Tag Archives: review

Review: Portfolio Management – A practical guide

pfm guidePortfolio Management – A practical guide is a publication from the APM Portfolio Management specific Interest Group written by Steve Leary, Richard Moor, Marina Morillas Lara, Stephen Parrett, Lynne Ratcliffe and Adam Skinner.

 

Portfolio management contributes to organizations in many crucial ways:

  • Provides a focal point for strategic goals
  • Ensures the prioritization of the goals, with prioritization rules for projects and programs that are clear and unambiguous
  • Helps ensure the whole board and executives are fully behind the approach, are sponsoring the portfolio and are actively championing portfolio management and empowering a capable team
  • Provides the capability to assess all key change factors
  • Considers in-flight projects and programs and business as usual (BAU) in the same way and ensure full alignment to the strategic goals
  • Ensures ‘tactical’ projects contribute to the strategic goals – if they don’t, don’t do them
  • Embeds portfolio governance into the organization’s controls and makes it robust
  • Critically assesses what information is really needed to make portfolio decisions
  • Provides the means to be consistent and fair across the portfolio, irrespective of the program or project sponsor’s influence.

QRC (PfM A practical guide, 191129) v1.0

To download: QRC (PfM A practical guide, 191129) v1.0

The guide is divided into four main sections. The first section – Introduction to portfolio management explains the basics of portfolio management. How it can contribute to organizations, when you can benefit from portfolio management and where it fits in your organization.

The second part – Adopting portfolio management deals with the link to the existing organizational processes like strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, risk management and benefits. Different delivery methodologies (traditional, agile, hybrid) and their impact are discussed.

Part three – Portfolio management core processes looks at the underlying processes of portfolio management. See the QRC for the flow of processes: create strategic plan, construct & prioritize portfolio, review portfolio, assess performance of portfolio, reporting on the portfolio and develop, monitor & control the portfolio.

The last section – Implementing portfolio management illustrates how an organization will need to clearly and unambiguously identify what will deliver value for them, and then adapt the practice of portfolio management to their needs. Governance roles and the relationship to organizational governance are explained.

The book ends with an overview of challenges for portfolio management:

  • Lack of clarity of the organization’s vision, goals and strategy
  • Lack of board-level consensus
  • Priorities not clearly defined or understand
  • Resources and their allocation not optimized
  • Lack of portfolio management skills
  • Inadequate or overly bureaucratic portfolio controls
  • The cultural challenge
  • Limited perception of portfolio management
  • Portfolio management is seen as just the latest management idea.

Conclusion: If you are new to portfolio management or a senior manager this book will help to understand the basics of portfolio management. If you are an expert in portfolio management, you will recognize most of it and you can use this book to promote the added value of portfolio management.

To order: Portfolio Management – A practical guide

 

 

Review: Exponential organizations

9781626814233-480x600Salim Ismail wrote, together with Yuri van Geest and Michael S. Malone, Exponential organizations – Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it). These exponential organizations are able to show an exponential growth curve due to the integral application of communities, big data, smart algorithms and new, innovative technologies. The authors used research into hundreds of startups and interviews with CEO’s of the fast-growing companies (Airbnb, Netflix, Tesla, Waze, et cetera).

The book consists of two parts and an introduction. The first part explores the characteristics and implications of exponential organizations. The second part deals with the practical implementation and future vision of these organizations. You get tools to implement the exponential organization model in your own organization too.

Moore’s law will be known to many. Every eighteen months the price / performance of computing power doubles. And this has already been applicable for the last sixty years. However, this exponential doubling is much more common, but predicting a technology when it doubles is always dangerous. The Human Genome Project was set up in 1990 with the aim of completely unraveling a single human genome. According to various predictions, the project would take 15 years and cost $ 6 million. Every expert called the project a failure in 1997, pointing out that if only 1 percent were unraveled in 1997, it would take seven hundred years for the entire genome to be mapped. According to Ray Kurzweil, the 1% meant they were halfway. Double 1% seven times was 100%. The project was completed in 2001!

