About Analyze

Analyze Consulting was founded in 2007 with the purpose to help businesses get to the bottom of and solve business inefficiencies. The cornerstone of this dream is a passion for quality business analysis and project management.

We are motivated and rewarded by helping businesses be more efficient and solve problems.

We believe that the best way for us to do this is to start with a deep and thorough understanding of the problem or opportunity. The discipline and insight that we apply to this enables us to be confident and truly objective about defining the best possible solution.

Our vision is to be the partner of choice in solving business challenges through the appropriate use of technology, process and people.

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Email: info@analyze.co.za

Tel: +27 (0)21 447 5696

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Project and programme management

/Project and programme management

Our guide to being a great project sponsor

Would you believe that one of the top reasons for project failure is the lack of active & engaged sponsorship?  We’re guessing probably not… That’s because you’ll likely first want to point a finger at things like scope creep, poorly defined requirements, lack of project governance & poor communication.  These are of course all valid reasons for project failure, but at Analyze we’ve realised the one item that often gets overlooked is how strong your project sponsors are.   Gone are the days where a sponsor only provided funding and then checked in every now and then to see what’s happening to their money.  If you’ve been asked to fill a project sponsor role you need to understand the critical role a sponsor plays in driving a project forward.   At Analyze, we believe that a great sponsor has to:   Have the right level of authority It’s important for a sponsor to have the right level of seniority, influence & authority. If they’re not in a position to assist the team in removing blockers and making things happen, their impact will be very limited.   Be available & willing to get more involved A sponsor who’s spread too thinly spells trouble for any project. You need someone who can get involved in the detail.  A great sponsor is there from beginning to end, not only as an escalation point, but also as a sounding board & coach.   Have a good understanding of the problem at hand The project sponsor should be able to clearly articulate the problem which needs to be solved, be specific about by when it needs to be solved, and define how the project will know once it has been solved. Without this level of understanding a sponsor could end up backing a project that ends up completely missing the mark.   Assemble the right team It’s the sponsor’s responsibility to source the right resources with the appropriate skills to deliver a successful end result. In situations where sponsors aren’t able to assign all team members directly, they need to bargain and negotiate with other teams & departments to secure the best team possible.   Keep the dialogue open Regular, two-way communication with the project team, particularly the project manager, is key. A great sponsor is able to give direction while also listening to ideas and collaborating with subject matter experts within the team.   Be willing to make the tough decisions A great sponsor is someone you can turn to when things are not going according to plan and tough decisions are needed to get the project moving forward again. An indecisive sponsor will only lead to wasted time, effort & money.   Help navigate the political landscape Competing projects, priorities and agendas are the norm within any organisation. A great sponsor will help the project navigate through these types of challenges to ensure that it gets the right level of attention in order to succeed.   Want to chat to us about sponsor coaching or share your thoughts about what makes sponsors great within your business?  Get in touch.  We’d love to hear your thoughts. Share this:

Why you shouldn’t forget about project collaboration

Where project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools & techniques to execute against project requirements, project collaboration focuses on the way people, teams, departments and even companies come together to achieve that one common goal:  Project success Effective project collaboration requires open communication, an environment that fosters idea sharing and transparency between teams, whether co-located or remote.  This means that in a lot of instances, traditional project management methods can introduce barriers to this more fluid way of operating.  This is because with traditional project management all communication tends to flow from and to the project manager only, but with project collaboration teams become more self-managing, still interacting with the project manager, but also directly with each other. At the end of the day, good project management will most certainly get the job done, but there are many reasons why project collaboration should not be overlooked.  At Analyze, we’ve summarised these into 4 key areas: Increased productivity & reduced time to market When you have one person working in isolation, likely trying to support more than one project at a time, progress will be limited to what that individual can realistically achieve in a day.  By distributing tasks, you’re not only splitting the workload, but you’re also allowing team members to work together and apply their combined minds to a problem.  This leads to increased productivity which in turn leads to a reduced time to market – something which all business strive for. Improved communication across the board We’ve yet to see a project where project collaboration has not had a positive impact on communication across all levels.  In a collaborative project environment, the project manager is no longer burdened with the task of “sole communicator”, and with communication freely flowing across various channels, nobody’s left out of the loop. Stronger employee relationships & improved employee retention To many of us, the people we work with is as important (if not more important) as the company we work for.  This is because as human beings we feed of each other’s energy in order to achieve more.  A collaborative project environment gives employees the opportunity to interact with people from different teams and departments which stimulates personal development, relationship building and general workplace happiness. Reduced costs due to flexi hours and working remotely The more people collaborate on getting the job done, the less they need management to watch over their shoulder.  Online collaboration tools (of which there are many to choose from) also make it easy for employees to stay in touch with each other without being in the same place at the same time.  This allows people to work more flexible hours, or even from home, which eventually should lead to a reduction in operational costs. When project management and project collaboration come together you have an unbeatable recipe for success.  It will take some time to research and select the right collaboration tool(s) for your company, and your employees will likely need to go on collaboration training, but the end result will be well worth it. Need some help getting your company’s collaboration skills up to scratch? Give us a call on 021 447 5696 or email cathy@analyze.co.za. Share this:

Are you optimising your communication and collaboration?

If, as a Project Manager, you are spending most of your time managing tasks and assignments you may be missing the key ingredients to what actually matters when it comes to delivering projects successfully – communication and collaboration. Here are some questions that you should be asking yourself and your team to ensure that everyone is as productive as possible when delivering projects: Communication: the right things, to the right people and at the right time: Do your meetings achieve what they are set out to? The saying “Failing to plan, means planning to fail” equally applies to meetings. An agenda must be set out and agreed to, prior to all meetings to ensure that the required outcomes are achieved. Sending out meeting notes and tasks will ensure accountability after each meeting. Do all action items have owners? A task that has no owner should be a warning sign. Ensure that all tasks are assigned a clear owner and use meetings for everyone to report back on their action item status. Are you communicating as often as needed? “Less is more” is not a rule to follow here. The more you communicate purposefully and transparently, the less you leave your stakeholders guessing. This should also be encouraged across the team so that all relevant stakeholders are kept in the know. Are you factoring all necessary variables into time estimates from the start? The existence of dependencies and assumptions often mean that a project will take longer than initially expected and planned. To manage expectations effectively, ensure that you estimate timing appropriately based on the complexity of a project. Always try to include a buffer in case the project does run over as well as a contingency plan to implement if need be. Collaboration: with the right people, in the right way and at the right time: Do you have the right toolset for collaboration? Spreadsheets do not work well as a project management collaboration tool as they do not enable discussion or activity logging. Visual collaboration tools are becoming more appropriate as they enable these functions and include a cross-sectional view across multiple locations. Trello, for example, has an initial free offering that is effective enough to enable team collaboration immediately without incurring any additional costs. Are you getting the best out of virtual meeting facilities? Knowing when to use email over when to have a video chat can be the difference between solving an issue immediately or it getting lost in translation in an email trail, which could lead to unnecessary confusion and wasted time. Do you know who is who? Are you sure that you understand who all the relevant stakeholders are and when they should be engaged? Knowing who your stakeholders are and how they need to be engaged with from the start, will prevent any surprises later in the project. Should all individuals on the project be managed in the same way? Knowing your team and how to motivate them based on their needs will mean you get the best out of each of them. Make sure to get to know everyone in your project team upfront and work with them throughout the project to achieve a collective common goal. The answers to these questions will differ across industries, contexts and environments, however, they collectively provide a framework that will help you manage your team effectively. Use them regularly in checking that the team is optimising communication and collaboration to deliver a successful project. Our Analyze consultants are professionals in optimising communication and collaboration in project teams to find out more please get in touch. Share this:

