The obvious temptation when your project delivery success rates are not improving is to focus on improving your project delivery processes. But this is the wrong move. It is the wrong move because it can move you further away from your true project investment goal – the successful delivery of desired business outcomes, their associated benefits and their value.The processes required for the successful delivery of the business outcomes and value fall into three categories:
1 Value delivery specific processes.
2 Project/value delivery processes, and
3 Project/technical delivery processes
The dangers of the project perspective
When you focus on improving your project delivery processes you will be focusing on both the Project/technical and Project/value delivery sets of processes. However, you will be approaching both sets of processes from a project perspective.
This project-focused perspective is fine for the Project/technical processes but can destroy the value aspects of the Value delivery processes. As you commission projects to deliver the business value, this is not what you want to achieve.
The problem is the use of a project-focused perspective and the project delivery measures of success when dealing with project managed value delivery processes.
There are a number of processes that can be perceived as either project or value processes. Your choice of perspective determines the business value made possible and delivered.
For example, one project/value delivery process is scope management.
- From a project perspective, scope management is a key cost-control mechanism. It is used to avoid scope creep on the one hand and to control scope reduction on the other. It is also often used as a time/cost control variable to be adjusted to keep the project within its time/cost constraints.
- From a value delivery perspective, scope management is a key value-control mechanism. It is used to control and protect the investment’s value. Any change to the scope is seen as potentially increasing or decreasing the project investment’s business value. From this perspective it is important that scope is treated as a constant (not a variable).
In most organizations scope management is installed and managed as a project delivery process. For example, most scope change forms ignore the value impacts of potential scope changes. The impacts of a proposed scope change are assessed in terms of project time, cost and effort – but rarely in terms of their impacts on the business outcomes, benefits and value.
Indeed, most project delivery approaches do not establish a link between the scope and the value except in overall macro terms, making the benefit impacts difficult to assess. However, value delivery approaches directly link what the project is doing to the value to be realized, allowing every proposed scope change to have its value impacts assessed. Only when both the cost and value impacts of a proposed scope change are known and quantified can an informed business decision be made.
The need to focus on the Value perspective first
This scope management example illustrates how by improving your project delivery processes you may be able to increase your ability to deliver projects but you are likely to simultaneously decrease your ability to deliver the business value.
Therefore, if you pursue implementing ‘improved project delivery processes’ you are likely to be reinforcing a move away from business value delivery.
Worse, you can also be making it more difficult to make the shift to value delivery later as you are reinforcing project-focused cost-control thinking—whereas value delivery requires different value delivery focused thinking.
So, if your project delivery success rates are not improving – you need to focus on improving your value delivery processes (not your project delivery processes).
Most of the time the value delivery processes will drag any deficient project delivery processes into line and improve your overall level of results faster and with less effort than the more common alternative of implementing project delivery-focused processes and then subsequently trying to convert the organization to think value and use value delivery processes.
To improve results you need to improve your value delivery processes first, and then improve your project delivery processes later if you still need to.