Archive for the ‘Project Management’ Category

An Opportunity to Learn more about Managing Projects – 19th September

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

Do you understand enough about the fundamentals of how to manage projects successfully in your organisation?  Every organisation, large or small, does projects from time to time and a basic understanding of the management tools and techniques available can help ensure that your projects are successful.

On 19th September, Jane Royden will be delivering another of our popular project management workshops in Central London in partnership with MemNet.

Although primarily focused towards organisations in the Membership and other not-for-profit sectors, this workshop will be of real value for anyone who wants to know more about delivering projects.

The day will give you the opportunity to discuss your project challenges and potential solutions with a real expert, and you will find out about some practical tools and techniques that you can use straight away.   You will also get a 1-1 follow-up telephone mentoring discussion with Jane to explore any aspect of your organisation’s projects.

To find out more click on this link

Associations World Congress 2016

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

IT Projects – is there a gap between aspiration and outcome?

If only it was this easy

You do the project, but it’s not quite as you thought it would be – scope, costs and timescales have all increased and you still haven’t got the result you thought you’d get. At the same time, you may feel that there was a missed opportunity to really develop your team, or a more effective working relationship with your suppliers. Does this sound familiar?

Being able to use technology effectively to develop and transform your organisation is becoming ever more important. Why do so many organisations still experience this gap between aspiration and outcome – particularly when we understand why it happens, and the knowledge and tools needed to avoid it are available?

Jane Royden is exploring this issue at the Associations’ World Congress in Berlin, taking place this week from 10th – 12th April. Under the banner ‘Technology & People: What do you need to deliver the future?’ Jane will be speaking on Monday on ‘Exploring the Gap between Projects, People and Change’.

For more information see the Associations Network World Congress website.

‘Take a look’ at David Hart’s article in APM’s Winter 2015 Project magazine

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

eye-321961_1280David Hart discusses Visual Management

For our colleagues who are APM members, please ‘Take a look’ at Winter 2015 issue of Project magazine from the APM.  Page 62.

E AND H’s David Hart along with Egor Sviridenko from Targetprocess discuss how visual tools can offer a different way of presenting information and enabling control of projects, programmes and portfolios.

Start with the end in mind – whether it’s a wine cellar or a strategy for Syria

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

Two very different things this week have reminded me about how important it is to have a clear view of the ultimate objective of any project or initiative and to understand how, whatever it is we are establishing, will be used.

The first was reading an article in a wine magazine about establishing your own wine cellar.  Putting aside the basic assumption that anyone establishing wine storage at home would consume an average of 300 bottles a year (certainly wishful thinking as far as I’m concerned) the principle that you need to determine how much, how often and what you are going to want to drink over the life of the cellar is fundamental to a successful outcome.  There will be empty-791573_1920wine for special occasions in 20-30 years’ time that will certainly be much more affordable if purchased now and laid down.  Then there will be those mature clarets that you want for dinner parties that again are far more affordable 10 years before they are really ready to drink.  Then there’s wine for more frequent and everyday drinking.  How much of each will you want to drink and when?  Thinking this all through carefully results in the optimum plan for your cellar which, if you get it right, will mean you always have the right bottle to hand, or at least minimise the need to go out and buy expensive wine, and you will always have space for some of those bargain offers that appear from time to time.

The second was reading the debates around whether or not to bomb Syria and the Prime Minister’s aim to achieve a House of Commons consensus for a mandate to extend the action.   Many people are saying what seems to me to be the right thing, and asking the right questions – what are we ultimately trying to achieve, what is our strategy to deliver it and how does bombing fit into that?  Unless we are simply aiming to be seen to be doing something in response to the appalling events in Paris, then surely to be ultimately successful the international community needs to have a clear and realistic vision of what a successful outcome might be, and some sort of plan for getting there?

Our experience of delivering successful projects and change in a range of organisations over the years has made me realise that starting out with a clear view of the end point is a fundamental component of success:

  • Are we all agreed about what we are trying to achieve and what success will look like?
  • Do we understand what we are going to do with what we produce and how it will work?
  • Are our plans for delivering it comprehensive, realistic and achievable?

If we can’t answer yes to all these questions then the likelihood of failure will usually be high.

Does this mean that we should never start a project if these things aren’t clear? Not necessarily – there are sometimes circumstances where we need to feel our way at the beginning.  Eddie Obeng, the project management writer and guru, calls these ‘foggy’ projects1.  These ‘foggy’ projects have specific characteristics and need a different management approach – of which more in a future blog.

1 ‘All Change! The Project Leader’s Secret Handbook’, Eddie Obeng, Pub: Pearson 1994.

Are the Odds Stacked Against You?

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

Hope you can get away with it?

Can you accept the risk of your new initiative being more likely to go wrong than to succeed?  Not everyone does – other industries and sectors take a different approach!

Last week I attended one of the regular monthly meetings of Britain’s Energy Coast Business Consortium (BECBC) in Cumbria, of which E AND H is a member. Most of our work however is in London, and in the not-for-profit and Membership sectors, and the contrast between the two couldn’t be greater. As a small project management consultancy, one of the biggest challenges we face is being able to convince potential clients of the value and benefits of adopting good project management practice. At a budget level, the cost of project management, which could amount to as much as 20% of a complex IT and business change project, is often seen as unjustifiable. When I speak to firms at BECBC the picture is totally different – no-one would dream of launching a project in the energy, gas or nuclear sectors without being sure that robust and effective project management is in place from the start. The need for, and value of, project management is taken as read. Why this difference in understanding?


The obvious answer is degree of risk, or rather the impact of something going wrong. The impact of a nuclear project going wrong could be catastrophic, so it’s comforting to know that effective management and control of risk has such a high priority. Similarly, in the oil and gas industries, the sums of money involved are huge and the potential for a disaster like BP’s Deepwater Horizon is always a possibility, however remote.

But is the relative degree of risk really that different? Certainly as a Membership organisation you are never going to irradiate the population or pollute the Gulf of Mexico, but are the sums of money involved really that different in terms of the relative threat it could pose to your organisation if things go wrong? A small membership association can easily spend £250k+ on introducing new CRM or membership systems and changing working practices – often it’s considerably more.

We regularly hear of organisations experiencing cost overruns and missed deadlines in their projects. The historical figure of something like 60% of all IT projects failing to achieve their objectives is unfortunately stubbornly consistent. Research has demonstrated that almost all causes of project failure are well-known – and most can be minimised with the application of good project management practice. How much does it actually cost you when your project overruns by 6 months? What is the total opportunity cost of this additional time, as well as the direct costs of paying suppliers and staff; and what about the impact on your management credibility and staff morale?pound-685059_1280

When you start looking at the risks of projects going wrong, and what it will cost you as an organisation if it does, then the additional budget up front for some effective project management seems to me to be a wise investment, whatever sector you’re in.