Managing your projects effectively in a shared resource environment
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    Managing your projects effectively in a shared resource environment Managing your projects effectively in a shared resource environment Document Transcript

    • Stephen  Hightower    “Leveraging  Checklists  to  deliver  your  projects  on  time”      Stephen@Hightower-­‐Consulting.com      407-­‐810-­‐2746    Leveraging  Checklists  to  deliver  your  projects  on  time    Project  management  is  a  complex  task  with  many  moving  parts.    How  do  you  manage  that  complexity  and  deliver  projects  on  time  and  within  budget?    The  use  of  checklists  and  the  significant  quality  improvements  they  yield  are  far-­‐reaching  and  not  tied  to  any  one  field  or  discipline.      As  Atul  Gawande  makes  a  compelling  argument,    “We  can  find  a  solution  in  the  most  humble  of  places,  the  lowly  checklist.”    Dr.  Gawande  is  both  a  general  and  endocrine  surgeon  at  the  Brigham  and  Women’s  hospital  in  Boston,  a  staff  writer  for  the  The  New  Yorker,  and  an  associate  professor  at  Harvard  Medical  School.    In  his  book,  “The  Checklist  Manifesto”,  he  explains  how  checklists  have  been  used  to  fly  airplanes  and  build  skyscrapers.        Not  only  are  checklists  applicable  to  project  management,  but  they  also  help  structure  the  delivery  of  the  project  in  a  repeatable  way  that  can  be  used  within  any  organization.    Managing  projects  effectively  is  one  of  the  most  critical  tasks  in  any  organization.    Doing  it  well  brings  greater  responsibilities,  while  not  managing  projects  well  is  a  sure  path  for  disaster.    There  is  a  clear  discipline  in  project/program  management  that  must  be  followed,  but  there  are  some  unique  challenges  when  you  manage  projects  with  shared  resources  that  will  be  critical  to  your  success.    Learn  how  you  can  utilize  checklists  to  ensure  rewarding  management  of  your  projects.      
    •   2      The  seeds  of  failure  are  sown  in  the  first  30  days  I  worked  for  a  large  company  that  made  significant  investments  in  the  development,  talent  and  tools  necessary  to  manage  programs  effectively.    In  several  studies  conducted  that  encompassed  over  400  different  programs,  the  data  always  pointed  to  the  first  30  days  as  being  critical  to  the  success  of  the  program.    What  happens  in  that  time  period  that  is  so  crucial?    Having  a  sound  plan  and  applying  a  process  that  is  repeatable  and  applicable  to  any  program,  no  matter  the  complexity  or  type.    Therein,  lay  the  keys  to  a  favorable  outcome.    Guess  what,  you’re  given  a  once  in  lifetime  opportunity  You’ve  gotten  that  high  visibility,  high  priority  project  that  you’ve  always  wanted.    The  business  has  placed  their  trust  in  you  but  they  want  it  yesterday.    There  is  a  lot  of  pressure  to  get  started  and  show  progress,  but  how  do  you  manage  the  project?  If  you  don’t  deliver  your  career  is  damaged  and  if  you  don’t  get  started  quickly,  you’re  seen  as  maybe  not  ready  for  this  opportunity.    Either  way,  it  can  be  an  uncomfortable  position  to  be  in  for  anyone,  whether  you  are  a  seasoned  program  manager  or  you’ve  just  been  given  your  first  big  opportunity.    Typically,  I  see  two  approaches  that  are  both  destined  for  a  less  than  satisfactory  outcome.    One,  the  project  leader  pushes  back  because  they  don’t  have  the  specifics  clearly  defined.    This  can  lead  to  frustration,  as  well  as  a  continued  “black  eye”  for  the  IT  group  because  “everything  you  do  takes  so  long.”    After  all,  my  daughter  installed  a  wireless  network  last  night  and  you  took  a  week  to  do  it.  
