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Stuart Easton

Stuart is CEO of TransparentChoice and is a veteran of the software space. His back ground includes stints working on reporting and data analytics and he is passionate about improving business outcomes for his customers. Stuart lives in the UK and enjoys hiking, mountain biking and playing with his kids. He also enjoys playing guitar... but his family would rather he didn't.

Recent Posts

PMOs Save the World!

Written by Stuart Easton

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On July 13th, 1985, a group of musicians including David Bowie, Queen and The Who came together and changed the world. It was called Live Aid and was attended by around 170,000 people in the UK and the USA and was watched by one-and-a-half billion people around the world. Live Aid raised something like £150m (that's around $200m at today's exchange rate) for famine relief in Africa.

Now, come on! We in the PM community are not going to let a bunch of over-paid poppinjays with bad haircuts have all the glory, are we?

PMs, PMOs, consultants, vendors... we can all make a difference, we can change the world, and here's how.

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PMO Champions vs. Underperformers

Written by Stuart Easton

PMO Champions vs. Underperformers

 
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In their massive rock anthem, We Are The Champions, the band Queen boldly declare, “No time for losers, ‘cos we are the champions…”

Perhaps this goes some way to explaining why 72% of PMOs are being called into question by their executives; perhaps they too have “No time for losers 

And today, we’re going to figure out where you sit. Are you a Champion or an Underperformer? Or, most likely, somewhere in between?

 

 

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Focus and the 72% of PMOs at risk?

Written by Stuart Easton

 

Lessons for PMOs
 

Data suggests that 72% of PMOs are being called into question by senior executives. Clearly these executives don’t perceive value in what the PMO is doing. Now, the project portfolio exists to deliver business-value-oriented projects and programs, so this brings us to some really important questions:

  • Why isn't every single project aligned with strategy? (Aligned projects are 57% more likely to deliver business value)
  • Why do I never have enough resources for my projects?
  • Why is “the business” frustrated with the project delivery organization?
  • Why do so many project teams get frustrated with their business “customers”?
  • Why is there a picture of Bono at the top of this blog?

 These are the important and urgent questions we will answer in today's blog.

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57% increase in project success: here's the trick

Written by Stuart Easton

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This blog is all about a very simple statistic from the PMI. It's a startling statistic, yet when you think about it it makes perfect sense.

Projects are 57% more likely to achieve their business goals if they are aligned with corporate strategy.

Fifty…... Seven…… wow!

 

According to the same PMI report strategically aligned projects are 50% more likely to be completed on time and 45% more likely to be completed within budget. This infographic has all the numbers in one place for you to share.

So no matter how you define success, strategic alignment clearly has a huge impact. This blog is going to look at why this is and what you can do to improve your own success rates.

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Benefits Realization is easier than you think

Written by Stuart Easton

Project benefit realizationLast week was the Project Challenge event in London and the were some really good talks. Among them was a talk by David Walton of Bestoutcome on benefits realization. This is an area I am often asked about when supporting clients in their portfolio prioritization and selection process so I thought I'd share...

Tracking through to benefits doesn't have to be hard, but it does take focus and the discipline to never give up, a bit likeThe Terminator - the good one in T2, of course; we don't want any nasty robo-PMOs running around gunning down project sponsors... even if you do sometimes feel like it!

Very few organizations track projects all the way through to benefit and David gave a simple framework to help you get there, but he missed one of the most important steps out; prioritization.

So, let me share with you my interpretation of the talk, but I'll add what I think is missing.

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Oh no! Here comes the CFO…

Written by Stuart Easton

 

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We’ve all had the feeling. You step into a lift (elevator for those of you who don’t speak the Queen’s English) and there’s the CFO. Or the CEO. There’s nowhere to hide. She turns to you and says something along the lines;

“I’m heading to a budget review and the project portfolio is under pressure. How do we KNOW we’re investing in the right things?”

Well, for most PMOs there is no good answer.

An honest answer would typically be; “Well, we had a meeting with our stakeholders and picked a bunch of projects that don’t really seem all that-well aligned with any strategic direction. Project selection was really based on politics and salesmanship and I reckon there are a few lemons and pet projects in there!”

Not an ideal answer.

Well, now there is a way you can quantify and justify the portfolio selection and it’s validated through academic research.

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There can be only one

Written by Stuart Easton

sketch1505317221824.pngWhen you go to the doctor, you expect that she will use evidence and best practice when treating you. A doctor has a certain duty of care towards her patients.

