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Newsletter - Jan 2016

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PM Essence
3 Reasons to Invest in Project Prioritization

                                                                                                                                - Stuart Easton

Organizations that invest in strategic prioritization deliver 40% more value.


This seems like reason enough to invest in improving the project prioritization process, yet many organizations don't realize that their current process is broken; it's evolved over time, it worked last year...


But this is like the proverbial frog in a pan of water. The environment is changing around us all the time and we need to have a well-structured process for recognizing and reacting to the change. Well, to come back to the frog analogy, you get boiled but don't notice until it's too late.


1. Selecting projects that deliver the most value


This is kind of obvious but if you improve your project prioritization process and select a portfolio that better reflects your goals and priorities you get benefits in the following areas:


Increased project success rate.

Projects that are well aligned with strategy are 54% more likely to succeed. Good prioritization ensures your projects are aligned and that fewer fail.


Higher return on investment.

Projects that are better aligned with corporate goals will naturally deliver more value. Align the whole portfolio and you're looking at a significant leap in RoI.


Better quality of project requests.

When your managers understand the strategic goals, they align their initiatives with those goals. They are able to brainstorm ways of addressing key issues rather than reacting to "local problems" - ultimately, this leads to better quality projects being requested.


Eliminate obsolete projects.

A structured project prioritization process will ensure that only well-aligned projects are approved and that any projects that become obsolete will be caught early.


2. Helping project teams with execution


Projects that are aligned with strategy are more likely to succeed. Thus, an investment in better project prioritization helps you improve project execution by:


Project team commitment.

Transparent, value-based prioritization means that project team understand why their projects are important. This builds trust in the portfolio and individuals commit more fully to completing projects, as highlighted by research from Stanford University.


Executive sponsorship.

When every project is tightly aligned with specific strategic goals or operational targets, it helps maintain the executive sponsorship that can make-or-break a project.


Resources allocation.

Having a clearly prioritized list of projects means that resources can be more effectively allocated during implementation.


In-project decisions.

Project teams are able to make better decisions when they have clear goals and priorities for each project.


3. Making organization more efficient

A good prioritization process will help you use your time more effectively. Examples of how the process can reduce the effort involved in prioritization include:


Executive time savings. Executives set priorities and make the final portfolio decision but they don't need to go through the details of every project. This leg-work can be done by subject matter experts whose input is summarized and quantified to help executives make the final decision. In fact, endless hours can be wasted when executives invest time in advocating specific projects and arguing around in circles. A good prioritization process will all-but eliminate these contentious executive team discussions.


Less travels. Not only do you spend less time in meetings (a real-world saving!) but also, with right collaborative tools, you can eliminate travel. Our TransparentChoice online meetings with web-based real-voting, for example, can speed up meetings, enhance mutual understanding and communication, all without the need for costly travel.


Reduced politics around portfolio selection. A more structured process moves your project selection from a heated debate to a rational, quantitative assessment. This reduces both the time and emotional stress involved in the process. It means you can focus on detailed research into the projects themselves rather than spending time being a political football.


Lessons learned. By tracking the success of projects over time, the organization can build a picture of which factors really make an impact. This learning is captured in the form of explicit priorities that help managers nominate and select projects that are more likely to succeed. In other words, a formal process lets you measure outcomes and then adjust the process. This is all-but impossible for a less formal process because there is, in essence, no process to be improved.


Saving the frog. Hopefully, you'll now be inspired to make a change, to get the frog out of the pot of water. There are many ways to start, but often the best way is to get smart.


Whatever you do, start it today.

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PM Essence
Get Rid of Annual Performance Review 

                                                                                                                       - R. Ramesh Kannan

Moving away from the unpopular bell curve and annual performance review is the "In thing" and a popular one too. Mostly because they have always been misunderstood or not looked into in detail.


What were the problem statements?


How removing them will help to solve the problem?


What is the pay off?


Before we find answers to the above questions, let us get back to the basics


1. Performance Reviews (Annual or quarterly or bi-annual):


It is called "Review" because the prerequisite is "Real time on going constructive feedback”, which should be happening in the organization. This is just an opportunity to "Review" such performance instances and jointly work on "Development action". They are not mutually exclusive.


