Silhouetted Person | Success

What makes a successful project manager?

 Successful project management professionals who fast-track up the career ladder tend to have a few things in common. They deliver successful outcomes, keep their stakeholders happy and help bring in projects on time and on budget. Obviously, training and experience influence how well members of the PMO perform, but there are some habits anyone can cultivate if they want to be a successful project manager.  

 

 

Pick your team strategically 

Great project managers pick the right team for the project. Not just the best individuals, but the right team. Know who is in your team, what they can do and how they can fit in with all the other team members and their skills.  

 

Be a people person  

 Now that you have a great team, manage them well. Get to know them. Use their skills. Develop good team building skills. Learn to communicate, motivate and reward your team members. Use everyone’s strengths in both planning and implementing the necessary tasks. Take responsibility for your part in any problems and give credit where credit is due. 

 

Manage issues efficiently 

All projects are affected by issues you didn’t plan for. However, counter-intuitively, you can plan for the unexpected. Good project managers have processes in place to quickly assess and respond to issues so that problems are dealt with promptly and efficiently. This is where a good project management system comes into play.   Verto gets rid of time consuming admin such as trawling through email trails, scrutinizing spreadsheets and documents and constant vigilence around version control - leaving project managers to do those things that are going highlight their abilities and profile.  In short, by working smarter, successful project managers learn where to use their skills to maximum advantage.  They know that using technology to take out the admin slog enables them to focus on the areas that deliver results. 

 

Track time and cost

One of the most common reasons a project is assessed as unsuccessful is that it exceeded its budget. Tracking costs can allow you to predict and avoid budget overspend or plan for it by reallocating resources.  

 The other common reason a project is seen as a failure is when it significantly overruns its deadline. Time is like money. It needs to be closely monitored so that extra resources can be allocated to tasks that might otherwise slow down the entire project. 

 

Plan for change 

Change that affects a project should not be a threat to project completion. In fact, the possibility of change is one of those variables that should be planned for even though you may not be sure exactly how or when it will present itself. Good project managers are flexible and resourceful. If they need to make changes to the original plan, they use the opportunity to improve on the original plan. 

 

Update the schedule  

Keeping your schedule updated is perhaps the most important communication task that keeps a project moving forward. When things change, make sure that everyone affected knows about it. This includes the stakeholders as well as the team members.   With an integrated project management tool such as Verto, updating the project schedule can be done and live in a couple of clicks, with stakeholders notified,  resource plans updated all without breaking stride.

 

Manage risk 

Identifying, assessing and managing risk is a vital part of any project. It is also ongoing. It is not enough to identify potential risks at the beginning of the project and then simply monitor them. Risk assessment should be carried out regularly throughout the project life cycle to identify and manage new risks as they arise. 

 

Deliver 

Perhaps the most obvious mark of a good project manager is the ability to deliver the desired outcomes. Whatever happens, great project managers deliver the changes they promised, every time.   

Verto is a system that makes these things look easy, making you look good and keeping you on the fast track.  For more information and to see Verto in action contact us on info@vertocloud.com or sign up for a  free trial

 


Rock Climbing | Risk

How to evaluate projects and manage risk

How to evaluate projects and manage risk? Risk management goes hand in hand with project management. How smoothly a project runs will always factor on how well risk is identified, assessed and planned for. It is necessary to manage risk effectively in order to avoid and reduce risks that pose a threat to project completion and success.  

Projects are liable to change throughout the project life cycle. For this reason, risk management should be an integrated and ongoing part of project management. You do not identify potential risks once, plan for them and then forget about risk. Evaluating new risks as the project is progressing should be one of the ongoing activities of the project manager. On a regular basis, the PM should be running through the following tasks. 

 

Identify risks

Identifying and evaluating risks is a constant process. It requires complete honesty on the project manager’s part. There is no room for a ‘head in the sand’ approach to risk management. No matter how inconvenient a risk is, it needs to be acknowledged, and in evaluating risks, it is important to be honest again. It may be a small risk, but there is no sense in pretending that it is negligible when it is not. Correctly identifying and evaluating risks makes the next step easier. 

