Interview With Agile Transformation Extraordinaire Lenka Pincot

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Lenka Pincot has more than 17 years of experience working as a business leader. She has worked as a consulting analyst.

She has been the managing director of the women’s empowerment program. Aligning business strategies is her core expertise.

She has great experience in the deployment of new technologies, agile methods, process digitization and automation, IoT service delivery innovations, and SAP implementations.

She has worked in multiple roles, including that of a business process manager. Let’s start her interview without any further delay.

TaskQue: In an interview, you revealed that when your project manager left, you were encouraged to take up in their stead. What were the challenges you faced in the transformation from a Business Analyst to a Project Manager?

Lenka Pincot: When I happened to be in that particular situation, I was a junior analyst who was supporting bigger projects in the management consultancy business.

I was fascinated by the skills of senior project managers who were able to keep the project momentum, handle a variety of stakeholders and yet stay focused on project objectives.

I continued my job as a business analyst and at the same time, I volunteered to be junior support on project management training, which started my learning process.

After some time, I applied the methods of project management on smaller activities I was in charge of, and later on, I was actively looking for opportunities to manage business consultancy projects.

Overall, it took a couple of years to learn project management skills, and I have been using them ever since.

TaskQue:  While working as a consulting analyst, you analyzed models for cost-saving. Would you like to mention some key hacks for budgeting or saving up on the cost of the overall project?

Lenka Pincot: I really like this question. We would all like to deliver projects in an effective way, fulfilling our objectives while staying within the budget.

Project managers need to understand how money is spent on their projects, yet simple cost monitoring does not necessarily lead to cost savings.

The key is to start with the right budget. Trust your project team with their estimates on workload; they are most probably right based on their previous experience.

If the estimates are too high and signal budget overrun, rethink how you can deliver the project. Focus on quality control to avoid rework and deliver in iterations against frequent stakeholder feedback.

TaskQue:  Being an experienced business process management consultant, which useful tools would you like to recommend to others?

Lenka Pincot: A powerful method of business process management discipline is visualization.

There are several good software tools specifically developed to design process models, but for a workshop with your team, you may as well start with a whiteboard and post-its.

Visualized process flow helps to lead team discussion, validate the process, identify process bottlenecks and detect inefficiencies, such as waste of material or time.

TaskQue: The business world is changing very rapidly. How should a project manager deal with these changes without affecting the timeline of the project?

Lenka Pincot: Is affecting the timeline always a bad thing? I would not say so. Projects are initiated to respond to business needs.

Project managers work with risk management, stakeholder management and various communication procedures to be aware that the project environment suggests a need for timeline change.

We have seen in the past that when we set the project plan in stone, the project success is in question.

In other words, if there is a significant change which is impacting the project’s ability to address the business needs, we should be able to react and adjust the project.

TaskQue:  Being experienced in the SAP implementation process, what challenges do you think are the most crucial in the implementation process?

Lenka Pincot: SAP is an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system which covers multiple business processes, but this creates a certain level of complexity.

The implemented processes should not only be correct, e.g. accounting compliant with legislation, but also aligned and integrated with each other, for instance, planning, production, warehousing and distribution.

Correct design of any ERP system requires multiple skills from business and process analyses and indeed the ERP system expertise.

We need all of these in order to translate business requirements into functional specifications, which is the first big challenge.

The other challenge comes in the form of implementation itself, such as handling typically large data preparation and migration, training employees on the new processes and system functionalities.

However, overall, I would say that the biggest challenge is to get the design right.

TaskQue:  How did you align business and IT strategies in one of your jobs? What are the hacks of doing it successfully?

Lenka Pincot: One of the hacks is to create awareness of the need to align these strategies and initiate a dialog.

Information technologies play such a significant role in the ability to execute the business strategy, yet we may still see misalignment between the business and IT teams.

Focusing on what we want to achieve and leaving the ‘how’ to experts is one way to cultivate mutual understanding and cooperation.

Another useful technique is the collocation of business and IT teams but if that’s not possible e.g. due to geographical constraints, it helps to appoint a dedicated role, such an IT Business Relationship Manager.

TaskQue: You seem to be a firm believer in agility. What challenges do you think come into play when incorporating agile approaches into any Organization, and how do you suggest to tackle them?

Lenka Pincot: One of the practical challenges of incorporating agile approaches into any Organization is the scalability of agile methods and ensuring effective cooperation among multiple agile teams.

But there are more challenges to overcome. To name a few, applying agile principles and values often require cultural change, team reorganization, individual skills development as well as building new enterprise capabilities.

In order to approach the challenges and turn them into success, the organization must first be clear on benefits that they want to achieve by fostering organizational agility and then select the approach which reflects these organization needs.

TaskQue:  Should companies follow multiple approaches at the same time? OR should they implement a single approach for agile transformation?

Lenka Pincot: I would recommend keeping one direction for the transformation itself and for the fundamental processes.

This should be derived from the expected benefit and value that we want to create by such transformation, either for the customers or for employees.

But then the particular methods and processes to be implemented may vary to address specific needs, especially if we talk about large organizations with a variety of business units that operate in different modes.

To give you an example, all teams may work with the OKR concept (Objectives and Key Results) while following the same OKR guidelines.

However, whether the teams work with Scrum or Kanban, it depends on the characteristics of the team and their expected outcomes.

TaskQue:  Are hybrid approaches a sure sign of success in Organizations dealing with a wide array of business problems? What are the major trade-offs of not using Agile approaches over others?

Lenka Pincot: In general, agility as such is an ability to respond to changes.

When we look at agility from a broader perspective, especially on the organizational level, we see that implementing agile values in an enterprise is a different task then implementing Scrum in the compact IT team.

With that in mind, I would prefer not to compare methods without a clear link to the business needs that they should address.

A Hybrid approach may serve its purpose as well as other methods. But either way, you decide to go, there should be consistency in your approach.

Combining fundamentally different approaches in one organization without awareness of potential conflicts may impact the productivity of various teams or limit their potential achievements.

TaskQue: You have come a long way in your career. Would you like to mention a  few personalities in the field who have been a source of inspiration for you?

Lenka Pincot: I have never had the opportunity to meet this personality in person, yet I feel inspired by his work throughout my whole career – professor Jay W. Forrester. Professor Forrester was a computer engineer and a system scientist.

His field is what we call today Business Dynamics, a methodology that works with highly complex systems and helps us navigate them. Project management is a complex discipline.

The awareness and ability to tackle organizational dynamics always helped me make the necessary decisions.

TaskQue:  TaskQue is a productivity enhancement tool which helps in task management and better efficiency and transparency. What do you think about the future trends of Productivity tools?

Lenka Pincot: I would expect trending support for virtual teams by providing or integrating tools for remote cooperation, such as instant chat, sharing of information, meeting video recording.

Working in virtual teams pose specific challenges for productivity, yet sometimes that is the only setup we can have when onsite collocation is not an option. 

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