How one simple question could transform your programme results

Many transformation programmes require management and completion of complex tasks, combined with large sub-projects. Some of these are more time sensitive than others, hence why teams generally use a form of tracking. Using trackers, in Jira, in Excel or otherwise, to highlight overdue tasks is only the start.

If you need to achieve programme success, you need to dig deeper.

Early warnings

We recommend that all programmes have early warning systems in place. When risks are identified which could create a problem down the line, they can be investigated and mitigated in advance. And where risks require more complex mitigation, the mitigation tasks should be included within the project plans. This helps reduce the problems occurring.

Talking of early warning signs, especially on critical tasks, brings us to our next point…

Critical path

The critical path – that sequence of stages which determines the minimum time needed for tasks which must be completed on-time to achieve a programme deadline. There’s a reason it’s called ‘critical’ – being able to accurately define when things need to start so they complete for the next task depending on them is crucial.

Yet, at Acceler8, it surprises us how common it is for these dependencies to receive little or zero attention. In other words, critical paths in plans are often non-existent, incorrect or incomplete.

One of the biggest reasons plans go astray in project management is errors in critical path planning, managing and execution. This beginners guide to the Critical Path Method (CPM) is useful if you’re just starting out.

Root cause of problems

When a problem is identified, it’s not enough to report it. Businesses need experienced teams who investigate to find root cause of problems. This makes ‘why?’ the most important question in transformation programmes.

The ability to look in-depth at why tasks (related tasks or otherwise) are falling behind or failing is vital for good governance and informed decision making. Experienced managers can spot people with the potential for transformational greatness; they’re the ones looking for the trends in what’s gone wrong. They’re the ones using all the insights available to them. And, they’re the ones focussing on the long-term goal, not just pushing teams to play catch-up on their tasks.

Environment of openness

But even when early warning signs exist there is the tendency for problems not to be surfaced by those who see them for the governance to handle. People need to feel they can surface issues and ask ‘why?’ in order to get to the root cause and ultimately improve in delivery. So, the leadership and governance must nurture an environment of openness. And the best way to do that? Lead by example. Start by asking ‘why?’ and when the root cause is identified, don’t blame anyone, just fix, improve, move on and congratulate people for improving.

If you need an expert eye on your planning, contact Acceler8 Consultancy today – https://acceler8consultancy.com/contact-us/

About the Author
A Change and Programme Management professional with international experience in business transformation, from strategy definition to implementation and covering all dimensions of change: sourcing, contracts, policy, process, IT, infrastructure, behavioural, organisational. John is a Fellow of the Institute of Consulting, a Change Management Practitioner, and MBA qualified who has delivered change and integration of customer facing, commercial, operational and back office capabilities in various organisations.

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