 

Document risks

Well-documented risks make planning easier for the whole team. A risk log, listing and describing risks along with the predicted impact of the risk and the mitigating actions that could or should be taken is invaluable.   Everyone involved should be able to access and easily update this risk log. This allows the whole team to see at a glance not only what risks exist but also what can be done about them and what has already been done by other team members. 

 

Prioritise risks

Not all risks are equal. In order to prioritise risks, the project manager needs to look at the impact the risk could have in terms of cost, time and the quality of the final deliverable. This needs to be assessed alongside another variable: how likely is it that the risk will actually occur? A risk that is very likely to occur but will have a very low impact may actually be assigned a lower priority than a less likely risk that would have a much bigger impact. 

 

Plan responses

Every risk should be planned for. The plan should include what can be done to avoid the risk and what can be done to reduce its impact. Planning responses to risks will also help identify where time and resources should be spent within the risk management process. If the actions needed to avoid that big-impact, low-probability risk are minimal and cheap, then it may make sense to avoid that risk and accept or reduce the very low-impact, high-probability risk. Ongoing, well-documented risk management will often make the next action crystal clear to everyone involved.>

Verto provides a whole programme view so you can plan, assess risks and stay focused on project delivery.  Sign up for your 14 day free trial to check it out or email us at info@vertocloud.com  for more information!


3 ways to be an effective manager in an agile environment

Agile project management focuses on delivering project outcomes repeatedly and incrementally. It is a less rigid and regimented process than traditional project management, giving the project team more autonomy and flexibility.

Without the rigid framework of a traditional project management approach, agile teams need great tools in place. They need to communicate, collaborate and respond to each other’s needs. Agile environments rely on team members being motivated and well informed, and agile project managers need to trust in their team and exhibit behaviours of flexibility, collaboration and empowerment. So what makes a project manager effective in an agile environment?

 

Pay attention

 

Some people assume that agile management means as little project management as possible. In fact, in an agile environment, change happens fast, and the act of managing and accommodating that change requires the project manager to be attentive, disciplined and actively managing at all times. Agile PMs may be handing a lot of autonomy to their team members, but that does not mean they take a ‘hands off’ approach. On the contrary, they need to pay a lot of attention to what is going on within the team and coordinate it all.

 

Know your people

 

Great agile project managers get to know their team. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each team member helps in any project management situation, but in an agile environment where things change at short notice, knowing who has which skills and attributes is vital. Agile teams are generally more collaborative with responsive team members much readier to step up and take on ‘other duties as required’ than in a traditional project management setting.

Knowing who in your team needs extra support and coaching is also vital. Agile team members need to be motivated, self-disciplined and proactive. It is worth developing these attributes in team members who are missing them, as this will help an agile team work better. Lastly, great PMs in an agile environment will make sure team members know each other well. Good team building and facilitating a rapport between team members means that they also know the capabilities and special skills of their colleagues.

 

Use collective wisdom

 

Having a more collaborative team is only useful if everyone can contribute their best. Agile teams will be expected to make joint decisions, and to do that, it is necessary to have a process in place to share collective wisdom. A successful agile project manager will find a way to bring people together, encourage feedback and ideas and somehow aggregate diverse opinions to reach the best decision possible.

Agile project managers must find a way to benefit from wide-ranging feedback without getting too hung up on the need for consensus. It is the job of the agile PM to aggregate all the information and make a decision based on the collective wisdom of the team.

Project management may be different in an agile environment. It is, however, every bit as important as in a traditional setting.

Verto is a powerful way of pulling together project information and collaboration in one place, enabling you to work smart, be intuitive and deliver.  To see how we can help you contact our friendly team for a demo at info@vertocloud.com or sign up for a free trial!


Verto: Supporting Integrated Care Systems at Eastern Cheshire CCG

 

 

Our case study on Eastern Cheshire CCG shows how Verto has improved digital collaboration by streamlining their processes and documentation, enabling a single view of programme information; this has simplified their reporting management systems, including instant visibility of its project performance and the ability to generate high-quality reports, including its Board Assurance Framework, with one click of a button. 

