108010The “Pareto Principle” is well-known..  It’s the “80-20 Rule”.  But how many have heard of the “10-80-10 Rule”?

10-80-10 was a source of much amusement when I was working at an Investment Bank in the mid-Eighties.

Our version went something like this:

In any company, 10 percent of the people do the work; 80 percent of the people do nothing; the last 10 percent stop the first 10 percent from finishing anything.

And in some companies, I’m sure it’s still true today.

Last Chance To See

I just finished reading this book by Douglas Adams and I can’t believe that I haven’t read it before.  It didn’t disappoint.

I have been a long time fan of Mr. Adams and I thought I had read most of his work (all six books of the Hitchhiker’s Guide “trilogy”, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,  The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul etc.).

I chuckled, I laughed out loud.  The poignant epilogue story about the Sibylline Books will be long-remembered.

What a gift it was to stumble across it.

Post Implementation Reviews


Note: This post was originally published (by me) on May 22 2014 on Linkedin.  You can navigate to the original post by clicking here.

Where I now work (and in several places past), a Post-Implementation Review (or PIR) is routinely performed by the Program or Project Manager, assisted by PMO, after every reasonably-sized project has been implemented – and then the “Lessons Learned” from that effort are meticulously applied to benefit subsequent projects. At least, that’s the theory…

The PIR process – which is rarely a trivial exercise – typically seeks to identify, document and highlight several things:

  1. Determine “Lessons Learned” – how can future projects benefit from mistakes made or new “best practices” that have been identified as part of the current effort?
  2. Determine whether or not the project was “effectively managed” and was run according to pre-agreed standards (these tend to vary, but invariably follow the same set of precepts).
  3. Determine whether or not project objectives were met and anticipated benefits were ultimately delivered.

“All good stuff” you might think. And it is. But this is where the fun begins.

When the next project is kicked-off, we expect everyone will automatically be familiar with the updated list of “Lessons Learned“, that people will actually fine-tune their future behavior to incorporate the findings and we also assume that the larger problems identified in the PIR will have been addressed as a matter of course.

We are often disappointed.

Ground-hog Day

The problem is, some of the bigger problems identified such as:

  • Data Ownership / Data Issues
  • Language/Taxonomy Issues
  • Environment Availability/Setup Issues
  • Configuration Management
  • Production Support

are more than likely large enough to warrant their own remediation projects if deemed insufficient. These remedial projects rarely happen given the already full “book of work” and so the same problems tend to persist. They wreak the same havoc on project after project – time and money are invariably wasted.

Additionally, recommended behavioral modifications with regard to (for example):

  • Inadequate Planning
  • Discipline regarding Requirements Traceability

which would normally dictate additional training, are often overlooked. A major false-economy in my opinion.

Benefits are also sometimes difficult to gauge when only a 90% solution has been delivered. Hidden work – and hidden costs – plus antiquated systems persisting past their life expectancy – along with tactical workarounds (some manual, some automated) make an accurate benefits assessment subjective at best. Constant flux provides the real challenge.

Are Lessons Really Learned?

From my point of view, collating the “Lessons Learned” is often one of the only objectives that is ever effectively realized and this is where it gets really tragic (and interesting).

Companies spend vast amounts acquiring tremendously powerful knowledge and – despite the recommendations of every Project Management framework – then ignore it when it’s time to actually leverage that knowledge.

Would you, using some extreme examples, attempt to walk/run across the Sahara or swim the Channel without intense preparation, research and training? Not likely. So why do so many Project Managers ignore this crucial first step of discovery?

So – how do we become more effective? How do we really incorporate “Lessons Learned” and break the vicious cycle?

At a minimum, scouring the Firm’s knowledge-base or PIR Repository (assuming you have one) should be the first order of business when embarking upon any new project. If you know what you’re up against, you then at least have a fighting chance. Bake this discipline into your Project Initiation schedule and promise yourself never to short-change the effort.

What do you think? What happens where you work? Please feel free to comment.

Photos: Courtesy of Google Images


17372572-Audit-Assertions-word-cloud-with-data-sheet-background-Stock-VectorNote: This post was originally published (by me) on March 24 2014 on Linkedin.  You can navigate to the original post by clicking here.

I first heard about CEAVOP a year or so ago.

After he had looked through a presentation the team had prepared, my previous manager, an accountant by trade, gave us insight into how he thinks by explaining and then challenging each dimension of the presentation per his CEAVOP ‘method’. I left the meeting having learned something new – always a bonus!

I have been working in Financial Services for many years and as far as I can remember, I had never heard the term up to that point. I was intrigued – so I Googled it and was really surprised to find a relatively small number of results (the search yielded 1110 results at the time of writing this article, with most results not really being that applicable).

In a nutshell, “CEAVOP is an acronym used to represent assertions of a control in financial auditing”. It stands for:

  • Completeness
  • Existence
  • Accuracy
  • Valuation
  • Ownership
  • Presentation

If you think about it, it is not a bad system to apply to most pieces of work. From my point of view, its value is not just limited to audits. For example: It can also be applied to pretty much any document/specification or even a Project Plan:

  • Is the specification/plan Complete?
  • Are all requirements/tasks represented (Existence)?
  • Are all requirements/tasks Accurate?
  • What Value will the initiative add?
  • Has Ownership been determined for all work, risks, issues, dependencies and any next steps?
  • Has everything been adequately and clearly Presented in the specification/plan?

Try it out on your project – think flexibly when using it. Chances are, after challenging your efforts by applying even some of these assertions, you will have created a greater quality product.

Photo: Courtesy of Google Images