Author: Daniele Pinto, PMP
Dear friends and colleagues,
We live in an age of rapid change where technology innovations fuel this acceleration on business processes and therefore individuals and companies are facing challenges in how to react to a world that is becoming “Smart” and “Digital”. In order to remain in business, consultant companies and subject matter experts suggest that one way to adapt is to become "Agile". What does it mean in reality?
In a startup company or in a large corporation, the processes to manage the business can be clustered in two main subsets: strategic level and operational level. At the strategic level, the scope of a single entrepreneur or an executive board is to understand the “battle field”, define the game, the products and the services for creating value in the ecosystem where the company operates. In this function, the executives anticipate future scenarios then define the vision, goals and strategy.
At the operational level, the senior management assures that the underlying business delivery is aligned to the company's strategy. It does not matter if you are a one-man show or a corporation you need to be able to explain to your customers, stakeholders and shareholders how you are going to execute your strategy.
We may add an additional complication by considering medium-large multinational organizations, composed by multiple businesses that operate in several countries and regions. Here management must understand and manage investments contribution to the given strategy in a multidimensional environment. In addition, this means appreciating the benefits created at program level from every single produced output at project level. Holistically the business is extremely complicated, as one considers that in addition to the products sold or services provided, there are research activities, improvement programs and internal projects all to be managed.
In this context what does “being Agile” mean?
The meaning is: to be ready for change, and therefore adapting faster to changes.
At the strategic level things may change because of priorities or opportunities. Business reviews might run every month and decisions can stop, start, or move activities: the business machine at the operational level needs to adapt and react as fast as possible. How can the business machine be organized for that?
You need to operate with a robust framework that can allow you to foresee changes, understand impacts at every level of the organization and therefore redirect resources to implement corrections rapidly.
Here is where the Organizational Project Management (OPM) can help businesses and its Maturity Model framework (OPM3) support your business in implementing it. This framework takes into consideration the integration of portfolio management processes, program management support activities and project management processes. It helps the organization to assess its capability and maturity then manage its operations in line with the given strategy and therefore implement any required changes.
It is important to underline that this framework considers, beside processes and activities, some organizational enablers to be successful. The most critical enablers for establishing the “Project Management” culture and best practices in a company are:
- Strategic Alignment: for example, the structure of the delivery organization should be aligned with the portfolio structure.
- Governance: for example, management needs to decide their risk tolerance.
- Organizational Project Management Methodologies: for example, projects in a power plant are managed differently from those in a software business.
- Competency Management: for example, establish a standard competency management framework for the portfolio/program/project managers. Today the PMI framework can be considered as best practice.
The implementation of the OPM3 framework is done through a change program where management defines the strategy and goals before execution. This would be a continuous improvement program with planned multiple phases on a roadmap to deliver changes and hence increase the maturity of the organization.
In order to benchmark the business maturity level a Standard Assessment Tool has been developed. The standard assessment tool is based on yes/no questions to define the program’s initial phase of goals:
According to the maturity level to be achieved, it is then possible to define some improvement projects.
In summary, today a solution to adapt our operations in a rapidly changing business environment is to use a robust framework. In order to make this happen we need to have an organization that can foresee the upcoming changes and can implement them as fast as possible. This can be done if the “business machine” is well structured with a framework that can allow fast and controlled implementation of the changed strategies. Implementing the Organizational Project Management framework with its Maturity Model is a way to assure that strategy and execution remain aligned.