“Working with the Verto team has been brilliant – they have such a great ‘can do’ attitude. They are so responsive, listening to our ideas
and challenges and finding solutions so the system really works for us.  One of the key factors in choosing Verto was that it was in use at NHS West Cheshire CCG so we could see in detail how it was working and how good it was. West Cheshire were very impressed with the system and support.  In particular, we could see how using VertoGrid would enable us to run programmes and reports cross-oganisationally whilst retaining all the individual configuration of our own system. For us this was the best of both worlds and, combined with its ease of use and depth of functionality, it wasn’t a difficult decision”.

Adam McClure, PMO Manager for NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG

Read the full case study here https://bit.ly/2Wb61w5

 


How a clear strategy will streamline your project delivery

 

Project delivery strategy - the puzzle

The word strategy is in wide use in businesses and other organisations. The term is so common that it is easy to assume that everyone knows exactly what it means. In practice, however, many people confuse strategy with planning and sometimes with process. Planning and strategy are not the same concept. In fact, strategy is what needs to be in place before planning can begin.  Understanding the blend between strategy, planning and processes will streamline project delivery.

Planning involves decision-making, but strategy involves devising a framework that will guide how you make decisions. For this reason, strategy always comes before planning, and a clear strategy should make day-to-day planning and decision-making much easier. 

 

Applying a strategic framework

A strategic framework should lay out a set of principles that guide both your daily decisions and long-term planning. This framework should include answers to these important questions:  

  • What value are you creating as an organisation? 
  • Who are you creating it for? 
  • What skills, resources and core capabilities do you need? How will you reach and communicate with your customers or end-users?
  • What level of revenue or profit are you aiming for? 
  • What unique qualities or offerings set you apart from the competition? 

 In short, strategy is an overview of what will move you from where you are to where you want to be. It is about what you want to achieve and what needs to be in place to achieve it. 

 

Develop your knowledge

Becoming knowledgeable about strategy helps guide the daily decision-making processes of your entire team. Once your strategic framework is in place, it can inform decisions on investments, hiring, product development, budgets, advertising and most other issues. Having a strategy can also help team members prioritise everything from major projects to small daily tasks. 

A clear strategy also lets your team members decide what not to do. If a plan, decision or process does not in any way support your clearly defined strategic framework, then it probably does not need done. Alternatively, it could need to be adapted so that it does contribute to your strategy. 

When everyone understands the strategic framework, autonomy increases, and decision-making is more streamlined. Often, much of the back-and-forth clarifications between managers, employees, departments and team members is due to a lack of understanding in regard to what the organisation is actually trying to achieve. Once everyone is clear on the answers to all the above questions, formulating plans becomes easier. Many decisions become more obvious, and some decisions practically make themselves. 

 

Blend 

Strategy, planning and process are very different things, but they are all linked. A plan involves making a set of decisions based on a strategy. A process is a clearly defined way of doing a particular task. The strategic framework lays out the big picture of what needs done; the plan is the actual road map of how to do it and the process is the system that you have in place to implement what is in your plan. 

To find out how Verto project management software can help with implementing strategy, planning and processes, sign up for your 14 day free trial .

 


How to manage communication and collaboration challenges  

Communication and collaboration are highly desirable but often badly defined concepts. In programme and project management, the whole team will generally be aiming to collaborate effectively, but not everyone in the team will define collaboration the same way. For some, collaboration is all about meetings, brainstorming and sharing ideas. For others, it may be about everyone staying firmly in their own zone of genius, but having a solid central system in place to facilitate communication and collaboration when necessary. Many team members do not want to attend constant brainstorming sessions or share every detail, but still want to quickly and easily inform other team members of progress and log any thoughts about issues that could affect the project. 

When communication breaks down: the real cost

A breakdown in communication can be a major source of stress within any team. Research indicates that poor communication is often reported as the top stressor in many workplaces, closely followed by a belief that other team members are not contributing. It seems likely that the two are linked, as good communication is what lets team members keep up to date on what other team members are achieving.

