Posts by Longhall Consulting

Change Management Requires Leadership Clarity and Alignment

Change management is in full-force across all industries, yet many leaders are unprepared to act upon and operationalize the requirements for change to avoid business disruption. For many organizations, preparedness begins at the top and this means that leadership – across all levels – must have absolute clarity in purpose and focus; there also must be alignment in strategic philosophy and resolution goals.
Unfortunately, many organizations are slow to change as the internal politics makes it difficult to reach consensus across all levels of leadership – even when the necessity for change is urgent. This is why many companies unknowingly lose momentum as they fail to change fast enough — allowing the marketplace and competitors to pass them by.  The result: valuable time is misspent, resources applied and money invested without the required outcomes to stay competitive, keep clients satisfied and employees engaged.
It is imperative that an organization’s leaders have clarity and are in alignment with their responses to the following questions (as a result of their change management efforts):
  • What does success look like operationally and financially – and how does this benefit our employees and customers?
  • What is our mission trying to solve for the industry we serve  and how can we improve our ability to accomplish more than in the past –  so that the organization can remain competitive, become more profitable and/or achieve market leadership?
  • What resources and relationships are mandatory to accomplish our goals, achieve sustainable success and be significant in our industry?

It’s easy for leaders to say that they need to improve and invest in doing things better (either because the marketplace is telling them to or because they need to be proactive before circumstances force their hand).  The reality is that without strategy, change is merely substitution – not evolution.  Simply put, you can have an idea, but without the right strategy and execution of the idea, very little if any progress will be made.  When leaders fall into this trap, they are being irresponsible and their credibility suffers, their intentions come into question, and doubt begins to loom about their capabilities and know-how.


So what does clarity and alignment really mean?
Here is one example:  When leadership can break down the silos across functional/departmental areas in order to stimulate and operationalize diversity of thought. Through the cross-pollination of ideas and ideals the organization can be more collaborative and inspire innovative teams to solve problems and identify opportunities together – regardless of hierarchy or rank.
The clarity this example illustrates is that of a teamwork mentality, and without it nothing else matters.  This level of clarity breeds the expectation from every employee that only those willing to be a team player belong in the organization and fit the culture that is being created.  You can challenge each other and put your ideals to the test together– but acting in isolation with no respect for the team is not acceptable.
If you think about your own organization through this example, is everyone clear about the organization’s workplace culture?  Do they have the mindset and attitude that is expected from each employee and its leaders in support of its mission?  Many organizations lack clarity because there is misalignment within leadership that makes it difficult to clearly define expectations for all involved. This is why operational silos exist — forcing change management upon organizations and its employees.
It’s impossible to have clarity and alignment when the leadership teams within a company represent disjointed, disparate parts – rather than a convergence of intelligence and know-how that is in sync and strongly interconnected.
Change management is a challenge when leaders across the organization are not willing to share their intellectual capital for the betterment of a healthier whole.  In order words, leaders hold-on to the intelligence that has defined their success – perhaps indicating a hidden agenda – rather than share their success and insights with others to strengthen the intellectual capital foothold of the organization – so that it can more effectively grow and compete.
It is impossible to create an environment of clarity and alignment when transparency is missing from its leadership.  How can an organization be innovative and more competitive in the marketplace when protecting hidden agendas takes precedence over building momentum for the collective good in support of the mission?
This has historically been the case in the physician-led healthcare industry where leadership must now shift from a cottage industry to big business. Below is an example that illustrates the intellectual capital requirements for a medical institution seeking to best serve the growing number of Hispanic patients — accelerated even more by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
It is shocking to most medical institution executives that I’ve talked with that this amount of intellectual capital already exists – but not when you consider that historically there has not existed any clarity around the importance and benefits of serving Hispanic patients. As such, there has not existed any alignment amongst leaders within each major functional/departmental area. This is why the healthcare industry is not in a position to lead change management efforts to best serve the demographic shift – during a time when the demand for it is at an all-time high.
The aforementioned example explains why many organizations have difficulty aligning their internal brand (the perceived workplace environment) with their external brand (what customers expect from their products and/or services).  When the realities of both are not in alignment, it makes it difficult to sustain any real momentum and a positive reputation that matters to employees and clients.
This is why leaders must have clarity in purpose and focus and an alignment of strategic philosophy and resolution goals for their change management objectives. There must be a common language that guides execution, monitors progress and allows for course correction along the way. There must be a culture where leaders are willing to share all of their intellectual capital and everyone throughout the organization values teamwork and the urgency of breaking down silos. Above all, there must be a well thought-out, clearly defined and communicated strategy behind any change management effort – that’s where you can begin to show real leadership clarity and alignment.


