Thursday, May 17, 2007

Open Source: What Companies Are Deploying Now

Finding One
Linux Use is Rising
Of those using Linux, 67% commonly or ubiqutiously use it as a server operating system, but only 23% do as a desktop operating system.

Finding Two
Open Source Software is Becoming Entrenched in Small to Mid-size Businesses
Open source is not synonymous with Linux, and its use isn't limited to the Apache Web server and the Firefox browser. Many SMBs have deployed other kinds of open source software, including database systems, middleware and programming languages. This year, companies are spending, on average, more than half a million dollars to install and maintain open source systems, widening open source adoption to include virtualization software, wikis and business intelligence applications. But perhaps the most significant sign of the depth of open source adoption is that nearly half of SMBs have adopted a full-fledged open source architecture. Open source is not just a trend; it's a permanent presence.

Finding Three
Low Cost, Low Perceived Risk is Driving Open Source Adoption
For many SMBs, the opportunity for free or low-cost software is proving irresistable; very few say open source is proving to be a disappointment there. But the growth in open source would stall if the risks outweighed the gains. So it's important that the main concerns with open source aren't issues like quality, security, stability or legal challenges—problems over which CIOs have little control—but more manageable concerns like compatibility, user acceptance, vendor support and training. And since the experience with open source is proving so positive, vendor support is no longer as great an issue as it has been in previous years. There are no major obstacles to derail the Open Source Express.

Finding Four
Open Source is Redefining What it Means to Work in IT
Open source isn't just a kind of software, but a way of working. And developers and IT staff at small and mid-size companies are embracing that aspect of open source, too. Nearly all CIOs at SMBs allow their staff to participate in open source projects; many also follow the open source model to develop their own software. In general, however, SMBs don't collaborate with other companies in their industry to develop open source applications that might serve them all. That percentage will rise if larger, industry-leading corporations begin to do s0, and ask their partners and Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers to take part.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

How to Market the PMO within your Organization

As I meet with people involved with their Company?s Project Management Office Organization, I consistently hear questions about how to acquire buy-in from within the Enterprise for the services provided by the PMO. The frequency of this question indicates to me that other PMO Leaders might be seeking this answer. In the content that follows, I will present an approach that you may find useful. My intent is to help you get started. I do welcome your feedback.

At the risk of sounding philosophical, I suggest to you that every business, profit and non-profit alike, are unique in how they approach project delivery. Sure they may follow standard methods and policies and sure they may have credentialed and talented project management professionals leading the important project initiatives. We need to focus first on why your business is a business in the first place. It is usually because the business model is unique and/or mature enough to maintain a competitive advantage within the market space your company sells and/or provides services too. Current market conditions have a way of changing, influencing, dictating projects and people within any business model. We all know that when the market conditions are great, project work and the people working them, seem to have less stress than the opposite market model where market conditions are so tight that new product and service revenue opportunities have become significantly less frequent ? this is where we are today.

So how does a Project Management Office or a Project Office market their services in today?s business market environment? I suggest the answer lies in internal customer need for any help they can obtain towards improving project delivery and reducing costs associated with delivery time or what I label as the ?PMO Throughput Model?.

A PMO or Project Office must fall into one of two categories in terms of defining its mission. The categories are the Throughput and Cost Models. The ?PMO Throughput Model? focuses on raising visibility to the project delivery community so that awareness for bottlenecks can be more readily foreseen while simultaneously searching for intra/inter project acceleration opportunities to move projects forward ahead of the project plan. By pursuing the ?PMO Throughput Model? the PMO or Project Office can focus attention on those projects worthy of their help for the benefit of all.

The ?PMO Cost Model? emphasizes compliance to project budget. Typically within this model, any cost correlation to external project dependencies should been planned for in the beginning or provided for within change management during the course of the project.

Thus, who are the customers for the PMO/Project Office? Everyone! The PMO/Project Office Management and Staff are generally recognized as the experts for various project management components within the organization. If you are a member of the PMO/Project Office, how are you marketing your particular service today? Is there a common need? If not, there should be. I suggest you start by creating a market channel for yourself. But how and with what, becomes the next question?

Customers of the PMO/Project Office typically include the following people

1. Project Managers
2. Project Team Members
3. Project Sponsors
4. Project Stakeholders
5. Business Unit Leaders
6. Program Managers
7. Project Support Staff (DBAs, Operations Personnel, etc)
8. Executive Team

In creating a market channel for PMO/Project Office services, my general guidance is to initially provide consistent tactical information regarding the most important project work that involves as much of the target work force that the PMO/Project Office supports.

This information may be a simple monthly project portfolio report of important reported projects that reflects their current health in terms of color, Green for good, Yellow for caution and Red for Jeopardy. By disclosing the state of projects on a regular basis, all of the customers of the PMO/Project Office will begin to use this tool as a way to navigate their work around delivery opportunities and/or delivery threats to their work. As the Project Portfolio is reported over time, visibility for project opportunities to take action becomes more apparent to the project team and those outside the project team. Project progress that is visible to the overall workforce brings about pressure that the PMO can channel their services to help project teams take advantage of or steer clear of, thus raising the need of the PMO/Project Office.