 

When working in a team, communication often needs to be not one-way or two-way, but multi-way. In a project management situation, there may be many team members working on different tasks, some of which are poorly understood by other team members. It may appear that a team member is not contributing when the truth is that they are contributing in a way that is not obvious, or they are waiting on other team members to complete a task so that they can move forward.

Why collaboration  fails

It is easy to assume that all collaboration is good, but sometimes many heads are not better than one. Sometimes too many cooks really do spoil the broth. Sometimes too much input, especially irrelevant or unnecessary input, slows progress down rather than optimising it. 

On paper, collaboration pools the resources and brainpower of different team members to create a whole that is better than the sum of the parts. By bringing together many perspectives and ideas, we are more likely to consider all the options, find more creative solutions, and anticipate undesirable outcomes. 

In practice, however, not all collaborations work this way. Many people collaborating on a project can lead to a certain amount of “groupthink”, whereby creativity is undermined, and group members can all start to have the same blind spots regarding their project.

Collaboration can lead to collective thinking and breed false confidence. Team members may assume that because a number of people have reached agreement, they must have reached the best decision. This can encourage them to stop considering options, while there are still viable options to be considered. Personality often plays a bigger part in reaching agreement than we realise. The more vocal or charismatic members of the group are often seen as having the best ideas. Pressure to agree with those group members, or simply with the majority view, is strong.

Collaboration can also dilute efforts by leading to something called social loafing. This is the tendency to sit back and allow others to do the majority of the work, when you are working in a group. This may be one of the main reasons why so many face-to-face meetings are so unproductive. Only a few people are actually contributing. Often, a system where you ask everyone to reflect on a problem or issue, and then submit their ideas to a central system, will result in much more input from all the individuals involved.

How to facilitate successful collaboration

Successful collaboration can be as simple as putting the right system in place. In order to collaborate on a project, it is vital to have a few elements in place from the start. Firstly, successful collaboration requires clear goals, effectively communicated, so that everyone is working towards the same results. Secondly, while many ideas may shape the decisions reached by the team, there still needs to be a process in place to guide that final decision-making. Thirdly, that decision-making process needs to be a transparent one that suits the whole team. 

Identifying a decision-making process that works for your team can keep the whole project from stalling due to indecision. It can also prevent collaborations from breaking down, with the boss or project manager deciding that the collaboration is not working and reverting to an attitude of telling everyone what to do. A process that can be followed each and every time a decision needs to be made brings a feeling of transparency and accountability to your projects, which is vitally important. 

Why accountability matters

Ultimately, when it looks like collaboration is failing, a team may just be experiencing a lack of accountability. The collaboration itself may have been successful, but the process seemed to end there. Without an easily accessible system in place for everyone to track how the collaborative decisions made are being implemented, teams may be left feeling that the collaboration was a waste of time, and that the decisions reached are not actually being executed.

Often, the necessary level of accountability is as simple as using the right software to enable constant communication. Project management software can let all team members track where the project is, which ideas are on the table, what the final decision reached was, and even exactly how it was reached. Software can allow for transparency, accountability and ongoing communication. It can provide information, at a glance, of who is working on what, and who is eagerly awaiting a response or completion date, so that a new task can be started or the next step can be taken. Software can even log which ideas have been considered, and why a different idea has been chosen, giving everyone on the team a sense of having been heard and had their input considered.

Verto  project management software  gives  teams and organisations  the communication and accountability tools they need to collaborate effectively.  To find out more, register for our free 14-day trial!  

 


5 New Years Resolutions for Project Managers

 

As we reach the end of 2018, you might be thinking of adding some career focused resolutions on to your personal goals list so here's our thoughts on 5 key resolutions project managers should be considering to make sure you start the new year in top form.

1. Communicate better - not just with your project teams but with stakeholders and project sponsors too. Make sure your project management tools actually help you to achieve this.

2. Manage expectations - focus your output on projects that have a clear written and approved scope of work, as otherwise how will you know what needs to be delivered and when? Make your time and effort count.

