The Disciplined Agile Mindset

By Scott Ambler | Vice President, Chief Scientist of Disciplined Agile at Project Management Institute

 

[This post is a supplement to Scott’s upcoming keynote at IIL’s Agile & Scrum 2020 Online Conference]

The DA tool kit supplies straightforward guidance to help you, your team, and your enterprise increase your effectiveness. The DA tool kit shows you how to apply and evolve your way of working (WoW) in a context-sensitive manner with this people-first, learning-oriented hybrid agile approach.  We describe DA in terms of four views: Mindset, People, Flow, and Practices.  In this blog I describe the mindset behind PMI’s Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit, overviewed in Figure 1.  PMI’s approach to describing the DA Mindset is straightforward: We believe in these principles, so we promise to adopt these behaviours and we follow these guidelines when doing so.

Figure 1: The Disciplined Agile Mindset.

 

The Principles

The principles of the Disciplined Agile mindset provide a philosophical foundation for business agility.  The eight principles are are based on both lean and flow concepts:

 

  1. Delight customers. We need to go beyond satisfying our customers’ needs, beyond meeting their expectations, and strive to delight them.  If we don’t then someone else will delight them and steal our customers away from us. This applies to both external customers as well as internal customers.
  2. Be awesome. We should always strive to be the best that we can, and to always get better. Who wouldn’t want to work with awesome people, on an awesome team for an awesome organization?
  3. Context counts. Every person, every team, every organization is unique.  We face unique situations that evolve over time.  The implication is that we must choose our way of working (WoW) to reflect the context that we face, and then evolve our WoW as the situation evolves.
  4. Be pragmatic (reworded from Pragmatism). Our aim isn’t to be agile, it’s to be as effective as we can be and to improve from there.  To do this we need to be pragmatic and adopt agile, lean, or even traditional strategies when they make the most sense for our context.
  5. Choice is good. To choose our WoW in a context-driven, pragmatic manner we need to select the best-fit technique given our situation.  Having choices, and knowing the trade-offs associated with those choices, is critical to choosing our WoW that is best fit for our context.
  6. Optimize flow. We want to optimize flow across the value stream that we are part of, and better yet across our organization, and not just locally optimize our WoW within our team. Sometimes this will be a bit inconvenient for us, but overall we will be able to more effectively respond to our customers.
  7. Organize around products/services (new).  To delight our customers we need to organize ourselves around producing the offerings, the products and services, that they need. We are in effect organizing around value streams because value streams produce value for customers, both external and internal, in the form of products and services.  We chose to say organize around products/services, rather than offerings or value streams, as we felt this was more explicit.
  8. Enterprise awareness. Disciplined agilists look beyond the needs of their team to take the long-term needs of their organization into account.  They adopt, and sometimes tailor, organizational guidance.  They follow, and provide feedback too, organizational roadmaps.  The leverage, and sometimes enhance, existing organizational assets.  In short, they do what’s best for the organization and not just what’s convenient for them.

 

The Promises

The promises of the Disciplined Agile mindset are agreements that we make with our fellow teammates, our stakeholders, and other people within our organization whom we interact with.  The promises define a collection of disciplined behaviours that enable us to collaborate effectively and professionally.  The seven promises are:

 

  1. Create psychological safety and embrace diversity. Psychological safety means being able to show and apply oneself without fear of negative consequences of status, career, or self-worth—we should be comfortable being ourselves in our work setting. Psychological safety goes hand-in-hand with diversity, which is the recognition that everyone is unique and can add value in different ways. The dimensions of personal uniqueness include, but are not limited to, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, agile, physical abilities, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, political beliefs, and other ideological beliefs. Diversity is critical to a team’s success because it enables greater innovation. The more diverse our team, the better our ideas will be, the better our work will be, and the more we’ll learn from each other.
  2. Accelerate value realization. In DA we use the term value to refer to both customer and business value. Customer value, something that benefits the end customer who consumes the product/service that our team helps to provide, is what agilists typically focus on. This is clearly important, but in Disciplined Agile we’re very clear that teams have a range of stakeholders, including external end customers. Business value addresses the issue that some things are of benefit to our organization and perhaps only indirectly to our customers. For example, investing in enterprise architecture, in reusable infrastructure, and in sharing innovations across our organization offer the potential to improve consistency, quality, reliability, and reduce cost over the long term.
  3. Collaborate proactively. Disciplined agilists strive to add value to the whole, not just to their individual work or to the team’s work. The implication is that we want to collaborate both within our team and with others outside our team, and we also want to be proactive doing so. Waiting to be asked is passive, observing that someone needs help and then volunteering to do so is proactive.
  4. Make all work and workflow visible. DA teams will often make their work visible at both the individual level as well as the team level. It is critical to focus on our work in process, which is our work in progress plus any work that is queued up waiting for us to get to it.  Furthermore, DA teams make their workflow visible, and thus have explicit workflow policies, so that everyone knows how everyone else is working.
  5. Improve predictability. DA teams strive to improve their predictability to enable them to collaborate and self-organize more effectively, and thereby to increase the chance that they will fulfill any commitments that they make to their stakeholders. Many of the earlier promises we have made work toward improving predictability.
  6. Keep workloads within capacity. Going beyond capacity is problematic from both a personal and a productivity point of view. At the personal level, overloading a person or team will often increase the frustration of the people involved. Although it may motivate some people to work harder in the short term, it will cause burnout in the long term, and it may even motivate people to give up and leave because the situation seems hopeless to them. From a productivity point of view, overloading causes multitasking, which increases overall overhead.
  7. Improve continuously. The really successful organizations—Apple, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, and more—got that way through continuous improvement. They realized that to remain competitive they needed to constantly look for ways to improve their processes, the outcomes that they were delivering to their customers, and their organizational structures.

 

The Guidelines

The guidelines of the Disciplined Agile mindset help us to be more effective in our way of working (WoW), and in improving our WoW over time. The eight guidelines are:

 

  1. Validate our learnings. The only way to become awesome is to experiment with, and then adopt where appropriate, a new WoW. In guided continuous improvement (GCI) we experiment with a new way of working and then we assess how well it worked, an approach called validated learning. Being willing and able to experiment is critical to our process-improvement efforts.
  2. Apply design thinking. Delighting customers requires us to recognize that our aim is to create operational value streams that are designed with our customers in mind. This requires design thinking on our part. Design thinking means to be empathetic to the customer, to first try to understand their environment and their needs before developing a solution.
  3. Attend to relationships through the value stream. The interactions between the people doing the work are what is key, regardless of whether or not they are part of the team. For example, when a product manager needs to work closely with our organization’s data analytics team to gain a better understanding of what is going on in the marketplace, and with our strategy team to help put those observations into context, then we want to ensure that these interactions are effective.
  4. Create effective environments that foster joy. Part of being awesome is having fun and being joyful. We want working in our company to be a great experience so we can attract and keep the best people. Done right, work is play. We can make our work more joyful by creating an environment that allows us to work together well.
  5. Change culture by improving the system. While culture is important, and culture change is a critical component of any organization’s agile transformation, the unfortunate reality is that we can’t change it directly. This is because culture is a reflection of the management system in place, so to change our culture we need to evolve our overall system.
  6. Create semi-autonomous self-organizing teams. Organizations are complex adaptive systems (CASs) made up of a network of teams or, if you will, a team of teams. Although mainstream agile implores us to create “whole teams” that have all of the skills and resources required to achieve the outcomes that they’ve been tasked with, the reality is that no team is an island unto itself. Autonomous teams would be ideal but there are always dependencies on other teams upstream that we are part of, as well as downstream from us. And, of course, there are dependencies between offerings (products or services) that necessitate the teams responsible for them to collaborate.
  7. Adopt measures to improve outcomes. When it comes to measurement, context counts. What are we hoping to improve? Quality? Time to market? Staff morale? Customer satisfaction? Combinations thereof? Every person, team, and organization has their own improvement priorities, and their own ways of working, so they will have their own set of measures that they gather to provide insight into how they’re doing and, more importantly, how to proceed. And these measures evolve over time as their situation and priorities evolve. The implication is that our measurement strategy must be flexible and fit for purpose, and it will vary across teams.
  8. Leverage and enhance organizational assets. Our organization has many assets—information systems, information sources, tools, templates, procedures, learnings, and other things—that our team could adopt to improve our effectiveness. We may not only choose to adopt these assets, we may also find that we can improve them to make them better for us as well as other teams who also choose to work with these assets.

