Project Management

Police Car

Why the UK Police are wrong, and why you should care

I recently read an interesting article about how the UK police have set up an IT company, which has the remit to drive down IT cost whilst increasing IT innovation.   This sounds sensible at first glance—after all, who wouldn’t want to drive down the cost of IT, right?  Well, I think they’re missing something far more fundamental.

 

So often organizations focus on implementing IT as cheaply as possible and it appears that this is the objective of the UK Police Force.  Whilst value for money is always important, a more important question should be “What problem are you trying to solve?”  Unless you fully explore the problem, you’ll have no idea of whether IT is the best solution.

 

Police Car

Was a £71 million pound on Blackberry devices a sound investment?

New IT isn’t always the most appropriate way to solve a problem.  The UK police force should know this; they recently spent £71 million on blackberry devices and achieved a woeful return on their investment. They had hoped to save £125 million by enabling officers to complete routine paperwork whilst out on the street.  It appears they had not fully understood the business problem, and as a result saved only £600,000 (a fraction of the implementation cost), with some police officers reporting that the devices meant that they had to spend more time on administration.  A real own-goal!

 

Does your CEO think the world smells of fresh paint?

Imagine the situation.  It’s 9am on a Monday and you receive an e-mail from the head of your department:


FROM: Joan Jones, Head of function
TO : ALL STAFF

Subject : CEO Visiting area at 11:00

Dear All,

Please be aware that Stacey South, the group CEO will be visiting the office today.  She will be touring the building, and is due to visit our department at 11am.  Please ensure your desks are clean and tidy, and that all walkways are clear.  Coats and jackets should be placed in the cupboards and not on the back of chairs.

Stacey often asks questions, please ensure you respond appropriately and positively, and please refer to your manager if you are unsure. Remember, your response could reflect badly on our department, so please refrain from being controversial.

Thanks in advance,

Joan.


Clearly a fictional example, right?  Well… maybe!

I’m surprised at the number of people I meet who say they’ve received e-mails of this nature during their career.  Whilst it is completely understandable that one would want to make a good impression to a CEO (or any other visitor for that matter), it’s more important that senior stakeholders see and experience the authentic working environment.  In particular in our role as professional Change Practitioners, we should not be reticent in stating our concerns and laying out the “cold hard facts” for our stakeholders to see.

Paint Brusg

Painting over the cracks helps no-one...

Treating visits from the CEO as “royal visits” encourages the wrong behaviour and value-set.  It reinforces the belief that senior stakeholders are inaccessible, special, and far too important for the likes of you or me.  This kind of behaviour subverts genuine concerns; if the CEO is royalty, so are the board.  Project members may be reluctant to raise genuine issues or concerns for fear of being perceived as negative.  After all, if the CEO can’t even cope with seeing a stack of papers on a desk, how will they react when they find out their £20 million project is severely behind schedule……

Chopping Axe

If your project is a turkey, kill it early

Right, I might be branded a heretic, but I’m going to say it.

Organisations that deliver every project that they kick off (with the project’s scope intact) are either extremely lucky, extremely risk averse, or extremely misguided.

This sounds like a contrarian view, and may even sound a little controversial.  In fact, you might (quite logically) be thinking that an organisation that delivers every project is in fact extremely successful. I beg to differ….

 

Chopping Axe

Bad projects should be axed sooner rather than later!

As all of us who have worked on projects know, it’s extremely difficult to accurately estimate the costs and benefits at the very outset.  Whether your project is agile or waterfall, the reality is that you’ll get a much better understanding of scope, benefits and costs as the project progresses.  However well-intentioned the project, you might find that it’s just not feasible once you’ve “opened the hood” and had a better look inside.

 

Warning sign - land mines

How to avoid project land mines

I’m pleased to say that my most recent blog article has been published on “Bridging-the-gap.com”, where I have contributed as a guest author.    I’d love to hear what you think, so please feel free to make a comment on the site, or contact me directly. Excerpt: “As a BA, joining a project that has been… 

Project Health Check : 5 serious project warning signs

As experienced change practitioners, I’m sure we’ve all worked on projects that have been difficult.  The unfortunate truth is that some projects gain so much momentum, they become “too big to fail”.  These projects steamroll their way through organisations, and have a tendency to displace anyone that dares to challenge them.

Sometimes when working closely on a project, it is difficult to see the warning signs.  However, it is worth carrying out a project “health check” every now and then, to check for danger signs.  If you see any significant warning signals, then you might need to take some serious (and unpopular) corrective action.  Five such signals are discussed below:

Working with project managers to juggle the triple constraint

I’m pleased to say that my most recent blog article has been published on “Bridging-the-gap.com”, where I have contributed as a guest author.    I’d love to hear what you think, so please feel free to make a comment on the site, or contact me directly. Here is an excerpt and link: Excerpt: “The relationship between… 

Project Fatigue can kill your chances of delivering! Tips for dealing with it.

I’d hazard a bet that we’ve all been there. We’ve all worked on that project, the one which seems to go round in circles with hundreds of false starts, changes of approach and seemingly endless issues to manage. After six months the team is making slow but significant process…  yet team members seem completely burned out!…