expedient one.

 

9. Get stakeholders on board

 

The nature of collaborative, high-frequency delivery in digital project management means that all stakeholders have to be kept in the loop. From top executives down to the last team member, everyone should be invested and motivated to see a project succeed.  This is made easier by automated project updates, notifications and reporting which keeps the people who need to know up to speed.

 

10. Understand the benefits

 

Digital transformation has a number of benefits for project management methodologies. If things get tough, remember the advantages:

  • More flexibility
  • Greater productivity
  • Better transparency
  • Improved quality
  • Less risk of overlooked objectives
  • Increased engagement and satisfaction for stakeholders

 

The conclusion?

 

Managing projects and getting the most out of the recent digital transformation can be a complex process. By embracing agility and taking the time to focus on what's important, you can dramatically improve your chances of success.

For even more project management tips, insight, industry news and research, follow Verto Cloud on LinkedIn.


Delivering technical projects: Critical success factors

Person wears virtual reality goggles to show technical projects and visioning for success

 

What are the critical project management principles that lead to successfully delivering technical projects? Most programme managers agree that there are many keys elements to a project’s success; from getting buy-in from key stakeholders, strong support from top management, to a clearly defined project scope.

Some of the most fundamental elements of a successful project lie in getting the set up right from the start. There’s no doubt that clear communication and expectation management, the right skills, a clear vision  and a robust risk management plan are crucial for a project to remain on track.

 

 

 

Technical projects in the knowledge-economy

 

We spoke to Dr Sarah Tasker, founding Director of CAM-SCI, who shared some of her thoughts on the factors that lead to the successful completion of complex technical projects. She’s worked with many clients to develop some of the UK’s most exciting science park projects in Cambridge, Oxford, London, Manchester and Liverpool.

Dr Tasker specialises in projects that involve partnerships with universities, non-profit organisations, public-sector firms and sometimes private investors. CAM-SCI work exclusively in Knowledge Economy development, a critical part of enabling the UK to fulfil its vision to be a world leader in Innovation and Technology.

“The UK economy is increasingly reliant on wealth creation coming from Knowledge Economy development”

“The UK economy is increasingly reliant on wealth creation coming from Knowledge Economy development” Dr Tasker notes; and the reason for her company’s success is their understanding of the requirements of the sector, from specialised services to infrastructure.

The property sector has often overlooked the innovation sector where the requirement is for more flexible workspace and flexible operations - with a capacity to change according to the needs of the occupants and importantly the infrastructure around emergent sectors like the life sciences, biomedicine, cyber and ICT sectors. Keeping up to date with the trends in the market, and anticipating new trends, is critical in making sure projects are fit for purpose.

 

Managing the relationships

 

Knowledge-economy development brings together public and private sectors, non-profit organisations and the education sectors including universities.  These partnerships can lead to challenges as stakeholders often approach projects with different cultures, mindsets and different priorities.

"Creating a clearly defined vision that is supported by all parties throughout the life-time of the project is a key starting point to any successful project. "

"Creating a clearly defined vision that is supported by all parties throughout the life-time of the project is a key starting point to any successful project.  Understanding the differing priorities of clients – and helping them to understand key market drivers and critical success factors, underpins vision development.  It is important that clients from all background are confident in their vision and delivery strategy.  In a fast-changing market, working within a strong evidence-based methodology is critical in creating a best-practice approach.”

She adds that as the knowledge-economy has become more main-stream in the last two decades, there is a greater awareness that a specialist approach is required to support, develop and grow companies in the innovation, science and technology sectors. Key to this is developing an in-depth understanding of the specialism that you are delivering.

Dr Tasker has an interesting point of view on the types of skills required to deliver a project successfully. “You clearly need an experienced team with the specialist skills required to complete the project within a defined project scope.  We work with teams of highly skilled designers and technical experts to deliver our specialist infrastructure, facilities and services”. However, she notes that it is just as critical to ensure that the project stays true to its vision. This sometimes means having “the integrity to keep the project on track and fighting for its best interest even when behind the scenes politics could threaten to knock it off course. “Some of our projects are in development for a period of years.  Pro-active communications with and between client stakeholders is a crucial element of successful delivery”.

What is the appetite for risk?

 

Dr Tasker considers risk management essential for the successful delivery of a project. She feels that every project is unique, so it’s essential to conduct an evidence-based risk assessment rather than assume there is a “one-size-fits-all solution” when assessing risk.