 

Whence the Agile Manifesto?

Until recently, we described the DA mindset as the combination of the DA Principles and the DA Manifesto.  The DA Manifesto in turn was described in terms of five values and 17 principles behind the manifesto.  The DA Manifesto was based on the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, or more colloquially known as the Agile Manifesto.  But, as you can imagine, people were confused by two levels of principles.  We also found the Agile Manifesto to be constraining, mostly due to the cultural baggage that has built up around it for the past two decades.  And most importantly, we realized that we could describe the mindset in a far more robust and understandable manner as you’ve seen in this blog.

The DA Mindset provides conceptual background required for business agility and is an important part of the foundation of the DA tool kit.  I will describe how to apply the DA tool kit in my keynote presentation, Disciplined Agile Strategies for Greater Innovation, at IIL’s Agile and Scrum 2020 Online Conference. I hope you choose to attend this great event.

 

[To learn more on this topic, click here to register for IIL’s Agile & Scrum 2020 Online Conference]

 

References

For further reading about the details behind the Disciplined Agile Mindset, please read Chapter 2 of Choose Your WoW! A Disciplined Agile Delivery Handbook for Choosing Your Way of Working.

About the Author Scott is the Vice President, Chief Scientist of Disciplined Agile at Project Management Institute. Scott leads the evolution of the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit and is an international keynote speaker. Scott is the (co)-creator of the Disciplined Agile (DA) tool kit as well as the Agile Modeling (AM) and Agile Data (AD) methodologies. He is the (co-)author of several books, including Choose Your WoW!, An Executive’s Guide to the Disciplined Agile Framework, Refactoring Databases, Agile Modeling, Agile Database Techniques, and The Object Primer 3rd Edition. Scott blogs regularly at ProjectManagement.com and he can be contacted via pmi.org.


Innovation Project Management

By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. | Senior Executive Director, International Institute for Learning (IIL)

We are excited to bring you this blog post on Innovation Project Management, which is adapted from Dr. Harold Kerzner’s new book of the same title. Below, he explains why this topic is so important, the types of challenges that innovation project managers face, and much more. Get your copy today! Use code KERZNERBLOG for $20 off. Order on the IIL website.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) has recently celebrated 50 years of providing the world with project management competencies. In the early years, a large portion of the competencies were established to support the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) requirements placed upon their contractors. Most of these projects were engineering oriented and headed up by project managers with engineering backgrounds. Project sponsors were assigned to make many of the business-related decisions whereas project managers focused heavily upon the technical decisions. In many instances, contractors were opposed to the acceptance of project management practices. They would accept them after the DoD made project management a requirement to be awarded a contract.

As seen by the contractors, the bulk of the contracts were traditional or operational activities with well-defined statements of work, minimal risks, and an agreed upon budget and schedule. Executives placed limited trust in the hands of the project managers for fear that project managers may end up making decisions that were reserved for the senior levels of management. To limit the decisions that project managers could make, senior management created a singular project management approach (a one-size-fits-all methodology) that all PMs had to follow. The singular methodology was based upon rigid policies and procedures. The evaluation of project management performance was based upon how well the PMs followed the methodology. In many companies, project management was not seen as a career path slot but was instead treated as a part-time activity one had to perform in addition to one’s normal duties.

Projects related to strategic planning or strategy development were placed in the hands of functional managers because executives trusted the functional managers more so than they trusted the project managers. Functional managers were given the freedom to use whatever approaches they wish on the strategic projects and most frequently did not follow traditional project management guidelines.

By the turn of the century, companies began to reevaluate whether functional managers were the right people to manage strategic projects, especially those involving innovation. The critical issue was with bonuses. Functional managers were receiving year-end bonuses based upon the firm’s profitability over a 12-month period. As such, functional managers were using their best resources on the short-term projects that would maximize their year-end bonuses and the long-term strategic projects that would provide the firm with a sustainable competitive advantage began to suffer due to staffing deficiencies. Short-term profits became more important than long-term growth.

Competitive factors were now forcing companies to realize that survival was predicated upon growth and innovation was a critical component. All companies desire growth. But without some innovations, the opportunities may be limited. And even if the firm does have a few successful innovations, failure can still occur if the company focuses on past successes without developing a culture for continuous and sustainable innovations. Today’s industry leaders can become tomorrow’s failures without constantly challenging results.

Recognizing the need for some changes in the way that strategic projects, especially those involving innovation, were being managed, the focus naturally turned to project management applications. But there was the critical issue as to whether the core competencies used by PMs for the management of traditional or operational projects would be applicable to innovation projects. Competencies for managing traditional or operational projects are reasonably well-defined in documents such as PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and IPMA’s Competency Baseline, Version 3.0. However, for innovation projects, there is no universal agreement on the content of the competencies. Many of the traditional project management competencies are also components of innovation project management competencies, but there are others related to the types of decisions that must be made based upon the company’s core competencies for managing operational work and the type of innovation project at hand.

Over the past two decades, there has been a great deal of literature published on innovation and innovation management. Converting a creative idea into reality requires projects and some form of project management. Unfortunately, innovation projects may not be able to be managed using the traditional project management philosophy we teach in our project management courses. Innovation varies from industry to industry and even companies within the same industry cannot come to an agreement on how innovation management should work. This is the reason why project management and innovation are often not discussed in the same sentence.

Some of the challenges facing innovation project managers include:

  • Inability to predict exactly when an innovation will occur
  • Inability to identify what the cost of innovation will be
  • Inability to predict how the enterprise environmental factors will change over the life of the project
  • Working with just an idea or goal rather than a formal statement of work
  • Working with strategic/business objectives rather than operational/traditional objectives
  • Inability to predict changes in consumer tastes, needs and behaviors
  • Inability to deal with extremely high levels of risk, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity and variability
  • Having to use a new flexible methodology or framework based upon investment life cycle phases rather than traditional waterfall life cycle phases
  • A focus on metrics related to business benefits and value rather than the traditional time, cost and scope metrics

There are many more challenges that could have been included in this list, but it does show that what we traditionally teach as competencies in our project management courses must be revised when considering innovation projects.

Competencies are the roles, knowledge, skills, personal characteristics and attributes that someone must have to fulfill a position. Most companies, especially large firms, have operational core competencies used by PMs when managing traditional projects that are burdened with formal procedures that often make it difficult to react quickly to take advantage of opportunities that can lead to a sustainable competitive advantage. These companies are generally risk averse and perform as market followers rather than leaders.

If a company wants an entrepreneurial environment, then there must exist some degree of autonomy and flexibility in the operational core competencies that impact innovation activities for both product and process improvements. Typical core competencies for an entrepreneurial environment include:

  • Inventiveness
  • Understanding business strategy
  • Understanding value propositions
  • Having a business orientation
  • Having knowledge about markets and customer behavior
  • Working with high degrees of risk, uncertainty and complexity
  • Managing diverse cross-functional teams
  • Team building skills
  • Coordination and control over activities
  • Design thinking
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Brainstorming
  • Rapid prototype development
  • Innovation leadership

Some of these competencies may apply to both innovation and traditional projects. Competencies can vary from company to company in the way that the characteristics of the competencies are integrated together and the relationship to the firm’s business model. Competencies are also dependent on the type of projects and corporate leadership.