Almost by definition, exponential organizations (ExOs) all think big and this is reflected in the higher ambitious goal of the organization. The massive transformative purpose (MTP) statement is formulated for this purpose.

QRC (ExO EN, 191021) v1.0To download: QRC (ExO EN, 191021) v1.0

ExO’s are described by five external (SCALE) and five internal (IDEAS) elements. To classify as an ExO you need to have a Massive Transformation Purpose (MTP) and at least 3-4 of the ExO-elements. In the appendix you can find a questionnaire to calculate your own exponential score. SCALE- and IDEAS-elements are self-reinforcing and integrating.

The external elements (SCALE) to improve your performance are: Staff on demand, Community & Crowd, Algorithms, Leveraged assets, Engagement. ExOs scale up beyond the boundaries of their own organization by using or gaining access to people, assets and platforms to maximize flexibility, speed, agility and learning processes.

In addition, the controlling framework of the five internal elements (IDEAS) is described, which manages the abundant output of the external SCALE elements: Interfaces, Dashboards, Experimentation, Autonomy, Social.

In addition to the aforementioned characteristics, the authors have determined nine key dynamics at play for the ExO ecosystem:

  1. Information accelerates everything
  2. Drive to demonetization
  3. Disruption is the new norm
  4. Beware the “expert”
  5. Death to the five-year plan
  6. Smaller beats bigger
  7. Rent, don’t own
  8. Trust beats control, open beats closed
  9. Everything is measurable and anything is knowable.

In the second part the authors explain how to start an ExO by using examples and they offer a step-by-step plan:

  1. Select a massive transformative purpose (MTP)
  2. Join or create relevant MTP communities
  3. Compose a team
  4. Breakthrough idea
  5. Build a Business Model Canvas
  6. Find a business model
  7. Build the MVP
  8. Validate marketing and sales
  9. Implement SCALE and IDEAS
  10. Establish the culture
  11. Ask key questions periodically
  12. Building and maintaining a platform.

In addition to setting up, attention is also paid to how you can grow an organization in the mid-market company segment, exponentially. Through examples from TED, GitHub, Coyote Logistics, Studio Roosegaarde, GoPro and how they score on the ExO elements, you get a good overview of what is possible. Finally, a number of strategies are discussed with which large organizations can align themselves with ExO concepts while retaining their core activities transform leadership, partner with, invest in or acquire ExOs, disrupt and implement ExO lite internally.

By using examples from Bridgewater, Coca-Cola, Haier, Xiaomi, The Guardian, GE, Amazon, Zappos, Tangerine, and Google Ventures, among others, the authors explain how these strategies have been put into practice by showing their exponential score. The book concludes with a chapter on exponential executives including the CEO, CMO, CFO, CTO / CIO, Chief Data Officer (CDO), Chief Innovation Officer (CIO), COO, Chief Legal Officer (CLO), and the CHRO.

Conclusion. Is this era of agile transitions, a must read for senior management to understand that scaling of agile teams is not enough to survive in this twenty first century? The book offers a practical framework to experiment with one or more of the ExO elements.

To order: Exponential organizations

See my blog for the Dutch translation of this book.

Review: A Guide to Assurance of Agile Delivery

agile-coverThis guide (2017) is a result of the working group of the Association for Project Management’s Assurance Special Interest group (APM’s Assurance SIG).

The guide addresses assurance in relation to the areas that are considered the fundamental aspects (and key differences form traditional waterfall approach) of agile project management and assurance.

