Tomorrow is the day! It's the start of the PMI Global Conference and the Ask The Experts team are ready and waiting to help you with your project management queries.
We're all slowly arriving in Chicago (which by the way is a bit chilly so i'd recommend bringing a coat, gloves and scarf!) and it's really exciting to see all of the displays being erected and attendees starting to arrive.
What can you look forward to at the "Ask the Experts" stand?
Primarily, the main thing to look at is our knowledge! PMI have assembled a great team of experts with knowledge covering all the major aspects of Project Management.
I dare not try to calculate the number of years experience that the entire group has and with this experience comes wisdom and support for any issues that you might be having
We're all experts in our field and we've been around the block when it comes to projects.
Who to see?
What about me?
I'm available to chat about anything... but i'm really interested in: agile practices, talent management, virtual teams, communication, professional development, Next-gen project management
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.
Tips for Managing a Cross-Functional Team
LOOK FORWARD, NOT BACKWARD
My goal is to communicate the challenges, fun and “things that have worked” in managing projects team that has widely different backgrounds, experiences, education, and understandings. Informational diversity is based on different functional, educational and industry backgrounds that constitute information and knowledge resources upon which the team draws.
THE TIME V. INFORMATION DILEMMA
The project team members should be cognizant of other parts of the project – this is especially true for cross functional teams, or teams with high informational diversity. Not only that, but the project manager should know exactly how the project is doing. The Project Manager must understand the course the project is going in and attempt corrections if things are drifting too far off.
The problem with this simple concept is that there is simply too much information to absorb for multiple disciplines and multiple projects. It’s in different technical languages, it changes daily, it requires an in-depth understanding of each discipline. The team doesn’t have time to learn how or what the other disciplines are doing and complete their own efforts. Even if that were all possible, not enough time exists to absorb the information and manage the projects
So, the question becomes, when managing a cross-functional team, what information, or indicators should be used to judge the health and direction of the project. It must be a subset of all the information the project team possesses. The key is to focus on “measures that matter.” And, to do that, it’s important to understand the differences between leading and lagging project information.
LEADING AND LAGGING INFORMATION
Lagging information is something that gives us a window into the past. It’s something that HAS happened. It’s nearly impossible to drive a car down a road while looking only in the rear view mirror, but that’s exactly what most projects do. They concentrate on LAGGING information.
Some of the most popular Project Information to be collected and digested fall into the LAGGING category. In other words, “How we did in the past, will tell us how we’re going to do in the future.” Ask yourself, is that true?
Here are a list of popular project LAGGING indicators.
Wouldn’t it be better to find, discover and measure LEADING indicators? Things that tell is where, to the best of our knowledge, the project is heading? Certainly! But like most good ideas in project management, it’s very difficult to identify and track leading indicators. But we must make an attempt.
It’s quite possible that a project’s best leading indicators are not a clear-cut single measurement. It’s more likely that the course and direction of the project is best determined by a function arrived at by examining several indicators at one time. Performance measurement “To-Complete-Performance-Index does this. But that method may not be a good fit for your project. You’ll need to explore and discover your own.
If you have predictive or forward looking indicators for the health of your project, you’ll be able to look in the same direction you’re driving your car in. That’s useful! It’s also very difficult to arrive at meaningful leading indicators. It will require a team effort, failures and patience.
Pay attention to the rail road crossing sign (leading information). Don’t wait until disaster strikes to understand your status.
TRY TO FIND AND USE LEADING INDICATORS FOR YOUR PROJECT
MEET ME IN SAN DIEGO NEAR THE PROJECTMANAGEMENT.COM BOOTH.
The first five blogs:
Are We Defining, Measuring & Communicating Project Success in the Right Way?
This is a beautiful question that we need to be re-thinking, particularly in today’s disruptive world. We all measure projects in some way, but do we measure what matters? This is the question we will be discussing in an interesting new format of an ‘interactive’ session at the upcoming North America Global Congress in Phoenix next month. This session will also be available live to a virtual audience. I am excited to lead and facilitate this session as I have been on a pursuit of finding better ways to ‘measure what matters’ for a number of years. I have posed this questions to hundreds of project and program managers around the world and written about it. Most organizations have all measure of key performance indicators, metrics and measurement systems, but the more you look under the covers measurement is a joke in many organizations. In this engaging and interactive session we will explore, why this is so?
Along this pursuit I am outlining four objectives for our discussion:
1) Ask the tough questions and challenge the current ways of measuring & communicating project success.
2) Discuss how do we define project success?
3) List measures and performance indicators that stakeholders care about.
4) Gain new insights and actionable pointers to measure and communicate project success.
To get us started, here is a preliminary list of questions to think about:
• What do you currently measure? What are common measures in today’s world?
• What kind of behaviors do our current measures promote?
• Do we measure what matters?
• How do you define project success?
• How do we measure what our stakeholders care about?
• What makes stakeholders happy?
• How do you communicate project status and progress?
• What tools / templates / platforms / dashboards / scorecards are appropriate to communicate project success?
• How do you know that customer requirements have been met?
• How do you know that the project outcomes have been met?
Are you ready for the dialog… What are your challenges in this area? What other questions you would like to explore?