What is the PAO?
Housed within the Department of Administration (DOA), the Program Acceleration Office (PAO) is a small team that works directly with project leaders to maximize the effectiveness of enterprise level change initiatives through cross-project coordination and collaboration. To accomplish this vision, the PAO employs different tools at each phase of the project, supporting project teams to ensure projects have necessary resources to stay on track and everyone affected by a DOA project understands the impacts on them individually while also grasping the ‘big picture’ of the project.
Communication is key to each aspect of the PAO’s work, as these projects hold statewide implications and stakeholder engagement is essential to project efficiency and success. Through regular, timely, and relevant communication the PAO keeps stakeholders across the State system apprised of project activities, impacts on their work, and the benefits of DOA projects.
Overall Guiding Principles
The PAO seeks to enhance the effectiveness of all DOA change initiatives by ensuring best practices in project management, communications, and stakeholder engagement. To do so, the PAO works with project leaders to establish a compelling and fact-based business case for change and a realistic plan for implementation, while also providing tools to ensure effective stakeholder engagement. The following pages detail the tools offered by the PAO to support project teams and engage stakeholders, as well as guiding principles for each aspect of the PAO’s work.
1. Support & Collaboration
3. Vision Room
9. Change Motivation
10. Knowledge Exchange
Support & Collaboration
What is it?
Support and collaboration define the nature of the PAO’s relationship with project teams, their directors, and project managers through all the facets of PAO involvement. The PAO exists to support project teams in all the ways defined in this document, to ensure their success and that of their project. However, it also goes further and represents our holistic support to project leadership. If you are facing unexpected challenges nowhere defined in this document, we are still here to be your collaborative partners, to bolster you and your team, and to offer creative solutions and support beyond these categories.
What is the role of the PAO?
Your success is our goal. As such, we will seek to maintain a collaborative relationship from beginning to end. The PAO is available to DOA’s Project Managers, Directors, and their teams to support and collaborate throughout the life of their projects with the goal of bringing about creative solutions to accelerate projects. Our involvement will take many forms, and will be tailored to your project, as every project is unique and requires different types and levels of support.
• Change Readiness Assessment (Communications,
Change Management, Stakeholder Management)
• Project Economics Review
• Project Resourcing Review
• Program Status Reporting
• Change Management
• Stakeholder Management
• Post Implementation Review
• Knowledge Exchange
What is it?
The messaging and outreach for overall project information, status, and resources to the various stakeholders. Communication plays a key role in implementing effective change. In the Program Acceleration Office, we prioritize stakeholder engagement through clear and effective communication to ensure better understanding and participation from everyone the project impacts.
What is the role of the PAO?
The PAO will work with project managers and program directors to act as a Centralized Hub for joined-up communication, messaging, and program progress. Messaging standards will be minimalistic, accurate, relevant, and timely.
• Identify stakeholders groups and decide appropriate communication activities
• Develop a communication plan working backwards from milestones (based on milestone map).
• Establish placement of additional resources, links, in depth Knowledge Documents (PAO Site vs. Project Site or Sharepoint).
• Establish overall project narrative to include who, what, why, when, & how
• Identify a point of contact communications person
• Follow communications plan rigidly
• Note any feedback and adjust appropriately
• Synchronized and coordinated delivery between PAO and project team
• State of Alaska visual standards
• Evaluate communications plan
• Record results and share with leadership
• Record lessons learned
• Archive messaging and components
The Role of the PAO
The PAO will assist in developing and keeping content up to date for the Vision Room (Virtual PAO). We will come up with creative ways to best present the project, its goals, and resources to engage stakeholders.
Let's Definite It
The Vision Room, aka the PAO website (also known as the Virtual PAO), will act as a centralized hub of information for the project’s narrative, status updates, and resources. Information presented on this site will be readily consumable by any stakeholder and organized in a user-friendly way. Engagement on the site can be driven by the PAO quarterly newsletter, project communication, and content updates to keep the pages fresh and up to date. Additional abilities of the Virtual PAO include informational videos, the PAO Podcast, and the News/Insights blog feature. All content must be up to PAO brand standards.