She adds that in many cases, the reason a project fails is lack of a proper risk assessment before implementation. “When every client has a different appetite for risk, getting into the detail with our clients and understanding their attitude to risk, and how they perceive the kinds of risks that the project brings them is fundamental to the success of the project.”

"A significant risk to projects that is often overlooked, is losing the vision and project priorities over time or allowing them to become watered down to the detriment of the outcome."

 

Don't lose sight of the vision

 

A significant risk to projects that is often overlooked, is losing the vision and project priorities over time or allowing them to become watered down to the detriment of the outcome. “It sometimes takes courage to voice concerns if we feel a project is being compromised but being willing to do the right thing, not just the expedient thing, has been critical to our success.  A priority for all our projects is delivering sustainable success over the long-term – both for our clients and for the tech-companies that are our target audience.”

Cloud-based project management software can make collaboration between the project management office and stakeholders more efficient and improve project control.  Verto’s work collaboration and programme management software provides real-time programme information and gives project management teams and stakeholders their own role-based customised views.

Our cloud-based software provides dashboard status and reports as well as document storage and sharing.

Stay in touch with us, follow us on LinkedIn and chat with us on Twitter to learn more about our ideas and software.


Get hold of "how much is this going to cost"?

piggy bank to show cost

 

It's an important question but one that even some of the programme delivery specialists find difficult to answer satisfactorily. Is it possible to start a project on solid budgetary footing? We think so.

 

At Verto, we believe costs and budget are integral to any project management framework. That's why our system has been built up with a powerful tool that makes it easy to establish, analyse and manage your project budgets more effectively to ensure you always have the resources you need to deliver the very best to your clients and other stakeholders.

 

 

Manage the budget through the project lifecycle

The power of the Verto system is that we allow you to track both projected and actual costs throughout the project lifecycle. We have also included multiple gateways and stage touch-points so you can create more detailed – and more accurate – cost analysis. You'll be able to plan your budget from beginning to end, all the way through the life of the project for better reporting.

 

Get accurate cost projections 

Another key feature of the Verto system is the data lock capability on a project's estimated costs.

Here's how it works:

  • You enter essential data about the size and scope of your project. This includes things like the how, what and when of each phase.
  • Assign cost estimates to individual project management phases.
  • Lock in those projected costs once the project is underway.
  • As the project progresses, report the actual costs of each phase.

This integration lets you compare a project's expected costs against what you're actually spending. You will be able to see where you are under (or over) estimating and how you can make adjustments on future projects for better cost projections going forward. You can also analyse how your budget break-down for each step in the project management framework. This means you can carefully budget future projects for improved value.

 

Make it work your way

Our cloud-based project management software is fully customisable and keeps all your essential budgeting information in one easy to access system. Imagine it – no more juggling multiple spreadsheets or data sources. Everything you need to create incredibly detailed, personalised cost and budget reports kept in one place.

We also understand the importance of bringing people together, so we've included plenty of features that let you share and communicate budget items with everyone on the team. From chat and instant messages, project status notifications and alerts, calendar integration, document sharing, real-time project updates, audits and more, you'll have your team and stakeholders completely in the loop and up-to-date from start to finish.

Effective budgeting is critical to project management methodologies. If you can't track costs, you can't allocate resources when and where you need them, and this can put the entire project at risk. The Verto system makes it easy to estimate, record and track spending in one convenient place.

 

Try our 30-day Free Trial and see how Verto can plan and track your programme budgets, outcomes and savings today. Thousands of users all over the UK have already discovered the benefits of engaging Verto project management solutions.


Verto announces digital information partnership with Peopletoo

Verto announces digital information partnership with Peopletoo

Presenting and managing information visually and effectively is a key component of successful transformation project delivery, so we are delighted to announce our partnership with specialist local government and health transformation consultancy Peopletoo.

Verto enables organisations to successfully plan, collaborate and deliver their projects, large and small, capital and revenue via our easy to use project management platform. With all the information in one place, managing and reporting on individual projects or whole programmes becomes easy and Verto’s interactive dashboards give ready access to all the key data.

