PM@CH – The Swiss Project Management Journal 2017

WAGILE – professionalise your project portfolio management

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Big organisations want to become agile. It is a common belief in traditional industries that start-ups are more flexible, leaner and nowadays even able to maintain this competitive advantage. The most common explanation for this situation is: start-ups are more agile (references: [1] [2] [3] [4]).

Is “agility” really the solution for traditional industries like banking, insurance or automotive to survive what is called the digital revolution, or in other words the increase of competition and time to market?

Let’s have a look back on the telecom industry (Telco) in the early 2000s, before the Apples and Googles had this brilliant idea to integrate content on mobile devices – before mobile network service provider became ordinary mobile network operator. The telecommunication industry was highly competitive. There have been multiple product launches and price changes per day. The industry was a leader in technology and innovation, both in infrastructure and business models. It was characterized by constant re-organisations and change. Nobody talked about agile methodologies, even though the speed of innovation and delivery was extremely fast. Without regarding the failure of the industry strategy, the impact and the expectation towards project management was immense.

The challenges in Telco organisations that time are similar to the challenges traditional industries are facing today. Senior Executives have to align the entire company organisation to a constantly changing market situation, without creating administrative overhead and while securing competitive advantages of selective efficient organisational units within the corporation.

The key success factors as the head of project management in a Telco company was the ability to formally establish a cross functional end to end accountability in my delivery organisation, to split decision research and decision making in order to allow Senior Executives to actively take risk and to empower delivery teams to increase the delivery performance in a well-defined process framework. My main issues were not in the area of project methodologies, but in the management of external factors to the project, like the lack of trust, the non-availability of decision makers or missing transparency of delivery performance and decision making. Existing methodologies did not provide a solution, in contrary, they increased the creation of organisational silos which then augmented the internal competition of valuable resources. I had a need for a different concept framework.

In my opinion, the main question for big corporations is not: “How to become more agile?” The main question is: “How to build trust and to align the individual organisational units in a way that the entire corporation can use its full potential and move as a single entity?”

The challenge to make a big corporation move as one single entity is the real birth of Wagile.

The objective of Wagile is to centralize the delivery of change and to industrialize decision making.  Global transparency and delivery execution monitoring is a natural consequence. The outstanding advantage of Wagile is that existing individual delivery strategies are supported:

Today, Wagile got adapted to other industries. Due to the need to support multiple delivery methodologies, Wagile is able to integrate a combination of planning elements from Waterfall and agile methodologies alike – “Wagile”. The focus in Wagile is on transparency and on the management of external project factors like the reduction of the dependency on competency, availability or accountability of decision makers.

The key success factor in Wagile is the ability of quick and informed decision making and the empowerment of the delivery teams. Project delivery processes, the delivery organisation and tools or templates are less relevant as long as the responsible project manager has full control of the delivery.

Wagile normalizes project execution monitoring and facilitates decision making by introducing common key performance indicators (KPIs) and decision gates (DGs) for all types of projects. These KPIs are used as a benchmark, like the Time-to-Market (TTM). A deviation to this benchmark is a valuable indicator for the project performance and allows comparison between projects. It sets realistic management expectations to project stakeholders and to delivery teams alike.

On a more operational level Wagile puts strategic / financial planning and project execution in one integrated context, the Wagile Delivery Framework. Below an example of a Wagile implementation.

The concept of ROADMAPiSATION facilitates the companywide alignment of capital expenditures and project selection / prioritisation by actively applying a healthy competition for limited resources.

The Wagile Decision Model stimulates anticipatory and informed decision making by introducing a formal decision research done in expert boards (white boxes) and by imposing legitimacy and accountability to decision makers in decision boards (blue boxes). Simplified delivery, experimenting, pilot or agile approaches are transparent and integrated elements in this decision process.

The concept of Commercial Seasons realizes economies of scale for go to market activities like for training, communication or cutover activities, and provides one common delivery frame with a cross functional vocabulary, by time scaling business related activities with technical change management.

The Wagile Execution Monitoring defines delivery milestones and benchmarks like Time-to-Go (TTG), Time-to-Market (TTM) or cost burn rate, valid for all nature of projects. This allows project comparison and performance monitoring.

The results of using WAGILE have been presented to PMI Switzerland in 2012 [5].

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* Wagile is a trademark of Eberhardt & Partner SARL.