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To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.

— Henri Bergson
French philosopher (1859–1941)

Today's organizations are beset by the forces of transformation. The scope and pace of changes are staggering. Markets and customer requirements appear to redefine themselves on an almost daily basis. Global politics and domestic legislation continue to rewrite the rules on how to play the game — creating new opportunities as they shut down established practices. Mergers and acquisitions, the rise or fall of competitors, and the emergence of new players all have contributed to a feeling of constant churning in the business environment. Even government institutions and other not-for-profit organizations are feeling the heat as they are closed down, significantly restructured, or privatized. Through the introduction, seemingly overnight, of new information technologies, established business processes and entire enterprises are radically altered or driven out of existence.

In this sea of change, excellence in the deployment of information technology (IT) has emerged as a strategic necessity. Those enterprises that demonstrate a high level of competence in leveraging IT to serve their customers, collaborate with their upstream suppliers and their downstream distributors, and enable their own employees also tend to excel as performers in their respective industries. How critical is the role of IT in your particular business? To answer this question, Michael Porter's value chain model helps to assess the ways in which IT products and services enable your enterprise. [1] See Exhibit 1. [2]

Exhibit 1: Michael Porter's Value Chain Model for Business Process Analysis

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The Porter model emphasizes the value chain of business processes whereby each business activity has a so-called upstream and downstream partner in delivering value to the customer. Porter employs a manufacturing metaphor for his process model, using such terms as inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics, marketing and sales, and service to define process steps. But the reader may easily extrapolate in applying this framework to his or her own organization. Porter's model will help you distill the essence of your enterprise's key business processes, how they interconnect, and where IT plays or should play an enabling role.

The Porter framework readily applies to the IT organization itself, where each and every service or project deliverable requires the collaboration and coordination of numerous IT operating units, partner providers (external and internal to the organization), and more often than not customers and other business process stakeholders. To this chain of events, Porter's model adds a framework for the consideration of support activities that are internal to the enterprise and enable delivery:

  • Firm infrastructure — management overhead, real estate, financing, and so forth

  • Human resource management — the people who do the work

  • Technology development — information resource and technology management, but also product/service research and development

  • Procurement — obtaining the raw materials for production

Again, the metaphor of the value chain is extremely useful in that it emphasizes the linkages between the individual activities of the business process. A chain is not complete, nor does it serve a constructive purpose, unless all its links hold. Similarly, a business process must be viewed in its entirety and not as a set of discrete functions. The continuous flow from inbound logistics to post-sales servicing and the underlying support structures, in concert, delivers value to the customer. We need to view our own enterprises in this comprehensive manner and ask ourselves where and how does IT best contribute to overall customer value in each intersecting box of Porter's value chain matrix.

Indeed, Porter observes that successful enterprises add value at each link along the value chain and that business operations can only be appreciated in terms of the totality of the processes that they encompass. Thus, if a function is not adding value to the process, it should be eliminated. If a function's value lies in facilitating corporate performance downstream (i.e., later in the process), its contributions must be evaluated in terms of their support of downstream deliverables. Given Porter's simple yet comprehensive view of business processes, it has received wide acceptance among academics and managers alike. For our purposes, Porter's model facilitates an enterprisewide assessment of IT impacts and opportunities, as well as the components of the value proposition for measuring IT organization performance.

However, the true potential IT enablement within your organization may depend less on its value chain roles and more on the business contexts and culture within which your enterprise operates. First, although developments in IT can influence an enterprise to transform itself, IT does not bring about change. People do. For that matter, organizations can improve themselves incrementally or seize upon more radical solutions without recourse to IT. Second, the deployment of technology is no assurance that an enterprise will become more effective or efficient, far from it. When IT is employed for its own sake and business processes are merely automated without significant adaptation, the result is more often than not a faster, more expensive, and still broken business process. Third, many organizations have IT infrastructures employing mainframe-based systems and so-called enterprise resource planning (ERP) software suites. These pose a significant barrier to change because they cost so much to install initially — and an even greater amount if they are to be enhanced over time. With these legacy systems in place, it sometimes seems that one must move mountains to achieve modest performance improvements.

