Performing exceptional Project Management within an organization is difficult work. It is complex. And, the various parts of project management, the sets of activities that are undertaken, interact with each other and are inextricably connected. Changing one set of activities can have the effect of making others more or less effective.
Assessing the characteristics of the PMO or group of project managers is then limited to only what is being experienced at that moment in time. When a small group of improvements are made, the entire system shifts and readjusts. The downside of this is that assessment is likely an ongoing activity. The upside is that the model will always point to the low hanging fruit, exposing ways to become better, more effective.
In this model, while each node is graded individually, PMO’s unique fingerprint is created and visualized. For the BKPM Maturity Assessment, the visual representation can be described as a circle or bulls-eye or even solar system, where proximity to the center, size, color, fill, relatedness, are all important characteristics.
Simple BKPM Node Fingerprint
Each category has a unique method of grading and has a direct effect on how the node is presented within the fingerprint. This image is a graphical representation of BKPMO Maturity Matrix nodes that are core to this particular organizations’ operations, which are at the center of this diagram. And, nodes are sized (small, medium, large) to indicate the amount of effort required in the current state.
Using the 5 grading characteristics of maturity, connectivity or relations, importance, criticality and effort, each organizations node matrix will be unique. And, it will change with every successive improvement made and every reassessment.
There is no perfect node matrix to attempt to attain. The goal is higher and higher degrees of effectiveness. There is balancing point at which more attempted improvement creates a less effective pm organizations. Getting as close to that tipping point as possible is the mission, over time.
The initial pass of the assessment is the hardest, no doubt. The process to score the 5 characteristics of the organization’s nodes requires lots of interviewing and hands-on, interpersonal work. And, as you might come to expect, there is no one solution for all organizations. We’ll explain for you our approach the initial assessment pass and trust that you will modify it for your particular organization.
Phase 1 – PMO Team Interviews
Individuals within the organization that are involved with the PMO and management of projects are required to be part of the assessment. Typically, a one hour meetings with individuals chosen by the PMO director or steering committee works to provide their perception of the components and state of project management in the organization. Some might have already shared their perception over time, and this meeting is simply about documenting their perspective.
The questions that should be asked, relate to the nodes and characteristics. There’s no need to beat around the bush and there are too many nodes to deal with to be anything but direct in our purpose. Create a set of questions that can be used to start the discussion about each node. Here are some questions that might seed the discussion around the node Planning:
Planning Node Leading Questions
- Importance – Are there times where we don’t plan, but use other short-cuts. Please explain that.
- Connectivity – How is current state of planning impacting the other things we do as a project management team? Are other sets of pm activities interfering with our need for planning?
- Maturity – If there was one thing that we could do better in planning that would make everything else we do more effective, what would that be? Is it worth it?
- Criticality – Do we consistently plan for all projects and what is the quality of those plans? Are we often criticized for poor or insufficient planning.
- Effort – How much time does it take to conduct planning? Is that effort consistent but proportional across all projects?
Document the answers and move on to the next interaction. Use a matrix to capture a summary of each response so that they can be reviewed later. Your not interested in perfection in note keeping, just capturing the essence of the discussion so that you can assimilate the totality of it later.
Don’t bother asking everyone about every node. But make sure that there is a sufficient distribution across most nodes. It is not necessary to be thorough with everyone PM. Project Managers have a tendency to shift the discussion to the most difficult part of their job and relate that to the question posed. Managing those interviews can be a challenge.
Change up the questions and improve upon them. If a particular set of questions elicits a high quality response, use it again or make the standard. Don’t be afraid that you a missing asking about important things. Variability is an asset in this type of questioning.
The goal of these interviews is to have a conversation with the interviewee where enough information is gathered that when plotted or considered in the context of the BKPM Maturity Model, a theme emerges and low hanging fruit is identified.
Information is cumulative. It builds on what the last interviews revealed and can be confirmed or disputed. Not every individual will be asked every question nor will every individual be asked the exact same questions. However, areas that are perceived as needing improvement will be addressed with the majority of the interviewees. The cream always rises to the top.
Cover off on as many questions and nodes throughout all of the individual interviews. Because open and honest discussion is necessary for this analysis, responses should be disassociated from the interviewee that provided them in order to facilitate a level of anonymity.
Phase 2 – BKPM Boot Camp
The BKPM Boot Camp is generally a four-week process that culminates in a six-hour BKPM Boot Camp session. It focuses on learning methods to develop critical decision-making skills and on using well-established frameworks to take and maintain control of any project. The boot camp is conducted in two phases:
Asynchronous Self-Study – Leading up the BKPM Boot Camp, there are a number of activities that participants must complete. These are:
Read Bare Knuckled Project Management; How to Succeed at Every Project – provides familiarity with the BKPM principles;
Complete and submit the BKPM Zone Survey – individual survey results are shared with learners via email and at the boot camp; and
Complete and submit the BKPM Concept Questions Survey – gauges the learner’s current understanding of BKPM principles so training depth can be adjusted accordingly.
Synchronous Leader-Led – The leader-led phase of the BKPM Boot Camp is an intense 6-hour session that is conducted as a group activity after these activities are completed. It is typically attended by 10-12 PMs, 2-3 executive sponsors, and 2 Think BKPM facilitators.
Think delivers all needed materials to participants and provides regular communications to welcome participants to the BKPM Boot Camp and prompt them through their activities.
Phase 3 – Final Observations
After all the interviews and the BKPM boot camp have concluded the BKPM team will document their final observations, which will be part of the final summary report provided to the PMO director or steering committee. These final observations are a compilation of each individual’s responses as well as the observed interactions from the boot camp that provide a complete picture for each node assessed and allow the organization to understand how their processes are perceived, how they are followed and what may not be working. These final observations will be utilized to define the fingerprint and opportunities for improvement.
Phase 4 – Node Grading
Each node is graded individually to create the PMO’s unique fingerprint using a circle and based on the grading for each node the circle will have different characteristics. The grading categories comprises of maturity, connectivity or relations, importance, criticality and effort. Each category has a unique method of grading and has a direct effect on how the node is presented within the fingerprint.
Phase 5 – Fingerprint Development Report
Once the interviews, BKPM boot camp, final observations and grading is complete the BKPM assessment team can begin to build your organization’s unique PMO fingerprint report. The fingerprint report will consist of the fingerprint diagram, the node assessment grading table and inspection tabs for nodes that are in need of immediate review. The inspection tabs will include the findings from the assessment, opportunities for improvement and how these changes will affect the node fingerprint overall. Once this report is developed your organization can begin to change your PMO’s fingerprint and improve the effectiveness of projects within your organization.
Phase 6 – take Action
Taking any action is limited to improving 1 or 2 nodes only and in very specific and discrete ways.
Give the change a chance to settle in and become normal before reassessing.