Change budget vs Change Tolerance

When I was a trainer I used to tell this story (which is true by the way) to illustrate the difference between change budget and tolerance

I went out with my girlfriend and I offered to buy her a dress. I said she could have £100 to spend with a tolerance of £20, but there was to be no change budget.

So she went out and found herself a dress (which looked very nice) for £80. Whilst she was shopping she found a nice pair of shoes for £30, which would have gone very nicely with the dress

Having found both these items she asked if it was OK that she could spend the money on both.

Being the gent I am I reminded her of what i said, she had £100 to spend with a tolerance of £20. She said “well in that case that’s fine I can get both.”

However I reminded her there was no change budget, so the pair of shoes constituted a change to the original requirement (a dress). The dress was fine as that was within tolerance (£100-£20=£80), so I would pay for that. As there was no change budget I wouldn’t pay for the shoes

As it was pointed out to me several times on the courses I delivered if the original requirement was an outfit then she could have had the dress and the shoes (and probably other accessories as well)

Obviously the moral of this story is don’t go shopping with me, or be clear on your requirements up front.

Transferable skills

Recently I started a new role as Secretary for my local football club and it got me thinking about how

 

transferable skills are from one role to another. Here are my thoughts on some of these skills which get used in a PMO role that I am using with my new secretary role

Stakeholder management

CAFC Logo

This one often appears on the job descriptions for roles, but what does this really mean? Does it mean putting a stakeholder map together and working out your comms to (and from) those people? Or does it mean getting on with people. Within my new role I have a variety of stakeholders. There is the rest of the executive committee, all of the youth coaches, the FA, the leagues that the teams compete within, the parents, the supporters. Each of these stakeholders come with a different set of challenges. And although I admit I haven’t formally done my stakeholder mapping I am using my knowledge of how to do this to understand what they all want and how I can best go about giving that to them, whilst still ensuring that the club don’t sway in the wind as we try and be all things to all people

Configuration management

Something that is the bane of a lot of PMOs, sometimes referred to as document management. As we have around 260 youth players spread across different age groups from U6 to U18 it is important that we keep on top of who those players are, ensuring they are registered with the appropriate leagues (otherwise they can’t play a competitive game of football) and have paid for the privilege (registering with the league costs money).

Planning/Scheduling

Whilst I am not going to get an MS project plan out in an Exec committee meeting (see the comment above about understanding your stakeholders) I am using my knowledge of how to put a plan together to ensure that when there is something needing to be done that it gets broken down into smaller chunks, we assign milestones (deliverables) and we assign individuals to those tasks, with a timeline that they need to complete this in. That then gets tracked against to ensure we are on track and if necessary the plans adjusted

Meetings

It is well known that PMOs get involved in lots of meetings just because they need someone to take the minutes. And yes being secretary does involve lots of meetings with the Exec Committee, youth coaches etc. All of these need to be organised, attended and minutes taken. I think this is an area that lots of people overlook. In fact I think its so important that last year, along with a colleague I delivered a course on PMOs & Meetings

Other skills

I am sure I could write more about all of the other skills, primarily the behavioural skills that I have picked up as a PMO that I am using within my new role. It just goes to prove that despite recruiters asking for a perfect fit for their organisation (if they know what that is) that actually people from a variety of backgrounds could come in and have the skills they are looking for, regardless of whether they have done so in the same context.

What other skills do you feel are transferable? Leave a comment below

100,000 steps in a day is possible

A few days ago I decided that I would like the take the Fitbit challenge and get all of the x thousand steps in a day badge. The one I was really aiming for is the 100,000 steps Olympian Sandal target – the most that the Fitbit badge collection goes up to

In preparation I looked around and found a few websites which claimed that people had done this. I also tried to find out how many miles 100,000 steps would actually equate to. The rough answer seemed to be 50 miles. 

The advice from those people who had done this before was:

  • Start early
  • Have somewhere to go – rather than just around the block
  • Have a few breaks along the way – but not too long
  • Just keep walking
  • Choose something that is fairly flat

With that in mind I decided that my local tunbridge wells circular walk would do. At 27 miles, that would nicely fit into my plan of doing the 50 miles in one day. I thought just 2 circuits would be fine. I could get a bus from the end of my road and then that would drop me off at the start, 2 laps and that’s all done.

However I was hit by a small technology problem. The app that would allow me to get a bus ticket didn’t work on the phone. So I thought that what I would do, as there were pavements all of the way would be to walk from my house to the start (a mere 5 miles or 1/10th of the overall distance), do the circular and walk back. This then left me with about another 10 miles to find, which could be covered by walking around the block a couple of times.

Having decided this was a good thing to do, and being totally stupid I woke up early (before 6) and set off on my journey. I only got about half a mile down the road before realising that I should have visited the facilities before I went. Back to the house, sort out the call of nature and back out again.

This time I got further, before realising that I hadn’t said goodbye to the wife and she would have been upset with me about not getting her coffee in the morning. Back again to the house, make sure the wife was OK and I finally set off about 6:40

The first 5 miles was fine, it boring as it was mainly along a fast main road. A quick stop on the entrance to the circular route and I was ready to go.