There is often a misunderstanding, and hence a mixed and overlapping use of terms, when it comes to programme management. Sometimes a programme is called a project. Sometimes a project is called a programme. In addition, sometimes project portfolio and programme are mistakenly used interchangeably. This article is intended to clarify the main differences and to distinguish the unique aspects of project portfolios, programmes, and projects.
A great way to start to think about these is to think in terms of a pyramid hierarchy. At the top of the pyramid is portfolio management, which contains all of the projects and programmes that are prioritised by business objectives. Below that is programme management, which contains numerous projects that are interrelated, since they support a particular business objective. Programmes consist of multiple projects, but projects can be independent and simply part of the portfolio. Projects differ from programmes in that they are strictly tactical in nature.
Here is a more detailed look at each:
Portfolio Management
One of the key distinguishing features about Project Portfolio Management is that it is a process that is clearly characterised by business leadership alignment. Priorities are set through an appropriate value optimisation process for the organisation. Risk and reward are considered and balanced, and programmes are selected based on their alignment with organisational strategy. Feedback is provided from programme and project implementation so that portfolio adjustment can occur, if necessary. Strategic changes can also require portfolio adjustments.
Programme Management
A key distinguishing feature of Programme Management is business sponsorship. Almost by definition, based on decisions made at the Portfolio Management level, programmes are sponsored by business needs. The programme takes on the ownership of benefits and is measured primarily based upon achievement of those benefits. Programmes can also sometimes have “benefits streams,” or sets of interrelated benefits, such as increased R&D capabilities combined with increased market penetration, that cut across functions in the organisation. Because programmes, naturally consisting of multiple projects, span functions within an organisation, they have all elements of a business system, and hence are general management oriented.
Project Management
Project Management is most concerned with delivery of capabilities, typically as defined within a programme. Projects need to be strategy-driven, but do not own the strategic initiative as does a programme. Rather, the project takes inputs and develops and implements a tactical plan. Monitoring along the way and final measurement of success is typically based more on the tactical considerations such as budget and schedule than upon achievement of a strategic business objective.
Now, with the basic distinctions among Project Portfolio Management, Programme Management, and Project Management defined, each organisation must “personalise” its implementation of these three processes. Some key factors and how they affect choices made about implementing each are as follows:
  • Industry: Industry provides insights into the stability and consistency of operations. Some industries, like pharmaceuticals, are be very driven by product lifecycles, albeit fairly long ones that include a major regulatory process. Consumer electronics companies are driven by much shorter project lifecycles and rapidly evolving technology, with little regulation. Construction firms are highly porjectized and deal with very stable technologies and products.
  • Organisation Size: Generally, greater size requires more formal organisation. Without structure, the relationships between strategy, portfolio management, programmes, and projects can become blurred and disjointed. The two points of focus here are to have well-considered organisational frameworks for each of portfolio, programme, and project management, and then to pay special attention to building strong ties among them for communication, collaboration, and information flow.
  • Operational Breadth: A more narrowly defined operational capability, such as found in a sales-focused or production focused organisation, will tend to require less formality, and information will flow more freely among portfolio, programme, and project management processes. In organisations that are well-integrated horizontally, containing well-developed core competencies in R&D, marketing, production, distribution, and the like, there will be natural separations that need to be managed. This will make programme management especially challenging, since it is likely to cross those boundaries.
  • Strategy: Like the various operational considerations, the strategy will effect organisation of portfolio, programme, and project management based on how complex it is. One key consideration not mentioned above is strategic alliances, which can greatly effect how tightly managed and how structured these processes need to be.

