Calculating Project Value,
Education and Training,
Human Aspects of PM,
New to Project Management,
Nontraditional Project Management,
Reflections on the PM Life,
Categories: Benefits Realization, Best Practices, Calculating Project Value, Change Management, Communication, Communication, Complexity, Education and Training, Generational PM, Government, Human Aspects of PM, Human Resources, Innovation, Leadership, Lessons Learned, New to Project Management, Nontraditional Project Management, Project Failure, Project Planning, Project Requirements, Reflections on the PM Life, Risk Management, ROI
This is a backward blog posting!
This will be my final post before leaving for Chicago tomorrow morning. So, I wanted to do this one more like the way I think about things – BACKWARDS. Instead of telling what areas I can help with, I thought I’d ramble about what areas I like to talk about! I guarantee it would be an entertaining discussion. Just make select an open appointment here: then wander over, say hello and lets just talk about one of MY favorite things.
1. Project failure. I know more than I ever wanted to know about this. There was a group of us that Left NASA at the same time and moved to Orlando to start a company dedicated to turning around troubled projects, programs and operations. When we started, we thought we’d seen just about all the problems that project can get into. WRONG. For the next 5 or 6 years we only worked on turning around projects that were at least 100% over budget, perhaps 3 or 4 years late, had irate customers… or simply failed to deliver anything of value.
It’s not easy to judge project failure! EVA won’t do it. It’s a very subjective thing. “Could anyone have done better in the same situation?” is a basic test, but there are many more.
So, we fired, hired, replaced, improved… bought contracts, had contracts “novated” to us, and were very successful ending up with a stand-along building and 70 employees. There’s a lot of trouble out there! There were project mistakes made that I didn’t think cold be made. We worked on Casino projects, entertainment projects, airline projects, and many other types.
Our group learned a lot! I love to talk about a failed project and how it can be recovered. Number 1: be ready for stress. We called being personally ready “the full wax job.” Exercise, diet, mental toughness, how you dress… no kidding! But you need to be prepared.
2. Working with a team that has widely diverse skills. If the team gets diverse enough, sometimes you can’t understand what the other people are saying. I’ve managed teams with theoretical physicists, mathematicians, brilliant engineers and more – of course, they were totally convinced they were ALL CORRECT, don’t even think about doubting their work. This was great fun. I loved it and learned a whale of a lot about things they didn’t teach me (a humble engineer) in school.
3. Project risk. How to think about it, how to predict it, how to anticipate it, how to communicate it, how to budget for it, how to look for the often-neglected positive risk. It’s CRITCAL that project managers and their teams master this skill. I’ve had friends die a horrible death because we (in a larger sense) didn’t manage risk well.
4. Have the courage of your convictions. Tell people what you believe, tell the bosses what your project team believes. Don’t fall into the trap of “drinking your own bath water” or the “echo chamber.”
Well, I feel better! Wander over and chat with me!
-- Dave Maynard
GOING TO THE 2017 PMI GLOBAL CONFERENCE IN CHICAGO?
Don’t forget about ASK THE EXPERTS!
Stop by and talk to Dave Maynard or one of the other experts. There’s more information about it at https://tinyurl.com/y7ff8f3g
Rethinking the Charter
Calculating Project Value,
Education and Training,
Nontraditional Project Management,
PM Think About It,
Reflections on the PM Life,
Categories: Agile, Benefits Realization, Calculating Project Value, Change Management, Communication, Complexity, Documentation, Education and Training, Facilitation, Human Resources, Innovation, Leadership, Lessons Learned, Metrics, Nontraditional Project Management, PM Think About It, PMOs, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Delivery, Project Failure, Project Planning, Project Requirements, Reflections on the PM Life, Risk Management, Roundtable, Scheduling, Stakeholder, Strategy, Tools, Translations
Since I retired after 26 years in one company, I have had assignments in various PMOs in different industries. I’ve been in the energy sector, the insurance sector, credit card services, industrial/manufacturing, and now healthcare. Every industry has struggled with the project charter. What does baselining it mean? Does it ever get updated? Who should issue it? And the list goes on. And while PMOs in all these industries try to invent the perfect process – we are ignoring one important aspect.
The project charter, as defined by PMI, does not meet the needs of today’s business!
Before you call me a heretic and an incompetent – hear me out. The problem I have with the charter is it becomes a reformatting of existing information, bloated, and redundant – and it doesn’t provide the project team with the most important information it needs. Shouldn’t the charter give the team a definition of what success looks like?
I propose the charter should be extremely streamlined. After all, how many people, let along executives, will read a 14 page charter? Many charter templates contain information that is already in one artifact and will no doubt be included in another. I propose we throw away the bloated all-inclusive charter of today and replace it with a simple charter.
Project Organizational Wrapper
You need to have the organizational wrapper of project control structures. If the project pipeline has a defined Demand Process and there is a demand id, it should be in the charter. This should also be aligned to the business case information – what went into the approval, and other justifications. No need to repeat them in the charter – they already exist in a corporate database of record. If information is in two places – that doubles the risk of inconsistency, confusion, and delay.
