In my opinion, government organizations are among the most complex – because they are driven by very specific yet often open-ended missions…where success may not be easily measured, where efficiency is a secondary objective, and where matrix organizations result in lines of authority and accountability that may not be so clear and consistent. Responsible spending of funds in such an environment – to accomplish strategic objectives - can be extremely difficult and challenging.
Programs provide a ‘first front line’ for implementation of strategic objectives, as programs are by nature strategically defined and implement a subset of the strategy. As such, programs can also provide a ‘laboratory’ for implementing strategic objectives – for getting strategy implementation right before implementing elsewhere. Programs also provide the bridge to strategy implementation on projects. This article explores some of the key challenges and pitfalls to strategy implementation on programs and how to manage them.
You know what you’re going to measure to determine quality…but you know that the product won’t be perfect the first time out. You’re going to need a way to execute the measurement process multiple times – or at least enough to achieve a level of confidence that you have achieved the required level of quality. The important thing is to consider what you don’t know…about how much could be wrong, about what will need to be done to correct it, and about what it takes to measure again.
Let’s get practical here: you’re going to need to measure quality in order to achieve a desired level of quality. It’s the most basic management principle: you can’t manage what you can’t measure. So you need to find a way to measure the quality being produced on your project in a way that is reliable, accurate, and cost-effective. To get there, think in terms of what you must measure and what you can measure…and rate different ways of doing it based upon reliability, accuracy, and cost.
You may have a concept for the product of your project, but you need to understand and articulate the level of quality required of that product to make the project a success. The trick is to find the intersection of a quality level that will be acceptable while delivering the project on time and within a certain budget. You will, therefore, need to consider the time and resources parameter carefully – and perform tradeoffs with your team and the stakeholders until you strike a happy balance to determine the required quality level.
When you begin to think about quality management on your project, the first thing that needs to be done is to define what quality means on the project. Quality is not an objective thing, but there is a commonality among things that represent quality and how to manage them. Defining quality in terms that are meaningful on the project is an important early step for the team and stakeholders. And it begins with defining the product of the project – that ‘thing’ that if produced makes the project a success.
Ignoring the environment is perilous to the sustainment of any project or organization! You need to keep the effect on the environment front and center! Issues such as commuting, parking, building, noise, light, energy usage, and waste management all are part of the environment effects to be considered. If any one of these is not managed within acceptable limits, the environmental sustainability of the project and even of the organization will be at risk.
Sustainability of an organization increasingly is dependent on managing social risks - that is in managing the organization’s relationship with its immediate and extended community. Some factors to consider include attitude toward existing companies, employee relations, potential financial impact to the larger community, and possible supporting infrastructure required. It is important to recognize the external social factors at play – and to recognize what your organization, with limited control over these factors, can do to manage the risks that these factors pose.
Sustainability, which is more often associated with environmental or other larger societal concerns, is often not associated with financial considerations, which is a complete show-stopper risk. Public pressure tends to be in external-facing areas such as environmental, community planning, regional economic impact, and impact to local services. In fact, sometimes these considerations even come at odds with internal financial viability and sustainability, which need to be in place to accomplish any of these other external-facing objectives.
Project risks can affect operational sustainability in a business, yet sometimes these risks are not managed appropriately, if at all. Identifying these operational sustainability risks can take some work, but it can be very worthwhile. Supplier disruption, relationship conflicts, operational strategy misalignment, and talent management miscues are just a few of the missteps that can hurt operational sustainability. This is the first part of a series of four articles on sustainability.