Benefits of Programme Management

In many corporations, project management is an ad hoc activity. When there is a cross-functional goal to be met, management may pull together for the short term, electing someone to lead the project and allowing employees to participate. When the goal is met, the project ends and the project team disbands. For very small companies in a static environment, this method works well. However, in larger companies or in any-sized company that’s dealing with change, it might be time to implement a program management office.
Comprehensive View
Program management is designed to take a larger and more comprehensive view of the organization’s activities. Program offices generally run multiple projects that may span across the entire organization. The managers must compare project requests and activities to ensure that projects or assets do not conflict with each other and that there is no duplicity of effort.
Work Toward Strategic Goals
Program managers must evaluate the activities of the organization to ensure they are working toward strategic goals. Just because a project can be done does not mean the end result will add value to the organization. Program managers must evaluate requests coming in to make sure that the effort will help increase sales, reduce costs or benefit the customer. They also allocate budgeted dollars and watch projects to make sure that benefits of the project exceed the cost.
In many projects, the project leader must take time at the beginning to outline the process, the rules and the methods of communication. With a program management office, those are defined for all projects in advance and are consistent from project to project. This means that employees can jump right into forming the team and not have to spend the first meetings discussing how everything is going to work. As an end result, there are fewer issues related to communication mix-ups.
Cost Savings
The program management office evaluates all new requests and groups them so that efficiencies of scale can be achieved. This means that one project effort could be initiated in order to satisfy the needs or requests of more than one functional group. One example is when a software programmer creates a program that would email daily status reports to managers, no matter whether that manager is in finance, operations, marketing or sales. Without a program office, this would likely have been four separate projects with four separate developers and four separate budgets.

7 Steps to a Successful Project Portfolio Management Implementation

A question that I get asked fairly frequently during my consulting or training engagements sounds something like this:
We have heard about this “project portfolio management methodology” … How valuable is it and how do we go about implementing it?
Considering the number of times I had to answer this inquiry in the last four or five years, I decided that it might be a good idea to sum up at least the high-level steps required to implement PPM at any given company. And here is what it looks like:


Step 1: Executive Commitment
There should be a serious commitment from the senior executives of the company to install a systematic, formal and rigorous portfolio management process. The senior management must believe that companies that use PPM outperformed those who don’t.  For more information about the value of project portfolio management, see my earlier article “What is the Value of Project Portfolio Management?”
Step 2: Mature Project Management In-place
Successful implementation of project portfolio management would be severely challenged for organizations lacking   the ability to scope, estimate and manage its projects. Therefore the introduction of project portfolio management should start with a company getting a good grasp on project scoping and estimating, followed by project monitoring and control.
Step 3: Establish Your Throughput Capacity
Once the scoping, estimation and other project management processes have been implemented, the efforts of the organization should focus on the determination of throughput capacity of the project pipeline.
One of the easiest ways to assess pipeline capacity is to measure it in dollars or some other currency. For example, the company executives may decide that the total budget allocated to projects in the next calendar year will be $100 million. The budget for each successful project is then estimated and, depending on the allocation method used the projects will be added to specific buckets until all of the buckets are full.
However, many companies following this simple approach tend to overlook some very important factors:
  • They ignore project durations and interdependence of projects
  • They frequently do not translate human resources’ efforts into dollars (i.e. the available resource pool is treated as free labor without attaching monetary value to man-days, man-months and man-years). As a result  situations can arise where human resource availability is much lower than the budget allocations.
  • They disregard skills transferability. While monetary funds can be easily transferred and reassigned to other ventures, one man-hour of a project manager’s work cannot be substituted for one man-hour of an accountant’s work
Here is an example of a “back of the envelope” calculation of total project resources bucket at a company:
  • Total number of people at the head office = 250 people
  • Total number of working months in a year = 10 ( minus 2 months for vacation, holidays and sick days)
  • Percentage of time spent on projects = 30% (estimated based on surveys)
  • Thus:
  • Total Project Resource pool = 250 people X 10 months X 0.30 = 750 man-months


