the project(s)

  • Heads Up 360 Project Leadership

    "Bad planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part"

    David Brent

    Many people will tell you that ‘planning the work and working the plan’ is the watch word for good project leadership, and in essence we agree; however unfortunately project planning has been dialled down to the production of a software based diagram and this is not what was meant by true project planning; Project planning should in actuality account for “ all activities necessary to deliver a project from initiation to commercialisation” and when defined in this way it is a great yard stick for excellent project leadership and one that we have no hesitation in supporting.

    Our approach is to support teams to fully scope their project, identifying not only key customer requirements but also key stakeholders and their requirements, both internally to the business and externally to the customer and others.

    Once all elements are identified the Project Leaders role is to lead the team to deliver these. The role needs a level of awareness of the world beyond their own project, how do they affect other projects and initiatives running within the business? an ability to anticipate rather than react to situations; The Project Leadership role is a questioning role, looking for and evaluating potential concerns as well as dealing with day to day issues.

    Some of the key competencies that are a focus for our leadership activities include;

    • Trust
    • Decisiveness
    • Having presence or charisma
    • Valuing individuals for themselves as well as what they contribute
    • Responsibility and accountability
    • Ability to develop a team

    At Holden-Consult our approach is to work with Project Leaders to develop and enhance the skills needed to enable him/her to be capable, confident and effective in the role. We provide training and mentoring in the following:

    • Leadership skills particularly associated with the management of cross functional teams
    • Gaining alignment; influencing and motivating those that don’t work directly for you.
    • Teamwork, the way you progress a career; Raising the profile of teamwork and the associated benefits within the organisation
    • Communication; monitoring and reporting on progress to those who need to know.
    • Beyond the obvious; identifying and working with stakeholders
    • When to forget the process, and do what is right; using judgement and escalating appropriately.


  • Systematic Project Delivery

    "Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning."

    Winston Churchill

    There is a constant chant in the world of project delivery… ‘go faster’; no one ever says a team you delivered too soon! At Holden-Consult we believe that getting the original project plan understood by all involved is as, or more, important than getting the plan 100% correct.

    Plans, by definition, are incorrect at publication, after all you can only plan what you know, however the discussion, debate and subsequent understanding that surrounds the generation of a comprehensive plan is the most critical aspect of the planning process.

    Too often the jump to software is premature; the software diagram should be an outcome of this process, not an end in its own right. Planning the work and the working the plan is part of the Heads Up 360 Project Management approach.

    The setting of milestones, sharing of knowledge, making provision for budget, and dovetailing the project with other business imperatives coordinated by an Intelligent Project Management Office should enable projects to be delivered systematically and consistently.

    The world of development is paved with uncertainty, however not all risks are equal. It is vital that management time and effort focuses on removing and mitigating those variables that will truly slow down the project or potentially stop it in its tracks, the ‘killer variables’.

    A leadership team may not be deemed successful if they deliver one project on time and in full if it is at the expense of the rest of the portfolio. Consistent delivery of a portfolio of projects over a number of years is a better measure of achievement.

    At Holden-Consult our approach is to ensure that your processes are robust enough to:

    • Work across a range of projects, and scalable to support simple incremental improvements through to more complex undertakings
    • Involve those functions necessary to the delivery process and manage and inform others accordingly.
    • Capture and use of data for good decision making.
    • Standardisation of ways of working and use of tools.
    • Benchmark against Industry best practices and current norms.
    • Look at incentives associated with delivery
    • Ensure that best practise learning is transferred to the teams
    • Develop lead and lag measurements to monitor success, and celebrate accordingly.
  • Gate Process

    "Never allow a person to tell you no who does not have the power to say yes."

    Eleanor Roosevelt

    A Stage Gate™ process marries up projects, portfolios and business strategy; It is a governance process usually used for the delivery of New Product Development.

    Many companies will have a Stage Gate™ process, for those who do, a fully optimised and efficient and effective process is critical, it should always aid good decision making and progress.

    It should facilitate difficult decisions, and, if working well, projects should be progressed or ‘killed early’.

    If it is sub-optimal, or not in existence, projects occur through individual championing, there is little understanding in the business of why and what the priorities are; and often the processes are invisible to those who are not involved.

