Portfolio Management. Seeing the wood for the trees in a world of increasing complexity
Written by Super User
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In the UK an old expression “couldn’t see the wood for the trees” means that someone is so focused on their own details that they don’t step back and see the whole situation. It’s like an HR director focusing on an important change impacting the make up of their own department, like implementing self-service HR for their employees, when an industry competitor is about to implement the latest in artificial intelligence that will completely revolutionise what they do as a business, rocking the industry they are in. It’s like someone on a project working their hearts out to achieve a deadline when the project is about to change direction completely and possibly not need them anymore. Does this sound familiar?
How can you get to see the wood for the trees and make sure that you fund and start the important projects this year in what seems like an already fast changing environment?
Fast Changing doesn’t necessarily describe the Current Situation:
The Complexity of Projects
The number and complexity of projects going on at any one time in our business seems more and more overwhelming. Integrated programmes of work with 30-50 projects changing the way we market services and products, add sales channels, develop mixed-mode supply chains, use and manage third parties, manage mobile devices, use big data, keep up with artificial intelligence software that may change what we do completely. Simply how we work together as a team as the number of people in the business grows means that the number of communications that are required increase exponentially. It’s a complex world!
Overloaded Key Resources
Overlapping projects draw upon the same resources in our teams. There’s always a few key resources without whom projects could not happen. If the number of complex projects drawing upon your key resources increases the greatest risk you have is losing your best people because of the stress put upon them. We’ve seen resources leave because they are stressed, but they didn’t feel they could raise the issue with their managers because they were trying to press for a promotion or to impress senior management.
Ever Changing Jargon:
IT departments and their ever-changing language create less meaningful conversations. One year it’s a software program on a computer accessed over the internet, the next it’s “cloud based SAAS on IAAS”. For accountants, salespeople, lawyers and supply chain professionals running businesses it can get very frustrating talking to team members who are excited about the next big thing in their area of expertise when it’s the same thing re-branded, but this time they’ve understood what it means to our business. This complexity
What to do? Our top five things.
In the last five years, Vaquita have been engaged at C-Suite level helping our clients to prioritise, fund, organise, manage, and oversee multiple business change programmes.
- Keep it simple. Simplicity is our favourite word. Edward de Bono’s book of the same title has been an inspiration for all the work we do. Our slogan used to be Simplifying Software, although we help clients with all encompassing business transformation projects now and that means a lot of simplification of projects, processes, software and certainly of reports to enable clear decision making.
- People are more important than software. Ideas don’t come from software (yet). Encouraging our people to stay abreast of the latest in design thinking and innovation, whilst staying on top of the day to day work is imperative.
- Use the latest in Portfolio Management Software to support regular senior management meetings. Having a single, central repository of all projects from conception to completion, with clear visibility and metrics for senior managers and project workers alike is key to great communication.
- Succeed or fail quickly. Allow innovative ideas to succeed or to fail quickly. Smaller projects with less resources are more likely to succeed, but are also more likely to be honest about their progress, letting you know that they don’t think this particular idea is now worth pursuing, or that it needs extra funding and a different direction to succeed.
- Communicate to your teams that you are doing all of the above!