Typical problems to overcome!
6.1 Custom & Practice
All organisations evolve. During this evolution processes, practices and procedures are put in place to help achieve the business requirements. Certain of these practices will probably be inappropriate now. These processes need to be identified and the staff convinced that change is necessary and beneficial.
This is only achievable by continual engagement with the staff on a day-to-day basis.
6.2 Too much Science
Every organisation wants to approach work 'scientifically'.
While this can be argued to be an admirable aspiration it has to be realised that it cannot be achieved instantly. Personnel within the organisation must have acquired the appropriate knowledge of the subject and skill with the tools before this is achievable.
What is more immediately possible is to adapt the applications used by the organisation to make them more user friendly. Setting up background processes and procedures that help the user achieve a scientific approach without the complete understanding of the science itself.
Especially true of Programme and Project Planning it is also relevant for Risk Management. Indeed, Issue Management, Configuration Management and Cost Control can all benefit from this approach.
6.3 Too few resources
The PO must be able to absorb most of the admin burden arising from the eight main PO functions from the general programme and project staff. This requires that sufficient PO staff are put in place to accommodate this.
A Programme Office team of four persons could perform adequately on a small/medium programme when managing centralised functions of Cost, Planning, Risk, Change, Issue, and Document Management including their associated Communication and Organisational requirements. However this does not include the unavoidable and usually underestimated scope of work that is general Office Administration.
Local circumstances have to be understood before a determination of resource level is possible.
6.4 Inappropriate resources
Just having a sufficient number of staff will bring no benefit if the levels of skill and experience of the staff are too low.
All staff within the Programme Office must be more than just competent in the use of a PC. Skill in the use of all aspects of (say) Microsoft Office suite of applications including MS Project and Visio is necessary.
Training of the PO staff to bring up skill levels is an ongoing day to day process sometimes one-to-one sometimes a team training session.
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6.5 Resources with other duties
Staff assigned to the PO that have additional duties within the parent organisation such as Union, Health & Safety, HR and other time consuming activities will not be able to fulfil the PO Roles requirements.
Absences for these and other reasons will occur and it is essential that PO staff are not distracted from their duties.
6.6 Poorly defined organisation
Define the organisation.
If this is not done it will be impossible to keep the workload on the PO staff within acceptable limits as much effort will be expended on the exercises of tracking, gathering and consolidation of data for reports.
The proposed approach where all files locations are known can accommodate automated output of reports with relatively small maintenance effort.
Obtain organisation chart(s) and determine the organisation that the PO is there to service. Develop and assign a naming convention to the component parts of the organisation by use of Abbermist Project and Area register commonly known as the "Team Register". Create the sub directories and folders within the Programme Directory to align with the determined organisation.
6.7 Inadequate Tools
Having different versions of the same application will cause consolidations of information (especially Project Plans) to fail or produce unsatisfactory results.
The PO should be responsible for the Office Asset Register and when drawn up it should include lists of applications with versions that are loaded onto users PC's. PC's with old or unapproved applications must request its removal or upgrade/replacement.
6.8 No control of folders or files
Electronic folder and file management must be under the control of the Programme Office to allow the organisation to function efficiently. This would include having access control rights assigned to the PO from the IT Support Administrators.
The Directory structure would then be built and naming convention implemented by the PO and Staff
6.9 Managers with 'higher' priorities
It is essential that all levels of staff have a full understanding of the PO processes and how they interact with them. This means that workshops will have to be run to advise, inform and instruct all staff in these new practices.
Getting senior managers to attend such workshops is essential and delegation to subordinates should not be allowed.
The PO must have sufficient authority to "three line whip' attendance. This is only possible if we firstly make every effort to fit in with Managers schedules and secondly have Senior Management support.
6.10 No time to train
The PO staff will need to be the first people to be trained in the new way of working. It is essential that everyday activities do not get in the way of this. It is inadvisable to promote methods of management to the general staff when there is no qualified support in the PO
See "Managers with higher priorities" above
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6.11 PO an admin burden?
All parties must be made aware that setting up a Programme Office will involve additional effort on everyone's part but only in the transitional period. The services that will be provided at the end of the transition will significantly reduce effort while hopefully increasing efficiency throughout the organisation.
Although the PO will introduce new ways of doing things it should be understood that usually there are no additional demands.
Continually advise and appraise the staff of the future benefits.
6.12 Insufficient backing
Insufficient Management backing will lead to a 'toothless' Programme Office. One of the PO roles is to ensure that the requirements placed on managers and staff with regard to reports are always met. A request for an update from the PO must be understood by all staff to be a requirement not a request.
6.13 Customer Relations
The PO must be the custodian of all approved and authorised procedures, processes etc so that standards can be put in place that are manageable and audit-proof.
However these cannot accommodate every eventuality or circumstance and a means of controlling unique requirement such as those that may arise with a customer will need to be developed for each unique case.