Anna arrives at the office early figuring that a new job deserves an early start. A few glasses of a reasonable white wine with her pals last night meant that today, for once, the gym got by-passed. She also wonders which (almost certainly male) idiot had bought the shiny new sports car that sparkled in the sun shining on the company car park.
By the time Jason manages to get past the over-zealous security guard and into his new office, Anna had tied up the loose ends of her other responsibilities and cleared her desk for the new project. Her desk features only a lamp, a smart laptop and three pens in a brushed aluminium box. The mental desk clearing takes much longer than the physical.
Jason and Anna are introduced and start to get to know each other. This quickly and despite any logical rationale becomes a sparring session. We join them in the third round.
‘So you have neither training nor experience of project management?’ says Jason to Anna.
‘Not much at all and nothing formal. I’ve worked as part of the team on a few projects and I am a qualified accountant’. After a moment’s reflection comes a probing forehand: ‘How are you on finance?’
‘We did spend a lot of time on finance at Harvard and as a consultant within the big four you have to be very comfortable with a balance sheet and cash flow forecasts. Have you managed many teams before?’
‘I have had a small team on budgeting for some time but I have really focused on the management reporting side ensuring that the board have appropriate management information for every meeting’, she explains. She does not mention that her small team was actually a spotty work-experience youth whom she managed to put up with for three weeks before passing him on to an unsuspecting credit control manager.
Later Anna will describe Jason as patronising. In her mind this is as bad as being a racist bigot with a side line in blood sports. Her discovery that Jason owns the Lotus in the car park does little to enhance her opinion of him.
Jason will describe her as ‘professional’ and as someone who ‘wants to do well’ but he thinks of her in the same terms as those hopeful secretaries in his old office; thus unwittingly supporting Anna’s view. They are both adults and professionals and therefore they both, in their own way and in their own minds, think about finding ways to work together. Jason does better with this than Anna who just annoys herself.
Jason has brought with him from his previous job a number of sources of information and knows the value of presenting material created by others especially when they can be described as experts. From time to time both he and Anna refer to a website which, in a rare moment of agreement, they refer to as ‘the framework’. They use this to get concepts, ideas, methods and structures across to their colleagues.
Their first introduction to the framework is to get an idea of current best practice in portfolio management and some ideas for the overall structuring of the portfolio management organisation.
After a quick review, they decide to investigate each topic as and when they find a need. They draw up a diagram that summarises the overall structure and this is worth a moment of your time in quiet contemplation, dear reader.
Jason explains that there really is little point in arguing whether a specific initiative should be called a project or a programme.
He says, 'There are some things that are clearly programmes and others that are clearly projects but there is a wide range of initiatives that you could call either way. There is however clear water between project management and programme management. Programme management is a layer that links the projects to the strategy; it is a pretty important layer in any organisation.'
Thanks to Geoff Reiss for contributing this book