Posts Tagged ‘project management’

Four Capabilities for an Effective Client Management Strategy

A successful client management program helps an organization better understand its clients and more effectively service them. Establishing a solid client management discipline entails a multi-year effort of focused leadership, rigorous project management, and well-designed technology. Several key roles and departments need to be involved and they all need to be extremely well connected in order to realize the promise of this process. 

The four key capabilities are a well-articulated and broadly accepted client strategy, diligent service tracking, accurate and timely financial metrics, and robust sales systems.

Capabilities - Client Mgmt

Most if not all sales managers would state that their organizations have all of those capabilities functioning within their organization, but having these functions in place doesn’t necessarily lead to a strong client management practice. We’ve found that the most successful firms have all these areas very well integrated, with all of them functioning toward one clear goal. Whoever leads this initiative has to have a handle on all these areas, if not some level of control across them.

In most instances the head of sales is the person responsible for leading the client management effort, but I’ve seen situations where a senior strategy manager or the head of client management is the main driver and executor of this process. It often depends on how broad-based the strategy is and where the organization thinks its areas of development should be focused.

In my next post, I’ll discuss elements needed to establish a well-articulated client strategy that has broad buy-in and clear expected outcomes.

 

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Making Strategy into Reality: Effective Project Governance

One of the ways Oboe Partners differentiates itself is that we not only help create market-changing strategies, we help our clients create actionable projects that bring these strategies to life. An effective project governance and management process is critical in ensuring successful execution of well thought-out strategies. A big problem is that many managers have a distorted idea of what project governance and project management are all about. They might have images of sitting in hot, window-less conference rooms with project managers ranting through mind-numbing Gantt charts and bullet points detailing progress made so far and work to the next milestone. There is a place for that in the day-to-day execution of a project, but it’s more important for senior managers to focus on project governance when executing key strategic initiatives.[more…]

Project Governance vs. Project Management

To start, I want to clarify the difference between project governance and project management. Project management is the discipline of breaking down projects into chunks and managing resources to get that work completed within a reasonable time-frame under specific constraints. Senior managers should find project specialists who are experienced in the execution of projects, who are detail-driven, and accountable for delivery. This is a delegated responsibility where senior managers only get involved in minutia only if they feel the project path calls for it.

Project governance is different. Project governance is a management led process that creates the rules in which a project manager and all stakeholders play under to ensure success and to also mitigate down-side risk. The purpose of project governance is to:

1) Get buy-in from all the right stakeholders, and incorporate all relevant requirements
2) Provide controls and oversight on progress and cost
3) Create a platform to address any unforeseen issues that can (and usually do) come up
4) Make changes in direction in the event of changes in the environment
5) Provide for criteria and protocol to kill a project if it’s not realizing its perceived opportunity

A strong governance approach incorporates clear guiding principles and standards, an understanding of dependencies that could impact the project, and contingencies that allow for flexibility as the project evolves. It’s senior management’s responsibility to design and manage this governance.

Guiding Principles and Standards

The first step in setting up a project governance structure is to outline guiding principles and standards that are aligned with the firm’s overall strategies. This all sounds like consultant double-speak, but it’s important for senior management to provide objective guidelines on what constitutes priority work so that project managers can best weigh tradeoffs to ensure delivery of the most critical elements of the projects. It’s also critical to put in place clear decision-making and escalation protocols. Many projects fail not because of lack of want or lack of clear strategy, but because not everyone is marching at the same pace in the same direction.

It’s also critical to define what constitutes ‘success’ and what criteria will be used to measure progress and flag trouble. Everyone should be looking at the same measures and be on the same page on why a project is working or not working. Delays, setbacks, requirement changes, cost increases are all possibilities in the course of any project. With the right oversight structure, they can be easily and objectively managed.

Dependencies & Contingencies

Everyone involved should know what dependencies exist that might impact progress, be willing to raise these for discussion, and address them with resolve. These dependencies could be technical, organizational, resource-based, process-based, or external. The most successful projects that we’ve worked on are the ones that have a constant eye on all dependencies that may have an effect on the project’s success.

Contingencies are put in place as alternatives if a given path followed is not panning out or there’s a shifts in a dependency that is forcing a change. By understanding the dependencies of a project, contingencies can be designed in advance so as to provide flexibility to a project, or at the very least provide clear communication to all the stakeholders.

The Defensive Line

A good way of thinking about project governance is as a good defense, matched up with the strong offense of clear strategy and plan execution. It makes a massive difference in the success of all projects and truly where management’s strategy becomes a reality.

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Oboe Partners: What We Do

OWe established Oboe Partners as a strategy consulting firm with the philosophy that in order to deliver game-changing solutions to our clients, we need to provide not only market context, insight, and advice, but also nose-to-the-grindstone plans to realize the vision.  We have experience working closely with senior management of broker-dealers and asset managers on a variety of assignments that has helped them better operate in a market that is becoming increasingly challenging and competitive. Because of our experience in both the buy-side and sell-side, we understand the full investor value chain which helps us provide unique insights and solutions.

We start with an evaluation of the market space to understand market trends, competitor’s positioning, and most importantly a clear articulation of client needs. Next we do a full, unbiased accounting of our client’s market positioning, strengths, and gaps. Once we fully understand the market and our client, we create innovative recommendations intended to affect strategically significant change. Because of our extensive experience in not just strategy, but in implementation, we create plans for process improvements and platform investments needed to drive change and efficiency.

We’ve applied this discipline to many successful client projects, including entrance into new markets, new product launches, development of new platform capabilities, joint venture and other strategic alliances, and creation of efficiencies using technology and innovative organizational design.

Once these initiatives have been implemented, our engagements often extend to include ongoing measurement and benchmarking of performance. Because we have a strong capability in data and analytics, we help our clients develop analytical tools to help them measure success and deliver real-time information.  We’ve implemented performance dashboards, profitability analysis, and predictive modeling that helps our clients track progress and make changes that will steer their organization across the choppy competitive landscape.

 

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