Tag Archives: English Post

Review: Manage your project portfolio

9781680501759-480x600Johanna Rothman wrote the book Manage your portfolio Second edition – Increase your capacity – Finish more projects. A book for the more professional portfolio manager or as mentioned on the back of the book: Expert skill level.

If you are facing too many projects, if firefighting and multitasking are keeping you from finishing any of them, this book will help you to manage your portfolio. It makes use of agile and lean ways of working and brings the biggest benefits when you are running your projects in an agile way too. Projects become to be delivered features and evaluation means prioritizing feature sets. In the quick reference card, I highlighted the way the author promotes the usage of Kanban boards to manage your portfolio and it visualizes some of the decisions to be taken.

Manage your portfolio (QRC, 171017) v1.0

To download: Manage your portfolio (QRC, 171017) v1.0

The author divided the book in fourteen chapters and these chapters gives you a step by step approach to build your portfolio. All chapters end with several situations and possible responses to try.

  1. Meet your project portfolio: It’s not your customer who cares about your portfolio. If you are facing issues to finish projects, if you want to deliver faster, more often and qualitative good products to your customer, you need a portfolio
  2. See your future: by managing your portfolio you make the organization’s choices transparent. It becomes clear what to work on first, second, third. It will help to avoid multitasking. What does it mean if you apply lean approaches to your project portfolio? You must think in terms of value, let teams work in small chunks that they can handle and complete
  3. Create the first draft of your portfolio: start collecting all the work before you attempt to evaluate and determine whether you need to do it now. When needed organize sets of projects into programs. Divide your projects in feature sets or Minimum Marketable Features. Not all feature sets are equally important.
  4. Evaluate your projects: the very first decision is about whether you want to commit to this project, kill the project, or transform the project in some way before continuing. If you don’t want to commit but you can’t kill it either put the project on a project parking lot (name, data, value discussion and notes) so you don’t lose track of it.
  5. Rank the portfolio: You can use many methods to rank. The author discusses the rank with Cost of Delay, business value points (divide a total number of points across your projects), by risk, organization’s context, by tour product’s position in the marketplace or by using pairwise comparison, single or double elimination.
  6. Collaborate on the portfolio: Making portfolio decisions is never a single person’s decision. Facilitate portfolio evaluation meetings.
  7. Iterate on the portfolio: Set an iteration length for your review cycles. This cycle length is affected by your project life cycle (agile delivery gives you the opportunity to have shorter review cycles), your product roadmap, and budgeting cycle.
  8. Make portfolio decisions: Conduct portfolio evaluation meetings at least quarterly to start with, decide how often to review the project parking lot. How are you going to cope with advanced R&D projects? Build a project portfolio Kanban (create backlog, evaluate, project work, assess/validate and maintain) to manage your portfolio.
  9. Visualize your project portfolio: Create a calendar view of your projects with predicted dates. Show not only your staffed projects but your unstaffed work too.
  10. Scaling portfolio management to an enterprise: What are the consequences of resource efficiency thinking (100% resource utilization is 0% flow)? How can you scale by starting bottom up or top down? You need both but scale with care. Do you know your enterprise’s mission or strategy otherwise it will be very difficult, if not impossible to make large decisions? Set up a corporate project portfolio meeting to answer the questions which projects help to implement our strategy and which project distract us from our strategy.
  11. Evolve your portfolio: Using lean can help you to evolve your portfolio approach. What does it mean if you stabilize the time-box or the number of work items in progress (see Naked planning video too).
  12. Measure the essentials: for a lean or agile approach consider the following measures: team’s velocity (current and historical), amount of work in progress (cycle and lead time, cumulative flow), obstacles preventing the team to move faster (how long in progress), product backlog burn-up chart, run rate. Never measure individual productivity.
  13. Define your mission: Brainstorm the essentials of a mission, refine the mission (specify strong verbs, eliminate adverbs, avoid jargon), iterate until you feel comfortable, test your mission, make the mission real for everyone.
  14. Start somewhere…but start!

Conclusion. Johanna Rothman wrote a must read for portfolio managers who are struggling with their role when their organization is moving towards more business agility, with more and more permanent agile teams in place but also for the traditional portfolio manager, facing too many projects and almost no delivery to get hands-on practical advice to start organizing their portfolios.

To order: Manage your portfolio Second edition – Increase your capacity – Finish more projects.

Naked Planning Overview by Arlo Belshee

Arlo was one of the first to lay-out the inspiration for Kanban systems for software development.
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Portfolio Canvas

In one of my previous posts I discussed the Portfolio Canvas. I received several questions from my readers, triggered by the picture of the Portfolio Canvas, that they would like to see the post in English. I asked the developers if they were willing to create an English version. I just received the first draft.

The remainder of this post is the translation of the Dutch post: Portfolio Canvas.

I was triggered by a sneak preview of this portfolio Canvas during a seminar about business agility with an agile portfolio (28 June 2017). I thought this canvas was an answer for agile portfolio management, but now it is formally released, I have to conclude it’s not completely true.

