Program Management

Program Management Optimization to Improve Government Performance

By Richard Hudson, Senior Director of Client Services, Evans Incorporated and Jim Wright, Director of Business Development, Evans Incorporated

Program Management Optimization (PMO) is an essential ingredient in ensuring an organization achieves – even exceeds – the potential from its strategic programs, while also controlling costs, increasing overall efficiency, and ensuring overall success. When fully optimized, an organization’s programs should resemble a ‘well-oiled machine.’

In recent years, Program Management has been recognized for the unique discipline it is, along with the particular skill sets it requires. A recent mandate by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) also now requires certain standards of Program Management be put in place and followed in government programs as a result of the recognition and appreciation of the significant benefits it delivers.

Here at Evans Incorporated, we put our own spin on our approach to Program Management Optimization. We start with a Program Management Assessment Tool (PMAT) to set a maturity baseline for an organization’s program(s) and prioritize key initiatives. Then, we proceed with the following to ensure a successful approach is in place from the get-go:

  • Ensure the organization has clear expectations on the role of their PMO and then training and equipping your project and program managers to be effective;
  • Understand an organization’s current maturity level and develop targeted action plans to address gaps in realizing desired maturity; and
  • Monitor progress towards achieving the PMO vision and updating your implementation plan based on a robust assessment of your alignment with stated requirements.

Visit our website for more information about our Program Management Optimization Services and expertise, and click here to access a recent whitepaper developed by our expert team.

Successful Program Management Requires Self-Aware Leaders

By Laura English

The nuances and complexities of Program Management can push and pull on leaders’ strengths and comfort zones.  The Government Executive article, “Program Management Is Much More Complex Than Many Leaders Understand” proposes that programs can holistically fall into four quadrants – Collaboration, Innovation, Results, and Control and thus leaders must consider the skills and strategies needed to support those approaches.  While knowing the category in which their program falls from a broad perspective is useful, leaders would also benefit from considering where their own personal strengths lie in these categories. Self-awareness is one of the key tenants for being a strong leader and it helps be able to build strategies to meet twists, turns and challenges of running programs.   If a leader finds that she is adept at collaboration, but the program needs a strong control approach, she would be well served to understand these differences and develop capacity either in herself or through building her team to complement her strengths.  Additionally, programs move through phases in each of the quadrants; for example, at the beginning stages of the program innovation and collaboration may be highly valued and once the program is launched results and control may be more valued.  One of the best ways to gain self-awareness and to expand growth-oriented approaches is through leadership coaching. 

Evans coaches support leaders and take a strength-based approach to helping them understand where they have the most impact as well as building strategies to deal with challenges.  The many areas in which leaders have found success with regard to coaching is creating personal development plans, building and empowering teams, engaging stakeholders, developing accountability tactics, and improving communication and employee engagement (to name a few).  Understanding the nuances of a program and understanding one’s own leadership nuances helps to develop an agile approach to meeting the complex needs of a program.

To learn more about the Evans human-centered approach to Program Management Optimization, visit us at EvansIncorporated.com and be sure to fill out our contact form to learn more about our services.

 

Evans Risk Management in Action

By Dawn Stevenson

It’s important for any program to have mechanisms for managing risk, but particularly a program that’s innovative and partnership-based, where responsibilities are shared. Evans can help!

In 2017 the government began launching an innovative program to create a tool automating certain requests for airspace access. The tool is reducing a large backlog of requests from when each was processed manually, reducing the workload of FAA and the time that requesters need to wait. It is a radical departure from prior, more typical systems in that it’s a partnership with industry: the government exchanges data with (approved) companies to process requests. Companies led solution development, testing, and implementation, which means significant cost savings for the government and faster progress on a solution. The rollout of this innovative approach is exciting, but also poses risks for the stakeholders involved.

Evans is working with the program team on program management, including Risk, Issue, and Opportunity (RIO) management support. The RIO process pro-actively identifies and manages risks and benefits from opportunities in the program. A Standard Operating Procedure defines the scope of the RIO Management work, and Evans supports trainings for stakeholders to help them understand their roles in the RIO management process and how each can contribute. Starting risk management support during the testing phase set up the program for more likely success as it rolls out to more users, because the program team can make informed decisions about technical elements, communications around rollout, and requirements for the companies with which government is partnering. Our RIO approach places a premium on expert facilitators and adept communicators, to ensure the program’s RIO process is driven by professionals consistently capable of helping competing perspectives and different roles work toward a common goal and make progress against both the risks and opportunities identified within the program.

Are you part of a program taking a unique approach? Don’t let the risks deter you, but do take risk seriously. Evans can help you manage risks and get the full benefit of opportunities to set you up for success. To learn more, register for our free webinar on August 28, Program Management Optimization – Do You Want to Fight or Prevent Fires?

Thrive in Five: Collaborating with Stakeholders

Thrive in Five
Evans Incorporated’s 25 Year Anniversary is approaching, so we’re taking the next few months to reflect on where we are currently and what’s to come! This includes highlighting one of our areas of specialization per month through September. The focus for the month of August is Program Management Optimization.

A key aspect to Program Management Optimization is stakeholder collaboration. A program can’t run smoothly without the stakeholders, both internal and external, so keeping stakeholders engaged in decisions and informed with updates will help promote a smooth operation. This Thrive focuses on a few key methods you can use to ensure you’re collaborating with your stakeholders.

Do you want to get inspiring and growth-oriented messages to fuel your learning and be your best self? Click below to get the bi-weekly Thrive in Five messages sent directly to your inbox!

Stakeholder Engagement to Optimize Programs

Imagine this: Your client needs help with finding a solution to a problem they’re experiencing. You ask them the following questions:

“Who contributes to this problem?”
“Who else is impacted by this problem?”
“Who else needs to contribute to the solution?”
“Who else would be impacted by the solution?”
“Who else could influence the success of the solution?”

To each the client responds, “Just me.” How easy did your job just become? The only stakeholder is your client!

Realistically, most clients don’t operate in these vacuums but are part of complex systems with massive operational dependencies and interdependencies. This additional level of complexity can be overwhelming, but there are many tools available to facilitate effective stakeholder collaboration such as Stakeholder Analysis, Stakeholder Engagement Plans, and more.

At the heart of any of these tools are the following four concepts:

First, identify who the real stakeholders are – it’s not just the sponsors or people within your organization; who are the customers of the solution and who provided you with the input critical to do your work?

Second, understanding stakeholder priorities is imperative to understanding their perspective on the program. If stakeholders have different priorities, it could create tension in how these different views believe the program should be run. Taking the time to understand the perspectives will help the stakeholders know that their perspective matters when making decisions that affect them. It’s also important to note that stakeholder interests or priorities may differ from their publicly-taken positions.

Third, give the stakeholders a platform to speak. Whether this is a forum once per month or weekly team meetings, stakeholders should be given the opportunity to weigh in.

Fourth, provide timely, tailored updates. Stakeholders should be kept engaged by giving timely updates that are tailored to their interests and influence on the program. There is a balance between giving an update too soon with information that is likely to change, and waiting too long to give an update so the information spreads by word of mouth before stakeholders are informed by the appropriate role. As far as tailoring updates, there is nothing that makes someone “check out” quicker than continually being sent irrelevant information. Understand your audience for each update, and send these updates only to that audience to prevent communication burnout.

Stakeholder Collaboration: Identify Your Stakeholders, Understand their Priorities, Give Each a Platform to Speak, Give Timely, Tailored Updates

Apply the Five!

The first step in engaging your stakeholders is to identify them! Take a moment to think about your program, or the program you support, and list who is involved and affected by the program. Stakeholders could be employees, managers of other programs, directors or account leads, clients or customers, business partners, suppliers and more.

You may find that the list is smaller than you thought or much bigger and requires a more formal Stakeholder Engagement Plan, but knowing first who your stakeholders are is a step in the right direction to laying a great foundation for stakeholder collaboration!

Need some guidance or want to take your stakeholder collaboration to the next level? Our team of seasoned, human-centered professionals can help!


 

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Brit Nanna!

Realistically, most of our clients don’t operate in vacuums but are often part of complex systems with massive operational dependencies and interdependencies. This produces more stakeholders with whom you must intentionally collaborate to understand the full breadth of the problem and ensure the success of your solution.

I liken stakeholders to dynamic puzzle pieces. Understanding how everyone fits into the big picture helps me understand their influence on the program and vice versa.

Engaging stakeholders in collaboration can range from easy to insanely difficult. This experience can hinge on a variety of factors, but below are some key obstacles I’ve encountered:

  1. Stakeholders may not share the same goal(s)
  2. Stakeholders may not feel the same pain of the original problem as your client
  3. Stakeholders may not share the same organizational culture
  4. The most collaborative stakeholder may not have the most influence (i.e., the least collaborative stakeholder might hold the most influence)
  5. A stakeholder’s organizational culture might not promote collaboration to the degree required of them for your project
  6. A stakeholder might favor a more commanding leadership role in the solution than a collaborative partnership
  7. While silent during meetings, a stakeholder may actively voice their dissent and discontent behind closed doors
  8. A stakeholder’s publicly-taken position on a topic may not truly reveal their true interests
  9. Operational inefficiencies may inhibit effective stakeholder engagement and collaboration – e.g., how decisions are made, how stakeholder input is elicited, etc.

These considerations may feed into tools commonly available to facilitate effective stakeholder collaboration such as Stakeholder Analysis, Stakeholder Engagement Plans, etc. The concepts described above are at the heart of any of these tools.


Until Next Time…
The Evans Thrive Team
(Nicole, Kaitlin, Laura, Bob, and Sean)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

Challenged by Delivering Projects Successfully – Have You Considered PMaaS?

By Richard Hudson, Senior Director Client Delivery

Many offerings these days are being provided as a service.  We have Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), and even Communications-as-a-Service (CaaS)!  All the activities and products that can be performed more effectively and efficiently once they have been standardized can be provided as a service.  This includes Project Management as a Service (PMaaS).

Many organizations do not have the skills or the infrastructure to create a robust Project Management Office or manage a portfolio of projects or a large deployment.  Challenges Evans often hears voiced by our clients are:

  • Difficulty in maintaining staff continuity and disruptions caused by Project Manager (PM) turnover on projects
  • The cyclical nature of the demand for PMs and how various types of projects require different styles of management and domain expertise
  • The cost of investing in training to keep PMs current in leadership disciplines and tools
  • Maximizing PM focus on core work activities and minimizing focus on administrative support

Evans response to this is to offer PMaaS, applying talented and experienced Program/Project Management professionals with a comprehensive PM toolkit that offer efficiency and value-creation in successfully delivering your portfolio of strategic and large programs and projects.  Aspects of the Evans PMaaS include:

  • A ‘stacked staffing’ lifecycle PM model to minimize disruption
  • Evans PMaaS portfolio management to ensure our PMs fully understand the business drivers and can enable innovation, integration and quality control for delivery to approved milestones
  • Dedicated and experienced Project Analysts to execute administrative support duties in support of IT Capital lifecycle processes (e.g. Cloud, Advanced Analytics, etc.)
  • A pool of professional PMs with a diverse range of relevant domain experience
  • An onboarding process that includes partnering with an organization to ensure we maximize our efficiency with minimal transition time

The Evans PMaaS ensures consistency in application of PM best practices across multiple units within an organization along with accrued expertise through ongoing professional development/execution.

To learn more about the Evans human-centered approach to Program Management as a Service, visit us at EvansIncorporated.com and be sure to fill out our contact form to learn more about our services.

Managing Risk, The Evans Way

By Ryan Burke, PMP, RMP

Proactivity is an essential ingredient in an effective, impactful Risk Management strategy. Evans Risk Management (Evans RM) delivers a streamlined, customized approach that focuses on keeping clients one step ahead of potential issues at all times, through identifying any and all:

  • Risks
  • Certainties
  • Opportunities, as well as a real-time structure to process changes as they come up in order to keep clients on the path to success.

Additionally, Evans RM’s process involves creating a ‘Risk Positive Culture’ within its client’s organizations, comprised of a tailored risk management assessment and service overview that aligns with the clients’ overall priorities and strategic goals, and the teams collaborate to identify and prioritize ‘fears’ in order to meet them head-on if -and before- they happen.

The Evans RM difference is clear. We not only manage the risks within various levels of an organization, we work alongside our clients to identify and manage opportunities to improve the organization as a whole in the process. We focus on developing relationships with key stakeholders at all levels, maintaining open communication channels, and always asking the right questions to be sure we are always head of the game when it comes to potential risks and threats to increase lasting organizational growth and success.

To learn more about the Evans RM approach, and how we are bringing a tailored, streamlined, and impact-driven approach to help our clients manage their risk efficiently and proactively, we invite you to read our White Paper on Risk Management.

Program Management – One Size Does NOT Fit All

By Richard Hudson, Senior Director Client Delivery

The Government Accountability Office has long bemoaned the dearth of effective program management across government, and concluded that “institutionalizing the discipline of program management across the federal government should be a top priority.” This led to the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act, which was signed into law at the end of 2016.  The Act, along with associated implementation guidance, seeks to create an integrated approach to program management, establish a professional program management community, and clarify roles and responsibilities. The Act also requires agencies to develop specific implementation plans, starting in July 2018.

But before an agency gets too deep into the specifics of management competencies, roles and standards, and the establishment of a Program Management Office (PMO) to support delivery and implementation, we believe it is critical to define what the agency wants to achieve, and what is realistic based on what’s already in place and the types of programs the agency manages.  Some of the basics to consider are:

  • What is the agency’s timeline for improvement?
  • Which pain points must be addressed regarding project / program / portfolio execution?
  • What role does the agency envision for its Program Management Office (PMO)? Specifically, is the PMO simply to be a resource for tools, processes, and best practices (i.e., “support”), a standards-setting and enforcing organization (i.e., “control”), or the organization that actually performs program execution (i.e., “directing”)?
  • What maturity level does the Agency wish to achieve for the standard process areas of program management?

Evans has both the experience and expertise to help agencies establish their visions for program management improvement and offers a Program Management Assessment Tool that can be used to establish an agency’s program management maturity baseline, representing its current practice, and then to prioritize initiatives for moving towards the agency’s vision.  This assessment is usually repeated every 6-12 months to monitor progress and re-prioritize so that the agency can be confident of realizing the desired outcomes.

To learn more about the Evans human-centered approach to Program Management Assessment, visit us at EvansIncorporated.com and be sure to fill out our contact form to learn more about our services.

Developing A Positive Risk Culture

By Ryan Burke, PMP, RMP

One surefire way to derail a highly-functioning risk management process is by creating or enabling a negative risk culture within your organization. Upon beginning a project, one of the first steps that should be taken is to conduct a risk culture analysis to identify the most prevalent type of risk attitude within the project team. Often times multiple risk attitudes will be present.  It is the responsibility of the Risk Manager and the Project Manager to create a positive risk culture within the project that sees risk management as a tool that will increase the likelihood of achieving project objectives, rather than a sign of a poorly managed project.

When conducting the risk culture analysis, the key stakeholders within the project will be placed within one of the following risk attitudes:

Risk Averse – Not comfortable in dealing with risk. Will take steps to avoid risk rather than deal with developing unique mitigations. This can lead to cost and schedule delays as project plans are changed to avoid risk.

Risk Taking – Very comfortable in dealing with risk.  Will often seek out risks based on the opportunity that they present. Excessive optimism about risks can often lead to negative impacts as the project takes on too much risk, or does not properly managed the mitigations.

Risk Neutral – Neither risk averse nor risk taking. Instead, this person will deal with risks in a methodical, objective, and unique way. Often using tools such as Earned Value Management, Schedule Analysis, and Decision Trees as a way of making an informed decision. This is the preferred risk attitude.

Risk Tolerant – Will often ignore risks until they become a larger issue. Very comfortable in dealing with risks but tend to downplay the importance of risk management throughout the lifecycle of a project, which leads to headaches when dealing with larger issues that were previously ignored.

When conducting a risk culture analysis, it is important to remember that the risk mentality of the group can often differ from that of the individuals.  Risk culture should be managed and assessed throughout the lifecycle of the project to ensure that proper risk attitude and culture is leading to the successful completion of project objectives.

To learn more about the Evans’ human-centered approach to portfolio risk management, visit us at EvansIncorporated.com and be sure to fill out our contact form to learn more about our services.

Creating a Portfolio of Success

By Ryan Burke, PMP, RMP

When examining ways to increase the successfulness of an organization, one approach is to incorporate a top-down risk management process throughout a group of portfolios. A portfolio should include similar programs or projects, and each should be working towards a combined goal or set of objectives that is managed at the portfolio level. Once the portfolio of programs has been established, the first step in achieving success is to develop a list of fears and aspirations (what keeps you up at night and what would you like to achieve?). This list will ultimately lead to the development of overall portfolio risks and objectives.

Once the prioritized list of risks and objectives has been established, we can begin to break down each objective into its subtasks.  We will begin to identify the requirements of each subtask and which program within the portfolio is ultimately responsible for completion of these tasks.  If we properly analyze the requirements of each subtask responsible for the completion of a portfolio objective, we can also identify the gaps and areas of risk that lies within these tasks.  Upon completion of the subtask risk analysis, the portfolio level should have an accurate list of risks to the completion of each major objective. These risks will be filtered down to the program level for management and mitigation.

The end state of this process is to mitigate as many sub-task risks as possible and develop new internal controls along the way.  With each successful risk mitigation, the overall portfolio objectives are that much closer to being successfully completed. If all involved in this process are diligent in their approach to risk mitigation and committed to the communication of shared risks, the overall success of the portfolio will be greatly increased.

To learn more about the Evans’ human-centered approach to portfolio risk management, visit us at EvansIncorporated.com and be sure to fill out our contact form to learn more about our services.

 

Thrive in Five: Ensuring Program Success and Sustainability

Thrive in Five
Evans Incorporated’s 25 Year Anniversary is approaching, so we’re taking the next few months to reflect on where we are currently and what’s to come! This includes highlighting one of our areas of specialization per month through September. The focus for the month of August is Program Management Optimization.