“We are delighted to announce our partnership with Verto. As an organisation we have been successfully delivering successful transformation programmes across the public sector for many years and using Verto we have a new digital component to our work. This enables us to not only see everything easily in one place but to present this to our clients in a live environment. We are looking forward to developing this further over the coming months and years”

Mike Butler, Director, Peopletoo

“Working with Peopletoo has brought a new level of insight to the use of data and systems to support the successful delivery of transformation programmes. As a successful consultancy Peopletoo has looked for new ways of delivering change with their clients.  Using Verto and the power of technology not only enables you to see all the data visually and quickly but also supports key decision making and a structured approach to project delivery. We are delighted to be working with the Peopletoo team and look forward to supporting the delivery of future transformation partnerships”

Paul Tonks, Director, Verto

To find out more about how Verto can help successfully deliver your transformation plans contact us or sign up for our free 30 day trial.


Verto: Enabling agile leadership in a disruptive environment

Woman faces ocean with hands raised in air to show agile leadership in disruptive environment

 

The nature of leadership is changing. It has to, because the world that we live and work in is changing too. There is as increasing demand for a new mindset, more flexibility, and more resourcefulness, in a work environment where future trends are hard to predict, and being “disruptive” has become something to strive for if you want to make an impact in your industry.  Enabling agile leadership in a disruptive environment is challenging but the right tools and information go a long way to making it happen.

In a recent article, Kate Wilson states that the successful leaders of the future will be:

“Those who not only manage the disruptive conditions of today’s world but thrive on them and enable others to do so.”

What will shape these leaders of the future? What tools will they use? How will they manage complex, agile projects, the very aim of which is often to disrupt the industry they work in, or at least the status quo?

Unsurprisingly, they will rely more and more on innovative, solution-based software. Work management systems such as Verto will help bring clarity to the leaders of the future in an increasingly complex and disruptive environment, by addressing a number of universal challenges.

 

Organisation

 

As work environments become more complex and disruptive, leaders need the ability to create clear overviews of many projects within one organisation or programme. The right software provides a centralised system to do this, simplifying the management process, no matter how many moving parts there are to track. Systems that provide a visual overview of multiple projects and how they all tie together in terms of workflow, resources and objectives will become essential.

 

Accountability

 

As projects, teams and processes get more complicated, accountability becomes more important. It will become vital to have systems with built-in accountability. Ideally, large project teams need a central, accessible-to-all to-do list, with one-touch reporting to allow every team member to report a task as done in real time. The agile leaders of the future won’t have time to chase up individuals, asking what tasks they have checked off their list, and what remains to be done, but the technology should ensure that they never have to do so.

 

Consolidation

 

Consolidating information has long been a challenge for organisations, from the bad old days of paperwork being passed from team member to team member, through to the nightmare of version control in a world where digital files are passed around by email, with several different (outdated) versions existing at one time in individual inboxes. Software can eliminate these problems with relative ease, consolidating all project data, recording ongoing communication, and automatically updating files to the most recent version, every time they are amended.

 

Follow up

 

Following up on tasks that may or may not be complete is time-consuming but necessary – unless, of course, you can see at a glance exactly which tasks are complete, which are nearing completion, which are delayed awaiting the completion of another task, and which have been deemed unnecessary, outsourced, or passed to another team member, not originally assigned to that task.

Imagine not only being able to see all that, all in one place, but also being able to see straight away, in real time, that a new task has been completed, or perhaps dropped completely because it was identified that it was being duplicated elsewhere in the organisation or project. That is how the agile leaders of the future (and many current leaders) eliminate time-consuming follow-up procedures.

 

Visibility

 

Perhaps one of the most beneficial aspects of modern project management software is being able to access an overview of the entire process. It has traditionally been hard to maintain a high-level view of an entire project or programme, and even more so when an organisation is running multiple projects or programmes simultaneously.

 

This is, however, possible with the right software. Verto software allows you to create clear dashboards and dynamic visual reports.  All with all the key information needed for each project or programme you are delivering. This enables managers to see exactly how everything is progressing, quickly spot potential threats and opportunities, proactively manage risk, and make informed decisions, with all the relevant information sitting right in front of them.

 

Evaluation

 

Ongoing evaluation is invaluable in project management. Managers should constantly be assessing many factors:

 

  • Is the project on budget?
  • Will the project complete on time?
  • Is the project still on track to deliver the planned outcome?
  • Is that outcome still valuable and relevant?
  • Are resources being efficiently used?
  • What are we learning from this process?