• Establish a short project narrative to create a project page on the Virtual PAO
• Assign a point of contact to list on the project page for inquiries and questions from stakeholders
• Develop resources for impacted stakeholders and decide where these resources will live (sharepoint, PAO site, project site)
• Keep the project page content up to date.
• Develop (and keep up to date) a project calendar for the Virtual PAO to list launch dates, townhalls, trainings, etc.
• The PAO will work with the Project Manager to create content to keep stakeholders engaged such as podcast recordings, informational videos, insightful blog articles
• Sync page updates and resources with the project’s communication plan
• Archive the project page and resources
What is the role of the PAO?
The PAO is dedicated to the acceleration of its change initiatives. To accurately report progress, assess project manager needs, and provide proper support – the PAO needs to be kept in the loop on the status of the project though out its journey. The Virtual PAO will act as a sort of “Flash View” on project status for all stakeholders.
What is it?
Accurate reporting of the project’s completion of milestones, impacts on stakeholders, resources, and setbacks for the PAO to assess the standing of the project throughout its journey. The status will be defined by a red, amber, green reporting structure:
• Red, Amber, Green status:
»» Red Status: Materially impacting the delivery of the project – unable to deliver, more investment or resources required
»» Amber Status: Potentially material impacting the delivery but good probability of recovering the situation
»» Green Status: All variables on target and as expected
• Collaborate with Project Managers to develop status reporting form for utilization throughout project (pre, during, post)
• Project Managers will integrate the use of the reporting form into their regular activities to keep PAO informed and aware of the project’s course, as well as provide a milestone map to the PAO
• Frequency for short term and long term reporting will be based on the project’s pacing
• The PAO will review status reports against the milestone map to assess and assign status throughout the course of the project and will discuss with the Project Manager if a course correction is needed
• Based on the status reports, the PAO will use the Virtual PAO to update a single narrative for the project
• The Virtual PAO will act as a centralized hub for all of the project’s broad communications and resource listings. Content will be easily digestible, engaging, and accurately reflect the projects mission and status
• Notifications and status updates will also be given to the Commissioner, project sponsor, leads, and other stakeholders
• The PAO will come up with creative solutions to best articulate progress and promote acceleration. The PAO will facilitate plans of action and follow up with additional support
• Engage PM and key stakeholders for feedback on status reporting structure
• The PAO will review the status reporting structure and its achievements and failures to adjust for future projects
What is governance?
Governance refers to the decision-making framework associated with a given project. Effective governance serves to accelerate projects and eliminate barriers by providing role clarity across the project and applying decisive action to items of concern or those for which additional authority or strategic input is needed to proceed. A typical DOA project will follow a three-tiered governance framework:
• First, the project team serves as the governing authority over the day-to-day activities. The project Manager takes primary responsibility to ensure activities are on time and within budget and scope. The Project Manager is also responsible to report progress and any items of concern to the project governance team.
• A project governance team presides over items requiring greater authority or course corrections to resolve. While most project activities simply follow the project plan and schedule, activities and decisions escalated to the governance team are generally unanticipated or high-impact items or those critical to preserve the budget, schedule, or scope and demanding additional guidance or authority to resolve.
• Finally, The Department of Administration has established a statewide Alaska Administrative Governance Council. This governance structure is composed of a leading Council, as well as Advisory Committees and Work Groups specific to Human Resources, Procurement, Shared Services, and Information Technology. The governance structure addresses items of enterprise-level strategy. While this structure represents a powerful resource to DOA’s projects, escalation to this level will not happen frequently.
An effective governance structure is logical, scaled to the size and complexity of the project, and simple yet sufficiently robust to be responsive to the needs of the project team and stakeholders. Governance should always be an accelerating force. If the structure becomes a bottleneck to decision making, the structure and approach must be reevaluated.
Why is it critical to a project's success?
Governance answers the question ‘who can decide what in the temporary project environment. As such, it is a critical element to project effectiveness, efficiency, and success. Failure to establish an effective governance structure before project activities are underway would place the project at great risk because the lack of role clarity and authority would inevitably delay activities and interrupt project work.