Step 4: Develop Your Project Scoring Model
The essence of the scoring model approach is to come up with several variables that the executives consider important when assessing the value of their future projects. This is usually done during the project portfolio workshop where the instructor would first explain the theory behind the scoring approach, provide several examples of the scoring models developed by other companies and then ask the executives present to engage in a brainstorming exercise.
Step 5: Establish the Desired Portfolio Balance
Portfolio balance is important for several reasons. While assessing the value of the projects proposed, it is very easy to lose the sight of the “big picture” and suddenly end up in a situation where the company is stuck with a very large number of small, relatively meaningless initiatives and no significant breakthrough endeavors.
Furthermore, it is also possible that specific area of the business – especially the departments that are perceived to be the “money makers” – receive disproportionate number of new projects. Several experienced executives also mentioned their desire not to keep all of their eggs in one basket when attempting to balance their portfolios.
Another problem that may arise is overabundance of, say, low-risk, low reward projects and lack of high-risk, high-reward initiatives.
Step 6: Determine the Strategic Alignment
The definition of portfolio’s strategic alignment is fairly simple and straightforward: all of your projects must in one form or another assist the implementation of your company’s strategy. A very simple statement that at times is very difficult to explain. In order to do that, let us examine several examples of the project alignment and non-alignment.
Imagine that someone walks into the office of your company’s CEO and asks him to produce a list of the current projects at the company. Pretend also that your CEO is actually capable of producing such list (not a very typical state of affairs at many companies). Afterwards the visitor starts to point in an absolutely random fashion at the projects on the list and asks the same two questions over and over:
Why are you doing this project?
How is this initiative related to your company strategy?
First, let us examine a simplistic examples. Let us pretend that one of the projects on the list was “Open a Sales Office in Brussels”. If the CEO explains this project by pointing to the company strategy of expanding its presence in Europe, then this project is aligned with overall company strategy.
If, on the other hand the company strategy states that it will be aggressively expanding its presence in the Asian markets and does not mention European region at all, there is a good chance that this project is not aligned with the overall strategy. 
Step 7: Score Your Projects
At the end of the day the Executive Portfolio Committee must use the scoring model developed in Step 4 to rank all of their project proposals and determine the cut-off point based on the resource (either $ or human) constraint.

Benefits of Portfolio Management

There is large number of benefits of Portfolio Management that can provide high value returns in case it is performed on regular basis and implemented properly. There are many companies that aimed to utilize their management efforts on balanced project portfolio for achieving optimal performance and returns for the entire portfolio.
The proper portfolio management ensures the proper mix of projects for achieving the maximum overall returns. The project portfolio comprises of projects that provide values that differ widely from each other. The projects in the portfolio vary in terms of following factors.
  • Short- and long-term benefit
  • Synergy with corporate goals
  • Level of investment
  • Anticipated payback
By considering all these factors, PPM focuses on optimization of the returns of the entire portfolio by doing the following activities.
  • Executing the most value-producing projects
  • Directing the funds towards worthy initiatives
  • Eliminating the redundancies between projects
  • Saving time and costs


Balancing the Risks posed by Projects
The PPM involves the balancing of the risks posed by the projects in the portfolio. The companies should evaluate and balance the projects’ risks in their portfolios for minimizing the risks and maximizing the returns by diversifying portfolio holdings.
A traditional portfolio may minimize the risk and protect principal; however it also limits the prospective returns. On the contrary, the hard-line project portfolio may provide greater chances of good returns however it also poses considerably higher risk of failure or loss. PPM balances the risks with potential returns by diversifying the project portfolio of the companies.
Optimal Allocation of Resources
The resources are optimally allocated among various projects of the portfolio. As the resources are really limited, all the projects should compete with each other for resources. PPM involves measuring, comparing, and prioritizing the projects in order to classify and implement the most valuable projects only. The conflicts between the projects for resources are resolved by the high level management. The skill sets required for each project and ideal source of these resources are determined by incorporating formal sourcing strategies.
Correction of Performance problems
The performance problems are corrected prior to their development in major issues. Although, PPM cannot completely get rid of performance crisis, however it assists in addressing the performance issues early. The PPM involves identification, escalation and addressing of any issues related to execution and helps in keeping the progress of projects on track.
Aligning projects according to business goals
PPM ensures that projects remain aligned to the business goals during their execution by performing following activities.
  • Management oversight and monitoring throughout the project
  • Standard communication and coordination
  • Regular course correction for checking the project drifts
  • Redirecting projects for maintaining alignment and changing business objectives
  • Executive level Project Oversight
Executives are involved for prioritizing and oversighting the project responsibilities. This ensures that projects receive the required support and they can be completed successfully. Executives have the required business acumen and they can align project by using various business strategies.