    •   3  The  second  approach  is  to  start  work  on  the  project,  trying  to  show  some  progress,  yet  operating  with  a  loosely  defined  task  and  team.    Both  of  these  approaches  are  destined  for  failure.    How  do  you  balance  the  need  to  show  progress  and  the  need  to  have  proper  definition  so  that  you  know  where  you’re  going?  Most  projects  fail  when  they  don’t  have  the  basics.  The  basics  are  to  have  the  budget,  the  project  deliverables  and  a  well-­‐defined  schedule.    Failure  means  the  project  costs  more  than  was  estimated,  doesn’t  meet  schedule  or  doesn’t  meet  the  requirements  when  it’s  delivered.    The  failure  is  sown  in  the  first  30  days  of  the  program’s  development  due  to  the  lack  of  a  disciplined,  repeatable  process  that  can  be  used  by  the  program  manager  to  ensure  success.      Leverage  checklists  to  manage  your  program/project  In  program  management,  there  is  the  Triple  Constraint;  the  Triple  Constraint  being  quality  (scope),  cost  (resources)  and  schedule  (time).  These  three  elements  of  a  project  are  essential  and  must  work  in  harmony  with  each  other.  When  one  of  these  elements  is  restricted  or  extended,  the  other  two  elements  will  also  need  to  be  either  restricted/reduced  in  some  way  or  extended/increased  in  some  way.  The  balancing  of  these  three  elements,  when  fully  understood  by  the  Project  Manager,  allows  for  the  precise  planning,  resourcing  and  execution  of  a  project.  At  the  end  of  the  day,  these  are  the  key  elements  of  a  profitable  project  and  will  determine  whether  or  not  you  have  successfully  managed  a  project.    The  first  thing  a  project  manager  must  do  is  verify  that  the  project  is  well  understand  so  that  the  complete  task  being  assigned  to  them  can  be  accomplished.    
    •   4  The  following  checklist  will  start  the  process  to  ensure  you  have  the  right  scope  defined:        Program  Definition  No  matter  how  many  times  you’ve  talked  about  what  is  required,  you  need  to  write  it  down.    There’s  something  amazing  about  the  written  word  that  brings  clarity  that  the  spoken  word  doesnt  always  convey.    Once  this  has  been  captured,  you’ll  have  a  basis  of  work  to  further  define  your  program.    Stakeholder  Identified  A  significant  piece  of  your  effort  on  a  program  will  be  to  communicate  and  support  your  program  throughout  its  lifecycle.    All  programs  don’t  go  as  smoothly  as  you  would  like  and  you  need  to  have  stakeholders  that  are  invested  to  support  and  help  you  prosper.    If  you  need  advice  with  budget,  requirements  or  working  alternatives,  stakeholders  are  the  folks  you  will  depend  on  to  guide  your  program  to  success.    It’s  Scope&Checklist!Steps&for&Checklist Status(Y/N) CompleteProgram&Definition YStakeholder&Identified NScope&documented N30&day&deliverables&defined N60&day&deliverables&defined NDefined&all&deliverables NCommunication&requirements&defined NCost&Model&Developed&for&program NProgram&Scope&and&Costs&reviewed&by&stakeholders NFunding&allocated NExecutive&Support NKick&off&meeting N
    •   5  important  to  identify  them  early  and  cultivate  the  relationship  because  you  will  need  their  assistance.    Scope  Documented  One  of  the  triple  constraints  that  will  be  a  challenge  to  manage  throughout  the  program’s  lifecycle  is  the  scope  of  the  program.    I’ve  always  found  the  scope  requires  a  focused  effort  up  front  and  a  strong  change  management  process  to  keep  it  on  track  as  you  move  from  development  to  execution.        Within  the  parameters  of  documenting  the  scope  you  will  find  deliverables  defined  for  the  first  30  days,  60  days  and  all  deliverables  defined  as  tasks  to  complete.    This  shows  the  importance  of  scoping  your  program  early  with  on-­‐going  deliverables  so  they  can  be  used  to  confirm  the  concept  and  the  approach  is  correct.        This  is  essential  because  in  the  first  30  days  you  want  to  show  progress  and  verify  you  are  on  the  right  track.    I  can’t  tell  you  how  many  programs  I’ve  seen  that  put  significant  effort  into  the  program  without  having  regularly  scheduled  deliverables.      The  risk  with  that  approach  is  you  expend  so  much  money  without  being  sure  you  are  meeting  the  target  outlined  by  your  program.    This  almost  always  ensures  blowing  your  budget  while  putting  the  program  at  risk  to  fail.    How  many  times  have  you  been  on  status  calls/meetings  and  everything  is  fine  until  the  first  deliverable  is  due?    The  next  step  is  to  define  the  deliverables  for  the  first  60  days.    This  validates  your  assumptions  on  the  scope  as  well  as  forcing  you  to  break  down  the  project  in  a  logical  order  for  completion.    The  other  benefit  is  that  is  helps  you  with  your  resource  allocations  and  plans.    If  your  program  requires  more  than  60  days  in  duration,  then  you  will  need  to  ensure  you  have  a  
