Performance Measurement
April 27, 2015

A team that works

The government of Canada’s transformation agenda continues to drive change across the public sector, requiring delivery of a large number of increasingly complex, high-profile multi-million dollar projects. This, coupled with the introduction of Shared Services Canada to manage IT infrastructure, has increased the complexity of the IT project environment, governance, oversight and decision-making, due to multi-department involvement and accountability.

Despite several cross-government and departmental initiatives to improve project management capability and capacity over the last 20 years, only incremental improvement has been realized. At the same time, the federal government continues to rely heavily on contracted supplemental staffing to resource critical projects.

Over the past four years, our firm reviewed over 20 major federal transformational projects and found that these projects were primarily resourced through a combination of employees and contractors – few of which had previously worked together. Despite having trained, certified and experienced resources, project delays and budget overruns were often evident and sometimes spectacularly so: 75 percent of projects reviewed had a medium- to high-risk of failure of scope, schedule and/or budget.

The source of these deficiencies was multi-causal, but there was one common theme across projects: misaligned accountability.

No teamwork
Management theory has long told us of the benefits of high performing teams, and though hotly debated among management experts, the generally accepted characteristics include open communication, trust, respect, positive team culture, agreed approaches, and clear roles and responsibilities.

Why is it then, that when departments initiate some of their most complex projects, they assemble a project team of individuals with different backgrounds and approaches who have never worked together?

Team members often have different values and disciplines, and are experienced with different, sometimes conflicting, approaches, methods and tools. Typically, the PM approaches are not synchronized; conflict can range from difficulty making decisions, to team members consciously allowing other members to fail.

There may be no onus on team members to support other members resulting in processes not being followed and actions not being followed up. Without common processes and agreed goals, a project team member can cause key elements of the project to stall due to insufficient knowledge-sharing within the team.

Misaligned goals
Given these resources are often acquired through staffing actions or engaged on separate contracts, the personal goals of team members are not necessarily aligned to the goals of the project. The primary goals of project resources are often personal: public sector resources are driven by career progression/preservation; contracted resources seek revenue stability. In both instances, resources are incented to perform in their role regardless of other project areas or overall project performance (with the notable exception of the responsible project manager).

The misalignment of goals is compounded in that the reporting structure is not aligned to the project structure. Management of contracted staff is often not aligned to the accountability structure within the project, particularly when project leadership roles are externally contracted. This results in the project leadership having limited direct authority over the project team, constraining their ability to synchronize approaches and foster successful team behaviours. In addition, the accountability of the staffing companies that provide resources is limited to ensuring individuals meet experience profiles, with little to no accountability for project success.

In too many instances, procurement practices have driven resource selection into an environment that is more aligned to “buying staplers” than to procuring professional teams to deliver a department’s complex activities. Selection is typically based solely on amount of experience, education and accreditation which can lead to the resourcing of ineffective teams; those criteria do not ensure the resources have appropriate capabilities. The key competencies known to improve performance – leadership, tenacity, drive, emotional intelligence, ability to communicate, attention to detail, ability to understand key risks and to allocate time appropriately – are largely ignored.

Team accountability
Transformational projects should look to establish their project teams in a way where the team functions effectively, is accountable for project delivery, and is comprised of resources with the full range of interpersonal and PM skills necessary to deliver complex projects in a challenging environment.

Organizations should look to procure a team – and hold the team accountable for project delivery – rather than procuring individual PM resources. This team accountability will incent team behavior, ensure the team is aligned to a single project management approach and methodology, ensure alignment of individual goals, and help drive the selection of resources based on capability/skill – ultimately leading to improved project delivery performance.

 

For the latest trends and thinking in performance and planning in the public sector, attend the PPX Annual Symposium, May 19-21, 2015. www.ppx.ca

About this author

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Performance Measurement
 
Leadership, service delivery, change management, performance measurement, big data, transparency, digital...
 
Recently, there has been considerable interest in what is being referred...
 
Over the years, governments have been adopting Lean management principles to...
 
As the resettlement of Syrian Refugees exemplifies, government programs, currently running...
 
With businesses and government agencies increasingly operating in a highly information-based...
 
Risk is always present in any undertaking, no matter the size...
 
The Government of Canada’s newly announced Policy on Results replaces the...
 
In this episode, J. Richard Jones share information about the Canadian...
 
Rules and accountability are helpful in developing and standardizing processes but...
 
For several months now, the Liberal government ministers have been using...
 
Global market trends are accelerating to increase the pressure on commercial...
 
As a consultant, I work primarily with private sector organizations including...
 
Here’s some bad news for organizations contemplating projects that have something...
 
If the purpose of the Government of Canada’s performance measurement system...
 