If you have an integrated project management system (IPMS) that tracks project work in process – then that project id should be there. Projects assume titles and identify from the ideation phase through project initiation. That title, or name, should be included in the charter because that’s the lingo that has defined the initiative.
Should be results focused
Once the project is ready to kick off, the work initiative needs to be focused on the results. If your organization is mature enough to be doing Benefits Management Realization, the charter should map directly to the benefit register. The next section of the charter should be:
What does success look like?
Quite simply – what is the vision in reality? Knowing what success is far outweighs the value of several scope bullet points. The definition of success can be expressed in several ways including:
Critical success factors
The essential areas of activity that must be performed well if you are to achieve the mission, objectives or goals for your business or project.
What can we do in the future that we can’t do now?
How do we measure success?
Not calling for specific key performance indicators here, but should have an idea of how we will measure success. It also provides requirements for the product and what are the critical success factors.
If you are driven by a legal requirement or an industry standard (HIPPA or an ISO requirement comes to mind) than that should be identified. The charter must identify conformation to external factors.
What benefits are being realized?
Again, if you have a mature benefits realization process, then the entire benefits quantification/qualification should be in place and your project is delivering outcomes and capabilities to realize the defined benefits.
The charter must be able to identify all the organizations that are impacted by the initiative. After all, how did you get high level estimates for the business case if you didn’t have a means of identifying organizations involved? This RACI should then be driven to know which groups need to receive and approve the charter.
What time frame is expected for the organization to start to realize benefits? Let’s avoid the charade of bottom up estimates and defining the schedule after you have all requirements defined etc. We are driven by budget cycles and funding is only approved to last so long. This isn’t to say those things can’t and shouldn’t happen, but at a Charter level – the approval has a defined end time. This also helps define the scope.
I have purposely omitted several pieces of what is considered part of a charter. Not that I don’t think they are important, I do, but they belong in defined sections of the project plan. There is no need for budget as that should already be in the business case approval – and I don’t know if it directly contributes to the definition of the outcomes and capabilities. Scope is implied in what success looks like and the Critical Success Factors. If during requirements definition, a question is raised that doesn’t directly support the definition of success, than it is out of scope. Assumptions, risks, issues, and constraints are all important, but they live elsewhere. The charter should identify the future state, not dwell on the challenges of the present state. And the charter should be a onetime document that is not modified or have addendums. It initiates the work – other artifacts ebb and flow during the project life cycle.
In closing – the purpose of the charter is to authorize the project manager to start delivering on the project. It is not to cut and paste from all over to make an all-inclusive summary of all business intelligence that justified the project. I propose to make it a lean document focused on the outcomes and capabilities and the definition of success. Items that have a workflow/life cycle (risks, assumptions, issues, etc.) do not need to be in a charter, they are taken care of elsewhere. A lean, concise, and easy to read charter allows the team to focus on delivering within the success criteria.
Please sign up for a 1:1 with me while at the PMI Global Conference! We can talk about PMOs, healthcare project management, teaching project management, or any other topic related to project management!
To schedule a 1:1, use the SIGN UP button on this page.
Sustainability is a topic that is always on my mind, or rather, how we can do a better job of addressing past and current social and environmental impacts, how we might live more sustainably, and most importantly, how we might proactively plan future products and developments in a responsible, sustainable manner.
When it comes to the last point, I speak and write about this topic quite frequently, with a particular focus on the industrial sectors, an area that often causes a lot of controversy between business and the general public.
A few major things come into play to cause problems for these projects –
So, the situations that tend to arise are protests, delays of approvals (for example the XL Keystone pipeline), and even outright work stoppages, if construction approvals were somehow granted without gaining agreement from all external stakeholders (even landowners). This is the case for the current Dakota Access Pipeline project, if anyone has paid attention to media coverage on the protests.
I’m reiterating here, but in the extractives sector, studies have shown that up to 70% of project delays (and the costs associated with those delays) are caused by social and environmental challenges.
And having read a number of reports on causes of project failure rates in general, I would be willing to bet that these sustainability issues cause delays for other sectors as well, just perhaps to a lesser degree.
In my opinion, what most of this boils down to is:
While the first point may not be as common, the rest are seemingly common themes within the project management community, no matter what the sector – a simple observation anyone can make from a scan of the articles and support available online to project managers.
So our projects aren’t so different after all, are they?
Without appropriate engagement and communications, project teams are bound to miss critical requirements for their project – and as such, develop an incomplete scope to proceed. PMI’s own studies clearly show that poor requirements management (including identification of them) is a primary cause of project failure.
Without ensuring we are all well-aligned to the ultimate project goals, and to understanding when it might be okay to shift strategies to get there, we set ourselves up for failure.
Without the ability to “coddiwomple”, without taking a staged and iterative approach to our projects, and without a willingness to adjust scope and make alternate decisions, as more information is obtained, it is then inevitable that the ultimate goals of the project are put at risk.
But we like to lock in scope, to avoid the management of change, right?
I urge you to stop and think about your project’s ultimate goals.
A team representing various areas of expertise will be located in the exhibition hall in the “Ask the Expert” booth at the upcoming North American PMI Congress in San Diego.
I’ll be there to help answer any questions you might have about sustainability, integration of these issues into project planning, and stakeholder engagement. Come find me!