3. Collaborate - yes with your own team, but open up the potential to draw on knowledge and experience from a wider range of people. Build your network to develop a rich vein of insight, inspiration and interest in of your project.

4. Know your stakeholders - and make sure your team do too. If your team have a a clear understanding of who the project stakeholders are , it will help them work to and manage stakeholder expectations resulting in improved communications and understanding throughout the project.

5. Be your teams biggest champion - shout their praises from the rooftops, show them you've got their back. Appreciate and praise what went right and only offer constructive criticism when things go wrong. Be a leader by example.


Creating a business case for your project

Creating a business case requires time, thought and effort. In simple terms, a business case provides justification for a specific project or programme. 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”.

What is the purpose of the business case?

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 should the business case include?

While the focus of the business case is on the value that a project or programme will bring to the organisation, this must be put in context. A business case will usually include information on:

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 benefits review plan

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 a business case 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 the business case 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 14-day trial today!


5 ways to streamline approvals and make contextually informed decisions

 

Few things bring a project to a grinding, if temporary, halt quite as fast as a badly-managed approval process. Streamlining the approval process can keep a project flowing smoothly from one stage to the next. To do this, it is necessary to put systems in place that allow approvers to make fast, contextually informed decisions.

 

1. Consult the right people

Decision authority is the first thing to streamline. Too many organizations have too many people or functions involved in the decision-making process. This gives veto power, or the power to delay the project with unnecessary queries, to the wrong people. Some people or departments are consulted for no reason, other than that is the way things have always been done. Ensure that decision authority is only given to the decision-makers whose input is really necessary

 

2. Ask the right questions

 

When it comes to capital expenditure decisions, there are three vital questions to answer:

 

  • Is this proposal complete, and does it exceed the minimum hurdle rate?
  • Do we have the funds to invest in this project?
  • How attractive is this project compared to others, at this time?

 

Any queries, objections, or decision-making delays that are based on anything other than these questions are irrelevant and should not be holding up the approval process.

 

3. Implement a system to compare disparate projects

 

Decision-makers often have to compare very different projects. To complicate the process further, the criteria for evaluation may be either qualitative or quantitative, depending on the project goals. This can make it challenging to answer the question as to which project is most attractive, inevitably delaying the approval process. It is vital, therefore, to have a system to compare disparate projects objectively and ensure that the most appropriate project is quickly approved.

 

4. Forecast frequently

 

The approval process is also hindered by out-of-date forecasts. Projects grow and change as they move through the project life cycle, making it important to update forecasts at every stage. To keep approvals streamlined, it is necessary to:

 

  • Make real-time data automatically available to the capital-management system
  • Allow project managers to easily and frequently update this data
  • Compile forecasts in a systematic and standardised way
  • Make forecasts easily accessible to everyone involved, to enable effective collaboration
  • Ensure that management act promptly based on these frequent, real-time forecasts

 

5. Develop a unified approach

 

Many organisations make approval decisions in silos. There is no unified system to compare one project against another. This hinders the process, as approvers try to identify the most attractive project by navigating multiple reports, spreadsheets, and databases to ascertain exactly what the updated forecasts, budgets, and return on investment is for each project are.

 

One way to streamline the approval process is to streamline the comparison process. Organisations can do this by implementing a unified capital-portfolio-management system, that tracks each project across the investment life cycle, allowing easy comparison at every stage for which approval is required.

 

Request a demo of Verto to see how we can help you streamline approvals in your organisation!


How reports can make or break a programme

 

The reporting process is part and parcel of the programme management process. However, not all reporting is good reporting. Over-reporting can be as damaging to progress as under-reporting. It is vital to ensure that the reporting process is streamlined enough to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time, without creating unnecessary work for key team members who would be better off spending their time implementing rather than reporting.  

 

 

Programmes and projects consist of many moving parts. Communication between team members, managers, contractors and stakeholders is vital. When it comes to running a programme that may consist of many different projects, all working towards similar or complementary outcomes, things get even more complicated. It is important to monitor the interdependencies between projects within the programme, and prevent problems and delays affecting one project from having an impact on others. This means identifying and communicating factors that need to be reported, not just within project management teams, but also from one project team to another. 