It would be terrifying if doctors around the world just started making stuff up. I mean you’d run a mile from a doctor who said, “Got a flu? I reckon a few purple pills should do the job. I mean, they worked fine for Mrs Jones’ sciatica the other week!”

But that’s exactly what organizations (and PPM vendors) around the world do when running project prioritization. They make it up. They just put their thinking caps on and slap together a spreadsheet (or, even more scary, vendors slap together a module for their PPM tool).

Yet executives and managers have a duty of care every bit as binding as that of a doctor. They have a duty to use the organization’s resources efficiently in support of key organizational goals, but “making it up” has been standard practice for years.

Luckily, we now have real evidence-based research to tell us how things SHOULD be done.

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PMOs have super-powers!

Written by Stuart Easton

PMO Super Heros.pngEvery PMO has the potential to be a superhero. Seriously.

Anyone who can deliver a sustained competitive advantage is a superhero (in company terms, anyway). It may be the “golden touch” on product (Steve Jobs) or the ability to spot a value-investment opportunity (Warren Buffet).

The superpower that every PMO has is the power to deliver a far more efficient and effective use of capital.

Hmmm – doesn’t sound as cool as X-ray vision or the power to create force-fields… but you know those aren’t real, right?

Apart from my Mum, who definitely had X-ray vision while I was growing up.

A more efficient and effective use of capital, however, is about as important for a company (or government agency, NGO, etc.) as it gets.

So, put your underpants on the outside and prepare to change the world!

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Project turn-around

Written by Stuart Easton

Turn around failing projects.pngWhen your car breaks, most of us call the mechanic.

Well, I recently spoke with Amanda Oakenfull of Deloitte in Australia. She’s known in Australian project management circles as The Mechanic and with good reason. She has an enviable track record in turning around projects, programs and portfolios. Amanda has a reputation for being able to fix almost anything and I wanted to know what her secret is.

We’ve released a podcast with an edited version of that discussion; it’s around 17 minutes long and is filled with real nuggets of wisdom, some of which may surprise you.

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PMO’s Most Important Meeting of the Year (Hint: it affects your appraisal meeting)

Written by Stuart Easton

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There’s one meeting (actually, it’s often a series of meetings) that is absolutely the most important meeting of the year for the PMO: the project prioritization meeting.

Why do I think this is the most important meeting?

    • This meeting defines the success or failure of your projects for the next year.
    • This meeting sets out how exactly how your organization will meet its strategic goals
    • This meeting has a massive impact on your career

“Whoa there! Did you just say something about my career?”

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PMOs: Number 1 Complaint

Written by Stuart Easton

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The Biggest Problem for PMOs

As part of my work, I speak with many PMO leaders and the most common complaint I hear is, “We have too many projects!”

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Projects failing? Why? Why? WHY?!

Written by Stuart Easton

why projects fail.pngMost people assume that if you want to reduce project failure rates the place to look is in project implementation. Of course improving implementation, upskilling project managers and putting in place project methodologies all help.

Many people are surprised, however, to hear so many experts saying that weak Project prioritisation is the root cause of much project failure. In fact, Amanda Oakenfull of Deloitte reckons the prioritization and planning process is the root cause of all project failure.

Let's dig into that a little to see why.

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The True Face of Your Portfolio

Written by Stuart Easton

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Let’s have a little fun, shall we?

Tell me, what did you see when you looked at the photo of a potato?

If you saw a face (look again if you missed it), then you just experienced facial pareidolia. Don’t worry; it’s normal to see faces in inanimate objects, though some people experience it more easily than others.

But what’s a funny potato got to do with project portfolios?

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Under Arrest: Project Prioritization

Written by Stuart Easton

Project Line up

Many executives are comfortable with their current project prioritization process, one based on a “beauty parade” or a “police line-up” of projects.

Well, I recently came across some research that shows that even the traditional police line-ups can be improved. And guess what; they do it using the same approach that leading PMOs use to prioritize projects. That approach is called the analytic hierarchy process (AHP).

 So, if your prioritization process still involves a “line up” - presenting a list of projects (or pitches) to executives and letting them choose – it’s time to move on.

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PMOs don't actually do anything!

Written by Stuart Easton

sketch1493041672126.pngLet’s be honest. PMOs don’t really do very much, do they?

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