Value to whom?

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The purpose of a project is to create value balancing risks and rewards [1] , but value for whom? First of all it is necessary to understand which are the main stakeholders for an organization by underlin-ing the importance of customers and of those who are defined end users. The strategies of communica-tion that should be maintained with all these actors are the basis for the creation of the value delivered to each of them. In the introduction the most important concepts are presented starting from the definition of the business value to whom it is addressed and who are the people in charge for a correct and effective delivery of it. The same concepts will be treated more in depth even later.

The project benefits management plan, which is an additional document to the project charter and the project management plan, describes how to bring benefits and how to monitor them subsequently. A benefit delivers value, which can be tangible or intangible, to the organization and to people impacted by the project. Each organization, thanks to Program Management aims to increase its ability to transfer its benefits to society, consumers and users. Benefits are presented differently depending on whether a non-commercial organization (social value) or a commercial organization (business value) is considered. In the case of Portfolio Management there is a section completely dedicated to value management, to the description of its components and the tasks which should be performed by the portfolio manager: from the negotiation of the expected value to final report value. [2]

Finally in the article, the Agile approach and an example in construction field will be considered in order to understand, in a more practical way, the concept of value and the main actors to whom it can be ad-dressed. The Agile approach allows users to help increasing the value for themselves and for the company. In this way the needs and desires of the consumer are met in the best possible way; in fact consumers are one of the four fundamental pillars of the Agile manifesto. The big difference between predictive projects and agile projects is that, in the latter case, the value is delivered to consumers throughout the implementation of the agile project, not only at the end as can happen for example applying the Kanban approach (part of Lean Thinking) that focuses solely on the final value brought to the consumer. The value then flows very quickly and optimized to the end user who is the main reason why the project team and the leaders act in one way rather than another.


Organizations which use correctly Project, Program, Portfolio management try to achieve a lot of objectives, but the most important one remains providing business value to their customers. But how business value can be defined? The Project Management Istitute tried to summarize it in only one sentence considering a lot of other definitions together:

´´business value is the net benefit that will be realized by the customer of a project, and can be measured in either monetary or non-monetary terms[3]

In fact the most important thing for realizing a good project is considering not only features as being in time, in scope or respecting costs, but also respecting what are customers wants and needs, so, in other words, the value which is provided them, and not only. It becomes necessary also to understand what the organization itself is trying to achieve with the application of Project, Program, Portfolio techniques. A lot of actors are involved in the process and each of them tries to reach a different type of value. In fact, it is possible to distinguish between internal (e.g. employees, owners) and external company’s stakeholders (e.g. customers, creditors, clients, society, government) who have different requirements and interests. In order to know if what the project manager is actually doing has and creates business value, it is important to identify which is the company´s vision, which is/should be the business value provided by the project and the relationship between the two.

In the graph in figure 1 we can see which are the steps that a project manager has to follow in order to understand if what he is actually doing has and creates business value.

Figure 1: Steps to delivering business value (Phillipy, 2014)

Finally, the project manager has to work in strict contact with the chosen team in order to create the busi-ness value required and, during all the process, measure and control it using different tools. In the graph in figure 1 the steps that a project manager has to follow are summarized.

Company´s strategy, project management and value

The main goal of a company is to create a competitive advantage. This advantage arises from the addi-tional value that a company is able to create for its customers with respect to the cost it incurs. In this way, customers will prefer the product of the company to that of competitors. According to Michael Porter, US economist and professor at Harvard Business School, a competitive advantage can be of two types: cost leadership (same product / service, but at lower cost) or differentiation (alternative and / or innovative product). Thanks to the use of the value chain, a model theorized by himself in 1985, it is possible to se-lect and understand the most important business processes and, therefore, those that contribute to have value for the end customer. [4]

Every project or program should be an expression of the organization's strategy. Due to the fact that the strategy often is confused with the objectives pursued, or simply it is identified with the company’s mis-sion, there is the need to underline that a strategy is not what an organization wants to achieve, but what it decides to do in order to achieve it, starting from precise choices on which are the main company´s needs to who it wants to address, and what is its value proposition. A perfect harmony is needed between the strategies followed by the business units and the company's projects. In fact, a project must be an integral part of all the activities that constitute the strategy by which the company aims to achieve its competitive advantage. Communication between the executives and the PMO is fundamental and this is also the only way to ensure perfect consistency, and, thus, to enable the company to achieve high successes; the lack of alignment between strategy and project management is one of the most common causes of failure of companies and, for this reason, one of the greatest challenges.

Success of a project

In order to evaluate the success of a project, indicators such as being on time, respecting the budget and satisfying the scope were used in the past few years, but this idea is changing continuously; in fact, projects that do not respect these characteristics could still bring value to the company. [5]

The new definition of project success is that a project can exceed its time and cost estimates as long as the client determines that it is successful by whatever criteria they use.[6]

The level of satisfaction of the stakeholders and of the final customer. Customer satisfaction has become one of the main objectives for companies; in fact, more often, they ask themselves if the client appreciates the work done and the skills demonstrated, if the project creates the condi-tions for further future collaborations. Some stakeholders may maintain doubts about the quality of the work done. It is good to intercept these doubts during the project and to understand their motivations before it is too late. For this reason it is advisable to carry out an analysis of the stakeholders and take the consequent actions.