Most people hear PMO and think “Project Management Office,” but in this Thrive in Five, we’re going to take a different spin on it and talk about Program Management Optimization. Program Management Optimization is critical for maximizing the potential of an organization’s change programs while decreasing costs, increasing efficiency and ensuring program success. We’ll cover what the process entails, so you can start to identify where you can make adjustments and help your programs reach their maximum potential.

Do you want to get inspiring and growth-oriented messages to fuel your learning and be your best self? Click below to get the bi-weekly Thrive in Five messages sent directly to your inbox!

Program Management Optimization

Program Management Optimization is all about… no hidden meanings here… optimizing your program! This means setting up all your programs in a way that makes them as efficient and “bump free” as possible. An optimized program is a well-oiled machine where everyone understands their role, teams collaborate effectively, and risk is proactively mitigated.

At Evans, our focus on Program Management Optimization revolves around a few key aspects:

  1. Project Management Office Assessment
  2. Proactive Risk & Opportunity Management
  3. Stakeholder Collaboration

Most organizations have a Project Management Office, but few are intentional in what type of governance and support it should provide, and even fewer assess how well it performs its functions. Evans’ PMO Assessment will help you realize where the gaps are between your current state and your desired state. This gap analysis is crucial for generating action that allows all your projects to deliver to their real potential.

When you understand your risks, steps can be taken to mitigate them, increasing the program’s chance for success and optimization. Evans provides a proactive, human-centered risk management approach for clients that may be customized to best meet their unique organizational culture and environment. This approach goes beyond relying upon checking procedural boxes, but instead rests upon a foundation of active participation and transparency. After understanding how the program is really functioning and identifying risks, the Evans risk management approach helps optimize programs by identifying opportunities.

Whether it’s clearly defining roles and responsibilities, setting up clear communication lines, or refining and simplifying processes, your program will run smoother when you have an approach for stakeholder management. Evans’ stakeholder engagement is the entire process of identifying, assessing, and collaborating with stakeholders to meet their needs and foster positive involvement in a project. The primary method of stakeholder engagement is communication, and for this reason, it is vital that communication occurs in a timely and clear manner, keeping stakeholders informed, interested, and (ideally) enthusiastic.

Apply the Five!

Take a step back and look at the big picture. While this is an excellent best practice for any scenario to ensure that alignment still exists between the day-to-day work and goals, this is especially important when deciding if any changes need to be made.

Think about how things are going:

  • Do you know how your PMO is performing – is it delivering to meet the organization’s real needs?
  • Do you manage your project against an established baseline for cost and schedule?
  • Do you have standard risk responses or do you customize to the specifics?
  • Does your project embrace a risk management culture and leverage it to identify opportunities?
  • Have you identified the stakeholders critical to your project’s success and are you intentional in regards to managing the relationships?

These are just a few questions to help you realize if something needs to change. If you answered no to any of them, it might be time to make some adjustments. Some might be simple and only affect one area of a specific project, but some might challenge how you structure and run your PMO. Hopefully we’ve laid the foundation to help you make that call!

Learn How Evans Thrives!

What better way to inspire you to thrive than to hear about real people making it happen? And what better way to learn about Evans than to make those real people Evans employees and partners?

Meet Richard Hudson!

Sticking with the theme of planning and management, Richard has been an enthusiastic diver
for the last 30 years and the guidance of “Plan Your Dive and Dive Your Plan”
has stuck with him through his professional life.

As someone who works with organizations to ensure they realize the benefits from their investment in change, my approach is grounded in the fundamentals of planning a pro-active management. I have been fortunate to dive all around the world, and just like projects, no two dives are the same. For this reason, when planning a dive, you can take nothing for granted. There may be a stronger current, a bigger swell and the visibility may be terrible. This all impacts how much air you need, how long you can stay down and how you avoid losing your buddy. You need a plan, but you also need to assess risks to ensure you have a response when things go wrong. It is well known in diving that most incidents start from a simple issue that is allowed to get out of hand.

Many of the things on my checklist for a dive are applicable when planning a project:

  • What assumptions have gone into estimating the cost?
  • Will the resource plan provide the expertise needed to deliver to schedule?
  • What risks do you need to pro-actively manage?
  • If a risk transpires, do you have a response ready to mitigate the impact?
  • Who do you need to engage to ensure success, and are you nurturing their interest and involvement?

Until Next Time…
The Evans Thrive Team
(Nicole, Kaitlin, Laura, Bob, and Sean)

Employees thrive when they are involved, mentored, challenged, promoted, paid well, appreciated, valued, on a mission, empowered, and trusted.
(This image was adapted from a commonly shared internet image.)

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