Project trouble can hit from a blind spot, even though you tried as much as possible to prepare for issues. You did a risk analysis when you took the project on, and even tried to be ready to mitigate unknown issues.
As I advised in my previous post, do an assessment to determine the problem. Figure out what needs to be fixed, or if the situation is even fixable. If the project seems to have reached a point of no return, here are some tips on how to pull it out of trouble:
Finally, keep in mind that not all trouble devours all. Before panicking, calmly look to areas that will guide you to a solution. You may even find your project is more sound than it seems.
How do you confront trouble on your project?
A project manager's first global project marks a pivotal time in professional development. A project with global scope offers an exciting opportunity to work with people from many different cultures and skill sets.
However, global projects also come with unique challenges. These can include large physical distances between implementation teams, language barriers, country-specific regulations and other considerations that can negatively affect your project.
To get off to a good start, project managers need to manage the differences between global and co-located projects within these essential elements:
1. Requirements: On a co-located project, there is a single set of project requirements. On global projects, it is common to encounter both global (such as quarterly financial reporting) and country (such as provincial tax) requirements. Failure to consider them can cause painful functional gaps upon implementation. Work with your project leadership team to define a prioritization scheme for both types of requirements. For example, prioritize the country requirements by regulatory mandate, business value and desired need. A prioritization scheme helps you achieve overall balance in meeting the project success criteria.
2. Estimation: A global project typically features added complexity and costs not found with a co-located project. This calls for estimation to include additional effort to manage the previously mentioned requirements, as well as cross-geography coordination. The latter can include things such as team member travel time and global communications. In addition, there can be additional costs, such as import duties on equipment, that can add to the overall estimate. To ensure good estimation, identify global and local estimation components to more accurately account for the additional complexity.
3. Scheduling: Scheduling milestones, effort and resources on global projects is one of the greatest challenges for a project manager. The first thing to remember is to include country-specific scheduling considerations, such as regional holidays and vacations. In addition, always leave room in the schedule for project risks that can arise from unstable governments, new regulations and labor disputes. Finally, be prepared for unexpected surprises from nature, such as snowstorms, floods, volcanic eruptions and other disruptions. If such an event happens, meet with your leadership team to discuss whether to reset the project schedule around the unexpected surprise.
While global projects can present some unique problems, they also can be very rewarding when managed properly -- even if a volcano erupts!
What tips do you have for first-time global project managers?
|The months of July and August have a few events that can put kinks in your project plans in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.|
During the summer, for example, temperatures can reach as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius).
Project managers working with or in the Muslim world also need to plan for Ramadan, when the majority of the population fasts between sunrise and sunset. Then there's Eid al-Fitr, a national holiday that marks the end of Ramadan. Its importance is similar in scale to Christmas or Yom Kippur.
These combined events mean project managers must plan meticulously to ensure minimum disruption to their project schedules.
During this one month, the expected impact on the construction sector alone is a reduction of productivity by 40 to 60 percent. The main causes are heat and a fasting workforce that is unable to work at full capacity.
Additionally, project managers in construction face government constraints, which forbid laborers to work more than six-hour shifts in the day. They must stop working at noon and wait until it gets cooler to start again.
To keep project schedules moving during the very hot weather and major holiday, the key is to plan, plan -- and plan some more. These planning best practices can help:
|Risk management as a best practice is critical to project success. It forces the team to consider the deal breakers on a project, and to proactively prepare and implement solutions. |
PMI's recent 2012 Pulse of the Profession report found that more than 70 percent of respondents always or often use risk management techniques to manage their projects and programs and these practices lead to higher success rates.
Here's an example of how risk management could have saved a project:
A project manager oversees an electrical team that is responsible for installing electrical and audio-visual equipment. The construction and civil engineering teams hand over the completed and decorated site, ready for the final phase of the project. To the project manager's dismay, the projectors do not align with the screens, rendering them not fit for the purpose.
What went wrong?
The civil and construction teams had altered the dimensions of the rooms; the customer failed to communicate the changes to the electrical team. Assuming the project was executed according to plan, the project manger planned and submitted the electrical drawings based on the original dimensions of the room. These plans were made redundant when the room dimensions changed, which upset the equipment's position.
To correct the situation, the project manager drew and submitted new electrical drawings. The site's walls and ceilings had to be reopened to accommodate the changes, which caused delays and increased cost, rework -- and frustration.
Had there been a robust risk identification and implementation plan, they would not be in this situation. Too many assumptions were left unchallenged and risks pertaining to the many external dependencies were overlooked.
As part of this risk management, proactive communication with the customer and other teams should have been planned. For example, the project manager should have considered and asked questions about how the contractors and sites would be monitored and controlled. What would the frequency and type of communication be like with stakeholders?
There should have been an assessment of 'what if' scenarios. What happens if the deliverables are not as expected? What are the risks if there are problems with contractors? What is the impact of not having dedicated resources on the team?
These types of discussions and questioning would have alerted the project manager and team to proactively plan to manage the quality of contractor work and employ the necessary resource on the project team.
Do you practice risk management? How does risk management planning make your projects successful?
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|Also known as the project initiation document, the project charter is a high-level document created at the start of a project and referred to throughout the project's duration. It is the foundation of the project, a basis for how the project can evolve. The charter should state the purpose, main objectives and vision for a project. |
Many project professionals may consider the project charter as 'more documentation' or a 'mere formality.' But the truth is that if they start to consider creating a charter as a best practice, many problems or issues can be eliminated.
However, I regularly meet project managers that manage their projects without referring to or even knowing the existence of their project's charter.
Here are some reasons a charter is left out, based on my experience:
Risk of diminished value and importance of a project, if its purpose and strategic benefit are not documented, agreed and formally recognized.
Delayed decision-making. Getting management and sponsors to sign off on things becomes difficult. There is no one to champion for the project and responsibility for it is passed around.
Difficulty managing expectations. Without a collectively agreed to charter, there may be frequent disruptions and disagreements from stakeholders. They will have differing intentions, opinions and understanding of the project's outcomes.
Risk of failure. When there is no clear, recorded statement of a project's goals, it's more prone to fail. The project charter includes the business case and other additions, which serves as a constant reminder of the project's vision, mission and critical success factors.
Lack of authority. The project manager will be plagued with problems from lack of authority to spend the budget, the ability to acquire and assign resources, and a general power needed to make day-to-day decisions and actions. This will also make it harder for the project manager to attract good suppliers, vendors and resources to work on the project. This can create a culture of dissatisfaction and apathy within the existing project team.
Subject to scrutiny, delay and bureaucracy. The project can expect numerous changes and deviations, which increase the risk of not delivering and reaching the projects goal. It could eventually become a financial burden to the organization.
Do you know of any other reasons why a project charter would not be created? How can the lack of a charter plague a project?