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Principles for Project Success

In July 2020, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), a government organisation, released a white paper which focused on eight principles, “a quick guide for practitioners on things to get right for any project to succeed”
The IPA is the UK government’s centre of expertise for infrastructure and major projects and is aligned with the Cabinet Office and the Treasury.
If you’ve not seen the paper, take a look at it here. We were specifically interested in what the principles for project success are and take another look at the PMO Principles in light of them.  The challenge for PMOs is also how to embed and ingrain these principles within our organisations.
IPA Principles for Project Success

Video Session

The Deck

IPA Principles>>Download the deck for the session

The PMO Principles

You may also not be aware that there are some published PMO Principles too. These were published by the AIPMO and are summarised here (a PDF download is available by clicking on the image) We did a session on the principles here that you can also take a look at. PMO Principles

The Breakout Session

The question posed was:

From a PMO’s perspective, how do you embed each of the IPA principles in your organisation?

The principles are:
1: Focus on outcomes
2: Plan realistically
3: Prioritise people and behaviour
4: Tell it like it is
5: Control Scope
6: Manage complexity and risk
7: Be an intelligent client
8: Learn from experience
Here’s some of the insights from a couple of the principles from the PMO Flashmobbers:
Principle 4 – Tell It Like It Is Principle 5 – Control Scope

  • Change control templates and process for agreeing on scope change
  • Change control Framework for approving/reviewing Tolerance
  • State and define scope clearly, planning accurately at the start
  • Ensure statements of work are clearly linked to scope
  • Depends on the maturity of the organisation; easier where associates speak the language of change – tougher where PM practice is not consistently understood
  • Clarity on what the PMO can provide for the org. If the PM is struggling to control scope, the PMO should be able to support them
  • Ensure change control relates directly to the requirements and deliverables
  • Although the PMO should help non PM folks understand the good reasons behind why this should be done too.
  • Re-iterate scope from the outset, and then at every SteerCo highlight any changes, so they understand how the scope change might impact the other two constraints.
  • At the end of each project stage, the SteerCo should revisit the scope
  • Governance and roles and responsibilities assigned for the change control process
  • Governance and controls for identify, requesting and approving scope changes
  • Different levels to escalate
  • WHY =Explain why scope needs to be controlled
  • How change is assessed, including impacts to other projects, resource allocation
  • Consider any change on benefits Communications before and after
  • Reflect /Review scope at regular intervals
  • Baseline scope at the start
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • RACI Horizon scanning
  • Ultimately GOVERNANCE FRAMEWORK from Capture, Monitoring to management to Post review

Principle 6 – Manage Complexity and Risk

  • Scoring matrix to rate project complexity – tailor approach & governance
  • Setting/defining tolerances for management intervention
  • Risk management tools
  • Dependency mapping across the portfolio
  • Phased delivery – keep complexity low at the start
  • Stage gate reviews – don’t proceed if risk or complexity too high
  • Facilitating workshops – risk identification (developing a risk mindset)
  • Facilitate communication between projects/workstreams (remove silos)

Principle 8 – Learn from experience

  • What’s learning about – without application it’s really not worth discussing or capturing the lessons.
  • Ask what lessons have been learned from previous work at the start of new work – a sponsor asked this at the start on one of Eleanor’s project.
  • These might split between business and PMO to let the PMO focus on what it can actually change – it may be harder for non-PMO-type issues/lessons to be actioned by the PMO
  • On-going look at what might be improved – as the work is happening rather than at the start and end.
  • Can sponsors get more involved – they probably see more of certain types of issues and lessons

Finally, we asked the PMO Flashmobbers, which principle would be the easiest to embed within their organisations. It looks like planning takes the top spot:  

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