What We Liked
In his Introduction: Beyond "On Time and On Budget", Jeff poses another rhetorical question: "Is it possible that although a project is on time and on budget that the company is [not] really better off?" To which he responds:
"Perhaps the best way to answer [this] question is to first define project failure. I can't tell you how many times executives have told me that their project(s) failed because the solution implemented (whether a new technology, process, or organizational change) was not adapted to by the people affected by the project ... The fact is that failed projects, particularly the ones that provide little or no business value, cost millions of dollars each year."
Jeff illustrates Business Value as:
- Cost reduction
- Business growth
- Maintaining operations (e.g. regulatory compliance)
- Speed and efficiency
So, if Business Value is the true measure of project success but the project still needs to be "on time, within budget", then Jeff views the combination this way:
Project success = (on time + on budget) x business value
Although the units of measurement for each variable are not identified, or otherwise are not consistent, nevertheless this relationship is a valuable project management insight. As Jeff says: "Simply put, business value is a multiplier that increases the overall success of a project."
Chapter 1: Defining the project Business Case and getting buy-in from top management is the longest chapter in the book. It is also perhaps the most valuable in that it provides a thorough description of how to go about developing a Business Case and obtaining its approval in the five steps illustrated in Figure 2 previously. Along the way, Jeff suggests that there are Seven Principles for developing a winning Business Case:
- Obtain advanced buy-in from steering committee members and key managers who have approval authority.
- Be able to demonstrate "how" the business benefits will be achieved with a sound probability of success.
- Gain commitment and support from "key influencers" in the stakeholder community.
- Set realistic expectations.
- Develop a feasible implementation plan.
- Articulate "why" your project fits within the overall budget and "why" the timing is critical to the business.
- Keep the presentation simple and easy to understand.
Chapter 2 emphasizes the need for a project manager to execute his or her project with a business value mindset. This is in order to achieve real project success, i.e. business value to the company, as reflected in the relationship (formula) presented earlier. As Jeff says:
"To deliver overall business value we must look beyond the tactical execution of a project and focus on the strategic achievement of project value. This is the missing link. We as project managers have been so focused on the tactical end of executing a project that we have been missing the strategic link for getting our project from the business case to the actual achievement of the project business benefits."
Chapter 3, the second longest chapter, describes how to deal with project stakeholders with the foregoing mind-set of achieving project value and the consequent need for stakeholder communication. Jeff defines a project stakeholder as "anyone who is affiliated with a project who can potentially have a positive or negative influence on the end results." Depending on your interpretation of the word "affiliated", that can be a pretty large number - as Jeff acknowledges. The chapter's advice on stakeholder management and communication otherwise follows well-established lines.
Chapters 4 and 5 provide general practical advice on the impact of the project's resulting change and how to deal with it, and how to set up ongoing tracking and measuring project business value realization reporting mechanisms. Judging by the examples provided, the latter are generally based on traditional corporate management metrics.
3. Ibid, p1
4. Ibid, pp1-2
5. Ibid, p3
6. Ibid, p67
7. Ibid, p97
8. Ibid, p106