Problem statement: The real time ongoing constructive feedback isn't happening. Many a times, managers don't know what they don't know. They are hesitant in providing feedback, lethargy, lack of clarity over goals etc. Little or no investment in "People management" facet in managers.if "Performance is managed” that results in "Business is managed", hence it is an integral part of business.


Demand-Supply situation: When the job market picks up, all these populist, re-inventing the wheel initiatives surfaces. I wonder why such "So called initiatives" were not taken during the recent recession time.


Recommendation: Focus on the problem statement "Ongoing real time constructive feedback" and fix this fundamental before any innovation.


2. Bell curve: Simply put, 10 runners run a 100 M race and naturally you will have 3 of them finishing at the 1 , 2 and 3 places. Do you give them gold, silver, bronze medals? Or just because the rest 7 of them lost those places by nano-seconds, so you split the medals equally to all of them? If you are a manager and have a team of say 10 members who do similar roles (If roles are different then the yard stick would vary), all of them are provided with ongoing feedback and also everyone's progress on the yardstick to made known to every one objectively. They all know why someone is in the top of the list, reasons behind and they also know as to what they should do to get there. They look up to each other, learn from each other and grow as a team. Bell curve is accepted. But if there's no objectivity, transparency, measurable criteria, it boils down to sheer subjectivity and the so called "HR Process" of bell curve is blamed by most of the managers. Bell curve is natural but you don't have to force-fit just because you need to meet some numbers rather have your team's performance managed by the basics.


Problem statement: Lack of objective measurements, transparency, real time feedback


Recommendation: Unless you fix this, no matter what curve we design or lack of it, we would be busy in solving this problem eternally. The problem is not with the bell curve itself, but how it is interpreted and executed. You may choose to have a bell curve or not, but have objectivity and transparency prevailed along with real time ongoing constructive feedback. 

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PM Essence
Be Digital or Be Extinct 

                                                                                                                       - Nimai Majumdar

In the decade of 80's (my high school & under-graduate period), even a digital scientific calculator was a matter of fancy & showcase. Other digital devices (camera, recorder, etc.) were a symbol of aristocracy for many of us.


Gone are the days when adopting digital was a style or matter of fancy.


Today and the future exist on digital. Adopting latest digital technology will be the key for survival.




SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics & Cloud) is not only a business buzzword today but a driving force for every business, corporate and socially connected entities. Today, for most of us, every physical activity (reading, listening, gym, etc.) is having a digital footprint, connected to a smart device (Mobile, Laptop, iPod).


Two significant technologies in the next digital wave are IoT (Internet of Things) and Big Data. Devices & equipment will be talking to device, logic driven & connected digitally, without any human intervention. Smart phones are already a live example.


Can't ignore here my personal experience around Oil & Gas industry. Already having established Digital oil field; companies (IOCs & NOCs) are going digital today, not only to the downstream chain business & connected stakeholders but also in the integrated refinery value chain.


Service providers of diverse industry are collaborating today to provide the best fit solution to the business & clients. HCL is doing collaboration for providing best digital experience one of the premier NOC (National Oil Company). Retail & Consumer businesses are integrated with social media, where big data is already present for deriving business insight.


Below are some interesting facts & figures :


♦ 68 million 'variable smart devices' sold in 2015


♦ Apple sells around $34 million worth of their products & services in 1 hour (as per their last quarter result). That is the worth of digital


♦ AirBNB is valued at $ 10 billion without owning a single room. Hayat is valued at $ 8.5 billion. That is the power of using digital platform & technology.


♦ 3 billion people in the world use internet today. Facebook has 1.4 billion members & 83% of them are on mobile because of FB app on mobile. Here is the power of integration of mobile & digital.


♦ Apollo guidance computer helped Apollo 11 to land on the moon, had only 2 MHz of processing power & 4 KB memory, with its weight of 70 pounds and cost of $ 150K.


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PM Essence
5 Steps to write a Data-driven Marketing Plan? 
                                                                                            - Shiv M Kumar 

Data-driven marketing is becoming the de facto standard; with over 74% of marketers expect to increase budgets on data marketing. This statistic pops few critical questions to me as a marketer:


(a) If our marketing plans are datadriven?


