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5 tips to help your organisation love your PMO

 

Your programme management office may be doing a valuable job, but not everyone in the organisation will appreciate it or even understand what it is.  Help your organisation love your PMO by making sure you are doing these key things.

 

Ask for feedback and respond

 

If the role of the PMO is misunderstood or unappreciated within the organisation there may be valid reasons.  Consider surveying staff from all departments to find out what their feelings toward the PMO are and why. Ask them what their challenges are when implementing projects.  Would they volunteer for project teams?  Could they recommend being on a project team to a colleague?

 

Be prepared for negative feedback and respond to it. Sometimes, improving what needs to be improved will radically alter other departments’ view of you and positively impact how well-received, well-implemented and efficient future projects are.

 

Keep it simple

 

Try to demystify the project management process so that it makes sense to others.  You can achieve this by simply using laymen’s terms. Avoid complicated project management terminology that others might see as jargon. By all means, use the terminology you all understand within the PMO.   Just make sure that when you communicate with other employees, you tailor your language, process and tools to be easily grasped by everyone across the organisation.

 

Add value and demonstrate it

 

The role of the PMO is to add value to the wider organisation. You know this, and your business case should specify exactly what value you are adding and how. However, the benefits you are providing may not be self-evident or may not be evident until the end of the project. Projects involve change, and most employees don’t like change. Focus on both the value you are adding to the organisation and demonstrating that added value to everyone across the organisation.

 

Serve the wider organisation

 

The PMO is a service function for the organisation, so live to serve.  Ask employees what they need from you, how you can help and if they have suggestions for new projects to be considered.  Sometimes, if your PMO is unpopular within the organisation, it’s because many employees only ever hear from you when you are chasing an action or deliverable that they are responsible for. Turn this around by constantly checking on what you can contribute as well.

 

Let your organisation’s values drive your actions

 

Get clear on the values of your organisation and integrate them into everything you do. This creates cooperation and cohesion throughout the entire organisation.. Plus it helps employees understand why you are taking the actions you are or requiring certain actions of them. If you can always tie project aims back to company values, it will be easier to demonstrate the benefits of each project.

 

The aim is to have everyone within the organisation on the same page. By implementing these tips, the PMO can become a valued and appreciated part of any organisation.

 

Verto brings together plans, people and processes in one place so your PMO can start to feel the love!  Contact us for a free trial or for more information email us at info@vertocloud.com

 

 

 

 

 

 


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!


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We Build Bots & TMI Partner With A Reseller Agreement

Multi award winning AI company We Build Bots (WBB Ltd.) partner with TMI Systems, the Public Sector specialists in Cloud based work collaboration and programme management with their flagship product Verto.

 

Since WBB Ltd. was founded in August 2017, the Cardiff based Start-Up has secured a 6 figure investment, become a Certified Oracle Cloud Partner, and  recognised G-Cloud supplier. They have also won multiple awards for innovation, and quadrupled the size of their team.

With national and global clients across the financial, automotive, public, utility, sports and third sectors, WBB Ltd. are seeing a rise in demand for their chatbot technology; ‘IntelAgent’ within Local Authorities across the UK –  new clients include Monmouthshire, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire County Councils.  This increase in public sector interest has sparked the partnership TMI Systems.

Also G-Cloud accredited, TMI Systems have more than 10 years’ experience in providing the cloud based project management software ‘Verto’ which is used by over 60,000 users across over 120 public sector clients including Councils, NHS CCGs and STPs; Local Enterprise Partnerships and the emergency services.

With both businesses providing solutions to key challenges within the Public Sector, the Partnership provides an exciting opportunity for both parties. The partnership will begin 6th February 2019.

We’re delighted to be working with TMI a leading project management and collaboration provider, this will create synergies that are both complementary to our goals and serve both of our clients in the years to come.

-Paul Shepherd, CEO at We Build Bots

Working with We Build Bots is already adding value to our clients as Verto now uses WBB’s chatbot technology as part of our comprehensive support for all our users. We are delighted therefore to launch this partnership of Verto our leading project management and collaboration software with WBB’s award winning ‘IntelAgent’.