Unlike traditional leadership, innovation leadership must include allowing for autonomy accompanied by the acceptance and support of risky ventures often in reaction to technological changes in the marketplace. Autonomy is usually measured by the speed by which the firm’s cross-functional activities are integrated to take advantage of opportunities for delivering innovative products. For entrepreneurship to work, there must be a corporate culture that supports risk-taking and experimentation without fear of reprisal if the results are not what was expected.

The success of an innovation corporate culture is measured by:

  • The number of new products created
  • The number of new products created that were first to market
  • The speed by which commercialization took place

If continuous and sustainable innovation is to occur, then innovation leadership and traditional project management must be married together and with a clear understanding of each other’s roles. Innovation defines what we would like to do, and project management determines if it can be done. The marriage also may require that both parties learn new skills and create a corporate culture that supports idea management practices.

Understanding each other’s roles is the first step in making a company more innovative. This requires that the project managers and other innovation personnel understand what they do not do now but must do for long-term successful innovation. This also includes understanding the interfacing with marketing personnel and customers.

Innovation project management is now a strategic competency necessary for the growth, and possibly survival, of the firm. Properly trained innovation project managers can be expected to make presentations to those people that reside on the top floor of the building as well as members of the board of directors.

The Innovation Project Management book was written with the intent of providing project personnel with the additional competencies needed to manage innovation projects. The book also discusses the corporate governance needed to create the appropriate culture for innovation to occur.

Get your copy today! Use code KERZNERBLOG for $20 off. Order on the IIL website.

The book is broken down as follows:

  • Chapter 1: Discusses why innovation and project management are often not discussed together and some of the links that are needed to bridge innovation, project management and business strategy.
  • Chapter 2: Discusses the different types of innovation. This is essential because each type of innovation may require a different form of project management.
  • Chapter 3: Discusses how business strategy may determine the type of innovation required and links together project management with the different types of innovation.
  • Chapter 4: Discusses the new tools that traditional project managers need to learn in order to manage innovation projects. Many of these tools are not discussed in traditional project management programs.
  • Chapter 5: Discusses why some of the processes used in traditional project management activities may not work within innovation projects without some degree of modification.
  • Chapter 6: Discusses the growth in innovation management software that project managers are now using in the front end of projects for idea management, alternative analyses and decision making.
  • Chapter 7: Discusses the new metrics, such as benefits realization and value metrics, that project managers and innovation personnel are using for the monitoring and controlling of innovation projects.
  • Chapter 8: Discusses innovations related to business models rather than products and services.
  • Chapter 9: Discussed how disruptive innovation requirements may need a completely new form of project management and the need to interface closely with the consumer marketplace.
  • Chapter 10: Discusses the roadblocks affecting the working relationship between project management and innovation.
  • Chapter 11: Discusses how some projects, including innovation activities, have degrees of success and failure rather than complete success and failure as defined by the triple constraints.
  • Chapter 12: Discusses the innovation culture that several companies have developed as well as the functional units they created to support innovation creation.
  • Chapter 13: Case studies that discuss issues with innovation.

About the Author
Harold Kerzner is Senior Executive Director with International Institute for Learning (IIL). He has an MS and Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Utah State University. He is a prior Air Force Officer and spent several years at Morton-Thiokol in project management. He taught engineering at the University of Illinois and business administration at Utah State University, and for 38 years taught project management at Baldwin-Wallace University.

He has published or presented numerous engineering and business papers in addition to more than 80 college textbooks/workbooks on project management, including later editions. His latest book is Innovation Project Management: Methods, Case Studies and Tools for Managing Innovation Projects (Wiley, 2019).

Contact IIL to find out how we can support your individual, team, or organizational Learning & Development needs in 2020 and beyond. Email learning@iil.com, call +1-212-758-0177 or request a free consultation on our website.

PMBOK is a  registered mark of Project Management Institute, Inc.


Dr. Harold Kerzner's Project Management Predictions for 2020

By Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. | Senior Executive Director, International Institute for Learning (IIL)

The landscape for project management changes almost every year. Some changes are relatively small or incremental, whereas other changes can be significant. Major changes to project management will occur in 2020 due to much of the new material that the Project Management Institute (PMI) has published and will be testing on in the new version of the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam beginning in June 2020.

Most of the critical changes that I see happening in 2020 can be clustered into the six pillars of project management. These six pillars could very well change the face of project management for at least a decade rather than just for 2020.

Pillar #1: Project managers will be expected to manage strategic projects rather than just traditional or operational projects.

For several decades, project managers were only responsible for traditional or operational projects that:

  • Had a well-defined statement of work
  • Used the traditional “waterfall” methodology that was often based upon a one-size-fits-all approach
  • Relied upon earned value status reporting that focused mainly upon the time, cost and scope constraints

Strategic projects were assigned to functional managers whom executives trusted more than project managers. Functional managers were permitted to use whatever approaches they believed would work on their projects, and often without any of the processes, tools or techniques used in traditional project management practices.

Today, more and more companies believe that they are managing their business as though it is a series of projects. As executives begin to recognize the benefits of utilizing effective project management practices, and more trust is placed in the hands of the project managers, project managers are being asked to manage strategic projects as well as traditional or operational projects.

But as will be seen in some of the pillars that follow, many new techniques are accompanied by significant changes in the way that work is executed, e.g. new methodologies, new status reporting processes and new tools and techniques. Strategic projects (such as those involving innovation, R&D and entrepreneurship) may require different skills, a greater understanding of risk management (especially business risk management), and the use business metrics in addition to the traditional time, cost and scope metrics.

Pillar #2: Project management is now recognized as a strategic competency rather than just another career path position.

In Pillar #1, it was stated that project managers are now managing strategic as well as operational or traditional projects. Executive management now appears to recognize and appreciate the contributions that the PMs are making to the growth of the business.

Many companies will conduct a study every year or two to identify the four or five strategic career paths that must be cultivated in the company so that the growth of the firm is sustainable. Project management makes the short list of these four or five career path slots. As such, project management is now treated as a “strategic competency” rather just another career path position for the workers.

How do we know this? Partly, by considering the fact that many project managers now present and report project status to senior management. Historically, PMs conducted briefings for the project sponsors, and only occasionally for senior management. Now, with the responsibility to manage strategic projects that may impact the future of the firm, project managers may be conducting briefings for all senior management and even the board of directors.

Pillar #3: There will be a significant change in the skill set that some project managers may need.

When there exists some commonality among the projects in a firm such that a one-size-fits-all approach can be used during project execution, the skill set for the project managers may be known with some degree of certainty. But referring to Pillar #1, where project managers are now responsible for managing strategic projects, new skills may be necessary.

Strategic projects will vary from company to company, and even in the same company there can be a multitude of different types of strategic projects included in innovation, R&D, entrepreneurship and new product development. The skills needed can vary based upon the type of strategic project. As an example, different skills may be needed whether we are discussing innovation projects that are radical rather than incremental. Some of the new skills needed for strategic projects include design thinking, rapid prototype development, crowdstorming, market research, brainstorming and change management. For project managers involved in multinational strategic projects, the list of skills might also include an understanding of local cultures, religions and politics.

Pillar #4: There will be a significant change in how we define the success (and failure) of a project.

