by Mark Kayser
Digital transformation is no longer an option, it’s a must for everyone organisation that wants to stay relevant and compete in an ever-changing world. Trillions of dollars are being allocated to strategic programs each year but billions are being wasted on failed digital transformation projects.
Strategic programs are crucial for business to adapt, but why do 70% of these programs fail to achieve their goals? In short, it’s due to lack of executive buy-in, wrong execution strategy, poor timing and resistance to change.
To succeed, strategic programs need to deliver business value on time and within budget. In this environment the speed of execution is critical. When unpacking the data and the methodologies used to execute strategic programs, one soon realises the administrative challenges associated with executing these programs.
Many corporates are using Project Portfolio Management (PPM) solutions to track strategic programs. Unfortunately this is insufficient for strategic programs because programs are extremely different to projects.
This cookie cutter approach creates many problems for program teams and that is why they soon find spreadsheets, slide decks, endless meetings and emails as the biggest challenge when trying to keep the program on track.
Clarity is key when dealing with complexity. Although useful, PPM solutions are not designed to solve for the complexities of program delivery. The side effect is fragmented information and a lot of manual effort to stay on top of all these moving parts.
Admin versus strategic execution
Ironically, apps that are supposed to help productivity usually result in huge inefficiencies because valuable time is wasted organising work around tools instead of productivity tools helping to organise work. Each tool adds more noise and complexity, reducing productivity and efficiency.
There are so many violations of common sense in programs today. The amount of time and effort that is spent on producing throw away reports is ludicrous. Even more concerning, more than 50% of time is spent in meetings, where meeting effectiveness is perceived to be only around 50% effective.
There is also an endless flow of emails to stay on top of the program and work is all over the place, requiring a super human effort from the program team to stay on top of all the moving parts.
Program work is interrelated and requires a broader solution that will solve for the majority of complexities and requirements for program managers. It must be an all-in-one flexible solution that expands as one progresses on the journey.
PPM solutions are inadequate if one considers all the complexities required to deliver these large transformation initiatives. Program managers need to create the right environment for success and the key is clarity, flexibility and alignment. One needs to ensure an iterative approach to de-risk the program versus long delivery cycles.
Costly manual reports
More than 40% of time spent preparing costly manual reports. In most cases visibility is provided through status reports created in slide decks, for each tier of the program to update the next. There is a risk that these update sessions provide the best version of information and not the best version of reality, similar to a resume for a job interview. The information can be selective in what is escalated and relevant to the next tier.
More than 50% of time spent in ineffective meetings. The cornerstone of collaboration for programs and where resources spend the majority of their time to de-risk, manage issues, provide status updates, what has been achieved, what is next and what should be escalated to the next tier.
Collaborate with the many teams, stakeholders and dependencies in the program eco-system. However, a lot of the outcomes from these sessions, the actions and decisions from meetings captured in documents post the session and fragmenting the information makes it difficult to find. The performance and effectiveness of these sessions could be considered a blind spot.
The impossible becomes possible with the right team culture, a purpose-driven culture. It’s not easy and each program manager will know exactly what’s right for their team. There are a few principles that can get one off to the right start.
Businesses first need to get everyone on the same page with culture, and then focus and drive execution and results. Breaking work down into achievable chunks is an art before it becomes a science for results driven-execution. Bringing a team along on the journey is crucial and building the right team culture is core to productive teamwork.
Solving the execution capability
If one considers the challenges faced by program teams and their stakeholders, it is clear that a bottom-up solution is the answers. It must solve top down executive requirements, leveraging information to automate and reduce admin and effort for the program teams. Finally, it should be easy to use and must have a strong ‘what’s in it for me’ value proposition for all involved.
Strategic programs require a single source solution over and above wasteful scripted meetings, spreadsheets, admin intensive reporting packs, emailed task trackers and tick-box PPM solutions.
So what can be done to improve the probability of success? Let’s first unpack some of the common challenges and frustrations that most program teams face, violations of common sense and blind spots.
FlowState (FS80) is an innovative managed service framework that will help companies increase their productivity by targeting 80 percent on-time completion. It is a Productivity-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering that helps program managers achieve an enhanced level of purpose driven productivity.
The solution enables teams and individuals to adopt a standardised and optimised approach to tasks by utilising pre-defined processes, playbooks, templates and metrics, underpinned by an easy-to-use, intuitive collaboration system.
Regardless of where the task originates, the important metric to track and improve upon is the percentage of tasks completed within the agreed time. These could include actions from meetings, project activities or team activities.
The benefits of this to both company and staff are clear to see. Increased accountability, reduced waste and slippage on tasks, reduction in emails and meetings, asynchronous meetings, key metric tracking and management, removal of geographic constraints, and more.
FlowState improves visibility, increases accountability and puts more trust in the plan. It provides a more agile performance with reduced emails, the removal of meeting timeslot dependency and offers a centralised audit trail for all delivered work.
- Mark Kayser is CEO of FlowState