 

It is hard to evaluate projects in progress. Even when a project is complete, it is not always easy to evaluate just how successful it was, or, if the project was unsuccessful, exactly where it went wrong. Project management software can take the guesswork, estimates and inaccuracies out of project evaluation. Detailed records of every phase of the project allow for easy and immediate review, with the opportunity to use data-driven analysis to assess the success and cost-effectiveness of every project.

 

Feedback

 

Feedback on a finished project is what allows the next project to be better – which is why it’s surprising how often this process gets skipped or skimped on. It is also understandable. Gathering feedback is another time-consuming process with no guarantee of accuracy or impartiality. It takes time and effort at the end of a project when everyone is ready to move on and new projects are calling for attention. These are, however, the very projects that can be made easier and more successful by incorporating lessons learned from the previous one.

 

This is another area in which software systems can be set up for built-in feedback. Easy communication between managers and team members, both during and after the project, along with the records that you will be using to evaluate the project, will offer an opportunity to ask for and receive feedback, and log lessons learned, in a way that will contribute to all future projects.

 

Verto software can help you manage the complexity of the projects of the future, providing centralised information management, a visual overview, one-touch reporting, resource planning, and risk assessment tools. To find out more, contact us  or register for our 14-day free trial!


How to implement strong project governance

 

person holds compass to depict staying on track of project governance

 

Project management is the key to guiding a project from the initial planning stage to completion and ensuring that successful implementation as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Good project governance is essential for efficient and effective project management, helping everyone involved to understand, monitor and implement the policies and procedures needed to bring the project to completion.

 

 

What is governance?

The concept of governance is, at its purest, the establishment of policies and the monitoring of their proper implementation. Governance involves designing systems, structures and processes that ensure that all team members are aware of their duties and responsibilities, allowing them to work towards well-defined goals and outcomes.

There are several essential elements that are generally believed to be essential to good governance, including:

  • Accountability
  • Transparency
  • Responsiveness
  • Equity
  • Participation
  • Consensus orientation
  • Strategic vision

Governance is not a new concept. In fact, the very word has an old-fashioned ring to it, but don’t let that fool you. The way that good governance is being brought into 21st-century project management is modern, high-tech and increasingly implemented via solution-based software rather than bureaucratic box ticking.  One overarching component of good project governance is the process of review at various stages of the project.

 

The gateway review process 

 

In project management terms, gateways refer to key decision points that occur throughout the project life cycle.  Gateway reviews are carried out at each decision point to assess the progress so far and rate the likelihood of success. Gateway reviews involve an independent and confidential peer review process designed to ensure that the project is ready to progress to the next stage of implementation or development.

You can probably already see the potential problems with that, of course. Without an excellent communication and project management system in place, the gateway process can be the very thing that stalls a project or slows its progress. With the right system in place, the project sails through the gateway process efficiently address any issues, and continues briskly in the direction of its desired outcomes. With the wrong system in place, not so much.

 

What is the purpose of governance?

 

The purpose of governance depends on the type of organisation employing it.  When it comes to the public sector,  good governance generally has the purpose of ensuring that the organisation is balancing achieving their intended outcomes with acting in the public interest.

In this way, good governance is closely linked to public trust and accountability, as few things destroy an organisation’s viability as quickly as a lack of trust and respect in those whom it aims to serve.

Within this broad definition, there are a few core functions of governance that all teams within an organisation need to keep in mind.

In general, governance:

  • Sets out the organisation’s objectives
  • Defines the organisation’s ethics
  • Creates the organisation’s culture
  • Ensures legal compliance

Governance, then, needs to permeate the entire organisation and will affect every project carried out within the organisation, from the initial planning stage through to final completion. At each stage of any project’s life cycle, managers and team members need to be working within a framework that incorporates all of the above.

 

Who should be involved in governance?

 

So that you keep to good governance best practice, responsibilities will need to be assigned and delegated to various people both within the organisation and externally. When it comes to project governance, it is vital to assign duties, authority, powers and responsibilities clearly, ensuring appropriate levels of accountability and transparency, and laying out a range of individual and team deadlines that often need to fit together like a (very complicated) jigsaw puzzle.

Those involved in governance may include board members, managers, workers, volunteers, and external review and assessment entities. Another important group often involved in governance is, of course, the community that the organisation is serving. This might be the students in an educational facility, the patients (and their families) in a health or social care setting, or the local community in the case of local government.

 

How should communication work within a governance structure?