    •   6  complete  Work  Breakdown  Structure  (WBS)  that  is  signed  off  by  your  stakeholders  that  documents  the  complete  set  of  deliverables  for  the  program.    Communications  requirements  defined  Dont  overlook  this  task,  as  it  can  be  the  key  to  your  success.    How  you  communicate,  how  often  you  communicate  and  to  whom  you  communicate  is  so  critical  for  the  success  of  your  program.    Live  by  Murphy’s  Law,  because  whatever  can  go  wrong  will  go  wrong  in  many  cases.    So,  the  better  the  communication  and  the  more  frequent,  the  better  off  you  will  be.    Do  not  depend  upon  your  team  members  to  communicate  to  their  management  for  you.    It  will  not  work.      Always  make  the  effort  to  communicate  to  all  parties  involved.        Cost  Model  Developed  for  the  program  This  is  the  roll  up  of  your  costs  for  the  total  effort.    It  includes  any  hardware,  software,  outside  vendor  costs  and  labor  that  will  be  needed  to  complete  your  program.    You  should  develop  a  contingency  of  10  to  15  percent  of  the  total  cost  that  you  hold  in  reserve  for  unplanned  costs  that  will  occur.    You  can  return  that  at  the  end  of  the  program  if  you’ve  done  your  job.    Program  scope  and  costs  reviewed  by  stakeholders  I  know  this  sounds  obvious,  but  it  doesn’t  always  happen.    This  should  be  a  formal  event  where  the  scope  and  costs  are  reviewed  and  all  stakeholders  get  to  weigh  in  with  a  vote  on  whether  to  proceed.    It  creates  buy-­‐in  and  support  for  the  effort.    If  someone  doesn’t  agree  with  what’s  being  done  it  provides  an  opportunity  to  have  the  discussion  rather  than  having  someone  drag  their  feet  or  undermine  the  effort  because  they  didn’t  agree  with  it.      
    •   7    Funding  allocated  Based  on  the  review  by  the  stakeholders  this  should  be  the  next  decision.    If  the  budget  doesn’t  exist,  then  work  with  your  CFO  or  controller  to  identify  the  potential  source  where  funds  would  be  allocated  from  to  fuel  the  project.    You  don’t  want  to  go  into  the  executive  review  without  knowing  where  the  money  is  coming  from  to  support  the  program.    Executive  Support  This  is  a  formal  checkpoint  with  the  sponsoring  executive  team.    Usually,  they  have  a  stakeholder  assigned  to  the  program  to  represent  their  organization.    Depending  upon  your  company’s  culture  and  size,  it  can  take  different  paths.    Regardless,  it  should  be  reviewed  and  voted  on  by  the  executive  team  so  there  is  awareness  and  recognition  of  the  effort.    Kick  off  meeting  This  is  the  formal  kickoff  that  signals  to  all  the  team  members  and  stakeholders  that  the  project  has  importance  and  is  funded  to  move  forward.    While  there  are  steps  that  can  be  taken  prior  to  this,  the  formal  kick  off  meeting  is  where  the  stakeholders  review  the  scope,  the  funding  and  the  effort  to  complete  the  program.    Managing  shared  resources  on  programs  In  my  experience  this  is  a  critical  risk  factor  that  must  be  managed  with  a  “laser-­‐like”  focus.    How  many  times  have  you  put  together  a  program  and  had  dedicated  resources  that  didn’t  have  another  job  to  do?    Not  in  this  day  and  age.      Many  times  the  individuals  assigned  to  the  program  have  a  full  time  job  and  are  told  to  support  the  program  to  their  best  ability.    These  resources  may  be  assigned  to  production  type  tasks  that  
    •   8  require  them  to  jump  on  the  production  issue  when  there  is  a  problem.    Production  always  trumps  programs  in  terms  of  priority.        It’s  important  to  recognize  that  fact  and  manage  the  risk  appropriately.        Another  complicating  factor  is  that  you  may  have  multiple  locations  where  your  program  resources  are  located  and/or  they  may  work  from  home.    Regardless,  you  need  to  have  the  appropriate  risk  mitigation  plans  in  place  to  deal  with  the  realities  of  the  work  place  when  the  resources  are  not  dedicated  to  the  program.    Use  this  checklist  to  help  manage  those  risks:        Skill  sets  identified  Based  on  your  scope  checklist  you  should  already  have  a  good  idea  of  the  types  of  resources  you’ll  need  to  support  your  program.    Resource(ChecklistSteps(for(Checklist Status(Y/N) CompleteSkill(sets(identified( NProject(management NFinancial(support NScheduling(support NVendor(support NTechnical(skills NEngineering NSoftware NInfrastructure NResource(Plan(development NBudget(estimate(for(resource(plan NOperational(Support(plan(supports(program(efforts NMitigation(plans(for(shared(resources N