Management of Value…. A Brief Overview.

MoV is answering the question: are we getting the optimal benefits, at affordable costs, with an acceptable risk level. The QRC (see below) shows that we have to achieve the optimal balance between all stakeholders’ needs, and the usage of resources (money, people, time, energy and material). The greater the benefits delivered and the fewer resources that are used in doing so, the higher the value ratio.
MoV is based on four integrated concepts:
  • Principles(factors that underpin MoV);
  • Proccesses and Techniquesmethods and tools used in the application of MoV;
  • Approachhow to apply MoV in running your business and changing your business;
  • Environmenthow to response to internal and external influences.
The seven principles represent the most important success factors in delivering success. The seven principles are:
  • Align with organizational objectives. Focus on functions and required outcomes. Start with the end in mind. What benefits and outcomes do you need?
  • Balance the variables to maximize value. Understand the key stakeholder needs and balance those needs to make them acceptable to everybody. Balance these needs against the use of resources like money, people, time, energy and material.
  • Apply throughout the investment decision. MoV is applied during all stages of the change life cycle.
  • Tailor to suit the subject. The complexity, size, culture, involved risks, etc. will impact the level of effort needed to apply MoV
  • Learn from experience. Do not re-invent the wheel, don’t stumbles twice over one stone. Share, share, and share your lessons learned.
  • Assign clear roles and responsibilities and build a supportive culture. If there is no senior management buy-in and there are no clearly assigned roles and responsibilities it will be a guarantee for failure.
MoV is achieved in programmes and projects through seven main (groups of) processes. The seven processes are:
  • Frame the programme or project. Understand the rationale behind the project or programme and the objectives to achieve.
  • Gather information. What are the expectations from the MoV study, who do we need on the MoV team, who are the stakeholders, what are their needs.
  • Analyse information. Enrich the gathered information, use techniques like FAST (see below) to understand the purpose and analyse alternative ways of performing or delivering the functions.
  • Process information. The MoV team will use the information to explore alternatives and create innovative and value-adding proposals. This could also mean that specific not needed functions will be eliminated (compare the MoSCoW principle in an agile approach).
  • Evaluate and select. Here we balance the variables (stakeholder needs, required resources, benefits at affordable costs) to maximize the value.
  • Develop value-improving proposals.
  • Implement and share outputs. Develop the plan, implement, monitor progress and gather lessons learned and share.
MoV uses MoV-specific and common techniques such as Function Analysis System Technique (FAST), Value trees, Function Cost Analysis and Value Engineering (VE).

Change Management and Leadership Development Have to Mesh

Leadership development and change management tend to be top priorities for many organizations. In spite of this, a majority of organizations tend to fall far short of their goals for both. One major reason organizations struggle is because they treat both leadership development and change management as separate rather than interrelated challenges. Cultural changes cannot happen without leadership, and efforts to change culture are the crucible in which leadership is developed.

For better results, organizations should coordinate their leadership development and change management efforts, approaching them as one and the same. True leadership involves deviating from cultural expectations in ways that inspire others to choose to follow. What’s more, leadership is not the sole responsibility of the C-suite. Managers at all levels of an organization must overcome resistance if genuine cultural change is to occur. Thus, change initiatives—which require a deviation from a dominant set of norms and behaviors—are the best learning environments for star managers to develop leadership skills, as well as a necessary component of a successful culture-change initiative.

How then, should organizations go about integrating their change management and leadership development initiatives? We recommend an approach that is both top-down and bottom-up.

The bottom-up part of the integrated development and change process requires potential leaders throughout the organization to engage in a process of learning how to enact a desired change in an organization’s culture in the everyday experiences of organizational life. For example, one company suddenly found itself audited at the request of their largest client and were told that they needed to change their accounting procedures. In response, many employees insisted that the changes could not be made by the demanded deadline. They were impeded by cultural beliefs around how quickly the organization could mobilize and complete complex tasks. Janet, a member of the task force assigned to handle the requirements of the audit, was participating in leadership development training at the time. Using a leadership tool we developed called the fundamental state of leadership, she decided to reach out to employees who had a stake in the new requirements to understand their perspectives (rather than wait for others with more authority to tell her what to do). She gathered new information and discovered their fears, while simultaneously coming to the realization that the deadline could be met. With this new understanding, she was able to help other employees question their beliefs and come up with creative ways to streamline the accounting procedures so as to meet the deadlines.