• Assure a single point of accountability for the project success
• Separate project ownership from stakeholder(s)
• Ensure separation of project decision making and stakeholder management
• Ensure separation of project governance and organizational governance structure
Before the project begins, the PAO will work with the Project Sponsors to determine the appropriate governance framework for the project. Because every project is unique, governance will not always look the same. However, as the PAO works with the project team to clarify the business case, identify stakeholders and impacts, and establish a schedule, etc. the governance piece will become more clear. The result of these efforts will be the designation a project-specific decision-making framework before the project begins.
In the execution phase of the project, day-to-day governance is largely the responsibility of the Project Manager, who manages resources to ensure activities follow the schedule, budget, and project scope. In addition to the work of the Project Manager, the governance team will meet periodically to address items of exception, be they unanticipated issues, high-impact activities, or other exceptional items. The Project Manager must maintain close communication with the governance team, to ensure they are aware of any issues and have all the information necessary to take decisive action to accelerate the project. This relationship is supported by reporting out project progress cyclically. For this reason, project reporting must be accurate and timely. With role clarity and empowerment and effective and timely communication, the project has what is needs to stay on the path of success.
Once the project work is complete, the project governance team must certify project completion by reviewing deliverables and confirming their scope has been met. They will then work with the PAO to facilitate any post-change activities such as surveys, business case reviews, retrospectives or others needed to capture and communicate project outcomes, ensure the sustainability of the change, and facilitate continuous improvement after project completion. to Human Resources, Procurement, Shared Services, and Information Technology. The governance structure addresses items of enterprise-level strategy. While this structure represents a powerful resource to DOA’s projects, escalation to this level will not happen frequently. An effective governance structure is logical, scaled to the size and complexity of the project, and simple yet sufficiently robust to be responsive to the needs of the project team and stakeholders. Governance should always be an accelerating force. If the structure becomes a bottleneck to decision making, the structure and approach must be reevaluated.
What is it?
Project stakeholders include anyone with an interest or concern (or “stake”) in the project’s outcomes. The term is intentionally broad, including anyone who may be affected by the project, from executives to end users. As such, it is of critical importance that stakeholders are effectively engaged throughout the life of a project. To do so requires anticipating project impacts on stakeholders and managing those impacts successfully through communication and engagement.
What is the role of the PAO?
Project directors and Managers must begin the stakeholder management process before a project begins, and maintain the effort throughout the whole of the project, as it is critical to the success of their project. The PAO is here to help. We will work with project teams to identify project stakeholders, develop a plan for how to effectively engage them throughout the life of the project, and ensure their interests are weighed appropriately in project outcomes. These efforts take a different form in each phase of the project.
In the change readiness phase of your project, before any work has begun, the PAO will work with the project director to compile a complete list of project stakeholders, categorize them into the RACI structure (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed), and perform a preliminary analysis of impacts on each stakeholder. Not only will this list provide the foundation for communications and change efforts in the execution phase of the project, but it will also contribute to the assessment the projects impact, cost, and return, and will help to steer the project to an informed go/no-go decision point before the project begins. To skip this step of stakeholder engagement is to place the project at unnecessary risk, as communication and engagement efforts all flow from this step. As such, we will work together to be sure a complete and effective stakeholder matrix is in place before project work begins.
The stakeholder analysis performed in the change readiness stage of the project will provide the foundation for communications and engagement plans in the execution phase of the project. The analysis will include the specific impacts to each stakeholder throughout the execution phase of the project. Stakeholders will also be categorized based on the RACI structure to determine the level of engagement. This matrix will help to plan content and timing of communications and engagement to satisfy the unique needs of your stakeholders. In this stage, it will be important to stay on top of communications and engagement efforts detailed in your plans. These will provide an important conduit between the project activities and the people they affect, and ensure that no one is left behind in the process.
