The Executive Presentation

A compelling introduction and a well-rehearsed presentation, timed to allow for executive questions, is needed. We suggest that you demand a 3-hour time slot from the executive team. They should understand that this presentation is about a major change in how the organization conducts all of its projects. The implications are far reaching.

These are the main items that must be covered:

1. The problems in managing projects — Show the executive team that they have much in common. Every one of them is experiencing at least some of the problems that they have described. Do not point fingers at anyone.

2. The cost of the problems — You should have obtained tangible information, provided by each executive, about the cost or value of each problem they described to you. If you are not sure how to develop these costs, go to the Performance Measurement Group Web site referenced earlier and read some of the articles. Give the executives the cumulative opportunity — what you get by adding all of the figures together. This should be a figure that is more significant than most, if not all, other opportunities they have in front of them.

Note that this figure is not an idle claim about improvement in some other organization. It is a simple statement of what the current project management problems are costing the organization.

3. The connections between the root problem and the executive problems — Explain that each of the problems the executives described does not exist randomly. You must now show how each problem is connected to some underlying problems. You must also be very careful not to point fingers at any executive for the existence of any of these problems. Rather, the tone here should be that the organization has a very smart group of executives and a very smart group of people. Why, then, have these problems lingered so long? What has prevented us from solving these problems in the past? Our approach is to take two or three of the executive problems and show how each one is a huge conflict that cannot be solved without a holistic approach. Figure 26.1 and Figure 26.2 provide two examples.

Resource conflict: See Figure 26.1. The resource conflict begins with everyone committed to meeting the company goals. To meet the company goals, each executive initiates new projects and/or requires existing projects to complete on time. Each executive, in other words, has totally valid project needs. These needs drive each executive to demand resources. Since some of these resources are scarce, the conflict arises over to which projects to allocate the resources. You must be prepared to give some tangible examples of this conflict within your organization. Show how it happens over and over again.

Rework conflict: See Figure 26.2. To meet the company goals, we have to accomplish two things. First, we must stop shooting our-

Figure 26.1 Resource Conflict between Projects
Figure 26.2 Conflict Over How Much Time To Spend on Specifications vs. Rework

selves in the foot in every project with costly rework — mistakes that waste precious resource time and money. At the same time, almost every project is in a rush. To meet the company goals, we must try to finish the projects faster. The fight is not over the needs shown in boxes B and C in Figure 26.2. Rather, the fight is over how much time to spend on the specifications. If we want to avoid rework, our own professional employees constantly tell us to do a better job up front by defining the specifications. That requires much more time. Yet the executives say, and rightly so, "We don't have time. Do it now. Show me progress now."

By explaining these problems in this way, we are showing how no one is to blame. It is the system that must be fixed. But what is at the root of all of these problems?

The root problem is the current organization's practice of managing each project as a separate entity. The connection between this practice and all of the resulting problems are really the subject of the first part of this book. However, a more concise explanation is offered below.

4. Simulate one of the problems to show the executives the impact. One of our favorite simulations for executives uses three projects to simulate the multi-project environment. We simulate just one aspect of allowing each project to be managed as a separate entity. That aspect is something that we term bad multi-tasking.

Looking at Figure 26.1, put yourself in the shoes of a resource manager, for example, in the IT area. You have a critical resource, one that is in demand for several vital projects. You could use 10 of that resource, but you only have 1 or 2. The vice president of finance has that resource deployed on a new financial system. The vice president of engineering is demanding that resource to meet his goals for productivity improvement in engineering — implementing a new CAD hardware and software. The vice president of manufacturing has also initiated a project demanding that scarce IT resource for a new MRP system.

The IT manager is receiving angry calls daily from each of the vice presidents, demanding progress on their project. So what does the IT manager do? He takes the resource and splits its time three ways. Each vice president sees some progress on his or her project, but it is extremely slow — much slower than each project planned.

We simulate this for executives using three bowls of beads — each bowl representing a project. We get five resources that are shared between the three projects and are multitasked, moving from one project to the other after completing a part of a task. Since every organizational culture is different, we will have executives as direct participants in some cases. In other cases, they are the project managers, and in other cases, they are simply observers.

Each project is timed. This first simulation with bad multi-tasking takes approximately 30 minutes to explain and execute. After the first simulation is complete, we explain the impact of bad multitasking. We ask the executives to provide an estimate of how much improvement they expect. Since most executives believe that multitasking is good because it keeps all resources busy, they typically estimate about 10% improvement.

The second simulation is run, replacing bad multi-tasking with good multi-tasking. The result is much better than 10% improvement. In fact, this simulation causes many executives to rethink their whole approach to performing and assigning work.

5. The PMO Solution: The multi-tasking simulation provides an excellent entrée into the need for and opportunity with a centralized approach to managing the multi-project environment. Here, the solution must allude back to each of the problems raised by each of the executives. You must show them how the solution will address their problems without significant negative consequences to them. Further, it is imperative at this point to discuss some PMO targets in the first 6 months and how the PMO will be self-sustaining. The proposed measurement system for the PMO is another topic that will interest executives, if the PMO metrics are properly aligned with the executive metrics.

6. Discussion: You should allow one third of the presentation time for discussion. During discussion, you may hear alternative suggestions for a solution to the problems. Do not ignore these suggestions and do not be fearful of them. Often, the suggestions appear to be alternatives but are actually ideas that can and should be implemented by a PMO.

7. Conclusion: Remind the executive team of the opportunity that is on the table. Leave them with a written proposal, copies of relevant articles, and ask them for a time frame for a decision. Make an appointment to sit down with each executive and discuss their individual concerns, preferably before the meeting breaks up or immediately afterwards.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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