Thus, if IT truly is to enable the overall performance of the enterprise, the purchase and introduction of these technologies must integrate with redesigned business processes. Newly added technologies must be flexible, adaptable, and easy to use. Unfortunately, repeatable success in the merger of IT and business processes is hard to come by. For most technologists, this means getting more involved in the less technical side of the business, drawing upon competencies that may not be part of the typical stock in trade of IT teams. As you will see in the subsequent chapters of this book, the ongoing challenge is not to select the right information technologies, because this fit will vary with each business setting and the unique characteristics of the context and culture of your enterprise. Instead, The Hands-On Project Office strives to reinforce the need to properly adapt and integrate IT service and project delivery disciplines into the preferred modes of operation within the larger, parent organization.

To help the reader better understand this broader framework and the highly dynamic environment within which the modern IT organization must position itself, a colleague at Babson College, Charlie Osborne and I have revised Harvard Business School's enterprise transformation diamond to reflect this view. [3] It shows the external environmental market forces alluded to previously (including the voice of the customer), as a backdrop to the internal dynamics of organizational change and IT investment decision-making. Within this context, the model represents the various factors at play in shaping the enterprise's business processes and hence its choices among enabling IT strategies. See Exhibit 2. [4]

Exhibit 2: The Osborne/Kesner Enterprise Transformation Forces Diamond

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As our model depicts, at the core of the enterprise are its business processes that drive the organization's IT direction and investment strategies. Because of the external environment's continuous influence, these business processes are never truly static. Customer demands, competitive pressures, and emerging technology innovations all play a part in forcing the enterprise and its IT capabilities to adapt and transform.

Furthermore, as represented in the change diamond, internal forces are also at play. In the top quadrant of the illustration is a box for management procedures. This grouping of factors includes the organizational constructs of the enterprise, including chains of command, formal policies and procedures, salary structures and incentives, and so forth. The left quadrant encompasses job design and therefore such elements as the structure and definition of individual and team responsibilities, performance standards and measurement, the sequencing and relative importance of tasks, and the grouping of activities into functions and subprocesses. The right quadrant, labeled norms, refers to the enterprise's corporate culture. This grouping of factors includes all of the behavior patterns and informal rules condoned by the corporate community. In a more general sense, the norms quadrant of the model subsumes the work practices and styles of the enterprise. Finally, the information systems quadrant includes the IT capabilities and the IT-based practices of the organization, as well as its modes of information sharing and distribution.

The transformation model may be thought of as a mobile in which the movement of any quadrant influences all of the others. Thus, business process changes will influence management procedures, job design, norms, and in all likelihood the structure and operation of information systems. Changes in management procedures will affect norms, jobs design, and business processes; norms changes will influence management procedures, information systems, and business processes; and so forth. The entire model is highly dynamic, especially when one takes into account the environmental factors that influence the positioning of the overall enterprise.

Thus, the transformation diamond is an excellent representation of the factors and forces at play within the enterprise and between the enterprise and its external marketplace. This simple model should help to strengthen understanding of the dynamics of change and the need to anticipate its ripple effects as we move from the current to some future state — either proactively, through our own continuous improvement efforts, or reactively, as the environment around us forces change upon the enterprise. Similarly, no major investment in IT will prosper without due consideration of how the adoption of these technologies and the associated, perhaps radical, process changes will impact the various quadrants of this representational model. Fortunately, it is just these issues that the methodologies presented in this book will address. As we proceed, I suggest that readers employ tools, like the Porter value chain matrix and Osborne/Kesner change diamond model, to establish a broad frame of reference in evaluating the role that IT should play within their organizations. Be sure to refer to these frameworks as you assess the challenges in implementing the many suggestions and recommendations that follow.

As an enterprise IT manager, you already face the challenge of how best to direct the resources of your team to enable the success of the business. You may already have access to the best people and technologies, but are you satisfied with the quality of your team's delivery? The Hands-On Project Office will assist you and your team in delivering the greatest value to your corporate sponsors. To that end, it provides simple, field-tested business models, frameworks, and tools, designed expressly for IT organizations like yours.