As part of a class assignment from her leadership training, she also reflected on the experience and used her own (and others’) reflections to inform her subsequent plans and actions. Eventually, more and more of her colleagues began to accept the importance of the accounting changes and their accompanying deadlines, and were participating in creative action. Their actions led to bottom-up change: the emerging culture and accounting policies could not have been planned in advance, but came from the ideas and actions of motivated employees and were uniquely suited to the local challenges they faced. Janet, however, was more than just a change agent in this one situation. Her planning, acting, reflecting—and planning again—demonstrated true leadership.

But a bottom-up process is unlikely to work unless it is also embedded in a top-down learning process. A top-down process creates structure and motivation for employees to maintain engagement in the change/leadership development process. If done well, it also provides emotional and social support potential leaders, because deviating from cultural expectations can be a lonely endeavor.

A successful top-down process begins with executives clarifying desired results for change management/leadership programs. For example, executives may want to change accounting procedures or inspire creativity in order to become more efficient, as in Janet’s company. Or they may want to lower barriers between departments or create financial stewardship throughout the organization. The goal depends on the organization and its situation, but what is important is that it is specific (ideally, with a measurable outcome) and accepted by all members of the executive team.

Once the goal is clear and accepted, executives can identify potential leaders throughout the organization to engage in the leadership development/change management process. These may be executive team members, people in key positions, people who have shown a passion for this specific change, people who are deemed to be “high potential,” or some combination of these characteristics. Many variables about the type of change program could drive the decision about which potential leaders to include, such as strategic, the number needed for a critical mass, the need to stage the change process, the amount of support that can be provided, geographical dispersion, the diversity of expertise or demographics involved, and so on.

Selected leaders should be given structure, accountability, support, and motivation as they engage this process—but also the freedom to create their own solutions, as Janet did with the help of the accounting team. The objectives of the change and development effort, the scope of initiative, the time frame, the type of support to be given, and the rewards for success should be made clear when invitations are extended. Classes can offer advice but the key is to instill a plan-act-reflect cycle—and then support managers as they learn on the go. The attention of senior executives and the needed financial support should be guaranteed; a worse-case scenario is for a fledging leader to have the rug pulled out from under them partway through the change and development process.

Once the structure and motivation is secured and outlined, potential leaders can launch their repeated efforts at creating experiences that enact the new objectives using the plan-act-reflect cycle. Ideally, reflections could be shared so that potential leaders learn from each other as well as from their own efforts.

Change management and leadership development programs have a woeful record at most organizations. In large part that’s because they come up against a common challenge—deviating from a dominant culture (the true test of leadership) is very difficult. Tasking managers with driving bottom-up cultural change will provide leadership training in itself. They will require top-down support to succeed.

The Power of ITIL and The Problem with Gurus: Is just being good at your job really still enough?

For a long time, it was only results that mattered. As long as you delivered those, people tended not to be overly concerned about how the job got done. It didn’t matter if you had to pull a last-minute all-nighter, or re-jigger everything in the system that could ever be jiggered. You were kind of a black box where needs went in and something came out to meet those needs.

While there’s a lot to be said for having those skills (especially in an emergency) as a way of getting things done, on a day-to-day basis the slap-dash, jury-rig method has a lot of problems. For one thing, what if the person who knows how to do the magic act leaves the company? If your only concern is the outcome and you don’t know how to get to it then you’re out of luck. For another thing, what if he just gets something wrong one day? He hits the wrong button, enters the wrong code and things go haywire? To err, as we all know from experience, is human.

