PEOPLE | PROCESS | TECHNOLOGY
The key ingredients
In Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great” he recommended businesses prioritise getting the right people ‘on the bus’ before deciding where they are headed. I’d say even before getting on the bus you need to decide where you are going so you then get on the right one… no point having a party bus designed for Las Vegas if you’re headed out into the desert sand-dunes, right?!
As someone who works in technology, you might think I’d put the technology first, but I am still a firm believer in people-process-technology and in that order, and AI isn’t changing that any time soon. But it’s clear both people and process must adapt to technology and those that adapt the best will succeed the most. Technology advancements are constantly changing that can provide massive productivity gains into processes through data availability and automation, and therefore free up the people to focus on the value-add their experience and judgement brings.
As someone with over 20 years’ experience running projects, programmes and portfolios in a wide variety of sectors (consumer goods, pharma, hospitality, retail, property, construction), in a wide range of areas (product development, transformation, IT and digital, HR, capability), and at a global level, I have been reflecting on my experience and what makes successful projects.
And in my view that too boils down to people, process and technology. Each part plays a key role in the successful outcome of projects and programmes. You can overlay all the project management methodologies and debate which is best, but in my view it’s a combination and about having the right people, process and technology for the job in hand.
Here are my thoughts on the key ingredients for each. Have a think about a project you are working on or have run in the past and rate it against each attribute. I’m pretty sure where you identify gaps in the list, you will find inevitable consequences of delay, rework, cost overrun, etc. So ask yourself what can you do to ensure each of these measures are covered off:
• Committed team – accountable for the collective outcome, not just their part. Ideally with skin in the game and the bigger picture
• Aligned team – team aligned over a common goal, with clarity on the outcomes and deliverables
• Empowered team – by understanding the bigger picture, an empowered team is able to adapt when they hit inevitable challenges
• Skilled team – you need the right levels of expertise. Having a team of highly committed people is key, but a team of enthusiastic amateurs can only get you so far.
• Capacity to deliver – being overloaded helps no-one. The individual(s) won’t be happy as they know they can’t do their best work, and it will affect the wider team that will be limited by the pace and output where the resource constraints are
• A repeatable defined process – you want your team to focus on the outcomes and deliverables and how they are going to achieve the objectives. Not wasting time defining how they are going to work.
• Appropriate oversight and governance – having given the team the structure, you must ensure you have appropriate oversight to ‘keep score’ and drive accountability, while also providing critical experience, steering and decision-making. And then when action is required, ensuring that is taken
• Effective prioritisation and demand management – ensuring projects are appropriately prioritised and therefore resourced accordingly. Projects rarely exist in a vacuum and so ensuring as more projects come in, these are evaluated and prioritised accordingly and not just added to the pile
• Communication – establishing clear communication with the appropriate cadence to ensure those who need to be communicated to are and at the right time and frequency
• Change management – projects are there to enable outcomes and deliver benefits. There must be a clear process and structure to ensure the foundations are set for project outcomes to land, with appropriate process, structure and accountability to ensure they do
• Continuous improvement – establishing a culture of continuous improvement is key. Learning from prior experience, updating processes and practices and capturing learnings not only increases the chances of success for individual projects, but for the organisation as a whole
• Information availability – ensuring information is available and as up-to-date as possible so people can prioritise effort and focus on the areas that need most attention, not using meetings as simple update forums. This is a massive accelerator for collaboration, communication and decision-making
• Single-touchpoint – technology should also be leveraged to ensure information is only entered once and is routed to where it needs to be connected so time is not wasted re-entering information and removing the danger of transcription errors
• Accelerating delivery – effective use of technology, in particular automations, not only ensures information availability, but also frees up individuals from mundane tasks of processing information manually, thus increases capacity
• One version of the truth – connected data ensures there is one version of the truth to ensure decisions are made leveraging the latest information