 

Effective communication is key to good governance, but it is far from easy to maintain. How often when dealing with large, bureaucratic organisations have you heard, or felt, that “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing”? Clarity of communication is an ongoing problem for many organisations, especially large, complex ones such as local government departments, hospitals or social care facilities.

This is why those solution-based software options mentioned earlier are becoming increasingly important. While governance itself is an old concept, the solutions to developing good governance in a modern-day world are decidedly high-tech. Even most reluctant organisations realise that computer programs, cloud-based software and other technical solutions provide the answer to their many and varied communication issues. Solution-based software is increasingly the key to implementing and monitoring policies and outcomes, carrying out gateway reviews on time, and tracking projects through every stage of their life cycle to successful completion.

 

Governance in an agile environment

 

In an agile environment, project management necessarily works differently from in a traditional environment. Traditional project management establishes a detailed plan, with concrete outcomes for each stage, and then works towards the agreed finish point. Agile project planning involves defining the desired result, then working towards it by delivering each stage of the plan in a short period of time, and then clarifying what needs to be done next.

When project management becomes highly responsive in this way, project governance and gateway reviews need to be implemented differently. In short, they need to become “agile”. In agile projects, the gateway review process can still be carried out at pre-defined stages (such as pre-project, at the end of the feasibility stage, end of foundations, and so on). The steering committees of traditional project management will also take a different role, operating as a “management by exception” response in most agile projects. The good news? Solution-based project management software allows for adaptations to suit many different methodologies!

To see what Verto can do to improve the outcomes of your existing project management techniques, register for our 30 day trial or contact us for a demo


woman and man share learning in technology to show digital fluency

How to build digital fluency

woman and man share learning in technology to show digital fluency

 

It is becoming increasingly vital for managers to build digital fluency across their organisations. Developing digital fluency allows employees to swiftly learn, master and manipulate new technologies.  It facilitates creativity and collaboration allowing entire teams to create, access navigate and interpret large amounts of information successfully.

 

 

 

 

What is digital fluency?

Technology is no longer the territory of the IT department, or any specialised department. No organisation can afford to have just one agile person or one machine-learning expert. As automation and AI continue to take over routine tasks, organisations will be required to morph into project centreswhere each team member must simultaneously be a technician, mentor and project delivery expert.  A recent Forbes post on digital fluency describes it as the extent to which people "embrace and use digital technologies to become more knowledgeable, connected and effective."

 

Developing digital fluency

Digital fluency can be built and developed, but it is up to leaders to ensure that this happens. Training and professional development programmes must be integrated into the working practices of the organisation. This could be through internal training days, seminars and workshops, external courses overseen by the organisation, or reimbursement for tuition fees for any courses and training that contribute to necessary digital fluency skills.  The key vector of digital fluency in an organisation though is it's people.  It is people that will invest time in learning something new.  That will champion a system and share their knowledge in an accessible and meaningful way.  The importance of person to person  motivation and development of digital fluency cannot be underestimated.

 

Digital fluency and emerging technologies

The organisation needs to focus on reskilling, upskilling and building a team that can adapt to shifts in the value delivery landscapeTeam members need to be constantly learning and adapting, focusing on software, systems and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and block-chain distributed ledger technology  which, it is now recognised, has the potential to eliminate current recordkeeping techniques, save money and streamline supply chains.

In an interesting extract from JIm Swanson's article on Digital Fluency: An intelligent approach to AI  he discusses how AI might impact the workforce.

"Earlier I noted that when we instituted the A.I.-driven logistics function at Monsanto, our transportation planners and analysts were “freed up.” That phrase may invoke fear because of concerns that A.I. will take jobs away from people. But I use the term in a much different context. Allowing people to break away from monotonous, repetitive tasks is liberating. By significantly reducing or eliminating the time people spend on rote tasks, A.I. empowers employees to engage in more fulfilling and higher value capabilities like analysis and insight."

This example shows that building digital fluency builds capacity both in terms of effective resource deployment, but also in terms of performance and satisfaction for people.

 

The importance of leadership

Training in new technologies needs to span the entire organisation, but leaders should not ignore the trickle-down effect.  Formal training can be combined with internal mentoring within the organisation to great effect. Being familiar with key innovators and early adopters of technology within your own employee base can allow you to be efficient with training budgets, creating a highly knowledgeable team of mentors to support the spread of digital fluency throughout the entire enterprise.

