We combine practical project and programme management experience with top quality technical capability and Oxford University research. This combination produces an innovative approach to organizing for success using tools developed in-house specifically for major programmes.
OxMP is an independent company providing critical thinking and insight into the set of management techniques required to successfully deliver major programmes of work. We are entirely independently owned and not tied to any supplier, consultancy, method or association, although we do have a purely academic link with the University of Oxford.
In May 2015 as part of our self-funded research, we asked nearly 200 senior programme professionals to share with us what kept them awake at night. The resulting insights have formed the basis for our tool-set development.
Out-dated methodologies and techniques.
Traditional project management is broken. The use of out-dated methodologies and techniques that were created to support machine-working has little relevance to the modern world of work, in which smart-phones link us instantly to immense stores of information. In this contemporary environment, events and ideas fluctuate with irritating frequency and ensure that schedules put together carefully at the beginning of a project are not worth the paper they're printed on.
Major programmes, costing billions of pounds and affecting the share price of organisations, possess multiple overlapping stakeholder groups. Mistrust between these groups can arise, as priorities clash.
As team members spend more time working remotely, there are gaps in management information and the potential for degraded engagement. Status reporting often passes through multiple authors and takes too long to arrive on the desktops of senior programme leaders who are under pressure to make decisions faster.
Despite the high failure rate of major programmes they continue to be commissioned - there is universal agreement about the causes of failure, but too much emphasis on success criteria that are easy to measure. The motivation of people in an organisation, their well-being and the real benefits being delivered by a programme are factors that are hard to quantify, but vitally important to success. Delivery to forecast schedule, cost and quality is no longer enough.
Human side of project management.
OxMP doesn't believe that any one methodology or piece of management information is the answer to 'fix' programme management. Unlike other companies, whose vested interests drive them to sell a particular system or process, our flexible tool-set is derived from independent research across multiple academic disciplines. Our tools are designed as prompts to enable different ways of looking at your temporary organization.
We have focussed on the human side of project management, because the research shows that it is in this area that the most risks become realised. We know that performance can be improved if there is a way to bridge the engagement gap with modern project teams who are distanced by large numbers, geography, matrix management and highly deconstructed, devolved and detailed tasks that seem very remote from the finished product.
Our tools are designed primarily for Mobile use, because most of your stakeholders will be within 3 feet of their smartphone. Figures show a steady move from desktop computing to Mobile, with more than 2 billion smartphones being simultaneously operational within the next 12 months.
OxMP's Project Pulse is a platform that visualizes the mood of a project organization by capturing information from multiple perspectives.
Adopters of Project Pulse will experience a step-change in the measurable engagement of programme stakeholders, which is important because research shows that traditional methods struggle to maintain engagement and motivation. The platform is based around an enterprise social network accessible via any smartphone, tablet or desktop browser. This focus on Mobile ensures that all programme stakeholders can share their views at a time and place to suit them. Their engagement is increased because they can see the comments that other stakeholders have submitted about the same projects and sub-projects.
It brings together unique Mobile functionality, an expertly designed user interface, and the latest in academic thinking to provide your organization with a service that will reduce risk and save you money.
Careful use of Project Pulse will reduce the cost of having your senior programme leaders locked away in lengthy meetings, and free them up to focus on the value-adding activities that you need them to complete.
It monitors shifts in mood at all levels (key individuals, peer groups, the whole project), and serves as a valuable form of intelligence for programme leaders; allowing them to correlate 'mood swings' with specific project events.
It utilises the collective intelligence of the team because everyone is seeing a regular update, and allows programme leaders to react faster when they see negative patterns or anomalies.
Project Pulse uses familiar social networking techniques and 'push' functionality to keep the whole team in close contact through regular reminders, alerts and a feedback mechanism. Users can follow the history of their own returns and compare their situation with other members in the project.
With Project Pulse an accurate reflection of multiple worldviews is created and tracked; ensuring that everyone's view is represented no matter how marginal.
The Project Pulse platform currently has four distinct tools, addressing different areas of programme weakness, but can be customised for your particular organizational needs.
A window into stakeholder mood.
As programmes get bigger and more expensive the number of stakeholders you need to interact with increases. In most programmes communication with stakeholders is sporadic and spiky. A stakeholder-mapping workshop is held at kick-off and thereafter a series of emails, intranet broadcasts and meetings are scheduled in an attempt to influence and track the stakeholder's perception regarding project performance.
Stakeholder Pulse allows for real-time interaction with all interested parties and ensures that external stakeholders are able to communicate their concerns when they want, rather than at the next scheduled communication event.
It allows your programme leader to identify useful stakeholder groupings, and track the feelings of these groups over time, as well as giving isolated individuals a sense of belonging to a programme organization.
A window into benefits realisation.
Most major programmes experience problems with tracking benefits. The original business plan and programme vision are often unclear to stakeholders on the edge of large pieces of work, who need reminding about success criteria and objectives. It is all too easy for your team to become focussed on delivering outputs, without taking the necessary step back to reflect on the programme purpose.
Benefits Pulse ensures that your programme stakeholders have the agreed programme benefits at the front of their minds, by using smartphone push functionality. It secures their engagement by asking for their views on programme performance regarding benefits delivery, and gives them a space to understand what their colleagues feel.
It allows your programme leader a better understanding of the mood of the stakeholder community with regard to benefits realisation, and gives them information that can be usefully compared to financial reports.
A window into your sectors performance.
It can be difficult to understand how your programme is performing compared to other programmes in your sector. Public relations material makes unsubstantiated claims, and key figures can be strategically misrepresented by those with much to lose. It is all too easy for your programme team to be exclusively focussed on their immediate deliverables, and lose sight of what is going on with other organizations.
Benchmark Pulse gives your team the ability to assess their programme competency against competitors. We work with top consultancies and cited academics to ensure that your programme is categorised correctly, and anonymise responses to encourage honesty and useful data returns. Completing returns is designed to be quick and easy and can be done anywhere, not just when your team are at their desks.
It allows your programme leader to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their organization and focus in on the areas for improvement. There is also the potential to engage with other professionals who understand the issues, and discuss possible solutions which could provide your sector with mutual benefit.
A window into stakeholder motivation.
With large numbers of people affected by programmes, it can often be difficult to understand how motivated the organization is and what the level of commitment looks like. Competing initiatives take energy away from your stakeholders, and email overload results in communication logjam. Stress and frustration are often hidden from view, but can seriously affect your programme's performance over time.
Motivation Pulse is based on an academically sound questionnaire that gives an accurate picture of individual drive. The responses are anonymised and amalgamated in real time to provide insight into team mood and allow senior programme leaders to focus communication and help where it is most needed. It can serve as a useful early warning sign for trouble ahead, and is an important step for effective risk mitigation.
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OXFORD MAJOR PROGRAMMES LIMITED
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Company No. 07504153