    At Holden-Consult our approach is to ensure:

    • That the gate process is visible to all
    • That there is a clearly understood and well defined purpose for Stage Gate™ processes within the organisations
    • That Gate panel members understand their role and are fully briefed and/or trained.
    • That Project Leaders and team members understand that they are in a contract with the gate panel
    • There is clear differentiation between gate panels and other business reviews
    • The decision-making process is clear and unambiguous and that decisions are communicated and enacted throughout the organisations A transparent effective Stage Gate process leads to effective delivery.

    A transparent effective Stage Gate process leads to effective delivery.

  • Collaborative Rigorous Project Evaluation

    Companies only succeed by delivering things that customers want and doing so at a price point and cost base that ensures they make a viable profit.

    Budget spend in all organisations is always constrained and constantly under review.

    It is essential therefore that you are sure that you understand the full costs and implications associated with delivering your products and services to market.

    By ensuring that all parties concerned are involved in the process you do several things; you capture true costs, you engage all parties in the process, you promote buy-in to delivering at these costs; you improve awareness within the business of ‘key value levers’ associated with the project, ownership of activities improves and escalation of critical issues becomes faster and more appropriate.

    Your business grows and your staff develop commercial acumen.

    Holden-Consult approach the building of a business case as a critical cross functional activity and support the understanding and generation of simple business cases that enable good decisions; We work with your finance team to model projects in such a way that they can interface with your current financial practises; we encourage the team to make assumptions and then test the assumptions, identifying ‘key value levers’ and ‘killer variables’.

    This cross-functional approach ensures that the organisation is aligned to bring the project to successful conclusion.

  • Intelligent Project Management Office (PMO)

    “If you think of standardization as the best that you know today, but which is to be improved tomorrow; you get somewhere.”

    Henry Ford

    Project Management Offices are there to serve the trilogy of, Project Leaders and their projects, the Portfolio Analyst and Portfolio Management, and the Stakeholders (including but not limited to the Executive, Customers and other Project Leaders and their teams.)

    When effective they drive excellence within the project delivery function and provide an independent source of data and knowledge for all, spreading best practise, escalating issues, providing advice and intel to facilitate confident decision making; and if done well will be regarded as indispensable by all.

    At Holden-Consult we believe that the above can be achieved by focusing on the following:

    • Identification of bottlenecks related to resource in any department
    • Clear view of projected budgetary spend
    • Reduction in administrative burdens on the project leaders and teams
    • Standardisation of working practices
    • Visibility of data for decision making at Pragmatic Stage Gate meetings and other Governance processes
    • Production of Portfolio diagrams and associated intel to support Portfolio Management decisions and Shareholder meetings.
    • Best practice benchmarking within the organisation and Industry, and facilitation of learning.

    Our approach is to:

    • identify what level of PMO is needed by an organisation (Administrative, Participative/Facilitative, Directive)
    • Work alongside the organisation or individual to establish appropriate process
    • Mentor the implementation and embedding
    • Resolve any problems relating to the above.
    • Refine and perfect.

    In projects we discuss the trilogy of TIME, COST QUALITY in a PMO we refer to the trilogy of Team Customer Stakeholder, and Project, Portfolio and Process or Stage Gate.

  • Informed Portfolio Analysis

    Portfolio Analysis should inform the organisation to enable great decisions to be taken which move the company from reactive to proactive against its competition.

    It should support taking decisions at the highest level with confidence and assurance even when they are potentially difficult and unpopular.

    It should bring a clarity to the organisation that enables leaders to gain buy-in from both within and outside the company, and ensures that organisations survive and thrive through both good and challenging periods.

    Our approach through Insight interviews, the use of tools and workshops and the establishment ways of workings is to enable the organisation to make good investment decisions, to be able to allocate resource effectively, to expedite key strategic imperatives.

    Providing the ability to make agile course changes in response to changing market conditions.

    This process is pivotal to enable companies to deliver their strategy and commercialise effectively.

    This process can be designed to encompass either the full investment portfolio of an organisation, or the New Product Development Pipeline, and be scaled appropriately.

    It should ideally dovetail with the current financial reporting and data systems.