We need to measure project performance to see if the project is on track.
The graphic below shares some ideas on the different ways you can measure work performance. None of these suggestions is better than any other – they are all appropriate for different projects, environments and levels of project management maturity.
Do you use any of these approaches to measure progress on your projects? Why (or why not)? Let us know in the comments section below!
If infographics aren’t you thing, you can get almost the same information (with perhaps a teeny bit more detail) over at this article:
Your project needs things. But should you buy them, or make them yourself?
It’s a big decision, and one that affects lots of industries and deliverables. My experience has mainly been make or buy in the software world. Should we develop our own software, or buy a tool that is known to be best in class?
With software particularly, there are a lot of considerations. Cost. How easy it will be to interface any off the shelf product with your existing architecture. Supporting it once it’s built and installed. Managing upgrades. So many questions!
While this video doesn’t have all the answers, it might help clarify the big picture for you so you can start a confident conversation with your management team about the things you need to procure for your project.
For more information on project procurement and what you should be considering, check out this article.
Pin for later reading:
There are 5 steps in the procurement lifecycle:
This video outlines the steps and talks specifically about the requirements and getting the procurement off to a good start by understanding what you need from the exercise.
It’s time for another instalment of What’s New In the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition. Following on from my look at the Plan Procurement Management process (which you can read here), and Conduct Procurements, we’ve reached the third of the Project Procurement Management Knowledge Area processes: Control Procurements.
The headlines are:
Now let’s take a deep dive into the process and see how the new version of the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition has evolved.
Control Procurements Process
This is the third process in the Knowledge Area. We’re in the Monitoring and Controlling process group (surprise, surprise).
The changes all feel very cosmetic here – at least they do to me. Procurement Documents is out, to be replaced by Procurement Documentation. Work Performance Reports are out, but Project Documents are in, which would cover performance reports broadly, if you wanted to include them.
Project Documents would also cover:
Finally, enterprise environmental factors and organisational process assets appear – almost as if they don’t want to be left out when they are in so many other places!
Enterprise environmental factors that relate to this process are things like marketplace conditions and your code of ethics that relate to how procurements should happen. You’ll use these factors to make better decisions about whether or not to step in and take action to keep a procurement agreement on track.
Organisational process assets are those things that relate to your company’s processes, and that can have an impact on how you work through those processes. The obvious one here is the procurement policy because that can influence how you progress, monitor and ultimately close down a procurement.
Tools and Techniques
The contract change control system no longer features, but expert judgement appears. Data analysis also features in this process as a technique, and it covers earned value analysis, trend analysis and performance reviews. These are all ways of assessing how the procurement is going, and they give you data that can help decide if you need to step in to do a bit more ‘controlling’ to keep the agreement on track.
Procurement performance reviews are no longer included (because these are covered by data analysis). Records management system has also been removed. I get that it’s a tool, but it’s not hugely useful here, at least not to the point where it has to be called out.
Inspection and audits are now split into two separate tools, whereas previously they were bunched together as ‘inspection and audits’. That takes the total T&T for the revised process to five.
I don’t have much else to say on this point – it all strikes me as pretty self-explanatory and also common sense.
Here is where we have the major change to this process. Closed Procurements is now an output of Control Procurements.
Why is this a big deal? Well, in the PMBOK Guide®-- Fifth Edition, Close Procurements was a whole process in itself. That whole process has disappeared.
Honestly, this is a good thing. It reflects what we have all known for a long time: generally, project managers don’t have the authority to legally close down a contract. We don’t authorise the final payment. We don’t terminate a deal. We may be the catalyst for the payment or the termination, and we do have significant influence over how it happens, when it happens and who is involved, but ultimately, we don’t have the final say. That is the project sponsor’s responsibility, or perhaps someone high up in the finance department. Or perhaps a procurement or contracts specialist, or a lawyer. Basically, a whole host of people are better equipped to do this than we are as project managers.
That’s not to say that on some projects, the teams are so lean that project managers do have the authority to go ahead and do this. But even if you take the steps, it’s generally someone else who gives you the go ahead to do so, like the project sponsor.
