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Wilso anandaraj balasubramaniankrishnamurthy

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  • 1. 5 Mantras Of Right First Time Secrets of success in project management Wilson Anandaraj PMP & Krishnamurthy Balasubramanian PMP 6/18/2013
  • 2. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference Contents Contents ..................................................................................................... 2 Introduction ................................................................................................. 3 Mantra 1: Eliminate your false requirements .......................................................... 4 What are false requirements and how do they get a berth? ...................................... 5 Case Study ................................................................................................ 6 How to avoid false requirements...................................................................... 6 Mantra 2: Tour your execution ........................................................................... 8 Reasons for poor planning .............................................................................. 8 What is touring the execution? ........................................................................ 9 Advantages of touring your execution ............................................................... 10 Mantra 3: Be passionate yourself ....................................................................... 11 Two levers of passion .................................................................................. 12 Strategies for maintaining passion ................................................................... 13 Mantra 4: Do not drive just with rear view mirror.................................................... 13 Rear View mirror approach............................................................................ 14 Ghosts of the past ...................................................................................... 14 Reactive Vs Proactive Approach ...................................................................... 14 How do we approach this?............................................................................. 15 Mantra 5: Close Iteratively............................................................................... 17 Moving to next phase................................................................................... 17 Benefits of closing often............................................................................... 18 Conclusion .................................................................................................. 19 Authors Profile............................................................................................. 20
  • 3. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference Introduction Big projects may become big embarrassments when not managed properly. The 5 billion dollar rail projects in Australia, the UK’s first commercial carbon capture and storage project (64 Million UK pounds), Russia’s space programs, Cutting edge baggage handling system at Denver airport which delayed the opening of the airport by more than one year, India’s infrastructure projects (182 high way projects are behind schedule) are some of the major embarrassments we are aware of. A survey in the PM network states that less than 40% of the projects are completed within the triple constraints of the project. Success rate of project completion is yet below the expectation. Success at the first instance and first time right has become dreams in many organizations. Matured project management practices decrease the chance of embarrassments. But can the framework alone solve all the miseries? While the framework provides the guidelines, there are skills that the project manager must have, which the PMBOK calls as “Expert Judgment” to deliver right first time. Why are the project managers of such projects told, “Get results or Get lost”. There is a famous saying that, the projects are delivered by Individuals, the project managers. If getting it done first time right depends on individual project managers, what is the magic to make every project manager successful? In this paper, we have listed five mantras based on the small and medium projects that we have administered either as sponsors or as project managers. No mission seems impossible when one sticks on to these mantras. These mantras span across all phases of the project life cycle, starting with planning  execution monitor and control  to closing. The mantras are 1. Eliminate false requirement  2. Tour your execution  3. Be passionate yourself  4.Do not drive just with rear view mirror 5.Close iteratively This paper attempts to elicit these mantras – Enjoy reading.
  • 4. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference Mantra 1: Eliminate your false requirements One of the prominent reasons of failure in projects is, “The False Requirements”. False requirements are tough to identify from the valid requirements, they look real and are destructive. False requirements are created as part of the requirement gathering techniques or get introduced at any phase of the project. Project managers are taught with multiple techniques to gather requirements, that include interviewing, observations, group creativity techniques facilitated group discussions, anonymous and consensus techniques, prototyping, group decision making, questionnaires and surveys. Project managers have immense pressure not to let any of the requirement slip thru the fingers. There is a great pressure to get the entire requirements captured and baseline-ed. There are requirements matrix at all levels to make sure that all requirements are planned, designed, implemented and tested. (Requirements to design matrix, requirements to testing matrix and more)
  • 5. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference While, making sure all requirements is met, project managers should be vigilant enough to eliminate such requirements which appear normal but are Pseudo. We call them as false requirements. Before we analyze how these false requirements creep in and settle with valid requirements, let us see, what are the impacts that these false requirements do to the project. False requirements, 1. consume budget 2. stretch schedule – sometimes add to the critical path 3. Increase risk of failure of the project 4. Confuse stakeholders and lead to de-motivation and stress 5. Bring down the quality of the real requirements and final deliverables What are false requirements and how do they get a berth? In project management, requirements describe how a product or service should act, appear, or perform. If the requirements do not bring any difference to the product of the project, and then be sure that that is not a real requirement 1. Very normal source of false requirements are the friendly customers a. Customers, who influence the project managers by being friendly, continue to rank first in providing false requirements. 2. Adding attributes to requirements- a. Attributes become requirements on the go. 3. Assumptions in the contract are another source of false requirements a. Assumptions in the SOW turnout to be project constraints. 4. Customers Aspirations to do more within the constraints a. Wish list rather than real requirements b. Conscious not to leave gaps c. Not clear with their own needs (Hence Provide a General RFI)
  • 6. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference d. Future needs 5. Non-Explicit acceptance criteria a. Having no explicit acceptance criteria between all the stakeholders of the project is a source of false requirements 6. Gold Plating a. Gold Plating is another simple reason for introducing false requirements Case Study One of the Projects Applications did not hit the DR4 on time because the Automation of the test cases was not completed. On closer examination, it was revealed that the automation was not part of the testing scope and was added by the project manger to impress the customer. How to avoid false requirements 1. Identify a. If there are requirements that does not change the final product or service , we need to consider them as false requirements b. Opinions are not requirements i. Example “We should do the prototyping first and then build the product” – this is an approach to product building, but is not a requirement. c. Identify the role of the originator of the requirement – look at the RACI matrix. if it comes from a stakeholder who is not the right person to decide the requirements, ignore the requirement. i. Example, while building a new office space, an engineer talks about how the MD room should be designed d. Because we were tests manager most of our career, we do keep saying this – any requirement that is not testable, is not a requirement.