The users’ adoption. It happens that the outcome realized by a project is not used after its deliv-ery. There can be a lot of motivations depending, for example, on misunderstandings of custom-ers´ requirements or on not high involvement of users in the project.

The value obtained by the project must be defined before the start of it. Several criteria can be set and therefore the metrics to be used for its evaluation are different. The value of a project can in fact refer to the financial value, the value for the customer, the value for the stakeholders, the value for the share-holders, the employment value, the infrastructure value, the expected contribution to the company busi-ness, the environmental value, health, safety.

But, who is the main responsible for this value?

There are a lot of different ideas about the best answer to this question. With the paper presented at PMI® Global Congress in 2012 James, V. M. has declared that not only the project manager is responsi-ble for reaching an high business value, but also other actors such as the Project Sponsor who makes the decisions and is the main value promoter, the business analyst who will analyze data and quantita-tively will try to understand which projects bring value to the organization and which not, and finally, not for this reason less important, subject matter experts (SMEs) who must be involved throughout the project and not just at the end in order to have a global view about all the factors impacting it. [7]

Portfolio Value Management

The main idea of Value Management is the maximization of value that is generated by the realization of project and program´s benefits. Value is an indicator of the effect an entity or offering can deliver. Higher is the value higher is the impact it has on the company’s environment. It can be expressed in different ways depending on the types of goals an organization tries to pursue. For example, a public organization will receive value in reducing the costs and increasing people satisfaction while, in case of private organ-izations, the most relevant value is increasing profits. Metrics can be used in order to evaluate tangible value (skills uplift, resource capacity, market share, cli-ent satisfaction or economic value), but for intangible value (brand awareness, organization’s reputation, risk exposure, compliance, and social value) the evaluation is more difficult. [8]

In figure 2 can be seen which are the main activities of Portfolio Value Management. The Portfolio Manager must excel in negotiating the expected value, maximizing returns, realizing and reporting value. As regarding negotiation different tools can be used as the Value management framework which allows the definition of a target value for each portfolio´s component.

Figure 2: Key Activities in Portfolio Value Management (Project Management Institute, 2017)

A key role in this sense is played by the external environment and organizational purposes and strategy which can affect the generation and the kind of value. It must be noted the presence of two feedback loops, the first one which links together the Portfolio expected value obtained after the expected value negotiation and the Portfolio required value given by the strategy’s development, while instead, the latter, which has an higher impact, integrates measurements of performance, achieved value and environmen-tal factors.

Final users in Agile approach

Before starting a project it is important to involve consumers in order to understand what are their requests and expectations and how these can be transformed into business value by the project team. In this sense, thanks to Agile Approach, users become an integral part of the project as the unique soul of the organizational body and they are not treated only as external actors. The life of the project revolves around them. Their importance can be noticed even more in the "Agile Manifesto" which bases its philos-ophy on four main pillars:

1) Attention should be more focused on individuals and interactions than on processes and tools; 2) Working on the software is more important than complete documentation;

3) Collaboration with the client is more vital than contract negotiation;

4) The process should respond to change rather than being tied to a plan. [9]

The Agile approach introduces a method of Project Management that allows the realization of a project by phases, called "sprints", each of them focused on new functions. It is usually shown to customers the work which is done continuously in order to verify their satisfaction. In this way it is possible to make changes very quickly, thus, avoiding the failure of a project already completed. The adoption of the Agile method involves changes in the organizational structure of the teams, in the planning of work and in the culture of companies. Agile in fact allows to achieve reactivity, costs and fixed times, with the aim of giving value to the entire business and to the customers themselves at the same time.

Value in construction: Project, Program Management and Lean Thinking

All the techniques used by an organization have pros and cons. The two philosophies, Project Manage-ment and Lean Thinking, could be seen as an integration one of each other or as two unrelated macro practices. By studying the field of construction it is possible to understand what was actually the greatest limitation of Project Management at the beginning: the vision of the value delivered to the end user, which today, as outlined previously, has become an integral part of the success of a project together with being in time, respecting the budget and providing a high level of quality. Given the failure of the Project Management techniques in the construction sector due to the unpredicta-bility of time, quality and budget variables, it was necessary to develop a new approach that allowed a clear cut of waste: Lean Construction. This new approach has the objective of minimizing costs by max-imizing value. Lauri Koskela in 2000 defined what is called "New Paradigm". Production had to be conceptualized into three complementary elements: Transformation (T), Flow (F), and Value generation (V). He has brought also the traditional project management community to the inadequacies of the traditional project construc-tion model.[10]

During the previous years, the vision of project management was more focused on reducing costs rather than on the value delivered to the consumer and on the satisfaction of his requirements. Thus, a wide contraposition with the Lean Thinking theory was born. Lean Thinking theory is based on production processes that deliver the product directly into the hands of the consumer, avoiding keeping inventories. The basic idea is the Kaizen (´continuous improvement') born in the 40s in the Japanese industry along with the theory of continuous flow and elimination of eve-rything that does not constitute added value for the customer.

