Tanner James Blog

Capability Improvement – 5 Ways To Get The Ball Rolling

John Howarth

I said in my P3M3 – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly blog that an assessment does not automatically identify what you must do to get better at the delivery of change using P3 disciplines. Nor does it tell you how to get there.

So how do you do it?  That is a challenge many people face and it is one of those challenges that can appear harder and harder the more you think about it. Trying Google provides a plethora of highly complex results and sometimes it can feel like you’ll never accomplish anything.

So where to start?  To my way of thinking it’s another case of back to basics.  Here are five things you can easily do to get the capability improvement ball rolling.

1. Talk to people

Take a break from sending out emails, writing procedures and creating new templates and get out their and talk to people. Ask them what they think portfolio, programme or project management is all about. You might be surprised where the conversation leads.

2. Inform your executives

If the senior leaders of the organisation don’t know what portfolio, programme or project management can do for them it won’t get much attention. Which means you need to understand what their problems are and where P3 disciplines might help. But equally important is that you understand where they won’t help.

3. Focus on fundamentals not details

Frameworks like MSP®, PRINCE2® and P3O® are very comprehensive. This is great for highly experienced practitioners but can be intimidating and unhelpful for both organisations and individuals who are new to such approaches. Don’t confuse a comprehensively defined framework with the manner in which it is applied – get the principles understood before you reach down into techniques.

4. Start by putting the theory into practice

People often do formal training in a framework then spend lots of time figuring out how it should work in their organization and/or on their project. They can be paralysed in trying to create a perfect process. My advice is to have a go. Try it. Use the bits that make the most sense to you and appear most valuable. It doesn’t matter whether it is perfect - what matters is that the frameworks have helped you think differently.

5. Find a buddy

It doesn’t have to be someone from your team, in fact it may be better if it isn't. Just find another person who you can talk your ideas through with and you’ll find it a whole lot easier.

If anyone else out there has ideas they’d like to share on how to get things moving I’m sure there are plenty of like-minded people working on capability improvement who would love to hear them so please leave them in the comments section below.

If I Tell People What I am Doing, They May Hold Me To Account!

Daniel Oyston

Communication is a cornerstone to any project. You need to understand who you should report to, who gets to make decisions and who has the authority to communicate on behalf of the project.

This is documented within your Communications Management Strategy as part of the Project Initiation Documentation. It contains a description of the means and frequency of communication to parties both internal and external to the project. It allows your stakeholders to engage by establishing a controlled and bi-directional flow of information.

Other inclusions to the strategy should be:
  • your procedure for communication and any variance from corporate or programme standards;
  • communication tools to be used and reference to any techniques that should be employed;
  • definition of records to be kept in relation to communication;
  • reporting requirements and timing of communication activities;
  • roles and responsibilities for communication;
  • a stakeholder analysis; and 
  • the information needs of each interested party.

Today, communication is varied, often electronic and very rapid. It is easy to err on the side of over communication. How often do you ‘cc’ people ‘just in case they are interested’?

I recommend you analyse your stakeholders and communicate, but only where necessary - we all have more than enough information to wade through these days. By the way, it doesn't always have to be written. I heard of a PM once who made a video highlight report and then posted the link to board members!

Do you have any portfolio, programme or project management communication tips or advice? Or funny communication stories to share with the group?