Undocumented processes are very, very difficult to replicate and make it a nightmare to figure out where something went wrong. That’s why ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) is so important. It provides a framework to identify, plan, deliver and support IT services. Even better, that framework wasn’t created by a single guru, ninja, rock star or whatever else we’re calling them these days. No matter how great one person is at a job, he or she can’t know everything. So ITIL is based on best practices developed and refined by many people at many businesses in many different sectors. In other words, the problems have been looked at from every angle possible.

The result of all this is the processes, procedures, tasks and checklists that make it possible to integrate IT services with the organization’s strategy, while at the same time delivering more value and maintaining standards of competency. It lets you demonstrate compliance and to measure improvement.

So what’s not to like?

Nothing really, it’s just that there are so many issues around implementing it and making sure people are using it. Doing that can eat up a lot of time and resources that would be better used taking advantage of ITIL’s benefits and not making sure that it’s being adhered to.

If only there was some way to automate it. Some way for a single program to check and make sure ITIL was being applied to hundreds of thousands of endpoints – in real time. What would be even better is if this could be done continuously, so you didn’t have to wait until the next audit or for a problem to cause other problems to find out something wasn’t right. As long as we’re dreaming, let’s make it a program that updates the ITIL definitions automatically for all the devices it manages and that can be managed and monitored from a single console. Finally, while we’re here in the land of make believe, how about a program that can do all this right out of the box, so you can do all this within hours and not days or weeks or months.

PRINCE2 Themes, Principles and Processes

As we already know that PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environment) is a project management methodology accepted in more than 150 countries across the world. It is a generalised project management methodology that can be applied to project of any type and size irrespective of the industry.

There are two types of courses offered by institutes offering project management courses:

PRINCE2 Foundation: Trainees are trained with the basics of PRINCE2. Trainees learn about 7 principles, 7 themes and 7 processes of PRINC2 methodology. PRINCE2 Foundation exam is conducted to know if the candidate is aware of all basics of PRINCE2. It is an exam in which the candidate has to score minimum of 35 marks out of 70.

PRINCE2 Practitioner: Trainees learn how to work on a real time project. They are provided with a special training for applying PRINCE2 principles, themes and processes on a project. In PRINCE2 practitioner exam, it is tested if the candidate is capable of applying these concepts on a real-time project. It is an exam with total 80 marks. The candidate has to score at least 55% marks for PRINCE2 practitioner certification.
Processes: 7 processes of PRINCE2 describe responsibilities. In simple words- these process tell who will do what and when. 7 processes of PRINCE2 are:

  • Starting up a project
  • Initialisation of a project
  • Direction of a project
  • Controlling a stage
  • Management of product delivery
  • Management of stage boundaries
  • Closures of a project

Themes: 7 themes of PRINCE2 define those areas of project management needed to be addressed continuously till the closure of the project. Following are the 7 themes defined in PRINCE2:

Business case: Before starting any project, it is essential to know that if the project feasible, desirable and achievable.
Organisation: In organisation, accountabilities and responsibilities are defined.
Quality: The objective of this theme is to ensure that the project meets all its requirements without any issue.
Risks: The objective of this theme is to focus on identifying, assessing and controlling risks.
Plan: It is the most crucial theme of PRINCE2 methodology. It describes what to do and how to do to achieve the goal of the project. It describes what activities to be performed, when to be perform and by whom to be performed.
Change: A client may anytime ask to add or remove a project requirement. This theme describes efficient and reliable change management.
Progress: Objective of this theme is to ensure that project is being developed according to the plan.

Principles: 7 PRINCE2 principles serve the purpose of a framework for the efficient project management practice. 7 PRINC2 principles consist of:

  • Business justification
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Learn from experience
  • Manage by exceptions
  • Manage by stages
  • Tailor to suite the environment
  • Focus on product

Has Anything Changed? Analyzing The 2016 Human Capital Predictions

I started the new year reading through dozens of lists of New Year’s predictions forecasting trends that will shape the HCM world in 2016 and beyond.

My goal was to identify overall meta-trends and see if any new predictions emerged that are different from things predicted in the past. You can read the full research article here, but here is a summary of the study and findings.

First, I gathered predictions found on more mainstream HR sites such as TLNT, SHRM, HR Technology, and Forbes. I also included forecasts by well-known HR thought leaders such as John Boudreau, Josh Bersin, Marcus Buckingham, Peter Cappelli, and several others.

I ended up with a list of 131 predictions that were as broad as “talent from within will be realized as a true asset” to as specific as “organization charts begin to disappear.”

Similar predictions from 2004

The second step was to categorize the predictions based on general themes.

To assess if new trends were emerging, I decided to see if I could sort the 2016 predictions using a list of HCM predictions made in 2004. The 2004 predictions were from a paper I wrote 12 years ago that analyzed labor market trends at the beginning of the millennium (S. Hunt, Shifts in the Talent Landscape, 2004).

There was remarkable similarity between many 2004 and 2016 predictions. For example, try to pick which of these predictions were NOT included in the 2004 predictions:

  • A) Staffing processes extend past the initial hiring decision and follow employees to the point where they are fully-socialized and committed to the organization.
  • B) Companies embrace the concept of virtual workspaces and provide managers and employees with the necessary training and technology needed to work with people anywhere in the world.
  • C) Employees switch employers based on their support for telecommuting, co-working spaces, globalization and new technology tools.
  • D) Companies pay careful attention to the unique nature of the interests, motives, abilities and constraints frequently found in older workers
  • The answer is “C” The other three predictions were copied directly from the 2004 paper. In 2004, people were also talking a lot about telecommuting and flexible work technology but it wasn’t yet viewed as a key tool for staff retention.

Still relevant 10 years later

It is interesting how many of the 2004 predictions are still relevant 10 years later. As they say, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

My general view is that because HCM is fundamentally about people, and people don’t change much over time at a fundamental level, yet the problems of HR tend to remain fairly constant over time. Companies were struggling to attract, develop, engage and retain employees in 2004 and they are still are now.

What does change a lot over time is the methods we use to address these challenges.

Although there has not been massive change in HCM trends since 2004, there has been some noticeable change in the emphasis placed on different HR challenges and tools. The following four (4) trends in particular are far more prevalent now than 10 years ago:

1. HCM Technology Transformation

The focus here is increasing development of professionals and organizational functions that are focused specifically on understanding how technology can be used to increase workforce productivity and efficiency.

This is about creating true cross-discipline HRIT functions where equal understanding and emphasis is given to HR expertise and IT knowledge. Some things to think about relative to this trend:

Who in your company is responsible for identifying and recommending technology to improve your HCM capabilities? How do you ensure these people truly understand both HCM process design and HRIT capabilities and constraints?
How will you use technology to improve your HCM capabilities over the next two years?

2. Business Oriented Human Resources

A focus on increasing the role that HR plays in operational business decision to ensure that company strategies can be achieved given the capabilities of the workforce and that the workforce is being effectively developed to support future business needs and goals.

HR doesn’t just have a seat at the leadership table — it often leads the conversation. Some things to think about relative to this trend:

How do issues related to talent availability impact business planning and operations? What HCM data is used during strategic business planning sessions?
What HCM issues should influence how your company plans to achieve its financial targets over the coming years? How are these issues articulated to operations business leaders?

3. Continuous Coaching

This is about creating work environments that provide employees with ongoing feedback and guidance that maximizes their engagement, development and performance.

Managers are finally held accountable for actually being good managers, coaching their employees, and offering effective behavioral feedback and constructive suggestions to their direct reports. Some things to think about relative to this trend:

What tools and training do you provide managers and employees to support ongoing coaching and career development discussions?
How do you measure whether your managers are actually providing effective coaching to their employees? How do you ensure your managers are being good managers?

4. Technology Enabled HCM/Easier HR

This is about replacing inefficient, cumbersome and overly bureaucratic HR methods with much easier to use technology applications.

Eliminating or transforming inefficient HR methods that negatively impact employee productivity. Some things to think about relative to this trend:

How do you plan to incorporate mobile technology into your HCM processes over the coming years? How are you using it now?
What HCM processes could most benefit from better technology in terms of making them easier to use?
What do you do with these predictions?

So what’s next?

While there is value in planning for the future, I would not change a business strategy solely because some HR thought leader made a prediction about things that might happen. But it may make sense to modify certain HCM practices to reflect what is likely to happen over the next few years.

My suggestion is to discuss these trends with your HR leadership so you ensure actions you take today are setting you up for lasting success in the future.