For years, the definition of project success was the creation of project deliverables within the constraints of time, cost and scope. While this definition seemed relatively easy to use, it created several headaches:

First, companies can always create deliverables within time, cost and scope, but there is no guarantee that customers would purchase the end results. Second, everyone seemed to agree that there should be a “business” component to project success, but they were unable to identify how to do it because of the lack of project-related business metrics. Third, this definition of project success was restricted to traditional or operational projects. Functional managers that were responsible for strategic projects were utilizing their own definitions of project success, and many of these strategic projects were being executed under the radar screen because of the competition in the company for funding for strategic projects.

Today, companies believe they are managing their business as a stream of projects, including both strategic and traditional projects. As such, there must exist a definition that satisfies all types of projects. The three components of success today are:

  • The project must provide or at least identify business benefits
  • The project’s benefits must be harvested such that they can be converted into sustainable business value that can be expressed quantitatively
  • The project must be aligned to strategic business objectives

With these three components as part of the project’s success criteria, companies must ask themselves when creating a portfolio of strategic projects, “Why expend resources and work on this project if the intent is not to create sustainable business value?” These three components can also be used to create failure criteria as to when to pull the plug and stop working on a project. Since these three components are discussed in current PMI literature, it is expected that these three components will appear in the new version of the PMP® exam, beginning in June 2020.

Pillar #5: There will be a significant growth in the number of metrics, especially business-related metrics, to be used on projects.

The four pillars discussed previously made it clear that the business side of projects will need to be understood much better than in the past. This will require significantly more metrics than just time, cost and scope.

Companies will need to create metrics that can track benefits realization, value created from the benefits and how each project is aligned to strategic business objectives. To do this may require the creation of 20-30 new metrics. This will undoubtedly lead to major changes in the earned value measurement systems (EVMS) currently being used.

The new project business metrics must be able to be combined to answer questions that executives have concerning business and portfolio health. The list below identifies metrics that executives need for business decision-making and strategic planning.

  • Business profitability
  • Portfolio health
  • Portfolio benefits realization
  • Portfolio value achieved
  • Portfolio mix of projects
  • Resource availability
  • Capacity utilization
  • Strategic alignment of projects
  • Overall business performance

Exhibit 1 shows typical categories of metrics and that new versions of project management (i.e. PM 1.0 – PM 5.0) may appear in the literature. The growth in metrics is due to the growth in measurement techniques. Today, we believe that we can measure anything.

Exhibit 1. Growth in Metrics

Pillar #6: There will be a growth in flexible project management frameworks or methodologies that are capable of measuring benefits and business value as the project progresses and after the deliverables have been created.

The traditional “waterfall” approach to project management implementation has successfully been used for years, but this approach has the limitation that value is measurable primarily at the end of the project. Companies want to have value and benefits metrics reported throughout the project so that they can cancel or redirect non-performing projects.

Techniques such as Agile and Scrum appear to do a better job of measuring and reporting value created through the project, than other approaches. In the future, we can expect more flexible project management approaches such as Agile and Scrum to appear.

Conclusions:

It is unrealistic to think that these six pillars will be the only changes that will occur in 2020. There will be other changes, but perhaps not as significant as these six pillars. The implementation of these six pillars requires that companies try to envision the future and plan for it. For companies that believe in “business as usual” or “let’s leave well enough alone,” these changes will not be implemented. Those companies that believe in “doing things the same old way” will most likely struggle to stay in existence.

Contact IIL to find out how we can support your individual, team, or organizational Learning & Development needs in 2020 and beyond. Email learning@iil.com, call +1-212-758-0177 or request a free consultation on our website.

About the Author
Harold Kerzner is Senior Executive Director with International Institute for Learning (IIL). He has an MS and Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Utah State University. He is a prior Air Force Officer and spent several years at Morton-Thiokol in project management. He taught engineering at the University of Illinois and business administration at Utah State University, and for 38 years taught project management at Baldwin-Wallace University.

He has published or presented numerous engineering and business papers in addition to more than 80 college textbooks/workbooks on project management, including later editions. His latest book is Innovation Project Management: Methods, Case Studies and Tools for Managing Innovation Projects (Wiley, 2019).

 

Project Management Professional and PMP are registered marks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

 


Why Business Analysts and Digital Project Managers are Needed Now, More Than Ever

By J. LeRoy Ward | Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

Today, it seems it’s all about data: collecting it, analyzing it, making sense of it, and then using it in a variety of ways – for example, to gain more insight into consumer behavior, social behavior, or voting preferences, and to make better business decisions.

Data is the currency of business, and data-driven decision making, based on the many articles on the topic, is the preferred practice for managers and leaders rather than using “gut” feel alone. But using data wisely means understanding technology and how to employ it to the greatest advantage.

That’s why I was intrigued by the recent Business Week article, “Bridging the Management-Tech Gap.” It started with a story of an individual who was a journalist prior to entering business school and who now works in technology as a senior program manager at Amazon. Her role as a journalist did not require her to have much background or knowledge in working with data, which she recognized as a weakness as she examined her career aspirations. So, while earning her MBA she concentrated on strengthening her expertise in this area by taking extensive course work in the field and by seeking out internships where she would gain that experience.

According to the article, graduates such as this individual are “the new normal for business schools, which find themselves producing larger numbers of future technology workers, as well as executives who will be called on to bridge the gap between business and tech.”  That gap has to do with understanding technology and data, and how to marry the two for the benefit of an organization.

When I read the words “bridge the gap” I immediately thought of Business Analysts (BAs)—professionals who translate the requirements identified by business folks to the technical professionals who then develop systems (usually automated) to meet those requirements. A competent BA needs to be able to speak both languages (business and technology) which means they need to understand, and have experience in, both worlds.

This gap has existed for years. But that gap appears to be widening. Organizations now require professionals who not only understand technology and data analytics but are also adept in working with their business counterparts who have a need for this critical information.

The article mentions that six years ago, many business school enrollees wanted to develop leadership skills. Yet, Raghu Sundaram, Dean of New York University’s Stern School of Business, says that executives from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs told him that they had employees who either knew technology or the business, but not both. So, Stern established an advisory board and created a 12-month program – culminating in an MBA in Technology and Entrepreneurship to help prepare students for technology roles.

At the same time on the other side of the Atlantic, the dean of the IE Business School was also hearing the same message from executives at Amazon, Google, and Facebook, as well as from various consulting firms. Based on their research, IE identified two roles that companies such as these so desperately need to fill (1) product managers who oversee digital products, and (2) consultants who work with technology clients. Next year, IE will launch a 10-month tech MBA for an initial cohort of 50 students who may be able to fill such positions.

I’ve spent much of my professional career helping to develop the skills and competencies of Business Analysts and Project Managers around the world and in many different industry sectors. The roles expected to be filled by the MBA students mentioned in the Business Week article are what many current BAs and PMs (especially those in technology) are doing right now. These folks have the skills required to be successful in the digital world, but many Business Analysts and Project Managers could still improve their expertise in this area. After all, not everyone has the time, money, or inclination to go to business school, and the list of skills required keeps growing as trends like AI, robotics, and data analytics continue to mature.

What kind of skills am I referring to? Let’s take a look:

In 2018, the Project Management Institute (PMI) published a Pulse of the Profession® report titled The Project Manager of the Future: Developing digital-age project management skills to thrive in disruptive times. In it, PMI identifies the top six digital-age skills for project delivery to include:

  1. Data Science Skills
  2. Innovative Mindset
  3. Security and Privacy Knowledge
  4. Legal and Regulatory Compliance Knowledge
  5. Ability to Make Data-Driven Decisions
  6. Collaborative Leadership Skills

(As I read this report, it struck me that it’s not only PMs who need these skills—BAs do, as well. After all, PMs and BAs, as well as other disciplines, form the project teams charged with executing digital transformation programs.)

Success for BAs and PMs today, and in the future, requires that they have what PMI has termed a high Project Management Technology Quotient (PMTA), which is defined as a person’s ability to “adapt, manage and integrate technology based on the needs of the organization or the project at hand.” PMI emphasizes that “For anyone charged with making strategy reality in a world of constantly being remodeled by tech, PMTQ will be the must-have, make-or-break skill set.” Is this hyperbole or reality? Look around your organization…my guess is it’s probably the latter, not the former.

Technology is pervasive in our personal and professional lives. If you look hard enough, you can see that technology is often an important component of many projects regardless of which industry sector one works in. Understanding technology (and being able to leverage it for the betterment of the organization) requires us to be adept in it, and more importantly, how to leverage it to advance our projects and organizations.

Business Analysts, working with their Project Manager peers, have been in the business of “bridging the gap” for many years. But when that gap starts to widen, the only way to narrow it is to make sure we have the knowledge, experience, and expertise—in short, the digital-age skills—required to do so.

Both PMs and BAs need to ensure that they’re gaining, using, and refining the skills mentioned above. In so doing, they will not only be helping their organizations; they will also be ensuring their own continued professional growth and prosperity.

Contact IIL today to find out how we can support your skills’ development on an individual, team, or organizational level.

About the Author
J. LeRoy Ward (PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO) is IIL’s Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions and a recognized thought leader, consultant and adviser in project, program and portfolio management. With more than 39 years of experience in the field, his insights, perspectives and advice have been sought by hundreds of companies and government agencies around the world.


People Innovation: A New Vision to Innovate

By Luigi Morsa, Ph.D. 

Nowadays, companies are very conscious that if they want to be competitive, they have to innovate. The conquered market shares can rapidly disappear or drastically be reduced. The only way is to keep pace, to be reactive and introduce new solutions, ideally before their competitors. It is worth quoting a sentence of the father of the Open Innovation concept, Henry Chesbrough: “Most innovation fails. And companies that don’t innovate die” [1].

In the complex companies’ world, as is well-known to the experts (contrary to what is broadly thought), innovation is not only linked to a new product; the innovation can be also relative to a new process, a new company asset, a new procedure, or a new business model. In a nutshell, we can agree that innovation is all about bringing improvement and efficiency; and affecting the development of a company in a positive manner.

It is also true that there are innovations with different importance, namely there exist innovations with different impacts on a company and on a market; for instance, the strongest innovations are the ones able to replace an existing market or create a new one. This leads to the fascinating economic concepts of “Creative Destruction Innovation” by Joseph Schumpeter in 1942 [2] and “Disruptive Technologies” by Joseph Bower and Clayton Christensen in 1995 [3].

On the other hand, a less important innovation does not really affect the old scenario but brings some benefit to the company. It is clear that a company has to focus on innovations at each level. In order to efficiently pursue this task, companies have adopted several tools, procedures and strategies that help the birth of new ideas – in addition to adopting the classical Research and Development department (especially if we are speaking about product innovation).

The ideas are clearly generated by people and therefore the companies realized that a secret to obtain as many new ideas as possible is to create the “ideal condition” to allow people to bring their contribution. One interesting way to accomplish the task is represented by the so-called “Innovation Management Software (IMS)”. This has been developing during the last two decades and it can be seen as the last evolution of the “suggestion box”, introduced more than 100 years ago and still present in some offices.

The Innovation software programs are usually conceived in a way that there is a common platform where all the users (basically employees of the company) have access and can freely leave their proposals or opinions about a possible new idea. Then, each new proposal generates an online debate or discussion with the effect to improve it. Once a certain number of ideas is reached, the selection phase starts. This is conducted by innovation project managers with the support of sector experts and business unit people. Their intent is to evaluate the feasibility from a technical and business point of view, respectively. Finally, this committee selects the ideas which are worthy of an investment [4].

In most cases, even though the IMS is very fascinating, a good percentage of employees are reluctant to contribute their ideas to the company. Possible reasons may be because they have not developed a sense of belonging, they simply do not believe in the company, or they think that an idea given to the company is a kind of gift without a sure repayment. In order to avoid such inefficiencies, the latest tools like IMS should be supported by an additional software that we could baptize “People Innovation (PI)”. The purpose of this article is not to give a detailed description about the software concept, but to discuss the main guidelines and benefits.

The starting point is the slight change in the philosophical approach between the IMS and People Innovation (PI). We can say that the innovation management software is based on the assumption that the main heritage of a company that wants to innovate lies on the ideas of the people of the company; therefore, the software “simply” helps the development of ideas. In the case of PI, the basis goes beyond: the main heritage of a company to innovate lies on the people of the company; therefore, the software helps people to innovate themselves and, consequently, also the company.

If the company believes in the employees, the employees feel more motivated to give their contribution to the company and, finally, to innovate.

The weak side of the IMS is, on one hand, it favors peoples’ connections and discussions to help generate ideas. On the other hand, it does not care about how an employee can develop himself or herself during this time. How can a sense of belonging or the desire to participate in the innovation process of a company be generated in employees? The answer is the following: through the idea that a company wants to take care of its employees, wants to bet on them, wants to donate a future vision and want to define professional development for them.

We can imagine that the PI software could have a special section where all the employees’ profiles are stored and for each of them, the possible career paths are shown, the courses needed to achieve some results are advised, as well as how their innovative ideas can be supported or promoted. 

The other important aspect is, who are the players that ensure PI works properly? In this regard, we are talking about people in Human Resources, the project innovation managers and the line managers. All these players have to have access to the PI shell, and they have to help employees in their development in the company. In general, HR could monitor if an employee is satisfied and understand all of his/her needs, the line manager could define what can be done for their professional development and the project innovation manager could stay alert in case of new potential ideas.

The software could definitely be a powerful tool to motivate employees. One of the biggest challenges in organizational management is how to provide recognition (and possibly rewards) to workers that make a significant contribution to the business. There are two critical issues with recognition systems.

  • First, not all employees are in a position where their performance can be directly related to business success. This can alienate workers who believe they are missing out on these opportunities because of their current work assignment or position.
  • Second, the company must decide if the recognition will be done monetarily or non-monetarily. Believe it or not, having a diagram with the visible professional development, with the past achievements and above all with the future targets for an employee is priceless. People could believe that regular meetings with HR and managers of various kinds are enough, but they are not. Software is needed since it is important to have a visible, professional situation and clear prospects.

In conclusion, we observe that PI’s purpose is not to replace traditional innovation software management. On the contrary, PI actually completes the IMS by enlarging potential. The IMS encourages cooperation for the development of an idea, creates the useful connections and improves the concepts promoting discussions. PI accompanies and drives the employees during their stay in the company in order to find out the best way to be motivated and to better express themselves, and it creates more suitable conditions to generate ideas. It is something that a company (devout to innovation) should have and develop according to its needs.

About the Author
Luigi Morsa (Ph.D.) is an Aerospace Engineer and Project Manager working in Germany at the consultant company SII engineering & IT. Luigi’s passion for project management has led him to contribute to two books by Dr. Harold Kerzner, the pioneer and globally recognized expert in project management. More in detail, Luigi wrote the case study “The Airbus A380” and the chapter on “Innovation Management Software” for the books Project Management Case Studies, Fifth Edition (Wiley, 2017) and Innovation Project Management (Wiley, 2019), respectively. In 2018, he was a speaker at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® EMEA Congress to discuss the complexity of the aircraft-industry market, with particular emphasis on the relationship between the product and customer needs.


References: 

[1]. Henry W. Chesbrough, “Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology”, Harvard Business School Press, 2003.

[2]. Joseph A. Schumpeter, “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy”, Harper & Brothers, 1942.

[3]. Joseph L. Bower and Clayton M. Christensen, “Disruptive technologies: catching the wave”, Harvard Business Review, 1995.

[4]. Harold Kerzner, “Innovation Project Management”, John Wiley & Sons, 2019.


Key Themes at IPM Day 2019

By J. LeRoy Ward, IIL Executive VP of Enterprise Solutions and Sander Boeije, Program Manager – IIL Online Conferences 

On November 7, 2019, IIL will celebrate the 16th anniversary of International Project Management Day, also known as IPM Day. Initially conceived by Frank P. Saladis, and made possible by IIL, this important day recognizes the incredible and valuable work that project managers do every day. IIL’s IPM Day event is one of the project management industry’s largest and most popular online conferences. It brings together the best minds in the business to speak on today’s most relevant and pressing topics. This year is no different.

In this article, we outline the key themes that emerge at IIL’s IPM Day 2019. So, let’s dive right in.

Benefits and Value

As project managers, we need to “Focus on What Matters.” There is a reason that this statement is the theme of IPM Day 2019. Today, projects take up an incredibly important role within a business and, as discussed by Sunil Prashara, President and CEO of Project Management Institute (PMI), this will only increase as we further evolve into the Project Economy. Therefore, project managers not only need to deliver the project, but they also need to ensure that the project achieves its intended business benefits. The need for project managers to focus on Benefits and Value is an overriding theme at IPM Day 2019.

This will be discussed in the keynote sessions by Dr. Harold Kerzner, Kasia Grzybowska and J. LeRoy Ward. It is also a recurring topic in many other presentations as well.

Agile Project Management

In the past decade, Agile has finally established is rightful place in Project Management. One example of this is PMI’s acquisition of Disciplined Agile and FLEX. Yet, there are still many questions to be answered regarding its application on various projects. For example, how do you manage risk on an agile project? How could an Agile PMO function and does that even make sense in the first place? And what about leadership in an agile organization, how does that work exactly?

Experts including Roy Schilling, Rubin Jen, and Mayo Clinic’s Wale Elegbede, as well as our other speakers, provide you with the answers to these questions and more.

Digitalization

As Industry 4.0 continues to take shape and impact many organizations, we see an exponential increase in complexity, data, digital solutions, and more. How can we make sense of all the information and technology that is available to us, make the right decisions, and successfully manage our projects?

Thought leaders such as Microsoft’s Melissa Bader, Laila Faridoon, Leon Herszon, Carla Fair-Wright, and many others will help you navigate the digital world.

Change Leadership

Today’s business landscape changes fast. At the same time that companies are going through a number of major transformations (think Agile and Digitalization), mergers and acquisitions, and other game-changing scenarios, it seems the world uncovers one disruptive innovation after another. Businesses need strong leadership to stay relevant and prosperous moving into the future. This requires companies to be adaptive and always in a position to redefine their course.

Watch the sessions by Ben Chodor, Heidi Helfand, Jennifer Hurst, and Jimmy Godard to learn about how you can prepare yourself, your team, and your organization for unavoidable and constant disruptive change.

Soft Skills become Power Skills

Soft skills, as important as they are, will become even more so. In fact, some experts have redefined the concept of soft skills, preferring to label them “Power Skills.” Although we’re not sure who deserves the credit for coining this term, it is becoming more and more obvious that it is soft skills that make project managers successful. Accordingly, organizations need to focus on developing competencies in such areas as empathy, influencing others and grit.

Don’t miss the sessions with PMI’s Sunil Prashara, Diane Hamilton, Sean Hearne, and Ulli Munroe who all discuss key Power Skills for the Project Manager.

Still need to register for IPM Day? Sign up here.


J. LeRoy Ward (PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO) is IIL’s Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions and a recognized thought leader, consultant and adviser in project, program and portfolio management. With more than 39 years of experience in the field, his insights, perspectives and advice have been sought by hundreds of companies and government agencies around the world.


Developing Your Benefits Realization Plan

By J. LeRoy Ward | Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

Is it possible to deliver a project on time, on budget, and to scope and still have an unsuccessful project?

Now more than ever, the answer is yes – because today’s projects are all about benefits and value.

A benefit is an outcome or a result from actions, behaviors, products or services that are important or advantageous to specific individuals or groups, such as stakeholders. The value of the project is what the benefits are worth to someone, typically in monetary terms. And managing those benefits, meaning making sure they’re delivered, is called benefits realization management.

The Benefits Realization Plan (BRP) is an instrumental part of benefits realization management. What’s that and what does it include? Let’s take a look.

The Business Realization Plan (BRP):

  • Documents all the activities the team is going to complete to achieve the planned benefits
  • Provides a timeline for when the benefits are going to be delivered, and outlines who’s responsible for getting the job done
  • Most importantly, it describes how those benefits are going to be sustained over the long run

Some suggested topics you should include in the plan:

  • The purpose of the project
  • The benefits to be delivered
  • How each benefit will be measured
  • Roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders
  • The schedule for delivering the benefits
  • Any changes to systems and processes
  • How the benefits will be transitioned and sustained by the organization

Right about now you might be thinking, isn’t project management loaded with enough plans? Do I really have to prepare yet another plan?

The answer is yes, but the good news is, it doesn’t have to be as bureaucratic or time-consuming as it sounds.

To give you a head start, here are my five tips for developing the BRP.

Tip No. 1
Use the business case as a point of departure. It contains a lot of useful information about the need and justification for the project.

Tip No. 2
Interview your key stakeholders. Make sure you understand what they’re expecting when the project is done. After all, they’re the folks who decide whether the project was successful or not.

Tip No. 3
Gather as many good ideas and suggestions as you can about the whole benefits process by tapping into the minds of your stakeholders using techniques like brainstorming sessions, focus groups, and other approaches. People want to help and be engaged. Give them every opportunity to do so.

Tip No. 4
Do everything humanly, and inhumanly, possible to get the sponsor involved. PMI research shows that an actively engaged sponsor is the top driver of project success.

Tip No. 5
Make sure you put the benefits in writing and get the appropriate people to approve them. It’s not YOUR project, it’s THEIR Project; it’s their benefits.

I’ll be further exploring this topic (and sharing more tips!) in my IPM Day keynote, “The New Normal in Project Management: It’s All About the Benefits.”  I hope you’ll join me.

The IPM Day 2019 Online Conference opens Thursday, November 7.

Register Here >>

About the Author
J. LeRoy Ward (PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO) is IIL’s Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions and a recognized thought leader, consultant and adviser in project, program and portfolio management. With more than 39 years of experience in the field, his insights, perspectives and advice have been sought by hundreds of companies and government agencies around the world.


The PMP® Exam is Changing: Here’s What You Need to Know

Please note that the launch of the new PMP Exam has been delayed until June 30, 2020

 

By J. LeRoy Ward | Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, IIL 

In June 2019, the Project Management Institute (PMI)® announced that significant changes are coming to the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam. In this post, I will provide important information about the new PMP® Exam and answer the following questions:

  1. When is the PMP Exam changing?
  2. Why is the PMP Exam changing?
  3. What is changing in the new PMP Exam?
  4. How do I prepare for the new PMP Exam?

Having been active in PMP Exam prep for many years, the first question almost everyone has when they hear about PMP Exam changes is WHEN? So, let’s start with that one.

When is the PMP Exam changing?

The new PMP Exam will make its debut on December 16, 2019.

The last day to sit for the current version of the PMP Exam is December 15, 2019.

There is no overlapping period of time when both versions of the exam will be available. The current version is available through December 15th and the new version starts December 16th.

So, if you have already started preparing for the current exam, my suggestion is to complete and file your PMP application ASAP. Remember, if you file online (and most folks do), PMI® has five calendar days to review your application and notify you if you’re eligible to sit for the exam. The five days is moot if you’re selected for an audit (you have a very low chance of that happening).

By submitting your application ASAP and being notified that you’re eligible to sit for the exam, you will be able to immediately contact the Pearson VUE testing center of your choice and (hopefully) select the date and time when you prefer to take the exam.

Be advised that whenever the PMP Exam changes, there’s always a mad rush to take it which can cause problems securing the center, date and time you want. In any given month, there are roughly three thousand folks earning the PMP credential. In the months leading up to a change, that number can be much larger because people want to take the exam before it changes, AND SO DO YOU! Don’t delay — apply and sit for the exam ASAP.

Now that we know when it’s changing, let’s see why.

Why is the PMP Exam changing?

Many folks ask, why does PMI have to change the exam? Can’t they leave well-enough alone? The answer is it has to be changed because PMI has published a new PMP Examination Content Outline[i] (the “Outline”).

What’s the reason for the new outline? Well, PMI’s professional certification examination development process is accredited against the internationally recognized ISO 1704[ii] Standard, as well as other industry best practices. A key component of these standards is that PMI is directed to use a Role Delineation Study (RDS) as the basis for the creation of the examination. Basically, PMI identified, through a wide range of surveys, the knowledge, tasks and skills required to perform to the industry-wide standard in the role of project manager. That content is contained in the Outline which is used as a basis for, and validates the outcome of, the PMP Exam. Each question on the PMP Exam is tracked to at least two academic references (which PMI does not reveal) and to the Outline. This is why it is such an important document.

The current Outline[iii], published in June 2015, includes the five domains of Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. PMI also identified forty-two tasks across all five domains that competent project managers perform. The Outline also provides a “blueprint” for the exam in that it identifies the percentage of questions in each domain that will appear on the PMP Exam. The June 2015 version is the one tested on the PMP Exam through December 15, 2019.

PMI updates the Outline every four to six years to determine what has changed in the world of work for project managers. After all, in this world of ours, things can change, and change rapidly, and project management is no different.

As a result of redoing the RDS, PMI identified significant changes and trends in our profession that are not addressed in the current PMP Exam. So, in order to ensure that the PMP credential remains relevant, accurate, and current, PMI had to make changes to the Outline, and many of these changes have notable differences with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition.

You see, the volunteer taskforce involved with the Outline were not bound by the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. This taskforce was charged with outlining critical job tasks of individuals who lead and direct projects based on their experience; information which can go beyond that which is covered in the PMBOK® Guide. Based on their work, the taskforce identified three domains and thirty-five tasks that competent project managers are performing today. It is the June 2019 version of the Outline that will be tested on the PMP Exam starting on December 16, 2019.

Now that we know the when and the why, let’s look at what is changing in the PMP Exam.

What is changing in the new PMP Exam?

The new PMP Exam will focus on the three NEW domains of People, Process, and Business Environment.

People: This domain is all about leading a team, including supporting, empowering, training, and building a team. Managing conflict and collaborating with stakeholders are also important components of this domain.

Process: Just think of the ten knowledge areas in the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition. That’s what this domain covers, as well as a few other topics.

Business Environment: Covering the link between projects and organizational strategy, this domain also includes compliance and organizational change management.

Below is the blueprint for the new PMP Exam that starts on December 16, 2019.

new pmp exam blueprint

But changing from five domains and forty-two tasks to three domains and thirty-five tasks represent only one aspect of the change. The new Outline also says about half of the examination will represent predictive project management approaches and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches.”[iv] You read that correctly: half the exam, 50% of the questions, will be on agile and hybrid approaches!

This is a major change not just to the PMP Exam, but to the PMP credential itself. PMI is making a major bet that agile is not just here to stay; it represents a significant shift in the way projects are, or should be, managed. And in order to earn the PMP credential, PMP candidates are expected to know all about agile.

But does a PMP candidate need to have experience using agile, as well? After all, the questions on the current PMP Exam are written such that one needs to have experience in managing projects to answer many, if not most, of them correctly according to PMI. If the PMP Exam is changing, will the PMP application change as well?

Here’s what PMI writes on its website:

“The PMP application will also change in December, but if you submit your application before then, please continue using the current application. We’ll share more information here as it becomes available.”

As of today, we will just have to wait and see how PMI will change the eligibility requirements for the new PMP Exam. Visit PMI’s website regularly to monitor any and all changes.

How to prepare for the new PMP Exam

As I recommend above, if you can sit for the current PMP Exam, do it. In this business, the known is always better than the unknown. However, if you can’t sit for the current exam, don’t worry. You simply have to develop an effective approach to learn the material you need to know to pass the exam.

If you’re a “do-it-yourself” kind of person, you need to obtain and study a minimum of three publications. They are:

  1. The new PMP Exam Content Outline
  2. The PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition
  3. The Agile Practice Guide

(You will receive the Agile Practice Guide when you purchase the PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition.) You can also supplement your reading with online practice exams and other publications which you can find through a simple online search.

But if you’d like help using a more structured approach, which is what I’ve recommended for many years, we at IIL have developed a PMP Certification Prep course that will help get you ready. We offer this course in three modalities: instructor-led, virtual classroom, and on-demand (video based). The course includes:

  • 35 hours of education (required for the PMP application)
  • PMBOK® Guide – Sixth Edition and the Agile Practice Guide[vi]
  • Access to IIL’s Project Management IQ (1,000 PMP Exam practice questions)
  • IIL’s PMP Certification Prep course workbook
  • Access to IIL’s on-demand Agile and Hybrid Foundation course
  • Supplemental readings and reference materials

Regardless of your study approach, we stand ready to assist in helping you prepare for, and successfully pass, the PMP Exam.

Let us know how we can help. Email us at learning@iil.com or visit our website at www.iil.com.

Project Management Institute, PMI, Project Management Professional, PMP, and PMBOK are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

About the Author
J. LeRoy Ward (PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO) is IIL’s Executive Vice President of Enterprise Solutions and a recognized thought leader, consultant and adviser in project, program and portfolio management. With more than 39 years of experience in the field, his insights, perspectives and advice have been sought by hundreds of companies and government agencies around the world.

 


[i] Project Management Professional (PMP)® Examination Content Outline, Project Management Institute, June 2019

[ii] ISO 17024: Conformity Assessment-General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons.

[iii] Project Management Professional (PMP)® Examination Content Outline, Project Management Institute, June 2015

[iv] Project Management Professional (PMP)®< Examination Content Outline, Project Management Institute, June 2019, p. 2


The 5 “Don’ts” of Project Management

By Liam Dillon, PMP, PMI-ACP, PgMP, PfMP
Senior Consultant, IIL | Managing Director/President, Turlon & Associates

Reading various blogs, articles and papers on how to be successful as a project manager got me thinking about what NOT to do as a PM. I have seen some major “do nots” throughout a 27-year career in project management and it is only in hindsight that these became my lessons for the future.

From experience, there are myriad reasons why project managers take the wrong route on things. It could be because they have little or no time to do the things required to manage a project, creating a pressure valve whereby incorrect decisions are made, and time is being spent on things that a project manager should not be doing. It could be because people are skeptical of the true value of project management or that the project manager simply does not understand what is expected of them in a project management role (which is very often the case). Whatever the reason may be, we can take the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes.

So here are my top five “don’ts” of a project manager. Feel free to agree or disagree but I hope it gets you thinking. ?

Don’t get stuck in the weeds.

In most cases, the management of a project does not offer spare time to get involved in the weeds of the project. There is an old expression, the devil is in the details, and this is so true, especially on large and/or complex projects. A project manager can easily focus on various line items of the project while failing to ignore the big picture. The job of the PM is to focus on the stakeholder relationships and to manage expectations. If you want to live in the details, stop being a project manager.

Don’t take a short corner route for your own gain.

Taking a short corner is really about a lack of engagement. One of the surest ways of alienating any stakeholder is when they find out about things too late. The project manager is then becoming the master of ceremonies rather than the facilitator of ceremonies. Avoid the temptation to place meetings in front of stakeholders and expect them to attend every meeting you invite them to. Keep people informed as you go along and adopt the principle of ‘Management by Walking Around’ …yes, the great discipline of MBWA!

Don’t keep problems to yourself.

This is one of the most wasteful activities that a project manager can do. Keeping problems to yourself is a form of procrastinating that has little value to the role of a project manager. When the PM procrastinates, this means the business will procrastinate and that means we all procrastinate. Many managers do not have the time to do the things they should be doing, but in this case project managers should focus on the essentials of what needs to be done. Very often the focus of procrastination is on the difficult items or the items that there is no solution for. We rarely procrastinate on the easy things.

Don’t be afraid to challenge those around you.

It is impossible to please everyone all the time, but it is important to challenge people and to challenge the level of complacency, when appropriate. Understand the key project constituents and stakeholders and then focus your attention on them. Challenging others is not always focused on the conflict mode of operation but sometimes it is being creative and focusing on possible inertias within the project.

Don’t hide behind your desk.

Project managers need to get out from behind the desk. It is easy to get managed by email, most of which is an annoyance and unrelated to the project. If working in a virtual environment, get on the phone and build relationships with the project team. Speaking with people can help you identify risks and uncover those issues that are smoldering fires before they take hold.

My hope it that this gets you thinking about the “don’t” of project management – sometimes it is the simple things. If you have others that spring to mind, feel free to share them with us.


About the Author
Liam Dillon is a Senior Consultant with IIL and the Managing Director and President of Turlon & Associates. Liam has been involved in project and program management since 1995, working with various applications and technologies in Ireland, Asia-Pacific and North America. As part of Turlon, Liam works with various blue-chip companies, on a consultancy basis, in growing levels of project and program management maturity.

Liam has served as the President of the Ireland Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI)® and is currently a member PMI’s Global Board Volunteer Advisory Group. Coupled with his industrial experience, Liam spends time speaking on the topic of project, program and portfolio management.

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Customer Satisfaction is a Myth!

By J. LeRoy Ward,  PMP, PgMP, PfMP, CSM, CSPO   |   Executive Vice President – Enterprise Solutions, IIL

The other day I was scrolling through my LinkedIn feed and saw that someone had posted a picture of one of those business/inspirational quotes, attributed to no one in particular, in an attempt to gain a lot of likes or some agreeable comments. It read:

“A SATISFIED CUSTOMER IS THE BEST BUSINESS STRATEGY OF ALL”

I thought about that for a second and thought, "Nope, that’s a terrible strategy"—one destined to leave a company eating the dust of its competitors as those competitors steal their customers because those customers expect more.

It's not a worthy strategy for project managers, either. We work mightily each day to deliver the “goods” to our clients through the projects and programs designed to move our companies and organizations forward. Just as companies should never try to satisfy its customers, we should never strive to satisfy our clients. Why?

Well, let’s say you just finished having dinner at a very nice restaurant. You usually leave a 20% tip, but tonight you were so impressed, you’re leaving a 30% tip.

What was it about the overall experience, and the server in particular, that compels you to do something you rarely do? Perhaps the server:

  • Was polite, friendly and greeted you warmly, maybe even by name if you had dined there before.
  • Anticipated your needs to the extent you rarely had to ask for anything. By the time you were turning around to get his or her attention, they were there attending to your needs.
  • Was knowledgeable about the menu. Any question you had about the fusion-this or the port wine-reduction-that, your server provided detailed information about the ingredients and how your selection was prepared.
  • Made sure that your dinner arrived piping hot, just the way you like it. It wasn’t sitting under some heat-lamp getting lukewarm while the server was out back having a cigarette.
  • Kept filling and refilling your water glass without being asked.
  • Ensured your bread basket was never empty.
  • Brought the check promptly, and, it was accurate. You didn’t need your accountant to double-check the numbers.
  • Wished you a fond farewell making sure you didn’t leave any personal items behind.

If you’ve ever had that kind of experience and a friend later asked you “How was your dinner?” I bet you didn’t say, “I was satisfied with the restaurant and the service.” Heck no. I bet you said something along the lines of, "That was the nicest restaurant I’ve eaten at in a long time. We had a great time. Well worth the few extra bucks for the ambience and food, and the server was top-notch.”

Now, think of your client, the one you’re managing that project for at the moment. Don’t they expect the same level of service from you and your team that you experienced at that restaurant? Of course they do.

At the end of the project wouldn’t you want your client to say, “Wow, (your name here) was simply outstanding. Delivered ahead of schedule, below budget, and gave us more than we asked for.  And, (your name here) was so professional, always on top of things and kept us informed and engaged. I’ve never worked with someone like (your name here) before. The next time we have a project to do, I’m requesting (your name here) as the project manager.” Of course you would.

Over the years I’ve noticed that clients really don’t want to be “satisfied.” Why? Because achieving satisfaction is just meeting the requirements. And even though that’s the traditional definition of quality, it’s a pretty low bar these days. Clients want to be wowed, delighted, or even astonished. They want, and expect, us to go above and beyond given the level of investment in, and the importance of, their projects.

Now, many reading this post might ask “But LeRoy, isn’t that gold-plating and isn’t gold-plating verboten in traditional quality circles?” The answer is yes, but that’s all in the past in my view. Here’s how I see it.

We can gold-plate the deliverable, or, we can gold-plate the service, or both. In my experience, clients would like both, but if nothing else, gold-plating the service (how we do something, rather than what we are delivering) is what I think people really want and appreciate. They want to know we care and are willing to move heaven and earth to get the job done. They want to see us as advocates for their cause, not just checking off requirements delivered on our traceability matrix thinking that’s what project success really is.

Of course, there are those who are willing to accept a “satisfactory” experience if the price is low enough. That’s why, despite all the whining and complaining people do regarding air travel, for example, discount airlines make tons of money packing planes to the gills. Heck, even the major airlines offer “cheap seats” if you’re willing to cram yourself into a small seat, sit way in the back, and have to pay for a beverage. You see, all these air carriers have figured out that the flying public will endure the pain of the experience for the low cost of getting from Point A to Point B. But, that’s in our “private” lives as consumers. In business, it’s a different story.

Even though organizations negotiate tooth and nail to get things at the lowest cost they can, that same client is simply not willing to accept a substandard experience regardless of the price. Whatever they paid, they want the best experience in the world.

Project success, as I’m sure you have experienced, is no longer based on meeting the triple constraints. Far from it. In fact, the authors of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) have added a few more to the traditional time, cost, and schedule constraints. But I want to add what is turning out to be the most important one after scope, time, and cost: the experience. And by that I mean the experience they had when working with you as their project manager. And, it better be a good (no, great) one.

According to PwC’s Future of Customer Experience Report, seventy-three percent (73%) of those surveyed say that a positive customer experience is a key influence in their purchasing decisions. Thirty-two (32%) percent say they would terminate a business relationship with an organization after just one bad experience.

Are you any different than these folks? I doubt it. I’m not. Are your clients? No way.

Satisfaction is what the gurus of quality spoke about all those years ago. But, like everything else, the world has changed. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards once wrote “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” They were right, because everyone, your clients included, expects more!

More insights await at IIL's Leadership & Innovation Online Conference, opening on March 7th. Join us for keynotes with Q&A, video presentations, two self-paced courses, plus networking and PDUs.


About the Author
J. LeRoy Ward is a highly respected consultant and adviser to Global Fortune 500 Corporations and government agencies in the areas of project, program, and portfolio management. With more than 38 years of government and private sector experience, LeRoy specializes in working with senior executives to understand their role in project and program sponsorship, governance, portfolio management and the strategic execution of projects and programs.