To Train or Not to Train Is the Question – Part 1

“We need training!” These three words are likely stated in repeated glory as much as any often-used phrase in business cultures. I’ve heard it proclaimed from individuals including administrative assistants, functional subject matter experts, HR generalists, managers and executives—even training professionals!

In fact, when I hear those words I’m reminded of one of my least-liked graduate school professors. While I wasn’t a fan of his approach or attitude, I must credit him for providing our class with the single rebuttal I would use time and time again—“Is training the real need?” Try using it the next time you hear the aforementioned declaration of blame. And while watching the other person’s facial expression change to pondering or thwarted, you’ll have a few seconds to counter again with meaningful suggestions to help discover what’s really affecting productivity. Here are just a few …

  • Have we asked the people closest to the process for their input?
  • Do we truly know that a significant percentage of users are lacking the necessary knowledge or skills?
  • Do we even know where exactly the root cause problem lies?

Your transmission is not really broken…

Consider automobile repair as an analogy. Have you had those few, yet joyous, occasions where your trusted technician delivered the outstanding news that your car would only need a $79 repair when you expected it to be hundreds, or maybe thousands of dollars? The reason that happened is based on a few simple truths—a trusted resource looking in the right places with the right diagnostic tools to find the actual problem; not disassembling the entire transmission and replacing all the inner parts when an inexpensive sensor was the actual culprit.

In technology-based change user adoption of the tool of choice or related processes is a broad and potentially expensive symptom of what might be a more straightforward problem. Declaring that users aren’t well-trained infers that a lack of knowledge or skills is the direct and only contributor to low adoption. But is that the real root cause of the adoption gap? For our automobile analogy, a major undertaking of training would equate to the extensive transmission repair. Many companies decide quickly that training is the problem, reassign resources or hire in new ones, build elaborate strategies and plans, require a large portion of the work force to attend training on multiple topics, spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars…only not to solve the underlying problem causing the low adoption.

In tomorrow’s blog we’ll discuss two potential underlying problems and solutions to increase adoption without making ‘lack of training’ the scapegoat.

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Written by: A.J. Holley, Director of Change Management and Learning 

A.J. Holley joined Changepoint to lead the development of a new Organizational Change Management solution to help customers manage the human element of change–a core challenge to any project or business transformation. Holley has over 15 years of experience leading organizational development and change management initiatives, and shares best practices and valuable strategies for project managers to apply to make communication a more calculated and strategic tool for project management success across a business.​

The Ghost of Projects Past

January is often a time of reflection; as we begin a new year, it forces us to look at what we achieved in the previous one against what we set out to do, and create plans for the year ahead. For many, this will come with a sense of good achievements, but for others, things have unfortunately not gone so well. 2014 was littered with examples of highly visible project failures…disasters in some cases, costing companies and tax payers millions, the repercussions of which will not only have a knock-on effect for 2015, but potentially years to come. A few high profile examples come to mind:

  • The SNCF train fail: In May, French railway operator, SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français) ordered 2,000 new trains that were too large for many of the stations they are due to serve. This failure in the verification process cost the operator in the region of $57 million, as well as making headlines worldwide – only not the kind you want. It demonstrates the huge potential impact that one oversight can have, not just in terms of embarrassment to the organization and the cost of replacement, but in the ripple effect it has across the business and massive reallocation of resources required to remedy the mistake.
  • Major Projects Authority Annual Report: In May, the UK government watchdog that oversees IT projects, the Major Project authority, released a report warning that several major IT projects in the UK are at risk of failure and need urgent action’. According to the report, four major IT projects were given a red light rating, which is the rating used by the MPA use to describe projects they consider to be unachievable. These included:  the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) Shared Services Program (forecasted costs for which have risen from $88.6 million to $191 million); two Ministry of Defense (MoD) projects, including the $7.5 billion Defense Core Network Services program, which will replace the MoD’s computers, telephones, video conferencing equipment and networks; and The $1.5 billion Watchkeeper intelligence project.  These failures and delays have largely been caused by a misunderstanding of the original requirements, underestimation of the resources needed, and miscalculations around the technical specifications.
  • Obamacare: Last but not least, over the course of 2014 we have seen numerous stories relating to the controversial Obamacare project, with multiple IT failures and rising costs. The computerized sign-up system is said to have quadrupled in cost from $56 million to more than $209 million between September 2011 and February 2014, while costs for the electronic backroom for verifying applicants’ information are said to have jumped from $30 million to almost $85 million. Added to this, a contract for fixes to the website also grew from $91 million in January to $175 million as of July. Overall, according to a Bloomberg report, the Obamacare website costs have exceeded $2 billion. Again, this is largely due to mismanagement.

These headline costs are pretty eye-watering, yet the real-world costs are even worse. Many organizations simply don’t have visibility to the tangible and opportunity costs of project failures as a whole: while they may calculate the immediate cost in terms of lost revenue and productivity, the longer term ripple effect across other business units and projects is rarely accounted for or easily calculable. This domino effect means that as one project fails or over-runs, human capital and other resources are then diverted, meaning other projects are then delayed or halted…thus further extending the ripple.

This is why it is so important to have a centralized, real-time view of the financial health of all of your projects at the portfolio level, as they are running. By looking at projects at a portfolio level, businesses can better foresee, estimate and isolate the fall-out from individual project failures. Visibility is critical to success; organizations have to be in control in order to be agile and make adjustments on the fly.

 

Daptiv PPM by Changepoint Aids VitalityHealth’s Project Management Office

The Problem Daptiv PPM by Changepoint Helped Solve

VitalityHealth is a highly innovative private medical insurance organization in the United Kingdom. The company launched in October 2004 in response to a growing need for consumer-directed private medical insurance products in the UK.