In this post, I will briefly summarize this portfolio Canvas and I give my vision and some recommendations. Feel free to give feedback too.

Michael Sauerbier, Diederik Biesboer, Daniel van den Dries & John van Rouwendaal (all from Cratos Consulting) are the developers of the Portfolio Canvas®.

Portfolio Canvas ENOn their website ( http://cratosconsulting.nl/het-portfolio-canvas/, in Dutch only) we get the following summary:

The Portfolio Canvas is a tool for portfolio managers and (senior) management to:

  • Create a project portfolio overview and
  • To facilitate the priority discussion

The Portfolio Canvas supports organizations in answering the following questions:

  • Who, why, when, and which projects and programs
  • What are the overall portfolio cost (Euro) and benefits (revenues)
  • Biggest portfolio risks and dependencies

The Portfolio Canvas delivers added value in the development and monitoring of a project portfolio by:

  • Facilitating the creation of the project portfolio
  • Delivering a simple overview of the agreed portfolio
  • Communicating the agreed portfolio
  • Facilitates progress monitoring and control.

Remarks and recommendations:

  • Good initiative, which can become, in co-creation, a valuable add for organizations.
  • Replace revenues with benefits or value (financial & non-financial) and work force with people.
  • Nice layout. For me unclear why the arrow and the circle in the center is counter clockwise.
  • I have my doubts if the portfolio canvas offers enough information to control the portfolio progress (maybe by adding post-its on projects in the ‘DOING’-area with impediments (e.g. end date not feasible).
  • I would suggest extending the portfolio canvas with a timeline at the bottom with milestones (changes, benefits). And make the picture clockwise to show movement of the portfolio (and remove or shorten the rectangular extension)
  • The developers explain that the portfolio canvas is based, among other things, on Kanban (Lean). I would like to emphasize this by adding a WIP-limit in the ‘DOING’-area (as an answer to a common anti-pattern of too many parallel in-flight projects).
  • Best practices like Management of Portfolios (AXELOS) or the Standard for Portfolio Management (PMI) suggest dividing the portfolio into different buckets or categories and prioritize the initiatives within these buckets or categories.
  • This could be facilitated by giving each strategic objective its own color and use post-its with the same color for the corresponding projects and programs.

Looking forward to your remarks and recommendations.

Organisation mindset

Many organizations are struggling with the transition to become more agile. I see organizations starting with a number of permanent agile teams and asking themselves after a while why the expected benefits are not there? Did they choose the wrong scaling agile framework? Maybe, maybe not, it probably has to do with the fact that the mindset of the organization is still the mindset of an organization in the traditional world.

I came across a website focussing on this mindset.

Alex Yakyma, founder of ORG mindset, created a model to help you with your transition towards more business agility (implementing Lean and Agile at scale) by focussing on the needed mindshift in your organisation. Without this mindshift, more business agility will be very difficult to achieve, adding more agile practices will not help.

ORG mindshift with their corresponding model will help you with tools and addoption paterns that address the mentality first and allow to build a successful Lean-Agile enterprise. Nowadays you need a mindset that embraces complexity (Lean-Agile mentality)  in stead of a mindset to cope with sequencial industrial systems. In the old world we see anti-patterns such as Outputs over Outcomes, obsession with predictability and metrics et cetera (Reductionist mentality).

Schermafdruk 2017-06-24 10.43.25If you go to the website (orgmindset.com) you get the model with icons (and hyperlinks to the details behind the icons).

Exploit variability  explore economic opportunities: Variability entails high-payoff opportunities.

Minimize Constraints to collaboration: Change is inevitable, and the more flexible the structures that foster collaboration the easier the task. Avoid management’s compartmentalized thinking.

Build sustainable practices: Don’t over-emphasize early wins but focus on benefit-constraint, feedback loops, practice maps, embedded menthal models and shared cognition.

Align Mental Models: we never directly operate with a phenomenon, but through mental models.  As a change agent you have to identify problems with mental models in their organization and fix them (accuracy, different people, different models, blind spots).

Besides this model the website offers research, presentations and course information to become an Org Mindset Enterprise Coach (OMEC).

Conclusion: When you are starting or in the middle of a transition to become more agile this site is definitely worthwhile to visit and gives you some food for thought.

Scaled Agile just released SAFe 4.5 (SAFe for Lean Enterprises)

SAFe 4.5 can be configured for four development environments (Essential SAFe (simplest), Portfolio SAFe, Large solution SAFe and Full SAFe (most advanced) and SAFe 4.5 is backwards compatible with SAFe 4.0 (available through June, 2018).

PRINT-4.5-BP-FULL-Configuration-8.5x11The big picture is a little bit more user friendly (some details / icons are taken out) and you can select the environment you want to use (and as a result the picture will only show the corresponding parts). I think some more icons on the big picture can be removed too if Scaled Agile creates a specific big picture on their homepage for their online knowledge wiki which contains hyperlinks to all topics. A big picture to explain SAFe can work without icons for SPC, Lean-Agile Leaders, the implementation Roadmap and topics like the Continuous Delivery Pipeline.

