Project Management Approach
“Most projects fail, because the Project Manager either cannot or does not execute effectively”. The last thing that should be suggested is that we have a large group of seasoned Professionals out there managing our projects, that don’t know what they are doing. In today’s climate, most have studied and work towards becoming proficient in their abilities, but are many times overwhelmed with process for the sake of process and cannot execute or deliver effectively.
Case in point, is an example on a recently completed large program, whereby the PMO, in conjunction with the assigned Project Managers were tasked with delivering a massive, detail-oriented project schedule. This schedule represented work that was to be completed in a 4-5-month time frame. The PMO offered up a level of detail in the project schedule, that allowed for the continuous updating and reporting of major deliverable, at a ‘macro level’. However, the newly assigned Program Manager wanted to make sure that we had every critically important task clearly identified with assigned resources, dependencies and accurate estimates before presenting to the client. What we can understand from the situation that this was not a practical approach to manage projects for a team.
The consequences of planning were resulting in a schedule close to 20,000 lines long, overburdened with details; virtually impossible to understand and track. In short, it was not at all practical to the situation and the work that was needed. A four-month schedule represents approximately 17 weeks of effort. That is close to one thousand (1,000) tasks per week, that must be completed and updated, at a minimum. If you assume that in any given week you are likely to have updates on deliverable due by end of week; and that you probably will also be start and have some progress on deliverable due next week – you are required to make updates to 1,500 – 2,000 tasks each week. That is a daunting task and doesn’t leave much time to manage the project.
You can see where we are going on this. If the project manager is the person responsible for doing the updates to the schedule, it would be all that he would be doing every day. Unless of course he was simply making bulk ‘completion updates’ (and we know that is a poor practice that none of us would ever do). This s a work effort that was very repeatable and understandable (IT Infrastructure Build Out and Server Migration), which would have been much more practical to manage with a different approach. The use of agreed upon macro level deliverable along with consistent updating, would then drive meaningful Status and Sponsor Level Dashboard reporting.
It is imperative that any Project Management Process (regardless of discipline and technology), must provide the framework and guidance necessary so that, it can be executed effectively. Each process should have to adequately face the ‘test’ of the following questions:
- Does management understand and support the process (including how much effort is needed to execute it)?
- Has the Project Manager and team, been trained in this process and ready to execute it as repeatable?
- Does the process produce results that are expected, and satisfy the following criteria?
- Process must not add incremental time to the execution of the project schedule – or the schedule must be modified to account for added process overhead.
- Process must add value to the end deliverable, so that what is delivered is delivered effectively.
- Process must not add incremental cost to the project, without the knowledge and acceptance of its sponsors and management.
- Is the process ‘Practical’, for the business, environment and the team that is tasked with delivering a successful conclusion (satisfying the Schedule, Cost and Quality Constraints)?
Too often, these questions are never reviewed and addressed when a project is being initiated and approved. Generally, these questions almost always come up, while a project is struggling and has fallen seriously behind the needed schedule. Alternately, these questions are almost always asked, whenever a project has been cancelled or shut down.
That leaves us still somewhat with the question, ‘What is A Practical Approach to Project Management’? There is no ’simple’ answer, but is best defined as follows:
A Practical Approach to Project Management results in the ability of the Project Manager, to execute agreed upon processes – within the constraints of Project Schedule, Cost and Quality. This must be understood, accepted and supported by Project Sponsors and Executive Management.
Far too often, projects are authorized and undertaken, simply with the understanding that the generally accepted and documented official ‘Project Management Methodology’ will be used. This is without any review or in-depth analysis to determine whether it is practical in nature, delivers the results that are needed, and how it affects the schedule, cost and quality of the deliverable.
Now there are very sophisticated Project Management software available that will comply to all the requisite Project Management Methodologies and will take care of all the project constraints of schedule cost and Quality.
These Project Management Software can also help you effortlessly manage, plan and track various projects. This will also help the project manager not to spend tons of his time to manage and execute the multiple tasks, deliverable & projects. Rather he will then spend his quality time on the real execution of the Projects and delivery.