By the time it got to 9:30 I was doing really well having got to 25,000 steps. A bit of mental calculation worked out that it was only going to take another 10.5 hours at the same rate to finish, which would have made it about 8pm. So hope in time for a bit of telly before bed. With that joyful thought in my head I carried on walking.

When I got to 30,000 steps it was time for a bit of a breather. That was then my plan, a 5 minute stop every 10,000 steps, which added up to just over an hours worth of walking. 

When I got half way round the trail I thought it was time for a stop as it was lunchtime, so a pint at the local pub whilst I did so seemed a good idea. A quick look at the GPS told me that I had walked 18 miles, add the 3 on from earlier and I was still on track. I still hadn’t hit the 50,000 steps, but that was alright as that wasn’t due to happen until 1pm anyway

After a brief stop I set back on the trail again and I reached the 50,000 milestone at round 1:30pm. A bit later than I planned, but I just put that down to having a pint earlier and a stop off at a local shop for some other drinks for the journey.

Having previously managed to get to 50,000 steps in a day, I knew that total was achievable, and it only being early in the day I figured I had at least another 10 hours to do the rest, and as I had done the first in about 7.5 hours then I would be on target for the rest

When I reached 55,000 then I started to get the emails from Fitbit congratulating me on achieving the next badge, which arrived at 2:35

Getting the badge proved a real boost to the ego and spurred me on to get the next one

which came in quite quickly (or so it felt to me) at 3:17. Roughly 45 minutes to get the next badge, this felt good. However it also felt miles (literally) away from my target. So I began to get a bit downhearted. Rather than seeing the 60,000 steps I had done I started to think about the 40,000 I still had to do. I tried to cheer myself up with the news that it was only 3pm and the day was still early.

65,000 steps came and went (4.03 if anyone is interested). It was starting to get harder to carry on and I kept looking at the watch and being disappointed that I had only done another 1,000 more steps than when I last looked.

But soon the 70,000 steps came up at 4:54pm, and I was keeping to the pace of 45 minutes per 5,000, although I could feel myself slowing a bit I put that down to the number of stops along the way. So time to celebrate getting that far with another pint in Frant. Very much appreciated (the sit down as well)

When the 75,000 steps came up I was nearing the end of the tunbridge wells circular route so another stop was sorted out as I gave myself a bit of a breather. By this time it was 6pm. My legs were feeling OK, but my feet were definitely hurting and I was glad it was the end of the circular route. I found that I was struggling to get over the stiles. I couldn’t actually lift my legs that high.

I consoled myself that by the time I got back to the town I lived in I would have been on about 82,000 steps, so that would only lead me 18,000 more to get. The 80,000 badge duly came up at 6:43pm, which out me back on target. When you aren’t going up and down hills the walking is easier

As well as the 80,000 steps badge the 400 floors in a day badge came up 15 minutes later. I knew I had a tiring day

Another quick (or not so quick) pit stop for another pint to celebrate getting back with only about 18,000 to go I knew the end was in sight.

I then set off again and wondered why it had got so cold, and it was dark by this time as well. The light mist made it delightfully wet, not that it made a difference as I was drenched in sweat anyway. I decided that if I went the long way home, that would add in another mile or so and I would be there.

As I came around the bend at the bottom of my road I got the email telling me I had reached 90,000 steps. Only another 10,000 to go. With it only being 8:21pm by this time I had made it. However I was soaked, my legs and my feet ached and I was struggling to put one foot in front of another. Being only yards away from home, and about 5 miles off my target I decided that yes I would go home. When I stopped the GPS it said I had been walking for 12 hours 46 minutes and I had done 44.09 miles. No wonder I was knackered.

Inside the wife was there to great me with the cheery ‘have you done it?’ to which the answer was no, but I have another 3 hours to get the last 10,000. It was very tempting at that stage to sit on the sofa, share a glass of wine with the wife and give up. But I was only going to do this once, so 10,000 more steps was the order of the day. What I did do was to change the trousers, socks and undergarments which were soaked through from a combination of sweat and rain. Have a quick shower to sooth the weary feet, and turn them back into flesh colour rather than the lovely black sock colour they had turned.

Now feeling a bit rejuvenated, at least my feet were drier, I set out again. I figured it would a couple of times around the block and that would be it. So I set off, much slower than I had before, but at least this was on the flat and there were no stiles, so I convinced myself I could do this.

An hour later saw me back on the sofa again having passed 95,000 steps. It is interesting that there is no badge for that one, or for 85,000. I assume they think that if you can do 80,000 then you are going to get the full 100,000 in a day so they won;t bother. However it would be great if they did then it would encourage people like me just when we needed it.

After some more encouragement from the wife ‘haven’t you finished it yet?’ ‘Don’t you know it’s dark out there?’ and ‘can’t you do this tomorrow?’ and the immortal ‘it was your stupid idea to do this don’t look for sympathy from me’ I set out to do the last 3,000 steps. By this time it was 9:38. Not quite the 8pm I was thinking to myself it might have been when I was half way to the target.