Ensuring that leaders recognise and embrace the importance of digital fluency is also vital. Many leaders may not be of the generation that have spent their entire careers immersed in technology. They are, however, often in a position to fully appreciate the strategic advantages offered by new systems and software. This makes them prime candidates not only to develop new skillsets but also to advocate for digital fluency and the acceptance and adoption of new technologies across the organisation.  The siren call of someone finding simplicity and ease in digital technology is powerful - and is a key motivator to others.   With that in mind, digital epiphanies should be shouted from the rooftops, learning achievements celebrated and knowledge shared. 

Ultimately, widespread digital fluency is non-optional for modern organisations. Finding ways to train, mentor and encourage employees and leaders to embrace it will create a culture of innovation that stays competitive in the face of constant technological advancements and innovations.

To find out more about Verto, our innovative, solutions-based work management software that can help increase digital fluency in your organisation, contact us or register for our 14-day free trial!


Why the dashboard is a project lifesaver

work management dashboard lets you see everything in one place

Project dashboards are your go-to hub to see everything that’s going on with your projects.  They are nothing short of a project lifesaver.  They make sure that you are one step ahead of struggling projects. 

It's simple - by flagging those issues that need your attention quickly, it helps you prioritise your time and effort and keep your projects on track.   Verto’s dashboard gives you a live, interactive picture of everything you need to know in an easily digestible way.

 

A place for all of the information relevant to you and your projects ....

 

Team members, stakeholders, funding, budgets, tasks, milestones, and progress to date, you name it,  the Verto project dashboard can be as detailed or high level as you like.   You can customise it to display exactly the information you need, in a way that is relevant to your organisation. So you can create fields that not only display meaningful data but also describe that data in a way that is in keeping with your existing practices and workflows. This means that there is no need to re-train using technical language, and Verto will enable you to continue to operate within a familiar framework. You can specify what information is displayed for your projects, meaning that every aspect is highly relevant to your team and their projects.

 

Highlight important information

Get instant, up to date information on the details that matter most to your project in customised tiles. For example, you could create tiles to display financial data, task status, risk profile and other items that you need to monitor.  You can instantly see which projects are at risk using the RAG (red, amber, green) matrix so you can quickly and easily spot projects in trouble.

 

A single hub for information

Verto replaces all your separate systems by capturing your data in a centralised hub. You will no longer have to juggle emails, Excel spreadsheets, Word documents and project plans. You can easily retrieve the messages and information you need in the project view, and you can share information easily in real-time with your internal project team members and stakeholders.

 

See everything that's gone before

Verto records every change made to the project on a timeline. You can review any changes made and revert them to their previous versions if necessary, making management of your information very flexible and secure.  What this gives you is great business continuity.  So, if you've got people on leave, new starters or need decisions made quickly, it's very easy to track what's gone on before in the lifetime of the project.

 

Easily co-ordinate the project team

Verto’s scheduler provides a calendar view of all the work across your projects. This feature helps coordinate the schedules of all team members, giving everyone visibility of key tasks and activities, including milestones. This feature is especially useful where you need to prioritise activities and understand exactly where resources need to be positioned.

 

A birds eye network view

Verto’s network map feature lets you easily view all dependencies between your project and another. For example, one of your main milestones might not be able to be completed until another project has finished. In Verto, you can link the specific milestone across projects, programmes and portfolios. The link will then take you directly to the item it references, making the whole process intuitive and giving you information at the click of a button.

Using the network view, you can assess the impact of interconnecting activities on of your project. You can create dependencies based on any of your project elements, for example connecting a benefit to a risk, so you can assess the impact of decision making.

Verto allows you to connect these dependencies across multiple projects, meaning your project planning benefits from dynamic information and collaboration.  Better still

The network map shows these connections in an interactive spider diagram where you can dig into the detail if needed.

Using Verto makes collaboration more straightforward and more efficient, helping you eliminate a lot of the potential bottlenecks in bringing your project to a successful conclusion. Try our 30 day Free Trial and see how Verto can support your organisation or contact us for a chat and a demo.


a road marked with two sprint tracks denotes project roadmap and governnance

A road map for your project's success - A Guide to PM governance

 

 

running race track with two sprint lanes to show on projects on track

Whether your project is big or small, you know that you need to devote both time and resources to give it the best chance of a successful conclusion. Sometimes a project is not successful, even when you have a skilled project manager and a dedicated team working on it.

But, having good project governance in place can improve your chances of getting your project over the line. This systematic approach to project management can have a significant impact on how successfully your project proceeds.