Success with Senior Stakeholders – Top tips of how to get there

Whether you’re a project manager or business analyst, stakeholder management and influence is one of those big-ticket items that can make or break your project. A stakeholder is defined as a person with an interest or concern in something.  In the project world, this can mean anyone who’s directly or even indirectly impacted by the project.  Senior stakeholders typically hold quite a lot of power within the organisation and are usually the key decision makers on a project.  This is exactly why it’s important to foster strong relationships with your senior stakeholders. Influence is unfortunately not something that’s achieved overnight.  Your background and expertise might help you in this regard, but at the end of the day, it’s the softer approach that will reap the most rewards. We recommend the following: Always try to sell the bigger picture Ask yourself:  Why are we doing this project?  What’s in it for the greater organisation?  Being able to “sell” a project effectively means it’ll be much easier to get people on your side.  And when people are on your side, it makes relationship building a whole lot easier. Choose your communication style carefully Chat to people who know your senior stakeholders well and find out what their preferred communication style is.  Some people prefer that you book a face to face meeting, others are on the run a lot and find it easier to have a quick call or respond on email once they have a quieter moment. Work within their preference boundaries to ensure that you’re able to get your message across. Practice the art of listening How do you really get to know someone?  You listen.  Some stakeholders will be quite open and you’ll be able to learn quite a lot about how they operate in a short period of time, while others may be a bit more guarded at first.  Take notes, analyse what they say (and what they don’t say), and use the information you’re able to gather to help shape your future interactions. Work on being confident, even in difficult situations Senior stakeholders are like predatory animals, they can smell fear.  Combat any feeling of uncertainty and lack of confidence by knowing your facts and knowing them well.  By being well prepared, you’ll always have something solid to back up a recommendation or idea. Manage expectations and potential conflicts In an ideal world, all of your senior stakeholders will have the exact same expectations and everyone will get along perfectly.  But in reality, you’ll need to put a lot of effort into understanding the differing expectations of each stakeholder, identify areas of potential conflict and then define a strategy for getting to some form of common ground which is acceptable to all. Deliver on your promises Influence relies heavily on trust, and your stakeholders will only trust you if you deliver (and do so consistently) on the promises that you have made.  At Analyze, our team of Project Managers and Analysts understand the importance of building strong relationships and using their influence towards achieving project success Get in touch to find out more.  Share this:

Understanding the difference between a scrum master and a project manager

With a major shift towards agile delivery, there has been some confusion around the role of the project manager within this new world.  Agile thinking introduced the concept of a scrum master, which may seem similar to a project manager on the surface, but is in fact distinctly different. The 2 most important things to understand are: A scrum master is not a project manager (and vice versa) One person cannot fulfil both these roles, particularly when it’s a large-scale project that touches many different teams So what makes them so different then? Let’s take a closer look… A project manager is responsible for: Managing the project scope & deliverables, schedule & timelines, budget & costs Ensuring that a quality product is delivered that’s aligned with the project goals & objectives Proactively identifying and managing risks Problem solving and issue management Creating a work breakdown structure & allocating tasks Prioritisation of requirements Tracking & reporting of project progress Keeping stakeholders engaged throughout the project lifecycle Coordinating interdependencies between teams Project communication, both internal & external, and to all stakeholder levels Aligning to company policies and procedures Project managers are typically strong leaders who have sight of all the moving parts of a project.  Their strength comes from their ability to delegate tasks appropriately while playing the overall coordination role to ensure everyone and everything is moving forward. Scrum masters, on the other hand, are responsible for: Managing the scrum process from beginning to end Building trust & promoting open communication between team members Coaching, mentoring & motivating their team members Helping the team with their estimations Facilitating sprint planning sessions & scrum meetings Removing any obstacles to ensure sprint tasks are on track Shielding the team from any external factors Monitoring and reporting on sprint progress Enforcing timeboxes (aka sprint durations) Engaging with the product owner to ensure his/her product vision is being adhered to Creating a shared team vision & building a self-organized team Scrum masters typically have a certain level of technical expertise, which is what backs up their ability to be a mentor to the team.  They have a good understanding of their team’s capabilities and are always on the lookout for ways to increase their output.  Some may even say that they’re the glue that keeps the team together. From this we can see that project managers and scrum masters have different focus areas; but by looking at their specific skills and responsibilities hopefully it’s also become clear that these two roles can (and should) complement each other.  Therefore, instead of entering into an “either/or” debate, companies should rather be focusing their energies on identifying ways in which these two roles can work together more effectively. Need a project manager or scrum master (or both) for your next big project? We can help fill that gap by ensuring that you have the right person with the right expertise to get the job done.  To discuss consulting options, Get in touch. Share this:

High-performance teams – how do you build them?