What is critical to the success of your IT team and how can The Hands-On Project Office make a difference? The author would summarize an IT team's critical success factors as follows:

  • Communication

    • Clear, continuous communication within the IT team and between that team and its customers and external partners, focused on clarifying IT roles, responsibilities, and deliverables

  • Delivery management

    • Predictable delivery of products and services

    • Project management, subcontractor management, requirements management, and IT architecture management that leads to timely and cost-efficient implementation or operation of IT products and services

  • Resource management

    • Resource flexibility deployed and allocated to highest-value customer business requirements

    • Ability to attract and retain top-performing staff who are aligned with enterprise business priorities

  • Architected and managed solutions

    • Products and services, whether developed in-house or provided from external sources, that are well integrated with customer needs and the existing base of information technologies

    • Adherence to the enterprise's IT architecture and engineering standards and the consistent use of quality assurance (QA) processes

    • Baselining and ongoing measurement of performance and regular reporting to the appropriate stakeholders

  • Collaboration

    • Partnering with the business owners of systems to ensure effective and efficient use of those systems and of overall system integrity and data quality

    • Partnering across IT to ensure optimal system and data integration

    • Partnering across the enterprise to ensure knowledge sharing around best practices and lessons learned

The Hands-On Project Office provides assistance in all of these areas. The book demonstrates how IT leaders might describe more effectively the value of their products and services to the enterprise at large. It recommends best practices in the areas of IT planning, priority setting, and service and project management. The book goes on to illustrate how IT personnel might establish a knowledge management (KM) platform to better communicate and leverage the technical, process, and people know-how from across the IT organization to improve ongoing team performance. Each major set of recommendations is accompanied by simple tools to jump-start IT efforts.

Chapter 1 creates an internal-economy model for IT organizations, systematically reviewing the operational, organizational, financial, and human resource dimensions of the typical enterprise-level IT operating unit. With this business model as context, Chapter 1 explores in more detail the various components of IT delivery and how best to model and measure performance excellence.

With Chapter 1 as a foundation, Chapter 2 formally introduces the concept of the project management office (PMO). This chapter discusses the roles and responsibilities within typical IT service and project delivery processes, and then considers the advantages of creating a center of excellence within the IT organization to oversee this work. Due consideration is given to readers' organizational contexts: larger IT organizations will most likely benefit from the presence of an actual PMO, while smaller IT shops will address this need through the training and development of line service and project delivery management personnel. Whether staffed or virtual, the PMO serves as the fulcrum for leveraging best practices within the IT organization. The balance of The Hands-On Project Office examines in closer detail particular processes that could operate out of the PMO for the benefit of the IT team.

The cognate of "doing things right" is "doing the right things." Therefore, Chapter 3 outlines a practical, hands-on alignment and planning process to ensure that IT efforts and resources are focused on work of the highest priority to the enterprise. This chapter includes tools for the creation and communication of enterprisewide IT planning and project and resource prioritization. It also introduces simple models for the effective communication of IT resource commitments to enterprise management. Throughout, the reader will find that the role of the PMO is to support the efforts of the IT management team and to record and refine the documents that emerge from their deliberations with their business colleagues.

Chapter 4 examines service delivery management best practices, including the design and implementation of service level agreements (SLAs), the measurement of service level performance, the maintenance of reporting processes, and more general support of the IT customer relationship management. PMO personnel provide the underlying support for these processes and maintain the templates, tools, metrics, and reporting mechanisms that are the hallmarks of effective service delivery management. This chapter also details the workings of the service management templates to be found in the PMO tool box in the appendices and on the complementary Web site.

Chapter 5 takes a similar approach for project management best practices, encompassing project scoping and commitment making, risk and resource management, the oversight of day-to-day project engineering and delivery processes, delivery measurement and reporting processes, and the more general coordination of IT project activity at the portfolio and enterprise levels. The PMO is essential to the success of project delivery more than to any other subject covered in this book. Chapter 5 provides any number of ways that the PMO might contribute to these challenging IT assignments. Throughout, the chapter includes a review of appropriate project management templates and tools to be found in the PMO tool box and on the Web site.

Of the two primary disciplines associated with PMOs, project management is perhaps the more obvious. However, business analysis, as associated with both project requirements gathering and process design and reengineering, is equally important. Indeed, these efforts are essential to understanding customer needs and managing customer expectations, as well as to implementing successfully a business-enabling IT solution. Chapter 6 offers a comprehensive tool set for discovering and documenting customer needs in ways that are comprehensible to nontechnical users but highly relevant for those assigned to build, operate, and service IT systems. Clearly, this is a PMO role. The challenge to those involved is how best to gather requirements without seriously impacting the ongoing obligations of your business partners.