    •   9  Do  you  have  trained  project  managers  in  your  company?    Do  they  have  the  experience  to  manage  your  program  or  will  you  need  to  bring  a  short-­‐term  resource  in  who  has  the  skills  to  perform  the  job.    Program  managers  need  to  be  skilled  in  the  technical  management  of  the  program,  but  they  also  need  to  be  able  to  think  strategically  about  the  program  and  know  how  to  solve  short-­‐term  problems  creatively.        You’ll  need  a  resource  that  can  manage  the  financials  on  the  program.    Will  you  be  using  Earned  Value  to  capture  your  costs?  In  most  cases,  the  program  manager  will  perform  the  financial  management,  but  in  some  cases  additional  support  may  be  required.    You  don’t  want  to  get  to  the  end  of  the  program  and  not  know  what  it  cost  or  what  the  value  of  the  effort  was  to  complete.    Scheduling  support  is  critical  and  may  be  performed  by  the  program  manager.    It’s  something  that  the  resource  assigned  needs  to  understand  so  that  the  program  can  be  structured  at  the  right  level  with  the  right  level  of  granularity.    I’ve  seen  schedules  developed  that  are  so  detailed  that  there  is  more  work  than  value  provided  based  on  the  amount  of  time  spent  providing  status.    Scheduling  is  as  much  an  art  as  it  is  a  science,  so  finding  the  right  resource  to  perform  this  task  will  be  critical  to  the  success  and  flexibility  of  the  schedule.    Does  your  program  require  outside  vendor  support  to  complete  the  schedule?    How  do  you  manage  those  resources  and  how  do  they  support  the  program.    You  need  a  well-­‐defined  plan  if  your  program  requires  those  resources.    On  many  programs  I  used  outside  vendors  to  provide  resources  to  support  the  program.    Whether  it  was  technical  talent  or  hardware/software  resources,  you  should  identify  those  requirements  and  treat  them  as  partners.  
    •   10    Technical  skills  Technical  skills  are  usually  required  on  most  information  technology  programs.    Whether  it’s  engineering,  software  or  infrastructure  resources,  you’ll  need  to  identify  the  type  and  skill  level  (junior,  senior)  needed  on  your  program.    These  resources  are  usually  gainfully  employed  on  another  full  time  job,  but  have  been  identified  as  the  resources  that  you  can  use  to  support  your  efforts.    There  are  tools  and  metrics  that  can  help  you  with  as  you  proceed  with  the  program,  but  it’s  critical  to  be  on  top  of  this  issue  from  day  one.        Resource  Plan  Development  You  will  need  to  develop  a  resource  plan  in  conjunction  with  the  resources  assigned  to  the  program  and  their  management.    It  should  specify  a  commitment  in  hours  each  week  they  will  support  the  program.    If  you  can’t  meet  your  requirements  with  the  commitment  provided,  then  you  will  need  to  go  back  to  your  stakeholders  and  obtain  more  resources  (increase  in  budget),  move  your  schedule  (triple  constraint)  or  get  a  commitment  for  those  resources  to  be  more  creative  (cross  train,  balance  resources,  short  term  contractors,  overtime,  etc.).    You  will  need  to  incorporate  vacation  time  into  the  plan  as  well.    Budget  Estimate  for  resource  plan  Once  your  resource  plan  is  completed  and  agreed  upon,  you  will  have  the  labor  cost  component  identified.    It’s  important  that  you  manage  this  cost  since  it’s  one  of  your  largest  variable  costs  on  the  program.    Productivity  is  a  primary  driver  for  your  costs  on  technical  work.    Since  people  tend  to  be  so  “interrupt-­‐  driven”,  you  will  notice  an  impact  on  your  work  being  
    •   11  completed  in  the  hours  estimated  based  on  the  events  that  are  consuming  the  resources  such  as  production  outages,  audits,  etc.    It’s  a  good  idea  to  develop  productivity  factors  that  can  be  used  when  you  develop  future  programs  so  that  you’ll  be  more  accurate  in  your  estimates.    Operational  support  plan  that  supports  the  program  efforts  This  effort  is  important  since  it  will  identify  any  major  operational  impacts  that  might  affect  your  program.    If  there  is  a  major  software  release  planned  and  your  program  is  focused  on  completing  an  infrastructure  upgrade,  then  having  it  identified  up  front  will  help  you  plan  to  mitigate  any  fallout.    Incorporate  vacation  schedules  and  any  other  office  events  that  can  impact  your  efforts.      