Teams have been around for as long as we all can probably remember.  Being a “team player” has become a key requirement in most job specifications and everyone likes to think that they’re getting this whole team dynamic thing right.  This may be true to some extent, but there’s a big difference between a team that happens to be co-located and working on similar systems/processes and a high-performing team that almost thinks and performs as one. High-performance teams are defined as teams that are highly focused on their goals in order to achieve superior business results.  Think of it as a group of people who work together to not only be the best but also deliver the best.  They feed off each other’s energy, they challenge each other to be better, they become largely interdependent, understanding that their efforts together greatly outweigh what they can achieve as individuals. So how do you elevate a team from a regular team dynamic to this world of high-performance?  The important thing to realise is that it’s not going to happen overnight, but by creating the right environment and encouraging the right behaviour, things will start taking shape over time. We recommend the following plan of action: Create a circle of trust – Team members need to know that they’re in a safe zone where their ideas won’t be criticised and their team members have their backs.  The strongest relationships are built on trust; without it people will be looking out for themselves rather than looking out for the team. Create a sense of belonging and importance – Humans are simple creatures.  At our core, we really just want to feel like we belong, know that we’re needed, that we fit in, and that we’re part of something bigger.  If you’re able to create an environment where people see how important their role is towards achieving the bigger picture, you’re already half way there. Develop common goals and shared values – Working towards a common goal creates a feeling of working for a higher purpose.  The important thing to remember, however, is that it needs to be something everyone can get behind, understand, identify with and realistically achieve.  Creating this level of unity also requires a set of shared values.  If everyone’s not bringing their part in a way that the team expects of them, it will cause rifts. Have clear roles and responsibilities – Just because someone is part of a team that’s achieving great things together, it doesn’t mean they don’t come with their own set of unique skills and abilities that are needed to achieve the common goal. Ensure that each team member understands their role & responsibilities and takes full accountability for the items you need them to run with.  As the saying goes, a team is only as strong as its weakest link. Give thanks where thanks is due – People like to feel appreciated, so remember to say thank you and to do so regularly.  A lot of people will think that this means something formal, usually involving some form of monetary reward, but this really isn’t the case.  It’s as simple as noticing someone’s efforts and saying “thank you for how you handled that” or “wow, you did a great job”.  Mini celebrations, like donuts for the team, are also great to highlight team achievements along the way. Sometimes all it takes is a few key individuals to help drive this change to high-performance.  At Analyze we specialise in elevating team dynamics to optimise performance and achieve success.  To discuss options please Get in touch. Share this:

How to achieve organisational agility

American businessman, hedge fund manager & billionaire, Paul Tudor Jones, once said: “You adapt, evolve, compete or die”. Very strong words indeed, but in today’s constantly evolving business market, this is a harsh reality that all businesses need to face up to. Organisational agility is defined as a company’s ability to rapidly change or adapt to market changes. The higher your degree of agility, the better your chances of successfully reacting to new competitors, new technologies and ideas, fundamental shifts in the market and changing customer demands. But to achieve organisational agility, you have to take a long, hard look at your business by answering the following key questions: Does your organisational structure allow for agility? Complex hierarchies and organisational silos typically do not promote agility. Agile organisations tend to have flatter more matrix style structures which encourage cross-organisational collaboration, improved transparency and more streamlined, direct & informal communication. Do you have the right change leaders in place? Fast and effective decision-making is critical within an agile environment. The right leadership will be able to drive change forward without any hesitation or attachment to the old. Great agile leaders are also able to foster trust, particularly in situations where there may be a relatively high level of uneasiness about a new direction a company is taking. How well is innovation encouraged and supported? The generation and execution of new ideas is a crucial part of staying competitive in an agile world. Employees should feel encouraged to constantly challenge the norms in order to find smarter and better ways of doing things. If an idea shows promise but there’s a certain level of risk involved, try to be a bit more courageous in your decision making. As the saying goes “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. Is your company culture open to change? If your company culture is change averse, you’ve got a bit of an uphill battle on your hands. Most of the time this type of culture is the result of current policies and practices which do not promote change as something positive. If your company is averse to change, it’s time to do a deep dive, some reshuffling and perhaps even a bit of education in order to remove your organisation’s barriers to change. What’s your strategy around managing talent? Innovation is of course impossible without innovative people. Talent management is all about recruiting and grooming those who not only have the right skills to drive your organisation forward, but who are also flexible, mobile, strong collaborators and agents of change. Agility is as much about your ability to react to changing conditions as it is about being able to take proactive steps in order to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise. It is important, therefore, to incorporate an agile way of thinking straight into you organisational core. Worried that your business may not be as agile as you’d like it to be? Contact Cathy at Analyze on 021 447 5696 or email her on cathy@analyze.co.za to discuss how our team can help to bring more flexibility and adaptability into your business operations. Share this:

Project governance – why is it important?

Before we tackle the importance of project governance, we need to debunk a common misconception: Project governance is NOT project management. In fact, the two are very different. Where project management focuses on delivering project objectives within the right time, cost and quality, project governance focuses on creating a framework for effective project decision making using defined structures, the right people and the right information. But why is this important? Well the answer is twofold: Before a project is given the go ahead, project governance ensures that the project not only aligns with your business objectives, but also confirms that the project is the correct one to embark on at the present time. During project execution, project governance serves as a sounding board to ensure that the project does not deviate from its agreed goals and objectives, limiting the risk of failure. Project governance is achieved by having clearly defined project policies and procedures in place, a steering committee comprising of stakeholders who can effectively drive decision making and adherence to the following key principles: State your case Project governance starts with your business case. If you can’t define why you need to embark on a project and what the business benefit will be, there’s no point in moving forward. View Project governance as a different animal Corporate governance defines your organisational line of authority and responsibility, but with project governance you need to ensure that your decision making process is as streamlined as possible. It’s important, therefore, to separate the two and define your own line of command. Create a feeling of ownership Assign one owner to each key project deliverable or focus area. A single point of accountability promotes empowerment and ownership and ensures that nobody’s standing around assuming someone else will take the lead. Define clear decision-making roles & responsibilities Be clear about who is needed for which type of decisions and why. By defining this upfront you’re ensuring less confusion further down the line should an issue or critical decision point bubble up unexpectedly. Keep your stakeholder management & decision-making separate Your decision makers should be a small subset of your broader project stakeholder group. Therefore, when decisions are needed, setup focused sessions with this select group only. If you include decisions into broader sessions which involve your other stakeholders, the session will become more about getting people up to speed, thereby losing focus and negatively impacting your ability to get to a decision point quickly & efficiently. Do you feel that your projects are lacking the right level of governance? Contact Cathy at Analyze on 021 447 5696 or email her on cathy@analyze.co.za to find out how we can help put structure back into your game. Share this:

Keeping a handle on project risk – our 7 top tips

In a constantly evolving business world, risk is inevitable, no matter how cautious you plan on being. It’s therefore not a question of whether your project will be faced with risk, but how you’re going to deal with this risk in order to ensure successful project delivery. Proper risk management ensures that your team is well-prepared for any curve balls which may come their way instead of being stuck in the trenches in non-stop battle mode. These are our 7 top tips for keeping a handle on your project risk: Tip 1: Start as early as possible Risk identification is something that should ideally start even before the project has officially kicked off. Previous or related projects can be a great reference source. Subject matter experts, both internal or external to your company, can also help to shed some light on areas that may be riskier than others. Tip 2: Tackle it as a team Risk management is not just the job of the project manager; the entire team should get involved. Each team member comes with their own unique background and experience and collectively you’ll be able to create a far more comprehensive risk register than leaving it up to one person. Tip 3: Identify both risks & opportunities Risks are normally seen as items which will have a negative impact on your project, but it doesn’t always have to be all doom and gloom. Risk management is also a chance to identify opportunities which you could take advantage of to benefit the project. With this in mind, encourage your team to think about both the good and the bad. Tip 4: Analyse each risk & prioritise accordingly Two key factors come into play: Impact & probability. If a risk has a very high impact but a very low probability of happening, it may have a lower priority than something which perhaps only has a medium impact but a very high probability of happening. Ensure that both factors are considered when deciding which risks require more of your attention. Tip 5: Create a plan of action for each risk As the saying goes: Prevention is better than cure. Therefore, where possible, document actions that could be taken to prevent each risk. In instances where there are no possible actions that can be taken to mitigate risk, you will need a detailed action plan which will kick in should that risk become a reality. Tip 6: Keep communication flowing Risk communication is a large part of risk management. Not only does it ensure that your team members are aware of the role they play in putting your risk plan into action, but it encourages open communication about new or changing risks. In most instances, someone somewhere knows about an item that could potentially cause havoc on your project. A good idea is to add risks as a regular agenda item to your weekly team meetings and steering committee meetings. In this way you’re able to tap into new or changing information others may have. Tip 7: Don’t lose track Risk management is a continuous task. Risk impacts and probabilities may change over time, new risks may pop up, response and mitigation strategies may need to be adjusted… and the list goes on. Keep a handle on this changing landscape by making risk tasks part of your day-to-day project activities. You need to actively track progress against your risk plan just as you would track progress against your overall project plan. Is risky business keeping you up at night? Contact Cathy at Analyze on 021 447 5696 or email her on cathy@analyze.co.za to find out how we can help put your mind at ease. Share this:

How to make virtual teams work for you

Virtual teams (otherwise known as distributed, geographically dispersed or remote teams) have become the norm as more and more businesses decide to tap into the many cost, skill and productivity benefits that come with being able to hire the best of the best.  An added benefit of virtual teams is the flexibility that they offer to scale up or down, as required by the needs of a project, without having to consider the traditional overhead costs associated with office bound staff. Of course nothing worthwhile comes easily. Distributed teams come with their own unique challenges, particularly when you’re working with different cultures and time zones. Here are our Analyze top 5 tips for making virtual teams work for you: 1. Create a virtual “water cooler” Remote team members don’t have the luxury of running into other team members at the proverbial water cooler. They therefore can’t take advantage of these types of opportunities to build relationships and share ideas. Informal communication and online collaboration must be promoted through the use of instant messaging tools, video chat and internal enterprise social networking plaforms. At Analyze, our team uses Sharepoint for document collaboration, Yammer as a networking platform to connect with one another and the broader team, and tools such as Skype for Business for live chat and conference calls. 2. Be very clear about roles, responsibilities, tasks & processes When people work together in the same office it’s easier to work around roles, responsibilities, tasks & processes that have not been fully defined, but with virtual teams you don’t have the same level of interaction and communication. This is why it’s important to ensure that each team member is crystal clear about what is expected from them, in what format and by when. There is no room for ambiguity at any level. 3. Build trust through predictability & reliability Working remotely and independently can often lead to a disconnect which in turn can lead to a lack of trust. It is important, therefore, to push for regular team check-ins and to agree on standard communication protocols upfront. When team members can rely on that weekly team meeting to discuss issues and they fully understand the process they need to follow to deliver work items, it creates a much higher level of comfort. 4. Agree on a common language When you’re working with distributed teams you’re often also working with different cultures and various language barriers. Even if you’re all speaking English, one term can mean different things to different people. Creating a dictionary of common terms and their meanings will help to alleviate this problem down the line. Although this may seem like an unnecessary formality, it will be a huge help in the long run. Trust us! 5. Online project management tools are key This goes beyond creating and distributing the traditional Microsoft Project plan. Online tools provide a dashboard view of current and upcoming activities, along with who they’re assigned to and when they’ll be completed. In this way, the entire team has insight into the current state of the project without having to engage with the project manager first. This should further be supplemented with an online document collaboration tool like Google Docs or SharePoint as well as some form of online time sheet tracking. As a firm specialised in project management, we have extensive experience in working with distributed teams, both on client projects and within our own consulting team. Contact Cathy at Analyze Consulting on 021 447 5696 or email her on cathy@analyze.co.za to find out how we can assist your business with the management of virtual teams. Share this: