From mess to an organized environment

The work on organizations can be sometimes a completely mess.

I’m working on an initiative to turn this “mess” into a more organized and efficient delivery.

The basic approach we are following is:

  1. To have a clear, complete and detailed organizational chart.
  2. Understand what are the governance rules defined by contract with the customer.
  3. Define role and responsibilities for the different players (using a RACI).
  4. Communicate the roles, expectations and a defined reporting templates.
  5. Promote escalations on specific conflicts that could arise, work on these aspects and refine the RACI.
  6. Prioritize the focus on the major, critical hurdles.
  7. Work always on practical scenarios, avoid just to define theory.
  8. Lead by example.
  9. Promote ITIL, PMI, Six Sigma best practices.
  10. Repeat the process again and again.

After 1 month of work, results start to show green signals, but we are still RED 🙁

100 days plan for strategic alignment

I was recently asked about how to plan an strategic alignment between business and IT initiatives, where there should be a focus on the:

  • Follow-up and efficiency of projects initiatives.
  • Track of benefits realization.
  • Portfolio plan where we all can understand the dependencies of the IT projects and impacts on business.
  • Improve the level of knowledge of project managers.

My approach for this situation to define a set of actions at different levels:

  • Strategic level: define vision, values, methods, objective and measures.
  • Tactic level: define specific actions by area.
  • Operational level: work on existing processes, put in place changes to them, increase the efficiency.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • The methodology I would apply: Lean Six Sigma.

The summary of activities for the 100 days is:

  • Day 1 – Let us be Honest
  • Day 2 to Day 20  – Map it!
  • Day 21 to Day 40 – Analyse & challenge
  • Day 41 to Day 60 – Doctrine
  • Day 61 to Day 80 – Flow
  • Day 81 to Day 100 – Keep it steady

Let’s explain a little bit these steps:

Day 1 – Let us be Honest

  • Describe the main pain points of the organization, areas where the communications are not good…
  • Imagine the organization you would like to have: how the behavior should be, how the communications should be, what is the way IT should behave to satisfy the goals of the business, how business should behave to explain what they need to IT…
  • Define KPIs  and targets to these KPIs, so we can see how we evolve.
  • Prepare a specific speech for each set of stakeholders about goals and benefits of your plan. The benefits of this speech have to be linked to the needs of the audience.
  • Then communicate, communicate, communicate…

100-days-strategy-plan-1Day 2 to Day 20  – Map it!

  • Draw the current situation you have on your systems.
  • Discover with the different business units, how they are organized,
  • Discover with IT what are the main IT assets, what are the projects on-going, and
  • Capture a snapshot of the projects under execution and forecasted initiatives.
  • Define a list of stakeholders.
  • Start to draw a RACI chart with the main areas of work.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate…

Value-chain-mapping-ecosystems-CIODay 21 to Day 40 – Analyze & challenge

  • It’s time to take the maps and draw more specific maps or diagrams about how the things are done.
  • The diagrams have to be shared with the others, so people understand how things work (they are so useful, I have seen so much difference between how thinks work and how people believe that it works).
  • Challenge to the people who owns a process to change/improve it: let’s run to simplicity!!!
  • Identify duplication: they are there. Then remove it.
  • Generate a common nomenclature that improve communications.
  • Identify the hurdles and specific pain points the organization have. Analyze the impact on the organization.
  • Deliver specific presentations to the different business departments and units with the specific actions to be done (action oriented & focus on their scope).
  • For a business unit of a country, it should include the actions, the list of projects and the targets we have.
  • For a global stakeholders, the report should include data at its level. It also should include the conflicts identified
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Day 41 to Day 60 – Doctrine

  • You already have improved the situational awareness of the organization.
  • Remove identified duplication of whatever you found.
  • Work on the 20% more important pain points you have identified.
  • Refine the ITIL processes, refine the RACI,
  • Review the main IT projects.
  • Launch with HR a training plan for PMs, so they can improve their skills.
  • Mentor the PMs.
  • Update with PMs the portfolio schedule: analyze the delays and their impacts, get the commitment of the delivery.
  • And communicate, communicate, communicate: different stakeholders, different presentations.

Day 61 to Day 80 – Flow

  • IT have their own flow: work on the existing projects, services…
  • Business have their own intertia too.
  • Push that this inertia goes where we all want to go.
  • Understand that from IT we have a clear map about where we want to go technologically.
  • Understand what are the future business challenges that business unit has. Force them to define it, help them to do it through business cases, impact analysis, proof of concepts…
  • The reports needs to link the capabilities provided by the projects with the business capabilities the BU requires or needs to improve. Define in a measurable way the benefits. Typically the BPO owns the responsibility to measure the benefit.

Day 81 to Day 100 – Keep it steady

  • You’re now ready to start examining structure, mechanisms of learning and the principles of strategic play.
  • The maps will also help you identify where to attack along with where to gamble with respect competition.
  • You have a list of pain points you have to work on.
  • You have a list of KPIs and data about how it was done during these first 100 days.
  • You have a portfolio schedule with linked initiatives.
  • You have a detailed RACI with actions and new responsibilities for the organization.
  • Follow-up the benefits realization of the projects.
  • You have a more or less defined road-map of the business unit needs.
  • You are discussing all the specific aspects with the specific stakeholders: action oriented, please, focus on actions.

Process-improvement-Dashboard-calendarWhat happens after the 100 days?

Ideally, you can do all this in a quarter, and after that repeat in the next quarter, so you are aligned with business changes, and you can also stop and gain perspective every 3 months. Do not lose perspective: the strategy needs to be review and aligned with the changes.

The approach during the second and other coming quarters have to be different. You can define:

  • Weekly calls for operational aspects: issues, actions…
  • Monthly calls: for project reviews, business unit reviews and tactic actions.
  • quarterly calls: for business review at high level.

Talaia, Open PPM

This product came to my inbox:

  1. It’s aligned with PMI.
  2. You can integrate it with Redmine.
  3. It does not store documents, you need to use a separate repository.
  4. It does not cover the scheduling capabilities as MS-Project.
  5. Covers the needs of so many roles in an organization, not just Project Managers:
  • Portfolio Manager.
  • Functional Manager
  • Resource Manager
  • Investment manager
  • Team member
  • Sponsor
  • PMO

Anecdote: the first version of Talaia was a R&D project founded by Spanish I+D Plan Avanza 2.



Corporate performance management (CPM)

Corporate performance management (CPM) builds on a foundation of business intelligence, according to key performance indicators such as revenue, return on investment, overhead, and operational costs and is the crucial capability by which to monitor and manage an organisation’s performance.

According to Gartner:

“CPM is an umbrella term that describes the methodologies, metrics, processes and systems used to monitor and manage the business performance of an enterprise.  Applications that enable CPM translate strategically focused information to operational plans and send aggregated results.  CPM must be supported by a suite of analytic applications that provide the functionality to support the business processes, methodologies and metrics”

CMPTo me this is another DMAIC cycle at company level, with the support of the ERP solutions and the perspective of finances as first axis.

Program and Portfolio Management evolution

In the portfolio of solutions and services we provide program and project management team plays an important role in the organization.

Basically the project managers and the PMO team is providing governance to the whole execution of projects through the execution of processes and the projects itself.

We started an improvement plan to evolve about these capabilities and our organization itself and we used Gartner “ PPM Maturity Model” as guidelines of the actions we should perform to mature our PPM engagement with the rest of the organization. The methodology we have use to work on this has been Lean Six Sigma approach.


Some of the major actions we have done:

  • Define and execute a project review process for all major projects.
  • Economic review of the minor projects.
  • Focus on Change Request processes with sales people to push the Gross Margins up and cover the effect of the gap on scope.
  • Engage the PMO lead on the opportunities. On large opportunities a Project Manager is assigned since the opportunity stage.
  • Account review process and project review processes are linked and coordinated: month by month.
  • Training roadmaps and career paths defined.
  • Communications related to the evolution and changes of the scope and responsibilities of the PMO team.
  • Actions defined systematically on delays and budget splits.
  • Reinforcement of the risk management approach.

There are still so much actions to perform, but the evolution during last 18 months have been great.


New portfolio, new challenges

I took a new portfolio of accounts and services within a team of 8 account managers. The nature of the services/projects and the fact we are covering 4 industries and more than 70 customers makes the environment very diverse.

My main challenges for the first 3 months are:

  • Evaluate the financial situation of each account.
  • Understand the account plans for major accounts and define tactical plans for key accounts.
  • Close small accounts that do not provide enough margins.
  • Launch a program (fix or close) on all accounts to improve the margins we have today.
  • Analyze with the delivery teams what are the skills and capabilities we have.
  • Build with the PMO a exhaustive project revision of major projects.
  • Organize with business operations account reviews.
  • Understand from finance what are the major issues we have and put in place an action plan to solve them.
  • Analyze the coming new FY targets and understand the gap with respect the forecast and the backlog we already have.
  • Understand who is who in the team and after that define targets to the team.

IT Portfolio manager, role and responsibilities

The role

  • Monitoring and reporting on the various accounts under the portfolio.
  • The primary focus is on the financial management (P & L Owner and Financial Forecasting) of these accounts and the delivery is done aligned successfully (projects, services and customer satisfaction).
  • Enable Growth of Applications business, cross & up sell offerings in existing and other offerings account.



  • P & L Owners of the Sector/Accounts.
  • Enable a clear and trusted financial forecasting of the delivery activities.
  • Define and implement improvement programs for increasing operating income.


  • Delivery face-off for Industries.
  • Interlock with industries.
  • Offering & Delivery face –off for Offerings sales.


  • Enable Growth of Applications business identifying opportunities and potential deals.
  • Review and approve proposals ensuring the solutions proposed can be deliver and are really aligned with the customer expectations.
  • Support sales offerings with industry expertise, references and best practices.

Customer satisfaction

  • Own customer engagement from Applications perspective.
  • Be the escalation point for all delivery issues.
  • Bring in innovation and value to Customer engagement.

Hoshin Kanri, strategic planning

In this small series of posts related to application portfolio management, I wrote about the issues I found in a “problematic” portfolio and about  tools & methodology. The next component I wanted to write is about the strategy to put in place the improvement plan I have prepared.

I had an idea about how to do it and after creating my own way solution I started to look into quality management blogs and other sources of information. I found Hoshin Kanri and I am now in the process of adapting my solution to it.

In my favor, I have to say that I was not too far of the principles and steps to take, so I’m happy with it.

The added value Hoshin Kanri provides to me is:

  • Some specific graphs and jigs that enable me to visualize the link between strategy, actions, measures and performance.
  • Confirms to me the need to involve the right people, get commitment, insist on continuous communication and to have a clear picture about the main metrics required to walk in the right direction and do not lose the focus.

Being simplistic, it is a DMAIC focused on the strategy for a plan, but it is the recommendations and key areas proposed on this area the ones who are taking


Application portfolio, fixing approach

I was writing about some generic reasons that could cause a portfolio to go in the wrong direction. So how could we improve this situation?

Fix some of the pillars of the delivery of an account is not an easy business, you need to continue delivering, and all that today is in a rush will continue being in that way.

In addition, the fact that you want to drive a change, will have negative impact on the team morale, so you have to prepare a strong plan, communicate it to all the involved people, and define clear strategy, milestones and RACI.

If the situation couldn’t be worst, be sure that the extra resources you need won’t be there.

I want to put in place a model composed by the components shown below:

Portfolio_fixing_modelThe Methodology & Tools used are,

  • Six Sigma DMAIC, to define a life cycle of activities (for instance each wave will be by quarters).
  • Fish bone diagram: for identifying within the team the issues and pain points.
  • FMEA to quantify the identified pain points and define a baseline of activities by area and priority. Here we will also have to define a set of activities to act on the issues.
  • Pareto analysis, to decide the starting point.
  • Balance scorecard: for defining KPIs, metrics and measure the evolution of the activities. Once the waves are being completed, we will have the opportunity to measure the evolution of the change.
  • To do list: you have to implement the actions with a clear RACI that involves the different departments of the company.
  • Project management tool for reporting of the delivery activities and automate the reporting to the delivery managers.

I’m proposing these tool set because they are standard and one of my goals is to align the delivery with the standard of the company. In any case I still think I need to add some other tools.

I have not commented anything about the strategy and tactics of the improvement plan, I will write other day about it.

Your Application Portfolio goes wrong, why?

The management of a portfolio of applications is in some ways similar to the management of an account, in the way that you have in one hand the customer satisfaction and on the other hand you have the profit you do.

I would like to go in deep for a situation like the one showed below: the customer is happy, but the vendor is having important issues.


You can have situations where the customer is so happy but internally you are suffering bad consequences. This usually happens when you are growing or decreasing your presence as IT vendor with respect your customer.

From customer point of view the perceptions can be positive: SLAs are achieved, the projects are delivered with some issues and the management of the portfolio is running with issues due to the complexity of the environment. Things are running and at the end of the day this is what really matters. The customer is happy.

On the other hand, you review your numbers and they are not good. You analyze the situation and you find the account team is organized in a way that they can absorb 5m$ – 10m$, but they are not ready to absorb a volume of 20m$.

What could be the causes?

  • The maturity of the processes are not good.
  • The communication channels are so weak and limited to the old team members that talk each other, but the new members are out.
  • The way to manage the projects is valid for a small amount of medium size projects, but not for a bigger amount of medium and big projects.
  • The PMO is overloaded, the delivery managers too.
  • The staff is jumping from one project to other, sometimes you see moves where you feel that in general the urgent things are attended and the important things are attended later.
  • Senior managers are also overloaded, they are attending a demanding customer and suddenly the internal activities are not fully attended.
  • You receive payments based on project milestones, you suddenly have a lot of payments to manage, and to do it manually takes to much time and communications between PMO, SDMs and finance.

You need to look at the situation with perspective, you need to re-organize your team, promote the automation of some processes, mature and standardize the communication channels and the processes.

You need a change,