De-risking your project delivery approach selection
Firstly let’s be clear what we are talking about. Is it your:
- product delivery approach – with its focus on the management development activities
- project delivery approach – with its focus on the management of the overall delivery?
In many projects, especially those which have multiple deliverables it is likely that you will have more than one product delivery approach to ensure that the initiative’s products can be delivered at pace and enhance the likelihood of successful and timely benefits achievement.
Where this is the case and, for example the deliverables are being developed using both agile and more traditional approaches – it all becomes a little more complicated. Governance and decision making is somewhat harder added to which there is the increased need for co-operation, communications and, critically, dependency management.
But make no mistake, using more than one product development approach is inevitably the most appropriate response – but with that decision comes the need for enhanced overall management to alleviate any potential complications
So what should the overall management layer focus on?
In my view initially it is critical that:
- key roles and responsibilities are
- clear management focus is set up to, and stays, focused at the appropriate level.
If these two key aspects are missing or fail – I believe a successful delivery and achievement of the benefits will be at risk.
Although these two points are intrinsically linked, for ease of discussion, they are described separately.
Point one: Ensure key roles and responsibilities are clear
This point must also include the need for right sized governance and oversight – as that impacts the role accountabilities and responsibilities. In the same way that the certainty of requirements drives the decision as to which product development approach to use, the type and extent of management required for the overall initiative should be a driver for level of governance needed.
Although it is always important that individual roles and their focus are clear, in initiatives where there is more than one product development approach in play the interaction between those roles becomes critical. My advice? Watch out for gaps and / or overlaps between the roles. If any exist it could lead to a decrease – not increase – in the pace of delivery as individual team members (and teams) may inadvertently work against, not with each other.
For example, to be successful, those closely involved in, and managing the product delivery (development) should focus on delivering the best possible solution without unnecessarily being diverted into concerning themselves with other aspects of the overall initiative. Of course the product delivery needs management and part of the Product Owner / SCRUM master’s role is to achieve that vital aspect.
The roles of the Sponsor, Steering Group, the Initiative (Programme/Project) Manager, the Product Owner (Scrum Master/ Technical Lead) and Principal User are usually main roles and should warrant early attention.
And don’t forget ensure the role are agreed and published!
Point two: Appoint individuals with the right focus (and capability)
A good place to start is to appoint an individual whose focus is on managing at the overall initiative (programme/project) level. It is essential that they do not become closely involved in, the technical detail and issues. Trust me this is not easy and takes discipline and experience. Having started my own career in a technical environment and initially being appointed to manage projects and programmes due to my technical knowledge and expertise – I know from experience how easy it is to drawn back into the technical side. Reminding myself (and others) that my role was management of the overall initiative not the deliverables was an on-going activity!
But focusing at the appropriate level increased both the pace and success of the initiatives I was managing – crucial when failure was not an option due to the environment!
- the Initiative Manager has overall project management delivery as their focus at the management layer – the role concerns itself with oversight and management of the activities (not the details), the overall initiative risks, dependencies, constraints and the alignment and timing of all the deliverables to ensure the desired benefits are achieved
- the Technical Manager (Product Owner/Scrum Master) focuses on the technical aspects and activities which occur during development of the deliverables.
Neither can operate successfully in isolation as both are required for successful delivery. But enhanced collaboration, communication and understanding of respective roles (especially using their individual skills appropriately) are essential.
How do you decide who to appoint? What skills should you look for? That’s for another time. In the meantime if you would like to hear more or discuss this further or talk with us about how we can support you please contact me JNichols@citi.co.uk
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