Oct 2, 2014

Value, and Corporate Values

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Performance Measurement, Project Management Research, Strategy Execution | 0 Comments

Blizzards of data that you could use to show value blow by you daily. If only you had time to think about it...

Johanna Mickel’s blog about a presentation at the Gartner Symposium tied in neatly with a theme that Allen Young had been expanding upon earlier on this blog: that of how you measure the value of project management processes (and of the PMO).  

To recap, Johanna described Gartner analyst Donna Fitzgerald’s “mix and match” list of all the aspects of value that PMO leaders should take into consideration when analyzing performance:

  1. Financial – the obvious one: contributions to revenue or cost-savings
  2. Strategic – contributions that move key strategies forward
  3. Operational – contributions that create efficiencies or improve processes
  4. Cultural – contributions that change organizational culture in positive ways
  5. Competitive – contributions that improve market share or branding
  6. Social – contributions to a larger community good.

Fitzgerald encouraged PMO leaders to think about ways to quantify all of these; some of them are obvious, but some require stepping outside the usual box. She cautioned her audience that "you have to be reflective in determining value."

And that’s where I was really hooked. Reflective?

In the past couple years, I’ve been interviewing leaders of project management training programs, trying to drill down into how they gauge the effectiveness of training and it’s been a surprising process. In most cases, organizations not only haven’t connected the dots between training and improved business outcomes, but they haven’t even really thought about it. Why?

“No time.” “Not enough resources.” “No one has asked for it. (Yet.)”

Behind these answers you can hear the howl of fire engines. Not just project managers, but most everyone in today’s organizations spends the average day putting out fires; lurching from one problem to another. It’s hard not to be blindsided when you can never raise your head from the problem at hand to look down the road and see what’s coming.

When they stop to think about it, the project management training leaders I’ve interviewed know that it is in their best interests to develop a system for measuring the value of project management, and the impact of project management training. A few of them have successfully made that case; some of these shared their stories with us recently for a PM College white paper, Project Management: Not Just for Project Managers. But these companies are in the minority. A New Zealand-based study cited by PM College instructor Bill Athayde in his recent blog on the cost of poor sponsor involvement showed that nearly 60 percent of companies don’t track or measure benefits of their projects. The same percentage consistently fails to align projects with strategy, though this has been shown to be a key differentiator in high-performing companies.

Here on the other side of the world, things are not much better. When we ask respondents to our State of the PMO studies whether they track and measure performance (not project performance—that’s pretty standard—but performance against business goals), only 28% say they engage in benefits realization analysis. Big Data means this kind of information should be more available than ever.

If only we had the time to think about it.

Time to think, to formulate the right questions and figure out how to answer them, is sadly lacking in our work lives, despite the consensus that more reflection is the answer to many organizational ills. That’s one reason that companies have come to rely on business research firms to (literally) do their thinking for them. (You’re welcome!)

Meanwhile, blizzards of data that could be used to demonstrate the value of your work are blowing by you every week. The bottom line: in order to determine the value of your processes, structures or programs, first you (and your leadership) must value the act of reflective thinking.

Download our white paper on performance measurement to get started!

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