Now I know I am oversimplifying how to set up this initial step, but I am assuming many of you are doing this today or at least have an idea how to proceed with this step. Some projects will deliver ahead of plan and some will fail. In fact, the Standish Group has reported that 70% of all IT projects fail in any given year. So a PMO/Project Office that has been organized to facilitate project delivery (?PMO Throughput Model?) should have a natural internal market to support. Let?s look deeper into how to support and nurture the internal business PMO market.

Figure 1 below illustrates that in most business, there is a strategy to enable the organization or the enterprise. This strategy is usually bound by time such as a fiscal year. These business strategies are usually dependent upon the supply side of the business to achieve the identified strategies. The supply side of the organization forms project teams to work on service/product areas that are part of the business strategy. As you review Figure 1, moving from the top left and down to the bottom, back up through the right side of the diagram, a continuous loop of feedback information is presented to the strategy owners ? those from the business side of the organization and those from the supply side of the organization. This process is normally monthly in the beginning and is required to support the ?PMO Throughput Model? effectively. How does this affect the Project Manager?

If you are a Project Manager, I am confident you can relate to what I am about to state. Project Management is a lonely job. Friendships among project managers and their teammates are often outside the lines of specific work relationships. After all, aren?t you informally measuring each other and protecting yourself from unwanted criticism? Protecting your job and your reputation. Friends don?t worry about these types of things. They help each other. If you have ever been involved in the final implementation stages of project delivery, you know what I am talking about. Nobody is looking to make friends! Everyone working the project is trying to complete their work so they can get out of the way and relax a little. Sure, teams can seem like everyone is a friend, but just wait. If project plans go awry, you can bet everyone remaining in the project will receive some share of the blame. So where can a PMO/Project Office help? A PMO/Project Office can be the best friend of a project team.

This can be accomplished with experienced mentors that project teams trust and have faith in, free from fear of negative management reaction to job performance. In this manner, the PMO/Project Office gains value in the eyes of the project team as a resource that can help out in disparate times.

If you are a project sponsor on a failing project, you may feel like you are very exposed for criticism. Here again, a PMO/Project Office through effective Sponsor Mentoring and Training can provide excellent insight ahead of potential problems. After all, where does a Sponsor go when their project is in trouble if not the PMO/Project Office? A PMO/Project Office can add significant value by educating Project Sponsors how to be a Sponsor. This should include training on roles and responsibilities in their relationship with the project delivery team.

The same beliefs are true for Project Stakeholders as was for Project Sponsors. Enabling the Project Manager to set role and responsibility expectations for Project Stakeholders can help reduce significant expectation gaps later on in the project. A PMO/Project Office can head some of this by providing Stakeholder training as a base course in project management.

Finally, the PMO/Project Office is now ready to begin raising visibility among Project Managers. The benefit of this effort from the PMO to the Project Managers is many. It is certain the Project Manager community will learn what is acceptable in reporting. It will be very important to them if they and their peers are reviewed in a common setting where project health is openly shared. This visibility will often motivate the Project Manager who was seen as ?Red? last time the group met to work hard to change their status towards ?Green?. In Figure 2, a three-step process is illustrated as a model of raising project health visibility. In implementing this model, the PMO starts with a group of selected Project Managers working to clean up data inconsistencies in reporting and project artifacts that may affect the risk perspective of their projects (Step 1). Depending upon the size of the group, 10-25 Project Managers, a PMO can raise the visibility of the collected projects within the Portfolio for members of Management (Step 2). In Step 2, Management Leaders must be able to defend why projects are performing in the manner they are to their internal business customers. Usually, these internal business customers come together to form a Governance Board or a Steering Committee (Step 3) to oversee shifting business needs that may impact the order of project work and resource assignments within the portfolio of projects. As the PMO establishes the Governance Board, several ad hoc meetings may take place to help mature the Governance Board processes before a regular routine is established.

The Governance Board will make adjustments over the course of time. These adjustments represent impact to the development plans for the business year. These changes must be reflected in project work and that involves the PMO. Output from Step 3 loops back to the project teams and thus you have a continuous loop of feedback for the PMO to oversee.

In summary, let?s reflect on what has been stated. So far we have discussed to build a PMO market within your organization, you will need some combination (or all) of the following elements:

1. Utilize a PMO Throughput Model that reflects project delivery status to the general workforce as a means to raise Risk visibility (Opportunities and Threats to delivery).
2. Provide Project Management Mentors through the PMO to the Project. Community to help less experienced Project Teams.
3. Project Sponsor and Stakeholder Training.
4. Conduct regular Project Manager Meetings in groups of approximately 10-25 to discuss overall project statuses from recent project reportings to the Project Portfolio (color-coded for measured Project Health).
5. Establish a Governance Board or Steering Committee of internal business leaders.
6. Meet with individually with Business Unit Leaders to review how their portion of the Project Portfolio is proceeding. In these conferences, you will learn where the PMO might add additional value.

There are many other techniques that can help you with building and implementing your marketing plan for the PMO and its services. Every PMO/Project Office should always be able to answer the question ?How does the PMO or Project Office define its value proposition?? This answer will most often come from the results of how well your marketing plan is implemented. If you do this well, the PMO or Project Office will find its special niche within the organization forever.

[By Steve Rolins, PMP, Chief Project Strategist, EPM Solutions, Inc.]