Like the other book I reviewed (Agile Governance and Audit), this book too focusses on temporary project organizations using an agile way of delivery (compare PRINCE2 Agile, AgilePM, DAD, PMI Agile where we have agile teams using e.g. Scrum) and not on organizations using e.g. SAFe, LeSS or Nexus. The four areas described, are (each in a separate chapter):

  • Approaching reviews in an agile way provides guidance on how to plan and conduct reviews. It starts with early engagement to obtain an understanding how the organization applies agile project management, what methodologies, (reporting) tools and approaches it employs. A Terms of Reference (ToR) focusing on the specifics of an agile way of working, the planning of the review and the the output.
  • Environments focus on the agile ways of working and the physical working environment. You get ten general health indicators to assess an agile team. Furthermore, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the whitboards/walls the, preferably co-located, teams are using to understand their Kanbans.
  • Governance starts with an overview of generic governance topics that are applicable too for agile projects. On top of this you get some additional characteristics of agile projects that you, as an assessor, should keep in mind. E.g. the agile approach and terminology, the way the backlog is managed, the agile specific roles like an agile team, a product owner and a scrum master and their behaviors.
  • Risk management mechanisms are probably leaner than for traditional projects. Incremental and iterative delivery with regular client feedback reduces the chance to deliver the wrong product. An overview of specific risks for agile projects and how to cope with them is provided.

At the end of the book you get checklists for the four areas (approaching review, environments, governance and risk checklists) and references to further reading including links to National audit Office and HM Government documents and several agile related sites.

Conclusion: This easy to read book focusses, as stated, on temporary projects with an agile delivery team. I would say it’s a good starting point, and it helps to get an understanding how to perform an assessment on agile projects.

To order: A Guide to Assurance of Agile Delivery

 

Review Agile Governance and Audit

9200000030027431Christopher Wright wrote the book Agile Governance and Audit – An overview for auditors and agile teams. Auditing of an agile way of working looks like an unexplored corner. There is not that much written about this topic.

Agile Governance and Audit gives a short introduction to agile, compares agile with waterfall and looks at audit and agile cultures. The author follows a project life cycle from idea towards a usable product including governance and control.

Based on an audit objective related to the position in the life cycle, you get the main risks to consider, the audit approach including a set of questions and a conclusion. The following audit objectives are explored:

  • Auditing agile versus waterfall: To ensure management has adequate controls for decisions regarding the choice of approach for projects (agile/waterfall/hybrid approach) and has established the governance and infrastructure to support these approaches
  • Auditing project initiation: To ensure management has adequate procedural controls and evidence for decisions regarding inception and choice of approach, business benefits, risk/compliance implication, phasing and level of governance required. A case study is included
  • Auditing requirements gathering: To ensure management has adequate controls and evidence for decisions for the consistent gathering, assessment, prioritization and approval of high-level business requirements. A case study is included
  • Auditing build and testingphases: To ensure management has adequate controls and evidence for decisions regarding testing performed, and that that testing will ensure management requirements will be met
  • Auditing business handover: To ensure management has adequate controls and evidence so that functionality, processes and controls can be operated effectively and maintained by the business post Go Life
  • Auditing agile governance: To ensure management has established an effective and efficient framework for governance off the project, with appropriate evidence being retained.

The final chapter gives some top tips for auditors as a take-away.

Conclusion: This easy to read book focusses on projects with an agile delivery team using Scrum, Unified Process or XP. This means, in this book, a temporary organization using an agile way of working that is close to more traditional project management. This is where we now see PRINCE2 Agile, AgilePM, DAD or PMI Agile. I would say it’s a good starting point, and it helps to get an understanding what kind of controls you need to put in place. On the other hand, I hoped to find some audit practices regarding organizations with permanent agile teams using SAFe or LeSS or other agile scaling frameworks. In these situations, the focus will probably be on requirements/user stories/backlog items, roles, governance, decentralized decision making, DevOps, automated testing, continuous integration, continuous deployment and transition. And these areas are not covered in this book (understandable because the book was written in 2014).

In a next post I will review another book in this area: A guide to Assurance of Agile Delivery. Please let me know if you are aware of other books in this area.

To order (Bol.com): Agile Governance and Audit

 

Review Make Disruption Work

9789082838206-480x600Alexandra Jankovich and Tom Voskes wrote the book Make Disruption Work – a CEO handbook for digital transformation. Everybody is talking about digital disruption. It will continue impacting every sector and industry and creating new ways for companies to serve customers better, faster and cheaper. Those companies that adapt and make disruption work for them, win big; those that don’t get boiled like frogs.