  • 7. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference i. Example, “the building should be very strong” or “the UI should respond very fast” 2. Consult a. Ask follow up question to the originator of the requirement to understand if this was a real requirement – call for meetings if required to discuss with larger stakeholders. b. Probe with questions on what does this requirement do that is not covered by other requirements c. Ask what is the % of scope that this requirement covers, ask what if this requirement is not taken to the project scope d. And finally, if this is a valid requirement add to the list of valid requirements else put it aside 3. Confront a. Simple questions on monetization of the requirement can eliminate the false requirements b. Work out the amount of cost and schedule this requirement will consume from the project c. Explain the risks added to the project by adding this requirement Pseudo requirements make the projects tougher and integration out of control. At, times, customer thinks that even the pseudo requirements are real as well. Helping to eliminate such false requirements helps the customers and the sponsor. Pseudo requirements increase the complexity of the project and as complexity amplifies, so too does the potential for disaster. Let customers know this. Talk about Chicago building architectures does not have anything false. Brail in drive in ATMs has. Eliminating False requirements from the project is a way to getting the project delivered first time right as it reduces your deviation for the project goals.
  • 8. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference Mantra 2: Tour your execution Mr. Amitabh Khan, member of the PMI board in India, remarked sarcastically in the keynote address of the 4th PMI India conference in Chennai that the project managers have mastered the art of planning and executing simultaneously. Planning continues as the execution is on. Planning little and planning again has been misunderstood as PDCA. PDCA is for Quality control. If you are doing a PDCA of your project, you will keep circling and not complete it. PDCA circles never end. We have seen project managers misuse the word agile, when the planning is incomplete – Agile is not about mis-planing. Agile is about iterative development. Agile is about more planning – Agile is to plan smaller sprints, execute and plan the next sprint. Another, most misinterpreted phrase of project is “Progressive Evolution”. Project managers start projects not knowing what next and have a cool answer – “Every project is like this, it will become clear as we go by” Reasons for poor planning 1. Pressure to start immediately 2. Experience and comfort zone (First 15 over 130 runs and then we will plan)
  • 9. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference 3. Competition - need to show something to the customer /sponsor But the mantra to successful execution is planning and mantra to successful planning is dreaming. “Dream” is what Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India calls for. “Dream has an immense power to change. Dream provides a divine energy to execute”. Let us call this little differently, “Virtual touring” or “Touring your Execution”. What is touring the execution? Computers do not start the execution until the compilation is done – in compilation process, the compilers make sure that there is path to the end whatever be the condition – Pilots do not start flying without knowing the path of their flight. They have the vision of the turbulence on the way, where it is raining, and the temperature at the destination. Take a virtual tour of the project execution phase even before starting the execution. Tour your plan, check for gaps in planning, see what would happen if the plan does not work and check where the plan can lead to mishap, create an alternate path for assuming the primary path will fail. Identify risks on the way, eliminate false requirements as you tour. Tour multiple times, thru multiple roads, take all the roads untaken in the previous tours and while the real tour is on, the lessons of the virtual tour will guide to success at the first time. Tour thru your assumptions, thru your risks and the mitigation plans, stop to detour your milestones and how they each milestone can affect the project. Examine each milestone carefully, identify the weakest link, and identify the cushion that can be created to absorb the slips. The assumption list is created at the end of the tour. Walk thru the inputs of the risks; you’re thru each risk, the cause of each risk and the impact of each risk. Tour thru the probability of the risk and set the probability to 1 and challenge yourself. Tour through each of your mitigation. Tour as if each of the mitigation is applied and fail. Identify more risks and plan mitigations. Such a tour helps in identifying risks that are more realistic than the pre-determined list of risks. Project Managers should tour thru conversing with your stakeholders, tour thru project meetings to be conducted, tour as if your team does not show up for the meeting, tour as if your team members do not communicate properly, tour thru the conflicts that would arise, tour thru the accidents and possible slips to the project schedule. At the end, you already have the organization chart of your project team. You have a set of ground rules for the team. When we were sharing this thought with a friend of mine, he said in a light sense, that