(b) How to write one?


A deeper read of analyst reports reveals the areas where data-driven marketing is currently in practice. Data is used to arrive at new product strategy, special offer creation & targeting and to track customer support experience. Data usage to devise yearly marketing plans and budgets are yet to catch up. Augentia consultants reviewed many marketing plans and found they fall in one of the following two methods:




♦ A rehash of past year's plan & budgets by simply asking for a % increase or


♦As a thumb-rule, marketing budgets are taken as a % of overall revenue, and the marketing plans are accommodated within it. It is also referred to as Marketing Budget Ratio (MBR). Many analyst reports, such as the recent CMO survey 2016 budgets++, feeds to this thumb rule by stating the average marketing spend %.


Both these methods are not backed by marketing and sales data or learning from past experiences.


Instead, a data-driven marketing plan focuses on past year's performance, market opportunities to tap, dropping non-performing campaigns of yesteryears while adding new / improved ones and demonstrate how per $ marketing investments multiplies into x$ of revenue, with a written on markeing (ROMI) framework.

As marketers or business people, if you think marketing plans to be data-driven, I encourage you to read this article. We will discuss 5 simple steps to write a datadriven marketing plan and provide a template to write one.


Step1: Assemble your Data (The facts to drive your plan)


It is a quick one, if you follow a structured approach as given:


If you do not have historic data, consider taking industry leader or contender's data, by performing a competitor analysis.

Step 2: Tell your Story and Align (Get your stakeholders' support) Get your storyline straight and simple.)


Get your storyline straight and simple.


A lot has been written on marketing storytelling for external audience. Your internal stakeholders are critical audience too, as they need to
♦ Understand your plan and
♦ Collaborate effectively
Understand the business priorities of your team members and weave your story tightly aligned.
Use of relevant quotes, images and illustrations will help narrating your story.

Step 3: Make your choices (The datadriven recommendations)


The data assembled will give you key insights to make your choices. Which campaign to continue, the products to focus on, the must-attend events, the most lucrative buyer persona and the new channels to be present are few critical questions to ask.


A simple table as above may help to narrate your reasons for recommendations.


Step 4: Decide your metrics (The ROMI framework)


A recent survey confirms, about 80% of businesses measure leads generated by marketing campaigns, while 63% prefer to link it all the way to revenues.


Check the norms followed by your organization and by the industry and pick the appropriate metrics and key performance indicators (KPI). These metrics should showcase the 'marketing impact' on business goals. Aligning the marketing efforts to the organizational objectives and demonstrating the contribution is key. ROMI framework is very effective and setting it for your business is a critical step.


Step 5: Pick a Data-driven Marketing Plan Template (Get a quick one)
A simple Google search shows over 231,000 results for a 'Marketing plan template'. A similar search for 'data-driven marketing plan template' shows only four links (out of which one is for a training and three are ads). 
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PM Essence
Q. This is a model used by leaders to specify behaviors which are the best for their employees in their working environment and that motivates the employees for achieving organization goals.

A. The Path-Goal model is a theory based on specifying a leader's style or behavior that best fits the employee and work environment in order to achieve a goal. The goal is to increase your employees' motivation, empowerment, and satisfaction so they become productive members of the organization. Path-Goal is based on Vroom's (1964) expectancy theory in which an individual will act in a certain way based on the expectation that the act will be followed by a given outcome and on the attractiveness of that outcome to the individual. The path-goal theory was first introduced by Martin Evans (1970) and then further developed by House (1971). The pathgoal theory can best be thought of as a process in which leaders select specific behaviors that are best suited to the employees' needs and the working environment so that they may best guide the employees through their path in the obtainment of their daily work activities (goals).
[Source - Internet]
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Your Chance to Renew PMI Membership
Membership Announcement - Economic Exception Pilot ended on 31 December 2015, we had few programs and part of the campaign was to encourage members to be part of the program and many of the members have availed membership fee benefit ($65). There is still a chance for the members whose membership expired post March 2015 and not renewed their membership - they can still come back to the program by renewing their PMI membership.
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