In Chapter 7 and Chapter 8, the author draws upon his experiences as a chief knowledge officer (CKO) to illustrate how the tools of KM may be brought to bear in improving IT team performance. Indeed, to foster a truly successful IT organization, managers must find ways to harness and leverage the knowledge that resides within their own technical teams. Most of this knowledge is tacit, but some of it is documented in the artifacts (e.g., the commitment documents, the project plans, the business and technical requirements, the performance data, and so forth) that emerge from the activities of IT personnel. For that matter, in large enterprises, it is even difficult to discover where the expertise for particular IT systems may reside. Chapter 7 demonstrates how an IT organization can get its hands around its own communities of best practice. Here again, the author suggests that PMO personnel are best situated, as the creators or curators of the organization's process documentation, to provide this valuable KM function, promoting the reuse and repurposing of team know-how. This chapter also provides a simple design for an IT organization's KM Web site.

Chapter 8 builds on Chapter 7, demonstrating how the principles of KM may be brought to bear to manage information better concerning the flow of new technologies and IT assets within the enterprise. Although the responsibility for IT asset management cuts across the IT organization, the overall design and maintenance of the knowledge around the enterprise's IT architecture might best fall to the PMO as a complement to its other facilitation and KM responsibilities. For that matter, in their project delivery support roles, PMO personnel will be among the first to learn of changes in the organization's technical direction, and because of their involvement with IT's entire technology portfolio, they will have a better sense of the big picture. Chapter 8 provides practical advice on how best to leverage the services of the PMO to oversee IT investment strategies.

Chapter 9 reviews the primary rationale for creating the PMO and cites practical examples of how the investment in these support functions will benefit the enterprise. This final chapter sums up the findings of the book and its approach in assisting IT organizations achieve repeatable success in their service and project delivery efforts.

Finally, the appendices include hardcopy versions of the major tools discussed in detail throughout the book, while the accompanying Web site ( holds an expanded set of models, templates, tools, and forms, as well as examples of the tools as employed in actual business settings.

As business and IT managers, readers should by now have a sense of what my book can do for them. From the outset, this work encourages IT leaders to focus on delivery to the customer. The book then provides IT practitioners and their business-unit counterparts with the partnering tools to identify and deliver work of the highest value to the enterprise and its customers. The Hands-On Project Office speaks to the need for metrics, accountability, and continuous communication. To that end, the book defines IT service and project delivery roles and responsibilities, management and measurement tools, reporting formats, and a host of other practical applications that help get the IT job done.

To successfully deploy the processes and tools described herein, however, the reader must hearken back to the analytical models presented at the opening of this Introduction, namely the Porter value chain matrix and the Osborne/Kesner enterprise transformation model. Please bear in mind that no two organizations are exactly the same. Circumstances range widely from enterprise to enterprise, from industry to industry, from location to location, and so forth. Only with a thorough understanding of one's own business context, can one determine what may work best or is even relevant to the situation. The reader is encouraged to maintain his or her objectivity while plowing through this volume. Where you find relevance, please do not take the author literally. Adapt my recommendations to the unique needs of your situation. Open your eyes to the possibilities, but also to the pitfalls, of applying my best practices in addressing the particular challenges of your own situation. Good luck!

[1]The source of this analytical tool is still relevant and a classic of business analysis. See Michael Porter and Victor E. Mylar, "How Information Gives You Competitive Advantage," Harvard Business Review 63, no. 4 (1985): 149–160.

[2]For an electronic version of the value chain template, see The Hands-On Project Office,, chpt0~1~value chain~template.

[3]Charlie Osborne served as a distinguished professor of Management Information Science at Babson College until his tragic and untimely death in 2000. He and I collaborated all too briefly on a training program for IT executives, offered through Babson's School of Executive Education. This analysis tool emerged from and was refined as part of that course development effort.

[4]For an electronic version of the transformation diamond, see The Hands-On Project Office,, chpt0~2~enterprise transformation models.

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The Hands-On Project Office(c) Guaranteeing ROI and On-Time Delivery
E-Commerce Security: Advice from Experts (IT Solutions series)
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 132 © 2008-2017.
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