- Transparent identification of the right strategic priorities for the client.
- Quick implementation of a workable methodology with supporting processes.
- Clear and effective training, resulting in widespread user buy-in.
- A new project sponsor steering committee to oversee PPM priorities.
- Clear project visibility, generating well informed project pipeline decisions.
Wellingtone Designs the Path to PPM Maturity for CVQO
CVQO is a UK based, registered educational charity, offering a broad range of vocational qualifications designed to recognise the work achieved by young people and adult volunteers within youth organisations. It helps learners as young as thirteen to gain qualifications from BTEC Level 1 upwards, whilst adult volunteers are supported in pursuing City & Guilds qualifications up to Level 7. Andrew Munro, CVQO’s Director, Finance & Business Services, describes the organisation’s work as “hugely rewarding and powerful”. To deliver that work in the most efficient and effective way, CVQO needed to formalise the organisation’s PPM structure, methodology and processes. Wellingtone was the partner of choice to support this strategic step change. Wellingtone’s Managing Director, Vince Hines, worked with CVQO to design a pathway for the transformation, from methodology creation through to document design, training and implementation, as Andrew recalls.
"Vince demonstrated the importance of a structured approach to travelling that PPM maturity path. He suggested that our priority should be to create a purpose-designed CVQO methodology before we started to automate anything."Andrew Munro - Director of Finance & Business Services, CVQO
Deploying Extensive PPM Experience to Pinpoint the Right Strategic Approach
Over the past decade, CVQO has grown rapidly and organically, now employing an office-based team of thirty plus a further seventy field staff, Andrew explains. “In 2016, our senior management team recognised that we needed to develop more structured processes to support our project and portfolio management (PPM). We had some discrete project management skills across the organisation, but we didn’t have a formal CVQO methodology, so work was happening on a project -by project basis and wasn’t necessarily joined up. We needed to improve visibility and coordination across our projects, as well as the ability to make company-wide planning decisions on exactly where we should invest our time and funding. On a more operational level, we needed to establish a consistent framework and process to support our people in delivering effective projects.” Initially, CVQO was interested in the systems integration market, with a view to implementing a project management support system. “We engaged with Wellingtone on that basis,” says Andrew. “But we held a couple of preliminary meetings with Vince and he quickly identified that we needed a PPM framework in place as a first step, before we started to explore supporting technology. Vince demonstrated the importance of a structured approach to travelling that PPM maturity path. He suggested that our priority should be to create a purpose-designed CVQO methodology before we started to automate anything. Looking back, he was right to encourage that approach. It made sense for us, both strategically and financially.”
Designing and Onboarding a Simple, Scalable and Customised Methodology
Working to Wellingtone’s guiding principles of providing simple, scalable PPM solutions, Vince recommended a step-by-step approach to defining a practical, fit for purpose methodology and document set. “Initially, we set up a steering group of project sponsors, for whom Vince facilitated a workshop to put the requirements in place,” says Andrew. “He then quickly produced for us the document and template set he felt we needed. That was accepted by the steering group and we were able to move to training. Vince designed and delivered two training courses for a total of seventeen staff. He covered all the fundamentals of project management – ensuring a collective understanding of those principles and techniques – before introducing and acclimatising delegates to the new CVQO methodology. At the end of each two-day course, all delegates sat the APM (Association for Project Management) Project Fundamentals Qualification. This not only cemented what we had learned, it also gave our staff the chance to gain an additional professional qualification – an opportunity that they welcomed as part of their continuous professional development.”
Onboarding a new methodology can present a tricky change management challenge, says Andrew, but Vince was able to offer the necessary support. “This process represented a significant cultural shift for us. It was something that we had previously attempted ourselves, but we had not managed to come up with a framework that struck the right balance between achieving visibility, consistency and accountability without burdening staff with heavy documentation. Vince helped us to achieve a common ground, so that we were able to win buy-in across the organisation. He helped our staff to understand the importance of PPM, how it would benefit CVQO, and how it would help us to improve the work that we do. There were some challenges during the training, with people expressing their views on the new documentation depending on their role and standpoint. Vince did an excellent job of handling those questions and steering us to reach a genuine consensus. He helped us to appreciate that the priority should be to get something simple in place as quickly as possible, with the proviso that we can always expand our processes in the future as our PPM maturity grows. Bearing in mind that the staff he was training are educational professionals themselves, to deliver a training course introducing new concepts and materials – especially with an exam at the end of it – could have been tricky. But he engaged our staff straight away and managed the process really well.”
“Vince helped us to achieve a common ground, so that we were able to win buy-in across the organisation. He helped our staff to understand the importance of PPM, how it would benefit CVQO, and how it would help us to improve the work that we do. "Andrew Munro - Director of Finance & Business Services, CVQO
Realising Early Benefits as the CVQO Methodology Beds In
As Four months on from the training (which took place in March 2018), CVQO is beginning to realise the benefits of the new methodology, Andrew explains. “The process is definitely beginning to embed. Of course, it’s a work in progress, but we have put several projects through the new methodology. The role of the steering group is proving especially significant. Supported by our new documentation, the group can give senior managers clear visibility of our projects and how they’re going. As well as gaining visibility over current projects, it has helped us to review and define our projects pipeline. In some cases, it has given us the information we need to decide not to proceed. If our methodology deters us from undertaking a project that is not in the best interests of CVQO or our beneficiaries, then we consider that decision to be a success. A good example of end-to-end application of the methodology would be our recent project to ensure GDPR compliance. We used the tools and exercises we had learnt in training to design that project. We started by mapping out a high-level project strategy using the ‘postits’ technique, then applied our new methodology to put together a more detailed plan for implementation. We have successfully delivered the project, using our new templates to report back to the senior management team in a clear and meaningful way.” This lays the foundations for a future journey towards full PPM maturity, and Andrew envisages coopting Wellingtone’s assistance again as that journey progresses. “At this stage, it’s very much the role of senior management to ensure that the new methodology is fully embedded, and that we’re making progress. When we’re ready to go to the next stage, I’m sure it will be Vince who helps us with that. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend talking to Wellingtone. Vince’s approach to design and training was highly regarded by our people, who are experienced educational professionals themselves, and so make for a very discerning audience! Our Director, Quality and Curriculum has received great feedback from her team, as well as several requests to bring Vince back for further project management activities. I’m glad we engaged with Wellingtone and decided to work with them. The advice and support that we have received – both at the outset of this journey and during the design and implementation – has been excellent.”
To learn more about CVQO, visit https://www.cvqo.org/