The book is built around the 5D model. Each step has its own chapter with explanations of the key points in that step and related examples of existing companies. The final part of the book is dedicated to three case studies. The chocolate world (de-decentralizing: autonomous-owners to everyone-wants-in), Dealcraze.com (back from the brink: data saves) and Prospect & Micawber (safety through risk). The case studies are detailed and risk, covering not only the sunny side, but also the gritty problems and misconceptions faced, as well as key case data.

The 5D model:

  1. Discover the new world. CEOs ask: ‘How is my industry going to be disrupted?’ Start by looking up
  2. Define how to act. The game has changed. There are six new rules, and seven strategies to match
  3. Determine what you need. Organize to deliver speed and disruption, and approach tech right
  4. Drive the change. Get your capabilities, get your team, go!
  5. Delight in the new world. Lead, act, and tell the story.

QRC (make disruption work, 190821) v1.0To download: QRC (make disruption work, 190821) v1.0

Conclusion: The book is easy to read, easy to digest, and visually attractive. By following the 5D model you get a lot of useful advice for senior leaders how to cope with disruption and how to make disruption work for you.

To order (Managementboek.nl): Make Disruption Work – a CEO handboek for digital transformation

Nederlandse versie: Make disruption Work – Een CEO-handboek voor digitale transformatie

 

Review Official PRINCE2 Foundation App

1200x630waA companion learning tool to pass the PRINCE2 Foundation exam. It’s based on a simple 3-step approach: study, practise and mock exams. You can do a quick test by topic or a full mock exam. You can review answers provided with explanations and results will be tracked by topic.

It can be used as a reference tool with a comprehensive glossary with search function across the whole App. The App contains a case study to bring PRINCE2 to life and offers links to continue your PRINCE2 journey.

On the main menu you have to choose between study or practice. In the study part you will be able to read a case study (Axle Car Hire) about project management and study for your exam with Study Cards (in total 240 questions). The case study contains 5 topics:

  • Introduction to PRINCE2: introducing the company, it’s vision, the project and the key employees
  • Principles: remarks from the key stakeholders in line with the principles
  • Themes: purpose and remarks from the key stakeholders in line with the themes business case, organization, quality and plans
  • Themes 2: purpose and remarks from the key stakeholders in line with the themes risk, change and progress
  • Processes: purpose and remarks from the key stakeholders in line with the processes starting up a project, directing a project (3 parts), initiating a project, managing a stage boundary, controlling a stage, managing product delivery and closing a project.

The study cards are in line with the five topics. When you give the right answer, you get an explanation why that’s the correct answer. If you give an incorrect answer you get an explanation why it’s incorrect.

In the practice part you can select a quick test or mock exam. The length of the quick test (min 10, max 30 minutes) and the number of questions (between 20 and 40) can be adjusted. The Mock exams are 60 questions in 60 minutes. The questions are the same as the study cards. 

Conclusion: In total 240 questions, which more than enough to prepare yourself for the foundation exam. The App could be of more value if the study cards are based on the case itself.

Some potential improvement points:

  • Navigation: if you mark a topic as read you imediatly get the next topic and before you know you mark that one as read too.
  • Navigation. Replace < on the top with HOME. If you use this as previous screen/previous question you have to start all over with the study cards. Or add a message in line with the mock exam.
  • In the case there is a reference to PRINCE2 role: Sponsor (incorrect, see glossary).
  • Some questions refer to the Commissioning organization (not in the glossary).

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Review AGILE NXT – New Insights for Agile Performance Management

Schermafbeelding 2019-06-18 om 13.27.07This is XEBIA’s second edition of AGILE NXT (see AGILE NXT for the first edition). This time you get approximately twenty articles to bring you up to speed with new insights for agile performance management.