A quick (well it did take 30 minutes) walk around the block and just as I came up to the house again I made it 100,000 steps in a day

As I had GPS working all day I can tell you that it took me 51.91 miles to do 100,000 steps. Fitbit on the other hand only made it 48.98 miles.

As you can see from the screenshot below it is possible to do the 100,000 steps in a day challenge, and it helped me reach more than 200,000 steps in a week, which will never happen again either

In conclusion what advice would I give other people wanting to do the challenge?

  • Don’t – It will take all day. I did mine in 16 hours and 21 minutes elapsed duration. I will make you more knackered than anything and you won’t be able to sleep properly as your legs and feet will ache

If you still want to do the challenge then

  • Have somewhere to go – choose a route that you like to do
  • Think about toilet stops – this may just be me, but knowing when you can find a toilet is very useful. It may be the only sit down you get (until you finish)
  • Don’t choose stiles – having pavement underfoot is much easier than going cross country (but the views aren’t as nice)
  • Take a change of socks – having dry comfortable feet is a must. I felt much better after I had changed. And you may need several pairs
  • Have comfortable footwear – this isn’t the day to try out a new pair of shoes

Once you have done it you can sit back knowing that you really are one of the elite few 

 

Book writing week 10

And it’s finished

Its finished

For those people who have been following this blog for the last 10 weeks you will know I have been spending the time writing the PMO Services and Capabilities manual. Well after 10 long weeks I have managed to get to the end of the writing process. It is now over to the reviewers to find out which services are missing, and to correct any other errors which have crept in along with way.

What have I learnt about book writing?

I think the first thing for anyone else writing a book is to be focussed and dedicated. It is good to have a routine to fit into. Personally, I chose to start the day with a quick jog around the block, this allowed me time away from the computer to compose my thoughts for the day. What was I going to write about, how was I going to write it?

After a while, when I decided to use a burn up/burn down chart to work out my progress, I realised how many services I was likely to write in a day, and therefore I was able to use that as a target for whether I had a good days’ writing or whether it was a bad day. Sometimes if it isn’t going well then it is time to walk away and gather your thoughts. Hence having a dog that could be walked was a good afternoon distraction.

Without targets to aim for it is very easy to get distracted … oh is that a bird in the garden … and loose focus on what you were doing. Once you have lost focus then it takes time to get back into the groove again

What have I learnt about the PMO?

A learning point is how vast the PMO role is. It covers a lot, no wonder people, me included, have difficulty in summarizing up the role in a succinct manner. It means that no 2 PMOs are alike. I don’t think I will ever see a PMO team and definitely not one person doing all of these services at the same time (there really isn’t enough time in the day). Hence the depth and breadth of the PMOs out there.

I learnt how intertwined the PMO services are with each other. If you have a service for developing a framework, you can’t really do that without communicating the framework, and you can’t assess how well projects are adhering to that framework without the other 2 services.

Some of the services are difficult to classify, as previously mentioned if there is a service of review business case, does it fit into benefits management, financial management or portfolio management? Thanks to the readers of this blog I think we have a way around that now.

What’s next?

Well the book needs to go away to be reviewed and I am relying on my co-authors for their expertise here.

For me personally I now need to find something that will occupy me. If anyone has a (paid) job they know about then I would be more than happy to hear from you.

Book Writing Week 9

The end is in sight

As you may have noticed I missed a couple of weeks worth of these updates. That is because I was deep into the writing of all of the services. Being in the middle of the writing is difficult as you have done quite a lot, but you still can’t quite see an end to the list.

How much have I written?

Now I am much nearer the end, I can almost taste it. Of the 330 services I started with in the PMO Services and Capabilities book, I have ended up with about 250. The 80 that I have discarded were duplicate services. It not until you start writing them do you realise that you are writing the very same thing, just in a slightly different guise.

I now have around 30 more of the services to go, which if I get a good writing head on I should be able to complete this week.

What have I learnt?

The strange thing with writing is that it isn’t actually the writing that is difficult, it is the thinking that goes into the writing that is the difficult part. If you have a good day and the brain is whirring away then you can get through a few of the services in a morning. If the brain isn’t working, or you aren’t in the mood then you end up staring a screen for ages with no words being added to the page.

When the muse doesn’t turn up, then it is very easy to get distracted and before you know it a whole morning has been used up, and you are not quite sure what you have got to show for it. Keeping the discipline is very important if you are looking to embark on something like this yourself

Where do I go from here?

Assuming that I do manage to get the rest of the services written this week, then apart from having a day off in celebration, then it is over to the reviewers. I assume it may take them a while to go through and give it a read, but I assume it is going to be quicker reading it than it was writing it. After the reviewers have been at it, and I do hope they are not too harsh, then it will time to make the corrections.

With any luck the book will see the light of day early next year, a date I am really looking forward to.