Monday 29 August 2011

All change again!

My current assignment comes to an end in September.

I'm looking forward to a break, because the last two assignments have been a log slog and I've only had a week off all year.

This current assignment has been one of my most enjoyable, probably because the programme was in such a state when I arrived.

The end client had been promised a lot and had received little. The transformation part of the programme was roughly a year behind schedule, with no signs of delivering much in the near future.

Some people on the programme had to be replaced; they were either getting stale and jaded or they simply weren't up to the challenge.

In some cases, the developers had been asked to achieve the impossible, but it took a change of management for anyone to realise it was impossible and so change the way they were working.

Structurally, the organisation's business model did not lend itself to efficient delivery, because people were not necessarily incentivised to focus on one particular account.

The parlous state of the programme was hidden - not necessarily deliberately - because reporting was very subjective.

My first task was to make the reporting objective, based on the programme schedule. This turned most RAG reports red almost instantly, and people began to understand the scale of the problem. Then, we reorganised the way the account was set up, to incentivise people to focus on the one account.

I also replaced people in key positions, created a whole new programme management team below me and restructured the sub-programmes into outcomes-based projects in order to reduce complexity and risk.

Next, I mandated a better governance structure, based on MSP and PRINCE 2, and increased the size of the PMO. Programme and sub-programme boards were dramatically reduced in terms of the number of attendees so they became proper management forums instead of talking shops, and finally RAID management became effective.

All of this, of course, was done against a backdrop of commercial/contractual "discussions" with a somewhat unhappy and tense end-client.

Things are back on an even keel now, but it has become clear that the programme will take far longer to complete than was ever envisaged. Consequently, I've started replacing contract staff with FTEs to reduce burn rate.

With the programme in a far healthier state and on track to deliver, I can hand over to a permanent Programme Director and look for my next assignment - once I've played a bit of golf of course!