The Group Programmes division of HBOS, after an extensive survey, published an influential internal report identifying common, repeated failings across projects and programmes in the organisation.
The value of the 'Right First Time' initiative was set out at the outset. There had to be: clearer definition of projects; more engaged stakeholders; and less time and money spent on project rework. After three years, a senior I&IIT executive stated that they had audited that the level of rework costs had been reduced by 40%.
The HBOS Investment and Insurance IT group (I&IIT) recognised that their IT managers were focused on delivery and were neither accustomed to, nor confident in challenging the business during project initiation and planning. Many projects began with unrealistic business expectations and most suffered regular 'revision' of the terms of reference in 'mid-flight', or were deemed failures by the business, generating mistrust between project teams and the business. I&IIT spent a considerable amount of its annual project budget on rework of existing project initiatives, rather than initiating new ones.
Approach to solution
I&IIT engaged CITI to structure and deliver a programme entitled 'Right First Time' to improve performance in setting up, structuring and planning of projects.
CITI engaged in a series of workshops to develop roles and responsibilities, and to gauge levels of competence with I&IIT's project community. Master classes were arranged to transfer knowledge of good practice in project initiation, planning, stakeholder engagement, project roles and responsibilities, and focus on a project's business outcomes.
Workshops on actual current projects were used as vehicles for practicing and embedding the necessary skills. Through a rolling series of face-to-face interventions and document reviews, CITI were able to support the entire I&IIT project community in improving its performance in project initiation and planning.
Improvement to project performance means project managers and business analysts adopting the right behaviours in engaging with, and challenging their business colleagues. Models and tools can illustrate best practice, but the most effective way to make improvement happen is to show what it looks like in real-life scenarios - projects that project individuals and the business have a real stake in. This approach is a powerful vehicle for facilitating peer-to-peer learning from experience.
Models / tools used
Project Mission Model, a framework for engaging technical and business people in constructive discussion of a project's terms of reference Stakeholder engagement, holding project conversations RACI model for project governance (accountabilities, responsibilities, consultation and information). The Reflect-Learn-Act approach encouraged knowledge sharing and the problem-solving focus allowed the community to generate its own solutions to how the concepts should be adapted and applied within the organisation's constraints.
"The classic training model, taking individuals out of the business to sit in a classroom for a week at a time, was not going to work for us. But at the same time, we knew we needed to raise our game in managing change. I have to say, your people are brilliant!"