Sunday 22 February 2009

Reporting back using a portfolio approach

Stakeholders getting enthusiastic

Continuing from where we left off on the portfolio approach, after I so rudely interrupted myself by inserting a message about the Kings Fund.

People get enthusiastic about things they are INVOLVED in, or perhaps more importantly, have an influence over.

Therefore when you are reporting the successes of each project, the overall workstream, and the health economy, you need to tell the people doing the work and the people driving the changes/ initiatives/ successes forward, so they can see clearly that they ARE having an influence and it IS making a difference. Does this make sense?

Typically the progress report on a project tells you very little. It's presented in the form of a highlight report "we're on task 2.1.14 and it's going according to plan". I've even fallen out with clients because I want to tell them what successes are being achieved, and they want to simply see a highlight report describing the tasks completed and the next tasks. People LOVE to know they're making a difference, making progress.

So you've defined the benefits to be achieved, and how to measure them. Each project has adopted 2 or 3 of the workstream benefits that they will be measured by in order to demonstrate success. You can report on progress in delivering these benefits because the measurement regime is well structured and isn't too onerous, and besides, everyone understands the rationale for measuring their work this way and has built up enthusiasm.

Write the report each month. Remember, board members are human beings too. Of course they want something dry like a highlight report - like a hole in the head. Everyone wants something which celebrates success, which honestly highlights the areas which can be improved and what the project has agreed to do about it. You'll probably need to produce a traditional highlight report at the same time. But write the "real" report in ways that everyone can understand and get enthusiastic about.

Enthusiasm (and energy) is probably the biggest determinant for the success of any project. Anyone can turn up to work 9am - 5pm. They can do a good job, or a bad job. Nobody actually enjoys doing a bad job, but if they've been constantly put down and unappreciated, some people get jaded and start turning up to do the absolute minimum (of course others just leave). So tell them they've done a good job, tell them in print, and of course pat yourself on the back because you deserve it too!

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