Stakeholder engagement tapers off in the post-change phase of the project, as all project activities and their associated communications and engagement efforts have been completed. That said, project-specific efforts may include stakeholder in post-change activities such as After-Action Reports, Retrospectives, Surveys, etc. to evaluate the efforts undertaken in the execution phase and apply lessons learned to future change efforts. These efforts will provide valuable insight for future projects and play an important role in ensuring continual improvement across projects.
What is it?
The financial and non-financial evaluation of an initiative with the purpose of answering questions such as is the
initiative worth doing; what is the best way to allocate the financial and human resources; and which projects give the
biggest benefit to our stakeholders.
What is the role of the PAO?
The PAO aims to establish effective governance of the project financial while providing a high level scope. We will continually review the project for risk of project non-completion, alternative strategies, and supplier viability. As part of the post implementation activities, a full review will be conducted.
• The PAO provides an extra set of eyes on the project/program economics
• We will report by exceptions on delivery vs. contract
• Provide input to procurement/finance teams
• Facilitate discussions on project risk of completing within time, budget, and quality
• Evaluate total cost of project
• Calculate quantifiable savings/benefits/efficiencies expected
• Project calculations should include:
»» PayBack Period
»» Return on Investment
»» Cost Avoidance
»» Priority Based Funding
»» Cost Benefit Analysis
»» Accumulated Self Sufficient Model
• Track the progress of the project to ensure milestones are delivered, to assure the overall project is delivered on time and within the budget
• Milestone Assessment
• Completion Risk
• Gather the information once the data is available
• With a critical eye; compare and contrast the actual cost & benefit data to the economics expected at the change readiness stage
• Compile a simple exception based schedule, deficit & surplus with narrative to explain the difference
• Develop a lessons learned narrative for input into change readiness of future projects and for knowledge exchange
• The post implementation “report” is then shared with the leadership team and project sponsors
• Recommend /acknowledge individuals efforts for recognition and talent planning.
What is it?
An objective view of resourcing and talent required for the lifespan of the project, recognizing the varying demand during the project lifecycle. The resourcing assessment will allow the project team and sponsors to identify in advance the individuals with a greater draw on their time and any possible skill set gaps to deliver the project.
What is the need?
Resourcing for the project team needs to be determined with accuracy. In order to determine the resources required from the organization, at what stage, how much of an individual’s time is
required, and the impact on the day to day duties. The organization’s resources and the draw on an employee’s time to support projects both need to be taken into account.
What is the role of the PAO?
• Effective governance of the project’s human resources both internal and external
• Collaborate number of resources, skills, duration, and timings
• Review for risk of project for disproportionate internal vs. external resources plus the impact on knowledge drain
• The PAO will implement a skills download and cascade work streams while deploying the “train the trainer” concept
• PAO encourages a deeper assessment of resources required (part of change readiness)
• Ongoing collaboration with project sponsor
• Provide input to department resource requirements
• Assist with employee performance tolerance
• Input into employee recognition
• Milestone and Business Calendar Map
• Skills Assessment - current full time employees vs. outside expertise– availability and capacity
• Resource economics – including internal costs
• Non human resources review – physical assets, technology, etc.
• Organization dynamics, critical resource identification
• Turnover assessment
• Identify internal resource(s) to be up-skilled
• Identify contingent workforce in case of project activity overload
• Identify tolerance for drop in performance expected during change
• Identify roles to be back filled to minimize impact on the organization
• Craft a resourcing visual over the duration of the project to understand the peaks & falls
• Engagement with Project Managers – performance, challenges, skills gap
• Skills transfer to identified State of Alaska employees
• Resource exceptions – High risk escalated for the attention of Governance Board,
• Facilitate discussion for business as usual vs. project work
• Planned resourcing vs. actual resourcing
• Internal resources – discuss performance
• External and internal resource “quality” review
• Acknowledge project expertise – employee recognition
• What went well, what could have been better
• Input into the Post Implementation Review
What is the difference between change motivation & change management?
Change management guides how we prepare, equip and support individuals to successfully adopt change in order to drive organizational success. Change motivation employs individuals in the change by imparting to them the vision and benefit of the transformation. It accelerates change adoption by inspiring adjustments in work behaviors and habits by aligning individual expectations and understanding with the business case for the project.