  • 10. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference such a touring project manager will already have a list of action items for a team which is yet to handshake with the project manager. Complete the cycle of execution in virtual. Project completion should have run thru the mind of the project manger even before the project enters in to the execution phase. While the real execution is on, you will not be surprised at events that are not in the project plan, because you have seen them in your virtual tour and have handled them already, you know what method to apply to handle assumptions, risks, issues, conflicts, scope creeps, priority clashes, lack of resources, supply chain issues and accidents. There have been recommendations, to do a group tour. Take the members of your team for a virtual tour of the project execution. Stop at each milestone and explain them as a tour guide. Let the members of the team ask you questions. These questions will serve you as list of assumptions or issues to be clarified. The advantage of such a group tour is that, your project team gets aligned to your execution path. The forming and the norming get done in the planning stage. Advantages of touring your execution 1. Check for gaps in the plan, identify accident prone zone in the project 2. Identify Risks and assign mitigations 3. Create the assumption register 4. Identify stakeholders on your way 5. Assign action items to characters who are not even in the team 6. You already have started managing your team passively in virtual tour In today’s competitive world, there is a big pressure to start immediately – Our recommendation is to start immediately – but start the Virtual tour immediately to get flawless planning and thus the execution has no surprises for you.
  • 11. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference Mantra 3: Be passionate yourself In 1870, When Fredrick Bartholdi designed the statue of liberty; he did not even have a clue that, one day the 305 feet statue will be seen from Aircrafts. (it is in 1900 year that the first aircraft was tested successfully). But it is his passion that led to the perfection in the statue. When the statue was designed, nobody from the ground would have appreciated the perfection of the crown or even the Queens’s hair. But it is the Fredrick’s passion to excellence that we see today from the aircrafts. Not all projects make to the top five in list of the organization’s portfolio priority. It does not mean that the projects other than the top five can fail. Each project need to be successful – to make a successful portfolio. Even more, to get right first time, the one differentiator will be “your Passion”. Shri Shri Ravi Shankar, the Yoga Guru, teaches that passion leads to excellence. Having right amount of passion in the work we do, is the right way to achieve success. It is the passion of the project manager in driving the project makes it successful. Amitabah Khan, an Indian Administrative Services official says that “Project are delivered by Individuals – projects are delivered by Project managers”. The team will consist of super performers, average performers and below average performers. The team may have people from different cultures, people with different attitudes. The way in which people react to simulators will be different. But if there is one thing that can unite and direct, it is the passion of the project manager. The degree of the passion that project manager possess in executing the project directly impacts the energy level of the team members executing it. Dr. E. Sridharan, when explaining the success factors on the Delhi Metro project explains that “No project fails due to lack of technology – but projects fail due to lack passion.” Remmber
  • 12. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference 7 KM Kolkata metro took 22 years and 330 KM Delhi metro was completed on schedule within the cost and with superior quality. Two levers of passion Rohan David, Author of “Where Passion Lives” Highlights 2 lever for Passion. 1. Communicate, communicate and communicate 76% of the projects fail due to project chicken attitude. 86% of the projects miss deadline due to lack of communication. PMBOK says 90% of our time is typically spent on communicating – framework like PMBOK tells us a lot about communicating; formal, informal, internal, external, vertical, official, unofficial, written, oral, verbal, nor-verbal, listening, questioning, educating, summarizing, negotiating, persuading, fact finding, etc… Srini Sundarajan, Head of R&D for Alcatel-Lucent in India, emphasizes on over- communicating. As per Srini, project managers need to continuously and over- communicate and the information will be absorbed to the extend team needs; similar to broadcasting of FM radio. If the team needs it, it will tune to get the information, but continuous and over communication is the need of the hour. Communication can avoid surprises at later stages. a. Large portion of the failed projects are due to mistrust in the project manager – the one tool to remove mistrust is communication b. Communication plan should include Process to deal with communication problems rooted in cultural differences. 2. Practice, Practice and Practice a. This is integrity and leadership The second lever of passion is, Practice. This is a matter of integrity. Practicing what we preach has been a trait of leaders from the days of Jesus Christ. It is a simple way to keep the passion and motivate the team. In a survey conducted and reported by Asan Sofian, “Project Success in Relation with Organizational Roles and Capabilities and Project Managers' Skills and Capabilities”, the