 

 

Project governance defined

Project governance consists of the processes, policies, procedures, standards and guidelines that shape how your organisation leads, runs and controls projects. It provides your organisation with a framework that ensures accountability and alignment between your project team, your organisation’s senior management and your project’s stakeholders.

Project governance gives you a framework for deciding which projects to undertake. It gives you an understanding of how the project will be structured, and the information and teams required to fulfil the project scope.  This can also help you understand when a project is not going to plan, what needs to be changed or even if the project should be closed altogether. Project governance will also help you to complete projects on time and on budget by fostering collaboration with stakeholders to facilitate effective decision-making. Your focus when making key decisions should be on how both decisions shape the project and in which direction the project will go.

Many larger organisations have a function that is responsible for program governance and formalises the process within the organisation. However, many companies may need to pull together a team from around their organisation, some of whom have no formal PM experience. Regardless of the internal organisation, it is essential that the project has a structured approach so that it can be monitored and measured.

 

The importance of project governance

 

Of course, your key stakeholders want to see that you’re spending the budget for the project in line with the project’s agreed objectives. They also want to validate that you are tracking the progress of the project effectively and that you are evaluating and managing project risk by intervening to make changes when necessary.

If you are in the public sector, good project governance can also require effective interaction with government regulatory agencies. In many cases, these agencies can require that your project meets certain standards and that you can document your project operates following the specific regulations and guidance for your operations.

Effective project governance also assists you to:

  • Get initial buy-in for your project from stakeholders
  • Communicate and collaborate with all parties involved more effectively
  • Introduce standardisation across all your projects, making it simpler to compare their performance and help you become more efficient on future projects
  • Develop and motivate your staff in a structured environment, making your team work more efficiently and effectively.

Project governance activities

 

Now that you have a definition of project governance and an understanding of why it’s important, here are some of the activities that show proper project governance at work.

 

Decision-making process

 

In an ideal world, your organisation would have a well-defined project decision-making process in place that includes defined approval points where the team discusses the viability of the project and decides whether the project should proceed any further. Before the project begins, the project leaders need to reach a clear consensus on how to recognise, classify and deal with the risk that might occur during the life of the project. Projects have clear, quantifiable reasons for being considered for approval and have data available to allow your project management team to make informed decisions about the viability of the project.  It is crucial that decisions are documented and communicated to everyone involved.

 

Project teams

 

Ideally, project management teams consist of people who have relevant experience and are qualified to take on their assigned roles, and the project manager is responsible for determining who does what, and the levels responsibility and accountability. Putting processes and procedures in place allows project teams to evaluate the project on an ongoing basis and document the need for additional resources as and when they are needed. An objective evaluation of the team's performance and discussions around the lessons you’ve learned in an environment that doesn’t point the finger allows lessons to be carried on to future projects.

 

Meetings and reporting

 

Communicating information is essential, and you will need to establish the proper balance between generating reports and having meetings. The complexity of the project and the types of issues that need resolution will set the requirement for the report/meeting mix.  It's important to let everyone know how and when they will receive information updates on the project.

Stakeholder engagement. Identifying all the stakeholders involved in your project is crucial to understanding the environment in which your project operates. Stakeholders can have either a positive or negative impact on your project, and if you neglect to include an important stakeholder in the planning process, they could use their influence to disrupt your project.

 

Stakeholder communication

 

After you identify your stakeholders, you need to develop a plan to communicate with them and get the right information to the right people. Your communication plan should specify the manner in which you will share relevant messages with your stakeholders to ensure they understand how the project is proceeding and be aware of any unexpected issues that have developed.

 

Stakeholder assurance

 

The easiest way to keep your stakeholders having a favourable view of the project is to assure them that the project is on schedule and on budget is to send regular reports to update them. This information gives them the checks and balance they need for assurance that the project is heading in the right direction. The data will show them if there are any significant changes from the project outline you agreed at the start of the project.

If you take the view that the primary objective of project governance is to make sure that project activities are carried out correctly, you can see how project governance links to the overall management of your organisation in terms of financial performance and risk.

 

Improve project governance with Verto

 

Verto can provide you with work collaboration and project management software that helps the project management office and stakeholders interact more efficiently and improves project control.

Our cloud-based software provides dashboard status and reports as well as document storage and sharing. Get in touch with us, follow us on LinkedIn and chat with us on Twitter to learn more about our ideas and software.