Because the company operates in the heavily regulated Healthcare industry with changing government strategy, policies, and multiple audit requirements, VitalityHealth was in need of dynamic project portfolio management that would ensure they tracked and met these changing requirements at the project level without adding excessive time and cost. After tiring of trying to make sense of unorganized data from many disparate tools, VitalityHealth wanted to keep its focus on servicing clients and opted to examine several SaaS-based project management solutions.

In the end, they chose the Daptiv PPM project management solution by Changepoint for three essential reasons:

  1. Daptiv PPM’s ability to create real-time reports and dashboards that closely align with VitalityHealth’s business model to monitor and measure what truly matters to their business.
  2. Daptiv PPM’s smooth and seamless integration with existing business applications so relevant data could be incorporated or added as needed.
  3. The consistent and accurate capacity planning capabilities Daptiv PPM offers across a growing portfolio projects for improved visibility and management of project resourcing.

ROI & Top Takeaways from Daptiv PPM by Changepoint Technology

VitalityHealth now has an enhanced portfolio management process for improved decision-making, accountability and scalability of project management initiatives. Thanks to Daptiv PPM, it’s now easier for VitalityHealth to do health checks, and manage costs and time better, as Daptiv PPM acts as a transparent enabler to identifying savings opportunities.

VitalityHealth is now easily able to manage all projects and better allocate a growing number of employees across various tasks – enabling greater visibility into project status, performance, and benefits across the portfolio.

Additional results included increases in clarity and communication among their staff of project managers and delivery teams and a decrease in overall cost, which was largely due to the efficiencies and streamlining that is offered through the Daptiv PPM SaaS-based tool.

“The fact that Daptiv PPM by Changepoint was SaaS-based, friendly, and highly configurable was a critical advantage for our business,” said VitalityHealth’s PMO Analyst, Mohamed Salah. “We started researching PPM options two years back. We short-listed four PPM vendors initially and eventually decided to move ahead with Changepoint, as its tools addressed all our functional needs and is very adaptable.  We didn’t have to change the way we work to make it work for us.”

For more detailed information on VitalityHealth’s usage of Daptiv PPM view the full case study or official press release.  For live updates: Follow / Like / Connect

Join Me in Welcoming Mark Upson As Changepoint’s New President

Today I’m proud to announce we’ve welcomed Mark Upson to the Changepoint team as President. Mark joins us with over 20 years of experience as an executive leader in the B2B software industry. We took great care in the selection process to choose a candidate best suited to lead Changepoint into its next phase of growth. Based on his previous executive leadership experience and proven ability to drive company success we’re confident Mark will excel in his duties as President.

In the past two decades Mark has played an integral role in multiple companies’ rise to success. Most recently as the co-founder, President, and CEO of Scout Analytics, a leader in solutions for customer success management, where he helped drive the company’s significant growth and eventual acquisition by ServiceSource in 2014. Mark’s ability to take companies to the next level was also evidenced in his prior success as President and CEO of PureEdge Solutions, where he grew the company into a market leadership position and through its acquisition by IBM in 2005.

In his new role Mark is directly responsible for all Changepoint business operations, including spearheading our global initiatives to bring Changepoint into new and rewarding global markets, while expanding our footprint in those where we already have a strong presence. Meanwhile, I will remain the company’s CEO and am looking forward to spending more time focused on strategic planning and growth. With his extensive track record of excellence within the software space we’re confident in Mark’s ability to lead Changepoint’s executive team and global initiatives.

With 2014 behind us, the executive team is looking forward to driving a successful New Year. Together with our customers, partners and dedicated team we will continue to grow our leading professional services automation (PSA) and project portfolio management (PPM) solutions for the global business marketplace.

Best,

Jim Byrnes, CEO

You can follow this news on Twitter to learn more about Mark’s background (@Daptiv, and @_Changepoint). For more information please view the official press release here and reach out to us on social media for more information.

Multiple project management methods – but which one fits my group?

What’s the best way to manage project execution today?

There’s a ton of methods to choose from – Waterfall, Agile Scrum, Kanban, RUP, Agilefall, BPU. You name it, there’s a method out there. And that’s the point. These methods were developed for different types of project work. Agile methods have been proven to speed up delivery of software with reduced risk. Classic waterfall methods still do a great job for infrastructure work like building out networks and opening new offices. In order to appease the business leaders that don’t “get” Agile, a hybrid has been developed that still reports milestones and date targets while primarily executing in Agile fashion. Some call this hybrid approach “Agilefall” and there are combined software/hardware projects that employ Agile for the software component, Waterfall for the hardware, and program management over the whole thing to make sure they sync up.

So which one for your IT department? Well, let’s take a look at the type of work IT does. Software development? Yes. Application rollouts and integrations. Check. Network build-outs? Yep. Desktop/laptop refresh cycles? We do that too. Suffice to say, IT is a diverse place with a very heterogeneous set of work. Obviously, one size does not fit all here.

So, what to do? The answer is pretty simple – use the method for the job at hand.

But wait – doesn’t that create a free-for-all, with project managers picking their favorite execution method? Without governance that’s exactly what will happen. So, let’s add some governance.

First, establish a PDLC – project development lifecycle – with key control artifacts and processes. A common project selection and initiation process. A common set of high-level control artifacts such as status reporting (yes – an Agile status will look different from the others – but we still need status!), risk and issue logs. Then, setup standard methods within the PDLC for project managers and scrum masters to follow. The governance should also include a set of parameters that help you choose which method to follow.

While trying to establish a rigid SDLC that everyone in IT follow could result in gridlock, having multiple methods need not result in chaos. A little standardization and governance can go a long way.