  • 13. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference personal integrity of the project manager is valued as the “most important” quality that a project manager should possess. Strategies for maintaining passion 1. A clear vision of the goal a. See opportunity in every trouble and see only the troubles that will hit the project. When the glass is filled half with water, an optimistic project manger should say, the “Glass is half empty and I have an opportunity to fill” 2. Have your say – but be open to others. a. Beware of being over passionate. When one is over-passionate, he is led to dreams which are not executable. Be passionate, but learn to be dispassionate, Antony De Mello,in his book, “prayer of the frog” talks about the third angle of passion - be compassionate b. Being passionate should not hide risks and issues under cover – Being passionate should help in seeing more risks, more conflicts and more issues that will be mitigated and resolved with the positive energy of the project manager. Mantra 4: Do not drive just with rear view mirror
  • 14. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference “Oh Yeah. We have information about project success. We claim, we hit success every time. But it is a lie – so does the statistics look good – but what we never admit is how many times we moved the schedule. That’s the real story” – VP Manufacturing company “I had to move from green to red overnight, two weeks before it was supposed to go alive. I had to involve the second and third highest persons in the company- I felt bad for the project lead” – VP, food services firm.. Rear View mirror approach Projects are at times executed by looking through the rear-view mirror. With this kind of approach, the project team never gets a clear view of what’s ahead and what action to take. Also, the project team does not know the real status of the project(where are we and where to go). Ghosts of the past Managers who place all or too much focus on analyzing past performance and then initiating improvement plans which will eventually ending up in missing the opportunity to salvage. Projects are dynamic in nature and the circumstances keep changing. While the practice of reviewing past performance and using the data as part of a performance improvement plan is necessary, this "rear-view-mirror" approach can be costly (in terms of lost opportunities) if it encompasses the entire project management approach. We need a balanced approach so that an effective decision making platform is built. Rear View mirror approach is also like putting a sheet of black cover over the windshield of your car and trying to drive it by looking at the rear view mirror. We need a method that can forecast the future Performance by looking out the front windshield. Reactive Vs Proactive Approach Taking actions based on the past results of the project is a reactive approach rather than a proactive one. In complex project scenarios, results of past weeks cannot set the trend for the coming weeks. The past results can provide a good experience to improve our knowledge and expertise. But it is the responsibility of the project manager to use this
  • 15. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference expertise to take a scientific approach and be proactive in taking actions considering the fact that the very moment is the starting point. This is like using the route map in smart phones – route from current location to the destination. Another key factor to remember is that the past cannot be an indicator to the future. A good example is the cricket run rate graphs while chasing a score for a win. The graphs always consider the current score and the situation. Based on that, it will clearly tell us what needs to be achieved and it will not indicate what can be achieved based on the score taken from the past overs. There is no denying the fact that the rear view mirror is useful especially in identifying the opportunities for team improvement based on analyzing past activities and results. But what is more important for the successful project manager is to identify preemptive actions steps and strategies that can impact future results. This is called as balancing the Rear View Mirror. Proactive approach will help us in analyze the prevailing situation and the threats and opportunities in the road ahead and be more agile. We should remind ourselves that the worst is yet to come. So why we do we sit and wait for things to happen assuming that things will go well since we have performed better in the past weeks? How do we approach this? Perform a constant re-estimation at the activity level where the work is being done. Half-way through the activity, the engineer will know far more about the problem being worked on than was known months ago when it was first estimated and laid in gantt chart. Critical chain buffer management approach is a good technique which is largely forward- looking and helps us to avoid the rear view mirror approach in Project Management. Successful Project Managers of leading companies like Procter & Gamble & Verizon have used Critical chain project management which they believe is forward looking rather than looking into the rear view mirror. A forward looking risk assessment of the tasks that are critical is an important technique that can help in making effective mitigation plans to be implemented and also provide a great data source for the effective decisions. Apart from the above techniques, one of the best methods is to focus on fundamentals by walking into the site and getting the hands dirty. At times, many Project Managers spend too much time on tracking rather than managing the project. They are more like
  • 16. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference historical reporters and not forward looking strategists. A good example is the construction industry So we need to look clearly at where we are now, where we are being carried by ongoing changes in the economy, and take actions to decide the future.
