A Publication of WTVP

With globalization, resource constraints, increased business complexity, and reduced project and product life-cycles, large organizations are struggling to improve their existing workforce’s ability to become more agile and responsive to business challenges. The need for improvement is further exacerbated by hyper-competitive business conditions that place near impossible demands on an organization’s limited resources.

One approach to organizational improvement is focusing on management processes. A key first step to improving the effectiveness of the management process is to understand the underlying dynamics of the organization’s activities. These dynamics include governance (settings and monitoring the organization’s direction and driving change), large monolithic projects (unified projects with complex dependencies and dedicated resources), portfolio projects (small independent projects aligned to the overall corporate objectives), and workgroups (groups that support projects and ongoing activities). These dynamics often are unique to the organization, and they change over time. To achieve structured improvement, the first step is to review the organization’s dynamics to identify which are dominant. The organization then needs to develop a strategy to address these issues.

Ineffectively managed workgroups can compromise the effectiveness of the organization’s projects. In the past, project management principles have been applied to manage workgroups with limited results. To increase workgroup effectiveness, a fundamental rethinking is required on the part of leadership, addressing changes to the following key areas:
• Request management—managing work requests coming from internal and external customers.
• Delivery management—project management, time/work tracking, etc.
• Competency management—managing skill sets, internal processes, and long-term resource planning.

Organizations need to focus on streamlining and effectively managing the request management and prioritization piece of the puzzle. This primary customer interface layer is victimized by the greatest amount of noise, typically in the form of ad-hoc requests for information or issues from the customers. As these requests come into the system, they bring in noise and create chaos, reduce effectiveness, and make the organization highly reactive.

This is an increasingly urgent issue facing many large companies. In the absence of a structured request management process, fire-fighting becomes a dominant symptom, leading to inefficiencies and a loss of morale within the workgroup. The implementation of a few key tools and processes at the external request management and prioritization level provides a critical “lever” to improve the effectiveness of the other areas within the workgroup. The transparency brought about by the external request management layer then drives the internal layers to be more optimized in their throughput.

By implementing a structured approach to workgroup management, its effectiveness can increase 15 to 20 percent, morale is boosted, and productivity improved. Workgroup management also is crucial to improving any organization’s overall operational effectiveness, since all other initiatives are founded upon the workgroup’s support. IBI