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  • Paul Clavering

"So, What do you do again?"

I was asked recently by my wife what I actually did at work. She knew I was involved with projects but that was about as far as it went. As a head of PMO/ERP my responsibility revolves around managing the project managers and helping drive the governance to build the platform to move forward. However, I thought this was a great opportunity to simplify the description of my role. As mothers day had only recently passed I thought it was a great chance to apply the logic to something non IT/technical.


"Well I said, you know for mothers day, you asked for breakfast in bed from the kids and myself, well think of that as a project"


"To start with you set up your project, I want breakfast in bed with beans, eggs, mushrooms etc and a hot cup of tea. OK, well you have just defined the scope of the project I said. You have also defined the success criteria, which we can measure at the end"


"With all projects you will have risks. Making breakfast with an 8 and a 5 year is certainly risky! Letting the kids near the flame gas hob - hum thats a big risk and if you consider the PIG (probability v Impact grid, not the bacon!) then we need to think about mitigating them. My daughter was duly assigned to cracking eggs (still risky with the shells - but lower risk) and my son the orange juice duty."


"Then we had a whole series of tasks, heat the beans, fry the mushrooms etc... someone had to do them (it was me!) so we had a resource overallocation issue - not that anyone cared in this instance. I had to make sure all tasks had a finish to start relationship so that the final product was delivered fully cooked and hot."


"Oh she said, then when we had completed this we delivered the product (breakfast in this case not a software product or change to the business). You duly ate the breakfast and as my project sponsor you had ultimate say in the project and if it could be closed or not".


"Now imagine doing that for many people at the same time who have different requirements for breakfast but you still need to use the same kitchen, staff and manage it all. This is my role of programme manager and making sure we can do it again and again".


After some thought and reflection, she smiled and nodded. Ah I see she said. So now you are going to make me breakfast in bed every weekend! Maybe she is a great project sponsor after all!


I read a quote recently from Richard Branson that trigged this post. It read


"Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to make something simple".


How would you describe what you do at work to someone outside of the commercial world. It quite thought provoking.


As always would love to hear your thoughts/comments.

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