  • 17. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference Mantra 5: Close Iteratively The word close is associated with the “End” and usually provides a negative sense in most of the world cultures. Look at the positive side of Close – Close also means “Near”. But closing is importation in project management for a simple reason that projects have definite beginning and definite end. So does all the activities in the project. Moving to next phase There are two ways how you can move to the next phase or activity 1. By finishing the previous activity 2. By closing the previous activity When you finish an activity, it means you have completed the expected work and you move on to the next. When you close an activity, it means that you have completed the work, reviewed it for areas to improve, there are lessons learned and best practices added to the organizational assets if any, and handed off to the next activity. We need to remember PMI calls the formal closing of projects as “Administrative Closing”, which is after finishing the deliverables
  • 18. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference Benefits of closing often 1. Closing helps project managers to avoid drifting a. You do not find surprises at the end. Nor will you have to do a RCA at the tail end of your project. 2. Closing to reward the work done well a. Do not wait for the end of the project to reward, closing iteratively helps in more frequent recognition of the team members, which motivates them for the next phase. 3. Closing brings abundance of information a. Closing brings metrics of the current phase b. Closing allows you to look at the data as close as – beginning the next phase c. Closing also helps in determining the run rate for the future activities; 4. Closing helps in identifying the gaps between subsequent activities. a. Closing helps in risk that need not be tracked for the next phase b. Closing helps in eliminating assumptions and issues of the past phase c. Closing helps you to focus on the immediate issues in the subsequent phases 5. Closing often not only means that, more rigorous tracking and monitoring; a. There is a nominal pressure created in each activity owner to close. 6. Closing means continuous planning, shorter tour of your execution, shorter duration to maintain high passion a. Closing helps in identifying resources to be utilized better and gaps in current processes. b. It helps you to make right decisions. It is said that project managers capable of making right decisions get 87% of their Projects delivered on time. 7. Regular closing is PDCA in the project management a. Project as a product.
  • 19. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference It is like cricket, the captain needs to decide who to bowl at the end of each over – there is a review and planning after each over .When we were boys, we watched cricket, there used to be a run rate update at the end of each over. With the advent of T20 format of the cricket there is closing of every ball. Current rate to required run rate is calculated at the end of each ball bowled. Project managers should also get this guideline from T20 format of the game as today’s projects are competitive like T20, is pressuring and needs to be delivered first time right. Project managers should plan close each milestone religiously as in T20 matches. Handoff documents, activity completion report and open issues from the past millstone can be better communicated to the teams while conducting regular closing meetings. Conclusion Simple five mantras to increase the success rate in your projects. These mantras can be applied from the beginning of the project, thru the execution, monitor and control phase to the closing of activities. Eliminate false requirements from your projects, save energy for the valid requirements only. Take a tour of your execution, use the power of imagination and dream of execution. Be passionate to lead the team. Look not just at the rearview mirror because the path behind is in no way an indication of the path to travel. Close iteratively and have things under control. Happy Project Management.
  • 20. 5 mantras of right first time Wilson & Bala PMI India Conference Authors Profile Wilson Anandaraj heads IP Transformation Center in Alcatel-Lucent, India. Wilson holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Science and a Master of Philosophy in software Metrics. Wilson has 14years of experience in the industry. He is associated with Alcatel-Lucent since 2004. Wilson is a PMP. He joined the PROMPT in 2008 and has been an active contributor in the forum. He has mentored 3 study groups in Alcatel-Lucent University. He is a member of SPIN (Software Quality Improvement Network), IEEE and PMI-Chennai chapter. Wilson was part of the technical paper review panel for the recently held Project Management National conference, India. Wilson’s Passion for project management and knowledge does not stop at office but extends to talking to students. He has been a speaker at various colleges and Universities. He believes that the success of the project not only depends on the skill and knowledge of the project manager but in the way the members of the project team respond to the project manager’s call. Balasubramanian Krishnamurthy is a Program Manager in Alcatel-Lucent, a world leader in Telecommunication solutions. He has an overall 15 years industry experience with 5 years of Project Management and 3 years of Program Management experience. He is a PMP, who developed a new business model CESR for the complex transformation programs and projects and his technical paper was selected for the 2012 PMI India National Conference, and also presented it in various conferences including the PMI Chennai Chapter. As a Project Manager, he has managed more than 10 large projects and has also worked as a product lead, by leading a virtual international team across USA, France, Belgium and China.