London challenge in Olympic games 2012

A striking example of how well has been applied Project Management in the field of construction, and more specifically Program management, is the case of the 2012 London Olympics. The main objective of the program was to plan and build a series of infrastructures during the 7 years after the nomination of London as the host city of the Olympic games 2012, with a budget of £ 7 billion. In fact, it has been possi-ble in this case to satisfy the government, the mass media, the residents of the surrounding areas and the public requirements at the same time. Therefore, the value delivered through the program, was not only the value obtained by stakeholders, thanks to the physical construction of the buildings in which the Olympic games would have been sustained, but also other types of value starting from the reclamation and reconstruction of one of the poorest and most underdeveloped areas of London: the east zone; to be noticed the perfect combination between social, economical and environmental benefits. [11]

The main purpose of a program, in fact, is to have a wider vision of the surrounding environment, to help society and to interact closely with ethics and economy; in this case of the city of London and its sur-roundings. The ODA ( Olympic Delivery Authority) has defined, as it is possible to see in Figure 3 (down pointing arrows), six main themes according to how it structured all its activities, defining the strategic goals and the specific objectives to be respected in order to be able to complete the program in the best possible way. The chosen strategy has therefore been perfectly integrated with the application of the Pro-gram Management and certainly this, together with the approach adopted with the stakeholders, and the satisfaction of their requirements and their ´desired value´, has allowed to reach perfectly the final results.

Figure 3: Priority themes Olympic games 2012 ((ICE), 2011)

Bibliography and sources' description

Project Management Institute Books The chapter 7 of The standard for Portfolio Management treats the portfolio value management and all the steps in the process. It underlines how this concept is central in Portfolio Management and how it can be integrated with all the other areas.

The knowledge of the PMBOK was fundamental to integrate together all the different visions of value and project management tools and techniques. PMI articles In order to have a complete overview of the topic and of today´s ´environment´ the PMI site has been fundamental. In the articles ´Delivering business value: The most important aspect of project management´ and ´Achieve project success by delivering business value´ it is explained what is business value, how it is possible to achieve it and who are the main actors involved in the process starting from the project manager to the project sponsor, customers and society.

Agile Manifesto It describes how/when the approach has born and which are the main characteristics of it; primarily customers´ value.

Civil Engineering Journal The article at pages 5 -12 on the number 5 of the journal (May 2011) presents the example of the London Olympic games from the Program Management point of view and how, thanks to an excellent organization, it has been possible to realize this successful program.

Michael E. Porter´s book It demonstrates how companies can create and sustain a competitive ad-vantage within their industry and how managers can evaluate the competitive position of their company, carrying out actions able to improve it. The main concepts of the book can be used in order to contextualize how important can be the strategy chosen by the company and how it can be related subsequently to project, program and portfolio management.

  1. ©2017 Project Management Institute, Inc. A Guide to the PROJECT MANAGEMENT BODY OF KNOWLEDGE ( PMBOK ® GUIDE ) Sixth Edition
  2. ©2017 Project Management Institute, Inc. The Standard for PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT
  3. Phillipy, M. A. (2014). Delivering business value: The most important aspect of project management. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2014—North America, Phoenix, AZ. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute
  4. Michael E. Porter Competitive Advantage, Free Press, New York, 1985
  5. James, V. M. (2012). Achieve project success by delivering business value. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2012—North America, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute
  6. Top 10 Project Management Trends for 2012 J. LeRoy Ward, PMP, PgMP, Executive Vice President, Product Strategy & Management, ESI International)
  7. James, V. M. (2012). Achieve project success by delivering business value. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2012—North America, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
  8. ©2017 Project Management Institute, Inc. A Guide to the PROJECT MANAGEMENT BODY OF KNOWLEDGE ( PMBOK ® GUIDE ) Sixth Edition
  9. The Agile Manifesto (2001) by K. Beck, M. Beedle, A. van Bennekum, et al.
  10. Koskela, L. and Howell, G., (2002). The Underlying Theory of Project Management is Obsolete. Proceedings of the PMI Research Conference, 2002, Pg. 293-302.
  11. 11. ProCeedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) – CIVIL ENGINEERING, May 2011, 164, No. CE5

Reading suggestions

Due to the fact that the topic is very large and can involve different subjects and concepts a list of other possible articles and wiki pages related to value management can be considered as follows:

• Value stream mapping in Program Management

• Stakeholders

• Stakeholders from a dynamic and network perspective

• Mapping stakeholders

• Creating and Capturing Value: More than Just Cost Reduction

• Agile Tools & Techniques for Self-Improvement

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