The work to do the closing of contracts is now covered as part of Control Procurements, so if you are doing it yourself, you still have a few pointers in the book.
Procurement documentation updates is the only other change to the outputs list (so in total, we’ve added two to the list and taken none away).
Procurement documentation is a wide-ranging phrase that covers all kinds of things relating to your agreements, including:
That brings us to the end of the Project Procurement Management Knowledge Area. There are just those 3 processes, and aside from the Close Procurements change, most of the other changes will not radically change how you go about doing your work.
Overall, I think the message to take away is to involve the experts in your business who have more experience in procurement than you. And if it is their job to do procurement full time, either as a contracts manager or a legal expert, then take advice, let them do what they are great at and you stay focused on getting the deliverables delivered.
If you’d like to see me summarise any other processes and the changes that the new PMBOK Guide® -- Sixth Edition has given us, then let me know in the comments below!
It’s time for another instalment of What’s New In the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition. Following on from my look at the Plan Procurement Management process (which you can read here), we’ve reached the second of the Project Procurement Management Knowledge Area processes: Conduct Procurements.
Here are the headlines: there are quite a few changes, once again focusing I feel on ensuring professional judgement is applied, and making it easier to tailor the process. Overall, we’re seeing a process that is less prescriptive and more flexible, which is, I think, a good thing.
Having said that, fundamentally the old and new processes are the same. You won’t need to radically treat procurement any differently now than you have been doing in the past. There’s a lot of good stuff in the process, and that’s still there.
It’s also worth noting that the guidance is very much to get experts involved in procurement. Unless you are in a tiny company, chances are that there is someone on the project team who has more experience in buying stuff than you do. If you have a procurement team, buying division, vendor management group or whatever they might be called – use them. It’s far better to draw on the expertise of people who know their way round a procurement bid document than have to learn this stuff from scratch yourself, especially when you might not have to use it again for some time.
Of course, if you are taking the PMI exams, you need to know the material in order to get through the test. I feel that knowing isn’t the same as being experienced in doing. So, always, always involve expert buyers where you have them. You’ll get a better deal and your will most likely be better protected in contract terms too.
OK, now those messages are out of the way, let’s dive into the process and see how the new version of the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition has evolved.
Conduct Procurements Process
This is the second process in the Knowledge Area. We’re in the Executing process group.
There are some changes to the inputs for this process. The procurement management plan has dropped out – somewhat surprisingly – but is replaced with the broader “procurement documentation”. This means other procurement-specific document has also been removed, namely make or buy decisions, source selection critiera and the procurement statement of work.
The project management plan is a new input, along with enterprise environmental factors (because we can’t get enough of those!).
Tools and Techniques
This section is the perfect example of where the process is becoming more vague and yet more helpful at the same time.
Data analysis is a new T&T, replacing proposal evaluation techniques, independent estimates and analytical techniques. In fact, proposal analysis is called out as a data analysis tool that you should/could be considering for use on the project. All of these are ways of looking at data analysis, but instead of mandating particular ways of analysing the data, the new version of the guidance lets you pick and choose what would be most useful for you.
Interpersonal and team skills replaces procurement negotiations. This reflects that you may have to do negotiation, but overall you need more than just good negotiating skills to close a deal.
I think this is reflective of the fact that you, as the project manager, might not actually be doing the negotiation yourself in many cases. What you want instead is the interpersonal skills to be able to make sure the discussions happen, conflict is addressed, the right people do the right things and you all get to agreement.
There isn’t much change to the outputs for this process.
Resource calendars have been removed. Perhaps it was decided that you didn’t really need to create a resource calendar for your supplier, now that you know who they are.
Organisational process assets are included. It’s almost as if the first edit was: Where have we forgotten to mention enterprise environmental factors and organisational process assets? Let’s go and drop those into all the remaining processes now.
You will get very familiar with these terms and what they mean as you go through the PMBOK Guide®-- Sixth Edition.
In the case of this particular process, the organisational process assets covered here are things that you would possibly need to update as a result of successfully securing the services of your vendor. These could include:
Next time I’ll look at what’s new in the Control Procurements process. There is one major change in this process that you don’t want to miss! I’ll tell you more next time.