 

Effective reporting systems allow for essential communication across large and complex programmes. It allows project managers within the programme to keep up to date with the progress of other projects that will impact theirs. Reporting also allows the teams delivering the benefits to assure those waiting for them, such as senior management, stakeholders and end users, that the projects are progressing well, that the programme is working, and that the benefits are likely to be delivered in full and on time. 

 

When project management teams regularly and efficiently report to sponsor teams, everyone benefits. Good reporting procedures give everyone a sense of ownership and involvement. Clear reporting can relieve sponsor time pressures by ensuring that management, stakeholders and customers are aware of how things are progressing, and if there are delays, why those delays occurred, and what is being done to alleviate them. Programme managers may be reluctant to communicate bad news to stakeholders, but stakeholder management is an essential part of programme management, and good reporting can ensure stakeholder buy-in. 

 

Under-reporting and over-reporting 

 

Both under-reporting and over-reporting are damaging to effective programme management. However, it is not always easy to create a perfect balance. A lot will depend on how agile the organisation is, and the tools in place for effective programme management. A rigid approach with specific reporting structures, templates and software that all teams must adhere to, regardless of how relevant they are to a particular project, may result in over-reporting and time wasted on reporting progress rather than actually making more progress. 

 

An agile approach will allow for customised levels of reporting, taking into account the complexity of the programme. Ideally, reporting should supply everyone with the data they need, when they need it, without distracting them with irrelevant or untimely information.  

 

Many programme managers are keen to ensure efficiency by providing information strictly on a need-to-know basis. This approach ensures that just enough information is reported to allow key project decisions to be made. This may work well in situations where the programme management team has the trust and understanding of the sponsor team, but can cause problems if the stakeholders and other members of the sponsor team misunderstand this commitment to efficient reporting, and see it instead as a lack of transparency. 

 

Other programme managers choose to deliver far too much detail to stakeholders. This is rarely welcomed and, depending on the complexity of the programme, can often obstruct the reporting objective of clearly communicating progress. Too much detail, data and unnecessary information is hard to digest, and can even imply to the sponsor team that the programme management team is trying to hide important information among a sea of jargon. 

 

Setting expectations 

 

Good reporting procedures have a lot in common with good programme management. It is advisable to agree on reporting structures at the beginning of the programme, at the same time that all other deliverables are being agreed upon. This involves agreeing upfront with stakeholders, other members of the sponsor team, and other project management teams within the programme, what will be reported, in what depth and at which points during the implementation of the programme. It can be helpful to set out the following: 

 

  • What data should form an essential part of reports? 
  • What data is irrelevant and can be left out? 
  • How often will reports be delivered? 
  • Who will read which reports and why? 
  • Is there a culture of trust that allows efficient, need-to-know reporting? 
  • What reporting tools will be used? 
  • Are there alternatives (such as project management dashboards) that can be used to minimise formal reporting procedures? 

 

The more agile the approach to programme management is, the more agile the approach to reporting can be. It is possible to build in flexibility, allowing bare bones, need-to-know reporting to be the norm, but agreeing that more in-depth reports will be generated if a complex or unforeseen issue arises. 

 

Reporting best practices 

 

While no reporting system is perfect, there are certainly some best practices that should be followed. When it comes to reporting procedures in programme management, it is essential to consider the objectives of reporting and put in place a strategy that allows all relevant information to be reported to all relevant teams and individuals, without wasting any more time than is necessary on the reporting process. To ensure maximum efficiency: 

 

  • Agree who needs to know what, when and why 
  • Put in place an efficient reporting system 
  • Consider project management software that allows for ongoing communication 
  • Create formal reports only as often as necessary for the success of the programme 
  • Do not provide detail for the sake of detail – summarise the essential data and information 
  • Establish trust between the programme management team and the sponsor team 
  • Generate reports at regular intervals to create continuity and expectations 
  • Do not let reporting get in the way of implementing 

 

Ultimately, reporting procedures should be made as efficient as possible. To find out how Verto can help make your project management more efficient, register for our free 60-day trial today!