The view from Magic Island on the island of Oahu.
Project Managers need to get out of the office and find a place to refresh and have there zen moment to find the elusive pieces of the puzzle that their project is missing. The Pacific Ocean is my favorite place to have my zen moments when I need to find a solution for a project.
Find your favorite zen moment place where you live. Just clear your mind and relax.
(Note - this article was originally written by Drake Settsu and published on DrakeSettsu.BlogSpot.com in August 2018)
You need a meeting scheduled with a short notice. You are dealing with project team members on campus, different locations, and remote team members in different time zones. Sounds like fun.
Make a checklist of who needs to attend this meeting and who is an optional nice to have if they can attended.
Start selecting all the players for the meeting on the calendaring software that your company uses so you can see the date / times that they are available. Indicate required attendee or optional attendee. You will see a lot of meeting conflict dates and times because this is a short notice meeting. Just press on with the best date / time to schedule your meeting.
Select an appropriate meeting subject name to express the urgency of the short notice meeting. Give a brief summary of the reason for the meeting. Create an agenda and attach it to the meeting invite. Provide the conference call number for team members that will not be able to attend the meeting in person.
I call this the take no prisoners approach to scheduling a short notice meeting. If you try to accommodate everyone, it will not happen. The clock is ticking and you need answers and resolutions to issues. Explain to your Sponsors and Stakeholders that you are dead in the water because you can't schedule a meeting. People will juggle their schedules when you make an urgent compelling reason for the meeting.
That's why you are the Project Manager. Your job is to make things happen.
You have created a meticulous Work Breakdown Structure of all the tasks for your project. The next step is to transfer that WBS to your MS Project plan. You created a very impressive project plan with over 10,000 entries. All you have to do now is maintain the plan to keep it fresh.
Are you kidding? The project scope has changed. My project plan has over 10,000 entries with start dates and finish dates. My masterpiece is ruined! I spent one month creating that project plan after the official sign off on the project.
Take a deep breath. All you have to do now is create as many as needed MS Project plans to address the additional scope. For example you can create five small MS Project plans to address the additional scope.
Great, I now have six plans to maintain for the same project. Yes, you have six projects, but you can turn those scope creepers into subprojects by creating five tasks in your master project at the appropriate areas in the project plan. MS Project can insert a project into a project, resulting in subprojects in the master project.
When you bring up your master project all the subprojects will be there creating an illusion of one MS Project plan. Well, there will be a MS Project icon next to the line number in the MS Project master plan indicating a linked project. The subproject line numbers will start with a 1 - 97 for example, they do not renumber the master project plan.
A suggestion for large projects. Create a master project and subprojects to help make the management of the plan a pleasant experience. As much as possible we diligently gather the project requirements to build a project plan that will have minimal additions, but we need to respond quickly to incorporate the additional requirements that gets approved and needs to be incorporated into the master project plan.
There is a plus to the birth of subprojects. From a reporting standpoint you can show how much additional effort was introduced into the original project. You can create reports from the subprojects and of course you can create reports of the master project with all the subprojects that are linked to it giving you the big picture.
When you are disciplined to create a master MS Project plans that employs subprojects, you gain flexibility in the master plan. You now have an Agile project plan to address the thing that go bump in the night from those sponsors and stakeholders.
The dilemma of Waterfall or Agile.
Organizations should never declare that they are leaving Waterfall to be a full Agile organization. In defense of Agile you can't remain only on Waterfall. The problem is the lack of education and false perception. Education will help to get everyone on the same page. It's all about having clarity in the perception of Waterfall and Agile.
I can't make up my mind so let's flip a coin.
Waterfall is here to stay and it needs to play nicely with Agile. Opposites attract. Agile and Waterfall make a nice hybrid. The rule of thumb is to use what will work best to deliver project results. Did a stakeholder or sponsor ever ask you what approach did you use on the project? I don't think so. The stakeholder or sponsor could care less. It's all about guiding the team efficiently through the project to make happy stakeholders and sponsors with a project delivered on-time.
The Waterfall-Agile hybrid marriage.
The ship needs to raise the anchor and leave the harbor to make it to it's port of call on time. Many projects still follow a linear path to the finish line, but they have requirements not fully designed or approved. With tight deadlines you can't wait till the requirements dust settles to start the project. Use the approved requirements that you have to create a project plan timeline. Mark the the areas in the project plan timeline that are still waiting for the requirements dust to settle with a "Under Construction - Come Back Later" notation, hint hint, that is an example of Agile in the plan. The Project Manager is the Captain of the ship that will use his/her discretion to direct the team aka the crew on what needs to be done. The project plan timeline is the map to the destination.
They love colors, stats, and no budget variance.
The Project Sponsor is not interested in a dog and pony show. Using Waterfall in the plan will help give the sponsors that warm and fuzzy simple report card. What is the color of the project via Stoplight reporting along with the current project completion percentage. Hey look Mom no budget variance to report.
The Daily Kanban Board
Capture daily project activities of all your projects on a spreadsheet. Use the Kanban Board spreadsheet to make important project notes. The Kanban Board notes will be used to update your MS Project plans or other project tracking software. Keep it very simple with three columns consisting of To Do, In Progress, and Done. Create a daily tab on the spreadsheet carrying forward outstanding activities on the new Kanban Board spreadsheet tab. The tabs come in real handy as a source of historical activities on the projects.
Kanban Board at a Glance
Having a visual view of all your projects on a spreadsheet Kanban Board style is very useful to help keep you on top of everything.
Updating Project Plans
Review the daily Kanban Board at the end of the day. Update your projects plans with the final project activity notes for the day. Updating your project plans throughout day to keep it fresh is good, but there are days that it's better left untouched till the dust settles at the end of the day.
Sample Kanban Board Spreadsheet
This is an actual snapshot of my Kanban Board spreadsheet that I use. You need to enlarge it to see it better.