Occam Group: Capability-Based Project Management

Randy Barnhart, COO
It’s time to advance past maturity models. Project management grew out of heavily projectized verticals like capital construction and DoD programs. Over time, organizations and programs who consistently and repeatedly applied these best practices outperformed their non-conforming peers. The idea hatched to apply this Project Management body of knowledge to environments to help them mature up a continuum, which should ultimately lead to higher throughput and more ontime and on-budget projects.

The reality: it didn’t work. Today an Internet search of Project Management maturity continuums will yield a multitude of models, each which claim to have the answer. A survey of the tools space has dozens of tools, most of which have the same basic functions and the same promise: more on-time, and on-budget projects. Despite the abundance of IP, a plethora of tools, and billions of dollars spent, the data shows a large number of PMO organizations continue to fail. The problem isn’t the promise of “on-time, on-budget” is bad, it’s simply not enough. It’s time to expect results. Despite sky high spend levels on maturity; project failure rates are not appreciably better than they were a decade ago.

The alternative: Capability based Project Management. Specific capabilities, taken from a “tool chest”, which helps organizations address specific needs. “Maturity models are out, building capabilities in. Solve specific business problem using PPM as a targeted investment—designed to grow your organizations management capabilities,” says Randy Barnhart, COO, Occam Group. Consider three examples.

Example one: PPM tools as a Force Multiplier. Experienced staff is over-worked from long exposure to strategic projects while inexperienced staff is significantly underutilized. The function is routinely handed work they simply don’t have the right skills and capabilities to fulfill. Occam leverages their unique FastTrack process to deploy a tailored PPM solution which focuses almost exclusively on team balance, capability, and capacity mapping. Work is distributed more evenly, and the bench adjusts to take on the skills and capabilities necessary to face constant changes in demand. A small technology spend becomes a force multiplier for millions of dollars of payroll.
Example two: Insights which Helps to Make Actual Business Decisions. A large IT functions logs time, but only for accounting charge codes. Even so, services can’t be correctly costed, and it is unclear how time is really allocated across critical functions and activity types. Occam deploys its Magellan reporting solution to bring powerful new dimensionality to the time and labor data. Now you can accurately cost all services and projects based on consumption. The conversation changes fundamentally from “you’re too expensive” to “here’s what it will take to meet your demand”.

Example three: Sustainable Competitive Advantage. An organization is ineffective at selecting and delivering projects which will drive strategy. But when they use Occam’s unique Embarktool, the organization transitions to capability-based project selection to focus on which projects their resource base can actually deliver. The result is sustainable competitive advantage: more projects get delivered, throughput increases, and strategic attainment skyrockets.

Maturity models are out, building capabilities in. Solve specific business problems using PPM as a targeted investment—designed to grow your organizations management capabilities

It’s time to really understand the fundamental goal in developing and deploying PPM tools. Solution designed to drive engagement and productivity look different than one which increases project velocity or drives down development defects. Neither of these is fundamentally right or wrong, mature or immature. “You must listen with a trained ear for observable business outcomes. Once you have them, look for the lightest, most dynamic, and most innovative solution to meet your needs. This is a job for elite professionals passionate about synthesis and winning, and while you may find them other places, I guarantee you’ll find them at Occam,” concludes Barnhart.

Occam Group

Edina, MN

Randy Barnhart, COO

Occam Group drives business strategy using technology as a force multiplier to create sustainable, competitive advantage.