Custom Blogger JS

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Agile Portfolio & Program Management – Part II: Governance

Executive Summary:
Capturing great ideas, obtaining consensus on their definition, objectives, budgets and schedule can be a complex and daunting process within any organization . Using a Kanban board, the Portfolio and Program Management ideation process can be structured to provide organizational oversight without impeding organizational agility.

This article is part of a three part series on Agile Portfolio & Program Management.  In Part I of this article, we discussed how a Kanban board can be applied to Portfolio and Program Management for the capture and approval flow of new ideas and suggestions.  If you haven’t read Part I, I suggest going back and reading it first prior to this article.

Below is the basic Portfolio/Program Management Ideation process we defined for collecting, validating, and preparing ideas for implementation. Note that we included three validation gateways within the validation stage to ensure organizational alignment prior to the launch of complex initiatives.

Figure 4: Portfolio & Program Management Ideation with 3 Validation Gateways

Translating the Ideation Process to a Kanban Board
Here is how we modeled the activities of the the first stage, Idea Capture, on our Ideation Kanban board.

Stage 1: Capture
Figure 5 – Kanban Columns for Idea Capture

Ideas are collected in an Idea Queue or Backlog, selected and prepared by the queue's Portfolio/Program Management product owner, where they are then scheduled for the Initial Evaluation. To learn more about the Initial Evaluation of an idea, refer back to Part I of this article.

Our ideation cards contained the following attributes:
Figure 6 – Sample Ideation Card

Ideation card data is gradually filled in as it moves through the ideation process.

In the Portfolio/Program Management Initial Evaluation, the Portfolio/Program Management Team determined if the idea can be fast-tracked directly to Project Prep activity, or requires a business case developed for further evaluation.

For those ideas that required further portfolio or program evaluation and analysis, we documented the reason within the ideation card, and the card was moved to the Ready for Business Case Development column of the Kanban board.

We'll begin this discussion from the assumption that a business case is required for this idea and a card for this idea resides in the "Ready for Business Case Development" column of our Kanban board.

Stage 2: Validate - Business Case Development

Figure 7 – Kanban Columns for Validation - Click Image to Zoom

Up until now, our evaluation of ideas has required a limited set of data and informal discussions. Now that we are considering a reasonably sized initiative, we want to provide just enough information to get thru the second gateway in the process, Business Case Development.

Once a card moves to Ready for Business Case Development, a task or tasks can then be assigned to the submitter of the idea, the product manager impacted by the idea, or an appropriate stakeholder, to create the business case deliverables for this item.

Business Case Development
As with this entire process, keep the business case deliverable simple. You should be able to boil it down to reusable template of no more than 1 or 2 pages of PowerPoint slides and some appendices.

Items to consider in your business case are:
  • Impacted business area of the organization
  • Impacted business strategic area or theme
  • A high level description of the suggestion (1 or 2 sentences)
  • The financial investment rationale for the suggestion (1 or 2 sentences)
  • ROI chart by investment, revenue, expenses (1 – 5 year)
  • Scored Costs & Benefits (Fibonacci scored or simply High, Med, Low)
  • Metrics used to gauge success or failure of suggestion
  • Assumptions
You will likely have other items to add or remove based upon your own organization. The more you can standardize this information the better.

Here's how one organization structured program and project business cases into a single snapshot.

Figure 8 – Sample One-Page Business Case Template

Note that the Benefits & Costs sections of a business case are further elaborated in a separate more detailed document (not shown).

Once the business case deliverable is ready for review, the Product Manager, or appropriate stakeholder, can move the card into the Ready for Business Case Review column. A card in this column alerts Portfolio or Program Management that item should be prioritized and scheduled.

Just like the initial review, business case reviews should happen on a predictable schedule and be no more than 1 -2 hours. Once scheduled, the scheduler can move the item into the In-Business Case Review column.

The Business Case Review
The overall objective of the business case, is to demonstrate the organizational value returned by the initiative within a specified time frame.

The value identified, should be something you can quantitatively measured to determine success or failure of the initiative.

Your business case review should result in one of three paths:
  1. Rejected - The idea’s investment/costs outweighs its value.
  2. Business Case Refinement Needed – Further refinement of the business case is needed in order to make a decision.
  3. Accepted - The idea seems feasible, in alignment with company strategy, its business value seems clear, but its complexity requires a deeper analysis for further assessment to validate this.
For rejected business case’s, the rejection reason should be documented on it's card and moved to the Rejected column.

If a business case needs additional refinement, perhaps there are some unanswered questions, these requests should be documented and the card moved back to the In-Business Case Development column and rescheduled once the information has been gathered and the card is ready for review again.

If the business-case is approved, it should move to the Ready for High-Level Analysis column of the Kanban board.  Note that it's possible that as a result of the business case review, it's determined the idea can be fast-tracked, and moved directly to the Ready for Project Prep column.

Leveraging a Kanban board to monitor the flow of the Portfolio & Program Management Ideation process, we've demonstrated how Kanban can be used by the Portfolio/Program Management team to provide a clear and transparent process, ensure appropriate governance of larger initiatives, and still encouraging agility by only requesting just the right amount of information at the right time.

It takes time for governance processes to evolve.  If you like the idea of a Kanban board to manage these processes, I recommend starting out by mapping your existing process activities first without consideration to Kanban, then once everyone agrees on the process, only then should you begin translating it to a Kanban board.

It's rather daunting to approach existing complex processes within any organization.  Part of agility is being able to evolve and improve. Be sure to incorporate periodic retrospectives to continually review your processes with your team and make incremental improvements along the way.

In the next and final article in this series on Agile Portfolio & Program Management - Ultimate Agility, we are going to discuss the final validation activity, High Level Analysis, and the the Project Preparation stage. We will also put everything together and demonstrate how to monitor and continually improve your overall organizational agility.

It would be great to hear about your experiences with addressing organizational governance, get your feedback on Portfolio & Program Management, and any suggestions you may have.

No comments:

Post a Comment