What is the need?
Without change motivation, stakeholders can experience change fatigue – resulting in loss of investment and strategic direction. With this in mind, the PAO ensures the employee experience remains our primary focus; with the intention being to reduce the risk of failure while helping the project team deliver the best possible employee experience.
What is the PAO role?
The PAO will ensure a proportional focus is given to the change motivation element of the project. We will provide guidance in setting
up the change motivation process (internal and external to the project team). The PAO will act as a collaborative advisor on change motivation
challenges and guide the project managers through the key three phases – pre-change, execution, and post-implementation.
• Get to know our stakeholders – individually and/or as a group; what are their aspirations? What is their influence/impact?
• Get to know the stakeholder impact – workload, reporting lines, learning new methods, enhanced governance, new technology and tools, behavioral drivers
• Keep ongoing “air traffic control view” – updated heat map and act on stakeholders with significant draw on their time
• Change motivation approaches:
»» Address challenges – solutions, vision, target operating model
• Identify resources to support change activities
• Impact analysis by stakeholder groups
• Stakeholder map
• Ascertain the go/no-go criteria
• Collaboration approach to governance, communications, change, and stakeholder relationships
• Proactive approach with Stakeholders
• Personalizing change
• Support and collaborate with Project Managers and Sponsors
• Co-ordinate, facilitate, and guide execution
• Did we influence the change curve?
• Stakeholder feedback
• What went well? What could have been better?
• Did the change achieve the success (as defined in change
What is it?
A process to harvest the project team’s expertise and knowledge to make it available to all relevant stakeholders in order to cascade the principles and skills amongst State of Alaska employees and contractors involved in the future project. This includes the knowledge gained from executing the project and its outcome.
What is the need?
A significant portion of knowledge gained from running a project is either lost in administration and/or stays with external suppliers resulting in “re-inventing the wheel” when carrying out future projects with little or no lessons learned. The “Knowledge Exchange” is a framework to create a constructive transition between the project team and the “business as usual” team. A knowledge exchange will benefit the State of Alaska by ensuring the education is built up and then cascaded within
What is the role of the PAO?
• Facilitate a set process across PAO work streams, at pre-change stage as a minimum
• Encourage knowledge exchange as part of the rules of engagement with the project team
• Guide the project principles and sponsors in identifying high potential individuals for up-skilling
• Provide guidance in setting up the knowledge exchange process
• Guide the project managers through the key three phases – pre-change, execution, and post-implementation
• Identify knowledge gain opportunities
• Set knowledge exchange targets as core part of executing projects
• Make the exchange bite size, easily accessible, and in an understandable format
• Encourage mind-set change towards accepting knowledge as a valuable resource
• Identify who needs to harvest the knowledge
• Identify who will maintain and manage harvested knowledge
• Establish where the knowledge will reside and how best to extract it
• Establish who will benefit from having this knowledge as part of case for change
• Aim to make the information consumable, accessible, and bite sized
• Define the channels should the knowledge be delivered (i.e. in house training, PAO website, etc.)
• What resources do we have for storage, maintenance, and management?
• Quantify the value of knowledge exchange
• Consider as part of performance management process
• Encourage assisting the project by being involved and being curious at all stages where appropriate (e.g. in technology
projects design, development, build, test, training, execution)
• Subject matter experts largely appreciate sharing their know how – regardless if internal or external resources
• Cascade knowledge internally where appropriate
• Deploy appropriate resources on project to achieve greater execution efficiency, reduce risk of “failure”
• Assist project personnel in specific stages to make the knowledge accessible
• “Friends of PAO” concept to call upon to part with their knowledge
• Establish a continuous learning culture - Breakfast briefings, time allocated on team meetings, team members sharing their knowledge and experience
• Ask the following question:
»» Did we capture the knowledge we wanted?
»» What were the reasons for non-capture?
»» What could be done differently?”
»» Is there a better way to extract the knowledge?
• Quantify the output aspect of the knowledge exchange activity that link with the benefits
• Identify what worked well, what didn’t, lessons learned – input as part of overall “Post Implementation Review” document