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Planning for Modern Projects: Online Example

Online workshops

This online event invites you to bring your own experiences and management challenges into play using a set of structured learning events, zoom-mediated interactions, and personal reflections.

The three workshops

Each workshop is 90 minutes in duration and will be conducted on Zoom.  You may also be requested to interact via Mentimeter – further information will be provided on how you can sign on to both of these applications.

Workshop 1: Plans and planning

Exercise 1: Creating a project plan (Using your own or another’s project)

Workshop 2: Planning for success

Exercise 2: Determining the hierarchy of constraints for a project

Workshop 3: When planning is hard

Exercise 3: Developing effective project logs (using your own or another’s project)

Preparing for the workshop

All you need for this workshop is you and your experiences!  Before the day, you might like to get hold of a project plan that you consider to be a good example of a project plan or one you would like to analyse or improve.

Essential Skills: Planning for Modern Projects

There is no single approach to planning a project, but for a given project, there is a best one.  So what is it?  And how can you know what it is?

For many project managers, especially in IT, it appears that planning is not too popular.  Even its poor cousin, scheduling, is less widespread than it used to be.  Even where planning is valued, the project managers often don’t have a particular process.  In part, this might be because there is very little written about precisely how you should go about planning.  This lack of support is in sharp contrast to the tens of thousands of pages written on how to schedule.

And yet planning remains the hallmark of well-managed projects.  When you are doing something that’s not been done before, and you have to do it within a set of constraints, you do need to map out the territory, have a plan.

These workshops address this.  Case studies drawn from many different sectors are used to illustrate an approach to and a process for planning each type of project.  We see how and why planning a resource-constrained project differs from an end-date driven project.  We show how to plan within a cost constraint, and how it differs from planning in a time-box.  We look at how to plan when using Agile, how to plan in stakeholder complex projects, and how to plan a project whose sole purpose is innovation.

A plan is a view of a future state that the project is purposed to achieve.  As things change, in particular, as stakeholder perceptions of this future state, or what ‘good looks like’ changes, the plan must change.  Perhaps the most valuable contribution made by Agile theorists to project management is how best to deal with changes to scope.  Such changes should be anticipated and welcomed, rather than seen as a problem.  Responding positively to change prevents a project delivering what is not wanted.  Planning is the project managers’ most effective tool to ensure this.

The format of the workshop session encourages the participants to bring current issues and concerns and share with the group what’s been done, how well it works, and where more insight is needed.

Workshop format

Workshops are tailored to your needs and delivered in the medium which best suits your participants.

Click the links below for example workshops approaches:

Online workshops

If you are an individual then these courses will soon be available as online courses through Udemy.

Contact us for more information.

Adaptive Project Planning is written by Louise & Christopher Worsley, the workshop leader. It was published in 2019 and describes practical approaches to planning projects.  It shows how the process varies depending on the project’s success factors.  It discusses the application of the ideas discussed in these workshops, and, using case studies drawn across the world and from many different sectors, explores how and what to plan, including when Agile techniques are in use.

A copy of the book is provided to attendees.

Portfolio and Programme Management: Workshop Example

This workshop is drawn from a series of ‘conversations’ about portfolio and programme management.  The first conversation is about how to structure a program.

The audience then decides between them the prioritisation of which conversations they would like to cover.

The ‘big’ principles

Project portfolio management – and programmes as a special case of portfolios – is briefly reviewed.  Key disciplines and the differences between portfolio and programme management are set out and discussed.  They will be crucial in the dealing with the chosen challenges.

Conversation A: Structuring a programme

Focuses on the governance of a portfolio within a programme.  Based, as all the challenges are, on a real problem faced by an organisation similar to yours, the task is to construct a combination of projects that delivers the business outcomes agreed.  Each group sets out their ideas and the results are shared and examined.  The session concludes with a review of tools and techniques that can be used to support this common challenge.

The conversation pool

Each conversation is set in the organisational context that gave rise to the problem.  Each group sets out their ideas and their results are shared and examined.  The sessions conclude with a review of tools, techniques and models that can be used to address similar issues that arise.

Translating a vision into operations

How to implement a strategy.  Programmes take a strand of a strategy and manage the organisation’s transition from one state to another.  It is a complex process, and requires the use of a number of techniques drawn from 9 different management approaches.

 Tranche planning

How best to cluster and sequence projects and other activities in a programme.  The principles are similar to those used when constructing an independent project portfolio, but the process is subtly influenced by the degree of interdependencies between the projects and the need to create ‘transition states’ or ‘islands of benefit’.

 Gaining commitment

Examines the fundamental need to create and maintain commitment by the key stakeholders when establishing a programme or portfolio.  Simple to say, but extraordinarily complex to achieve, the discussion is around actions rather than planning, and the use of stratagems to achieve alignment.

Design authority & change dynamics

Focuses on the balance necessary to achieve between managing the risks to the infrastructure always present when project-driven change is planned and the delivery of benefits through that change.  The roles and influence of the design and change communities are examined, and how the conflicting needs can be resolved successfully.

 On-boarding the team

Focuses on the teams involved in making change a reality in the business.  It is a commonplace to observe that successful change depends on people, yet it is often the case the change agencies – the people responsible and involved in the managing of the change are overlooked.  How do you get commitment from the deliverers, rather than the receivers of change?  This case explores the theme.

 Establishing the optimum portfolio

The governance of a portfolio.  This looks at the three strategies that need to dovetail to achieve an optimum combination and how prioritisation schemes both contribute and hinder the process.  It looks in particular at how to handle the portfolio under conditions of changing priorities and conflict.

 Resourcing a portfolio

What issues arise when a portfolio moves from selection to implementation?  Resourcing and planning a portfolio is not the same as planning and scheduling a project – it is more onerous and how well it is done ultimately determines how successful the organisation is in achieving its strategic goals.

 Culling projects

The processes and necessary pre-conditions for a portfolio committee to be able to manage and control a portfolio.  Killing projects is a simple management decision, culling requires much greater discipline and sophistication in the portfolio management processes.  The approach to well-conducted culling – a growing necessity in many organisations today – is examined.

 

Portfolio and Programme Management: Online Example

Online workshops

This online event invites you to bring your own experiences and management challenges into play using a set of structured learning events, zoom-mediated interactions, and personal reflections.

The four workshops

Each workshop is 90 minutes in duration and will be conducted on Zoom.  You may also be requested to interact via Mentimeter – further information will be provided on how you can sign on to both of these applications.

Workshop 1: Getting the structure of a programme right

Exercise 1: Analysing a programme brief (Using your own or another’s programme brief)

Workshop 2: Selecting the ‘best’ portfolio

Exercise 2: Establishing project portfolio inclusion criteria

Workshop 3: Managing a programme

Exercise 3: Reporting options for a programme

Workshop 4: Culling projects

Exercise 4: Sharing approaches to culling used by organisations

 Preparing for the workshop

All you need for this workshop is you and your experiences!  Before the day you might like to familiarise yourself with the approaches used to manage programmes and portfolios in your organisation.

Essential Skills: Portfolio Management and Programme Management

Implementing Programmes and Project Portfolios

 The management disciplines required for programmes and portfolios are fundamentally different from those used to manage multiple projects.  Has your organisation recognised that yet?

Managing programmes and project portfolios have much in common and some significant differences. Both are about delivering planned changes to an organisation’s capabilities, using heavily contended resources.

While project managers must focus on delivering outputs within a set of constraints, portfolio managers are faced with the problems around maximising throughput and optimising the return from invested sources.  Programme managers don’t have these concerns.  Their role is to deliver a vision of the future state of the organisation, which involves both projects and line management and focuses on the delivery of outcomes.

It is these differences in purpose and in the management disciplines that causes issues when successful project managers are promoted into portfolio and programme management roles.  Too often the tried and trusted approaches developed over the years are favoured by both sponsoring groups and the newly promoted managers, reducing programmes and portfolios to being managed as groups of projects, which end in failed initiatives.

These workshops address the need to explore and extend the experiences of project managers to help them adapt to their new role.  They are run as a set of conversations and challenges, facilitated by an experienced practitioner and thought leader in the management and governance of project portfolios and programmes.  They are designed for small groups of individuals who are actively involved in, or about to become involved in, managing complex collections of projects.  In this way, the shared ideas and insights can be taken back into the workplace and implemented.

The format of the workshop session encourages the participants to bring current issues and concerns and share with the group what’s been done, how well it works, and where more insight is needed.

Workshop format

Workshops are tailored to your needs and delivered in the medium which best suits your participants.

Click the links below for example workshops approaches:

Online workshops

Face to face workshop

If you are an individual then these courses will soon be available as online courses through Udemy.

Contact us for more information.

Adaptive Project Planning

This text explores why you must plan when using agile approaches, how to approach the planning in stakeholder complex projects, and how to plan for innovation.

Despite claims to the contrary, there is no single approach to planning a project, but for a given project, there is a best one. This book takes you through many planning situations you will meet. The authors use stories of real projects to show how planning decisions alter depending on the project context. They discuss how resource-constrained planning differs from end-date schedule planning and look at what is different between cost-constrained plans and time boxing.

The text explores why you must plan when using agile approaches, how to approach the planning in stakeholder complex projects, and how to plan for innovation. For project managers, getting involved with increasingly complex projects, it’s all about developing your judgment. The crucial judgments remain how to plan and structure a project. Through the exploration of many types of projects and the introduction of models and an approach to planning this book will aid your journey into high-performance project management.

 

The Lost Art of Project Planning

Appropriate planning of a project is the hallmark of a professional project manager. Good planning is what sets apart great projects from accidents.

Purposeful planning is what ensures that the executive actions undertaken remain connected to the goals and outcomes expected by the stakeholders. There is no single approach to planning a project, but neither is project planning a free-for-all. This book takes you through many of the common planning situations you will meet, addressing how planning decisions alter depending on the project context.

It also discusses how resource-constrained planning differs from end-date schedule planning. The authors look at what is different between cost-constrained plans and time boxing and they discuss why you must plan when using Agile, and how to plan for innovation, as well as planning when managing a project portfolio, and what planning means in a program. To tell this story, we have distilled over seventy years of our combined personal experience of supporting project managers deliver, and thousands of person-years of others’ practical knowledge to illustrate tools, models, and approaches that suggest what to do in what circumstances.

You can find examples of the models used on our Model’s page.

 

 

 

Benefits and the Business Case: Workshop example

This two-day workshop examines how to create and critique a compelling business case for a project and how to engage stakeholders in the decision-making and adoption activities required for real changes in operational performance.

The many roles of a business case

The business case is the critical decision-support tool for making investment choices by the project portfolio committee.  To be useful, the business case must address the information needs of all the key stakeholders.

Establishing the desired outcomes

The motivation for a project should be based ona clear understanding of the desired business outcomes.  Many business cases are marred by a failure to distinguish between the value of the solution and the solution itself.  In this session, we introduce an approach to clarify the problem that needs to be addressed and the value the business will get if the problem is resolved.

Making it wanted

A benefit is regarded as a ‘good thing’.  Where does the value come from and what measures are there for gauging how good a thing it is?  In this session an analysis of value and benefits within your organisation is undertaken – setting up a mechanism for developing a benefit case.

Building a benefit case

Modelling benefits properly involves clearly distinguishing what is valuable from how that value is created.  This session explores through the use of a well-constructed benefits case techniques for identifying what products must be delivered and how they will result in beneficial change in the business environment.

Getting to the numbers

The business case indicates the motivation for the project both in terms of its stakeholder commitment and its likely return on investment.  Return on investment is traditionally measured in financial terms, but with the introduction of portfolio management, it has become clear that more sophisticated approaches, which allow comparison of projects in terms of financial and level of strategic alignment, are essential.

Cost & benefit risk assessment (CoBRA)

Business cases are not designed to cajole stakeholders into making the investment but to allow them to make informed decisions based upon an understanding of return and risk. No endeavour is without risk.  How much risk is acceptable is a management decision beyond the remit of the project manager.

Benefits realisation

The business case documentation is the framework within which management decision making is made throughout the project.  Using a benefits management approach as the basis of the change plan has many advantages- not least of which is the way it focuses attention on the changes in process and people behaviours necessary for the benefit to be realised.  This leads to what it is sensible to measure.

Make it compelling

Many organisations have worked to reduce their business cases to a single spreadsheet, often filled with numbers but often of little value.  Has the reduction gone too far?   This session looks at the purpose of the business case again and its influence on making sure managed change happens.

From workshop to workplace

A reflective session to examine what actions should you take to make this happen in your own organisation.

Benefits and the Business Case: Online workshop

Online workshops

This online event invites you to bring your own experiences and project challenges into play using a set of structured learning events, zoom-mediated interactions, and personal reflections.

 The four workshops

Each workshop is 90 minutes in duration and will be conducted on Zoom.  You may also be requested to interact via Mentimeter – further information will be provided on how you can sign on to both of these applications.

Workshop 1: Defining benefits – a measurement of value

Exercise 1: Analysing a business case (A workout on your own or another’s business case)

Workshop 2: Constructing a benefits case

Exercise 2: Developing a benefits case for your (or another’s) project

Workshop 3: Writing the business case

Exercise 3: Sharing organisational issues in the presentation of business cases

Workshop 4: The role of the business case in decision-making…

Exercise 4: Sharing approaches to portfolio prioritisation management

  Preparing for the workshop

All you need is you and your experiences for this workshop! Before the day you might like to familiarise yourself with a business case used recently or regarded as a good example in your organisation.

 

Stakeholder Engagement in Difficult Times

This presentation was made as part of the Major Project Association series of webinars on project management during the COVID lockdown.