-Chris Wright, Managing Director at TMI Systems


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Advancing sustainable collaboration across the public sector

Verto has teamed up with Shared Service Architecture (SSA) to combine our Cloud-based multi-agency project management systems with over 200 proven collaborative transformation tools and techniques.

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Shared Service Architecture Logo Trans

What is Shared Service Architecture?

Shared Service Architecture (SSA) is a dynamic facilitation and teaching company focused on equipping politicians, board members, chief executives and senior managers in the public sector with the skills and knowledge to innovate and initiate successful shared service and collaborative transformation solutions.

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What is Verto?

Verto is a Cloud-based work collaboration and programme management system with over 60,000 users across the UK. It replaces countless emails, spreadsheets and templates with a simple to use service that allows teams to share and keep everything in one place and report directly from the system.

The bringing together of SSA and Verto assets in one place will enable our clients to have real-time oversight and control over complex projects, enabling leaders to make better, more informed decisions that maximise leverage, address interdependencies and mitigate risks. Build the skills, capacity and confidence of your people to successfully deliver complex, multi-agency service transformation programmes.

 

To find out more about how Verto and Shared Service Architecture can help with collaboration and project management click here.


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 http://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!  

 


Why visibility through reporting and notifications is essential for project success

 

Successful project management is about a lot more than sharing data. This is why specialist project management software remains so popular in spite of the availability of free file-sharing sites and basic, affordable online workspace systems. There are big differences between basic file sharing systems and the built-in functions of more advanced project management software.

 

 

 

Instant

One major advantage of specialised project management software is that it gives you the ability to report to project sponsors simply and easily. For those who still remember the “old days” of wading through long, dry, written reports, 21st-century technology is a huge step forward. Reporting has evolved to allow for condensed information, easy-to-assimilate visuals and notifications of important project updates that land on your phone or other mobile devices in real time.

 

Accessible

As technology gets more complex, reporting gets less so. Software allows you to replace those lengthy reports with accessible charts, tables and other visual elements that quickly present all vital information. You can customise project management software to ensure that sponsors and other high-level stakeholders regularly get updates that matter to them and that those who require an immediate response receive it without ever having to deal with extraneous or redundant information.

 

Timely

The fast pace of the modern world means that it is important to prevent slowing down workflow with bloated or unnecessary processes. Trends in reporting are constantly moving toward presenting the right information to the right people at the right time. This information should make sense to non-technical staff and stakeholders, even when the information itself is technical or complex.

 

Options

Verto software offers a range of reporting options aimed at keeping communications streamlined and effective. Providing comprehensive reporting from the product itself, as well as the opportunity to integrate it into third-party reporting engines, Verto opens up various choices for project managers. The software features easy-to-use reporting options that are ideal for keeping your management team up to date on events, milestones and risks without the need for detailed input from sponsors. You can also customise this software to let sponsors respond to issues when their input is necessary.

 

On the go

Mobile apps now allow project management teams to access an unprecedented level of flexibility. Offering on-the-go updates, requests for approvals and knowledge of risks, mobile reporting allows teams to easily collaborate on making the right decisions for their projects in a timely fashion. Customisable apps facilitate instant notifications that not only concern the project’s current stage but also the various decisions needed for the next stage. The right app can clearly present the required information for making the next logical decision on a particular project, whether it is to progress to the next stage, end the project or inject more resources for successful project completion.

The VertoGo mobile app offers immediate updates for your project management team with the additional options of notifying sponsors of changes and gaining their approval while they are on the move. VertoGo is now available for both Apple and Android devices. For more information Click here.


Forecast frequently to enable tactical shifts

 

Good project management involves frequent forecasting. While it can be useful to forecast results right at the beginning of a project’s life cycle, the true magic of forecasting is that it allows for constant readjustment throughout. Forecasting allows you and your team to stay on track by anticipating extra tasks and resources for the project plan or budget and identifying tasks and resources that may no longer be necessary.