Most important changes:

  • Faster innovation with Lean Startup and Lean UX
  • Epic Value Statement and Light weighted Business Case are replaced by Epic Hypothesis Statement and Lean Business Case
  • Feature delivery with Scalable DevOps and Continuous Delivery Pipeline
  • SAFe implementation Roadmap
  • Value Stream has been changed to Solution (Value Stream Backlog > Solution Backlog, Value Stream Engineer > Solution Train Engineer, …) and a Solution Train has been added (several ARTs and Supplier forms one Solution Train)
  • Compliance has been added to the Solution Intent
  • Program Portfolio Management (PPM) has been replaced by Lean Portfolio Management
  • Increased alignment with the Scrum Guide

Impact on my book Scaling Agile in organisaties is minor. For the coming year, SAFe 4.0 is still valid. In the next print of my book I can make adjustments regarding the name changes (Value Stream, PPM). The SAFe Implementation Roadmap was already incorporated and topics like faster innovation with Lean Startup can be added.

More information on SAFe 4.5 can be found on www.scaledagileframework.com. At the homepage you can with to SAFe 4.0 too.

PMO Value Ring methodology

pmo-value-ring-pt-600x600The PMO Value Ring is an innovative methodology developed by the PMO Global Alliance  to support the creation, revision and operation of PMOs.

A group knows more than the single most experienced expert and that’s what we get when more than 100 professionals developed the PMO Value Ring. At this moment, the PMO Value Ring is being used by more than 2000 PMOs across more than 70 countries. Starting point for the PMO Value Ring is a benchmarking database build around 26 potential PMO functions and 30 potential benefits and includes recommendations and action plans.

The PMO Value Ring is based on eight steps (see picture):

  1. Define PMO functions
  2. Balance the mix of PMO functions
  3. Establish PMO Processes
  4. Define PMO KPIs
  5. Define PMO headcount and competences
  6. Identify the PMOs maturity and plan its evolution
  7. Calculate PMO ROI
  8. Monitor the PMO’s performance

The demo version of the PMO Value Ring gives a good overview of the tool. You get insights in the potential PMO benefits, potential PMO functions, recommended PMO processes (including activities and descriptions, responsibilities), PMO KPIs (objective and calculation formula, how to measure, related activities and goal), the maturity assessment (explanation of the PMO maturity level by function, current and target level), et cetera.

See for detailed information: www.pmovaluering.com. Here you can set up a demo account too. Trainer and consultant certifications are available.

Conclusion: looks like a great tool to help you to set up or evolve your PMO to the next maturity level. As described it’s much more than a maturity assessment. It will help you with the creation, revision and operation of your PMO.

What I haven’t found is the relation with agile developments. What are the consequences for a PMO if the organisation implements permanent agile teams? What does that mean for PMO processes, PMO KPIs etcetera? Having permanent self-organizing agile teams means you must bring the work to the teams instead of moving people to the work and as a consequence there will be less projects. Decision making will, where possible, be decentralized. These agile developments will have a big impact on the PMO functions and activities. Maybe something for the next version?

 

PRINCE2 Update 2017: manual supporting tabs

9780113315338-480x600Now the new PRINCE2 Update 2017 manual is available (click to to order PRINCE2 Update 2017), I updated the PRINCE2 manual supporting tabs as well.

The Dutch Best Practice User Group (BPUG) will offer pre-punched papers with stickers representing the colored tabs. I hope it will help you to pass the exam.

PRINCE2_update_2017_UK_v2 To download a printable version (and print on a sticker paper): PRINCE2_update_2017_UK_v2

IMG_2213

Book review: The Principles of Product Development Flow

51PdVCFcp3L._AC_US436_QL65_Don Reinertsen wrote the book The Principles of Product Development Flow – Second Generation Lean Product Development.

A very complete book that describes the underlying principles that create flow in product development processes. After reading this book I now understand why in the SAFe methodology and corresponding training material there are so many references to this book. The eight major areas focus on practical methods to:

  • improve economic decisions
  • Manage queues
  • Reduce Batch size
  • Apply WIP constraints
  • Accelerate feedback
  • Manage flows in the presence of variability
  • Decentralize control.

I find many concepts and methods that are present in the SAFe framework too. E.g. economic objectives, cost of delay, economic batch size based on transaction and holding costs, queues, CFD, little’s law, variability, batch size, synchronization, Weighted Shortest Job First (WSJF) and many, many more.

The book follows the already mentioned eight major areas and you get for each area a set of principles explaining that specific area. Each principle is explained in detail including examples. In total, you get 175 principles explained.

Conclusion: this book is definitely a must read. If you want to improve or create the flow in your product development process start with this book. If you are using SAFe this book gives you a lot of background and explanation behind specific methods and principles that are included in SAFe.

An introduction to Lean Product Development Flow given by Don Reinertsen at Adventures with Agile in London, September 2015.

To order: The Principles of Product Development Flow