  • Measuring the Value of Business Agility (by Daria Nozhkina) shows that business agility generally adds value in three ways: it impacts the top line or the costs (or both); drives profitability; and contributes soft value which ensures that the profitability achieved is sustainable over the long term.
  • Data Science and Coaching: The Yin/Yang of Better Interventions (by Pieter Rijken) gives insights in team behavioral change by looking at goodness for fit for the delivery rate (items per iteration) data.
  • The Efficiency Addiction: Just Say No (by Roel trienekens). If you focus on efficiency … you get better at being increasingly less effective. Efficiency is about doing the same for less, effectiveness is about achieving more with the same input.
  • Four Steps to Effective Performance Meetings (by Daniel Burm) discusses four fundamental principles to keep in mind for people leading performance meetings: it’s not about you, close the loop, achievable next steps, and ask open questions.
  • The Quantifiable Added Value of Scrum is an interview with Jeff Sutherland about result-oriented organizations operating on clear and simple performance indicators (by Serge Beaumont).
  • Diamond Agile: Measuring What’s Meaningful (by Frank Verbruggen). Diamond Agile is a way of looking at organizational health from 5 different perspectives. Associated with each perspective are metrics. These metrics have been selected from hundreds of metrics as the best fit. 
  • The Power of Play in a Safe (But Not Too Safe) Environment (by Jasper Lamers) shows that a safe environment in which people can experiment, learn and fail without ruining the company, boost creativity.
  • Measuring Success, Measuring Value: Performance Management in a Scrum World (by Gunther Verheyen) highlights that team engagement is the most ignored aspect of value, yet one where huge gain can be made to increase the ability to deliver value.
  • The Gentle Way of Change (by Chris Lukassen) talks about six levers or sources of influence from the path to Judo black belt that could make you a better leader in business: personal motivation, personal ability, social motivation, social ability, structural motivation, and structural ability.
  • Changing Behavior—Measure First, Change Next (by Just Meddens) emphasizes what it does take to actually change behavior in the long term, and why it is so important in business. To change behavior the ABC change model can be of help (Antecedent: what triggers the behavior? Behavior: what’s being displayed? Consequence: what happens after the behavior is displayed? Is it being reinforced?).
  • It Takes Two to Do the Agile Tango: Invite Security to the Dancefloor (by Dave van Stein). Security and development need to dance together, so it’s best if they both learn the steps together, right from the beginning of your agile transition. Otherwise, once the development teams gain velocity, security and incident management becomes an impediment, and there is likely to be a few stumbles on the dancefloor.
  • Micro-Interventions from a Position of Leadership (by Rik de Groot). Management is responsible for 33% of transition failures. Micro-interventions that can help to achieve a positive outcome are provide purpose, speak out and build trust, lead by example, think big, act small, and shared leadership.
  • Doing: Diagnosis and Intervention Guide (by Paul Immerzeel and Maarten Uppelschoten) gives insights in the Doing model. Why people do things, how intervention triggers the behavior that creates the desired outcome and with it, organizational change. Forces that influence doing are understanding, willing, able and being enabled.
  • The Secret Key to Performance: Inner Agility (by Mirjam Diependaal). When in transition, organizations often forget that the essential factor in change is people. And people are often afraid to change. That’s why organizations should explicitly focus on helping people develop inner agility, because, without it, lasting change won’t occur.
  • Reducing Waste in the Race for Innovation (by Wilco Nap) outlines strategies designed to prevent product waste, time waste, and talent waste.
  • EventStorming: Increasing Performance Through Continuous Discovery, Learning, and Sharing (by Kenny Baas-Schwegler) explains EventStorming. It’s a workshop-based method for facilitating collaboration between the different IT disciplines and silos to empower knowledge-sharing.
  • Metrics: WiFi, Hamburgers, and the Successful Improvement Rate (by Jarl Meijer) emphasizes that there are two metrics that matter most in measuring the success of an agile transformation: the “level of agility” and the” successful improvement rate”.
  • How DevOps Helps You Accelerate Your Execution Power and Why it Matters (by Hans-Jürgen Jacobs and Pavel Goultiaev). DevOps allows a company to respond faster and rapidly test assumptions in any response to opportunities or threats. By creating more customer value, a company can achieve superior performance.

Curious to read the magazine? Download or request a printed copy at: AGILE NXT