Frequent project forecasts facilitate proactive planning and flexibility. They can allow the project manager to regularly update the business case, which can help the team members keep the project on track, and also allow sponsors and other stakeholders to understand the reasons for any delays or changes.

A key element of project forecasting is to review the risk events that have already occurred and assess the remaining risk triggers. There are always a number of unknown, and often unpredictable, variables in any project, but frequent forecasting provides the project manager with valuable knowledge that enables proactive resource management as the work progresses.

What should we forecast and how frequently?

Frequent forecasting around time, costs and quality of deliverables is vital. Each forecast will allow the project manager to update the business case so that all team members and relevant sponsors know exactly how the project is moving along. The project manager will also be able to reallocate resources and seek sponsor approval in a timely manner.

Time forecasts allow for the reallocation of resources, including team members. To accurately forecast project duration, it is necessary to monitor the activities that will impact the project completion date as well as those that influence project milestones. Modern project management software lets you log updates on the progression of these activities as often as needed for any individual project, which will depend on its nature. You may need to do this daily, weekly or as you complete each relevant task.

Cost forecasts allow the project manager to plan for an injection of more resources and seek sponsor or management approval when necessary. Most projects can benefit from employing the Earned Value Management System in order to accurately forecast ongoing project costs. Depending on resources and the complexity of the project, you can also use trend forecasting, also known as “straight-line” forecasting, to estimate future project costs, although this can be less accurate. Cost forecasting is also something that software-based systems incorporating financial data to support budgeting decisions can help with, and again, using such software lets forecasting occur on an ongoing basis and as frequently as is appropriate for the individual project.

Quality forecasts also allow for necessary adjustments to the project schedule or resources. Frequently forecasting in the area of performance and the quality of the project deliverables increases the chances that the project outcomes will match those identified at the planning stage. According to the “Rule of Tens,” the cost of correcting a technical issue increases tenfold as a project progresses from one phase to the next. This means, of course, that you must identify and correct issues around performance and quality as soon as possible. You can do this as long as forecasting around these factors happens frequently and in advance of the project moving on to a new phase.

Understanding the limitations of forecasting

A forecast is not a prediction. Even the best forecasting is still simply a projection based on current data, which is why frequent forecasting is necessary. Data is always subject to change, and forecasts need updated as new information becomes available. Decisions made based on your current forecast should always stay flexible. They are the best that you can do given your current knowledge of the situation. Remember that as soon as that knowledge expands, you have the opportunity to do better.

Frequent forecasting also narrows uncertainty as the project progresses. At the beginning of the project, you are looking a long way into the future, and your team should be prepared for the fact that early on, forecasting has a lot of limitations. As the project moves through each new phase, forecasting should become progressively more accurate. Towards the end of the project, forecasting correctly should be much easier. At this stage, there are naturally less variables, although they still may exist. The project manager or software can also use the team’s past performance to forecast future performance.

Types of forecasting

There are a few types of forecasting that you can apply to project management, and they may change throughout the project’s life cycle. Qualitative techniques can be particularly useful when data is scarce, which is typically at the beginning of a new project. These techniques may involve human judgement and rating schemes to help forecast possible outcomes.

Statistical techniques become more important when there is a lot of data to support forecasting. In project management, this might happen in the later stages of a project or when there are many comparable completed projects to draw data from. You should, however, remember that statistical techniques assume that past performance predicts future performance. While this is a reasonable assumption, it is more likely to be correct over the short term than the long term. The recent past can forecast the immediate future better than historical data can forecast the distant future, unless data patterns are very stable with few variables that can potentially impact the project.

Ultimately, frequent forecasting that uses recent and relevant data is a key element of successful project management. A responsive project manager can use forecasting to implement an ongoing series of tactical shifts that will keep projects running on time and on budget throughout their duration.

Verto’s project management software gives project management teams the ability to customise their forecasting needs to their individual projects. 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.