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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.

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.

Essential Skills: Benefits and the Business Case

Business cases are the basis for project governance.  How good are yours?

PiCubed delivers workshops on what needs to be done pre-project, in-project, and post-project to develop business cases that support decision-making by portfolio committees; sponsors, and their project boards; and change leaders, agents, and managers.

The business case is the basis upon which crucial choices are made as to how best to invest the resources of an organisation.  Its purpose is to set out the cost risks, the risk to the benefits, and the sources of uncertainty.  It is also a vehicle of communication between stakeholders, to the project team, and to the recipients of the change the project is expected to deliver.

The core of every business case is how well it defines and quantifies the expected benefits; how well it sets out the risks, and how well it enables the rational selection between actions, based on securing the best return from the investment made.

So, the focus of these workshops on business cases is how to construct benefit cases; what tools and techniques are useful; when to establish the benefits; and who needs to be involved in the different stages of business case development.

Using case studies, we look at why so many business cases fail their governance role: what management drivers lead to business cases that over-focus on cost; how the desire to make a business case ‘compelling’ impacts the process; and the consequences of using a business case to justify a management ‘preference.  We also look at the role of a well-structured business case on the conduct of a project within a project portfolio.

We encourage you to bring along examples of business cases from your organisation and we will facilitate discussions on the application of benefits modelling tools that are relevant to your projects.

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.

The Lost Art of Project Planning

The Lost Art of Planning Projects is written by Louise & Christopher Worsley, the workshop leader. It was published in 2019 and describes practical approaches to planning within the contexts of programmes, portfolios, and projects, leading to planned or directed change.  It discusses the application of the ideas discussed in these workshops.

A copy of the book is provided to attendees of our Benefits and the Business Case workshops.

Essential Skills: Stakeholder engagement

If stakeholders matter, then they must make a difference to the way we plan, structure, communicate, and execute our projects. Do they on your projects?

PiCubed delivers workshops with a stakeholder-centric focus on the management of projects. Why do stakeholders matter on your projects? How do you identify stakeholders; near-term and long-term? How do you diagnose the roles and agendas of stakeholders with respect to your project? What approaches are most effective for the different projects you are faced with? And how can meaningful engagement be achieved?

Using case studies from around the world, we illustrate what goes wrong when stakeholders are not engaged successfully, and what amazing things happen when they are. We can learn lessons from both!

We encourage you to bring along your own project stakeholder issues and we will facilitate discussions on the application of stakeholder analysis and modelling tools which are relevant to your projects.

Stakeholder-led project management: Changing the way we manage projects is written by Louise Worsley, the workshop leader. It was published in 2017 and describes practical approaches to stakeholder engagement across a range of projects, change initiatives and social development programmes. This book is provided to attendees of our stakeholder workshops.

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.