Performance auditing can lead to more efficient, effective, and economical program...
 
The latest Auditor General’s report on Shared Services Canada (SSC) and...
 
Public sector innovation, once dismissed as a contradiction in terms, is...
 
The necessity for government executives to manage change, and achieve results,...
 
Every organization does it, but often with ambivalence: the performance measurement...
 
There is an apparent disconnect in performance measurement. Today, agencies measure...
 
The government of Canada’s transformation agenda continues to drive change across...
 
Cost savings in government programs and services used to be achieved...
 
As we move into 2015 – with a looming federal election...
 
Over the last four decades, public sector organizations have institutionalized program...
 
When you purchase clothes, do you like off-the-rack, or do you...
 
All governments, including Canada’s, strive to manage taxpayers’ dollars more efficiently....
 
Getting a clear definition of policy processes and functions can be...
 
While government agencies do not have “bottom lines” in the way...
 
Most of you already know that project management is a means...
 
The taxpayers are wary. Politicians worry about retaining their jobs. Everyone...
 
There has never been a time since the introduction of program...
 
The management of resources has always been taken for granted in...
 
In the last two decades, managing for results has gained momentum...
 
For the first time, the Consortium of Universities for Evaluation Education...
 
The government of New Zealand, and the State Services Commission in...
 
While it has been around for over 130 years, the concept...
 
Performance measurement and public reporting are intended to achieve two complementary...
 
Canada has over 400 administrative tribunals that are probably the least...
 
Last summer, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS) signed...
 
The core mandate of the Consortium of Universities for Evaluation Education...
 
the author fails to provide a complete picture (the good and...
 
Why talk about ethics at all right now? After all, Canada’s...
 
we now have what one federal ADM described to me as...
 
The reduction or mitigation of risks or harms is a major...
 
What are Canadian universities doing to maintain their relevance and innovative...
 
Managing for results has gained significant momentum in the public sector...
 
“Is performance management still relevant?” was the thought-provoking question posed by...
 
Within the last year, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS)...
 
Results matter in the public sector, particularly in these challenging times...
 
Today’s public sector environment is one in which many managers and...
 
Just as with public financial reporting, performance reporting is here to...
 
Being a high-performing organization is like being a high-performing individual: it...
 
With the current reality of deficit reduction, cost cutting and overall...
 
This article is New and Improved! After an exhaustive review cycle...
 
Canada was at the table when the “Commonwealth of Nations” was...
 
If you believe that performance measurement is a vital part of...
 
The last great international effort to refashion the public sector took...
 
Beginning on April 1, 2013, and over a five-year cycle, the...
 
Governments are increasingly using benchmarking to improve organizational performance; to determine...
 
Senior public sector managers, deputy heads of departments and parliamentarians need...
 
Canada is a hockey-loving nation and now is the time of...
 
Too few public sector organizations have truly embedded performance thinking into...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 Governing is never easy. And in...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.2 February 2007 Improving organizational health and employee engagement...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.1 January 2007 The proposed Federal Accountability Act is...
 
CGE Vol.14 No.2 February 2008 The passage of the Federal Accountability...
 
CGE Vol. 14 No.4 April 2008 The Tellier-Mazankowski advisory committee on...
 
Performance management leads to either disdain or glee in public sector...
 
Les administrations publiques utilisent de plus en plus l’analyse comparative pour...
 
The redesign of corporate tax administration for Ontario is a major...
 
Coincidental with the push for more attention to be paid to...
 
The BC Public Service has had an intense focus on improving...
 
La reconception de l’administration de l’imposition des sociétés en Ontario est...
 
Dans son budget de lutte contre la récession (et d’économies dans...
 
The Harper government’s recession fighting (and government saving) budget heralded an...
 
Many governments have bought into the notion of the Balanced Scorecard,...
 
David P. Norton est le cocréateur, avec Robert Kaplan, du Tableau...
 
Together with Robert Kaplan, David P. Norton is the creator of...
 
Il y a dix ans, la Société canadienne du sang (SCS)...
 
Début septembre, la fonction publique de l’Ontario (FPO) célébrait le 10e...
 
Bon nombre d’administrations publiques ont adopté le tableau de bord prospectif,...
 
Today’s public sector managers encounter increasingly complex corporate issues that call...
 
Performance management seems to be everywhere these days, with much of...
 
The two key tools used by the Canadian government to measure...
 
The principle is unassailable: Canadians have the right to know whether...
 
L’administration publique s’efforce d’obtenir des résultats tangibles en mettant en œuvre...
 
Une étude récente commandée par l’OCDE conclut que, malgré le fait...
 
A recent study commissioned by the OECD concludes that while the...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
Leadership, service delivery, change management, performance measurement, big data, transparency, digital...