Mitigation  plan  for  shared  resources  Document  the  resource  plan  and  identify  the  process  that  will  be  used  to  resolve  issues  with  those  resources.    This  identifies  the  person  responsible  and  the  appropriate  escalation  path  that  all  parties  agree  on  when  there  are  problems.    Trust  me,  this  document  will  be  used  to  resolve  issues  and  will  save  you  the  headaches  of  trying  to  resolve  it  on  the  fly.      Communication    One  area  that  is  often  overlooked  is  a  comprehensive  approach  for  communication  that  supports  program  management.    We  touched  on  it  earlier  in  the  scope  checklist  and  by  exploring  a  more  detailed  version  of  a  checklist  on  communication;  you’ll  
    •   12  be  on  your  way  to  keeping  everyone  informed  and  on  the  same  page.    Communication  covers  many  aspects  of  the  program  and  the  lifecycle  of  program  management.    I  once  worked  on  a  program  where  we  were  behind  schedule,  over  cost  and  under  so  much  pressure;  I  thought  everyone  would  be  fired.    Instead,  we  had  a  program  manager  that  was  up  front  and  made  sure  to  over  communicate  to  all  the  stakeholders  on  a  regular  and  frequent  basis.    No  one  ever  had  to  wonder  or  ask  about  status  because  he  made  sure  everyone  knew  the  most  current  status.    Rather  than  being  punished  for  the  program  being  behind  schedule  and  over  cost  he  was  given  an  award  for  how  well  he  communicated  and  eventually  completed  the  program.    This  goes  against  many  program  managers’  instincts  when  they  find  themselves  in  this  situation,  which  is  why  it’s  so  important  to  have  this  outlined  from  the  beginning.          Having  a  checklist  that  covers  your  plan  and  the  frequency  of  communication  will  keep  your  program  running  smoothly.    I’ve  worked  on  programs  where  the  team  members  didn’t  know  the  status,  so  when  they  are  asked  and  can’t  articulate  it,  the  credibility  of  the  program  is  questioned.      As  a  manager,  I  would  ask  myself,  if  the  team  members  don’t  know  the  current  status,  then  how  could  I  expect  the  program  to  be  successful?    Use  the  following  checklist  to  keep  your  team  members  informed  and  develop  your  plans  so  that  your  program  runs  smoothly.    
    •   13          Communication  Plans  Communication  is  the  “life  blood”  of  any  program.    Perform  and  do  everything  right,  yet,  neglect  to  keep  everyone  in  the  communication  loop,  and  your  program  most  likely  will  fail.    It’s  more  than  just  the  myopic  results  that  are  achieved;  it’s  how  well  everyone  was  informed  and  kept  up  to  speed  on  the  program  that  matters.    Did  they  understand  the  issues  as  well  as  the  results?    Did  they  participate  and  contribute  or  did  they  sit  on  the  sidelines?    Communication  should  blend  into  your  company’s  culture.    There  are  some  norms  that  surround  communication  and  as  the  program  manager  you  should  be  aware  of  what  they  are  so  Communication*ChecklistSteps*for*Checklist Status(Y/N) CompleteCommunication*Plans NCulture*assessement NStakeholder*management NTeam*communications NRecurring*Meetings NSelf*audit*reviews NStakeholder*management NTeam*Meetings NChange*review*board NExecutive*reviews NProject*artifacts NWeekly*Project*status NScope*change*log NSchedule*impacts NResource*Changes N
    •   14  that  you  communicate  effectively.    Develop  a  plan  for  communication  that  addresses  the  cultural  norms  of  the  organization.    Develop  your  plans  for  how  to  communicate  with  your  stakeholders.    Plan  your  meetings  well  in  advance  so  that  everyone  can  work  the  calendar  to  attend.    Determine  the  topics  and  agenda  that  you  will  present  to  this  group.      Develop  a  plan  that  will  be  used  throughout  the  program  lifecycle  for  communicating  with  your  team.    It  should  specify  the  frequency  of  the  meetings,  the  artifacts  that  support  the  meetings  and  tracking  the  action  items.        There  are  points  in  the  program  where  you  will  want  to  seek  outside  help  in  terms  of  a  review  or  an  audit.    It  should  identify  best  practices  and  compare  the  results  with  a  gap  analysis  so  that  continuous  improvement  will  be  built  into  your  program  management.    Recurring  Meetings    Self-­‐audits  are  an  excellent  way  to  measure  how  well  your  processes  are  being  applied  in  the  day-­‐to-­‐day  management  of  the  program.    Again,  the  simple  checklist  can  be  the  perfect  tool  for  you  to  perform  the  assessment  and  identify  risks.    Team  members  can  use  customized  checklists  that  can  be  used  to  help  guide  them  as  they  support  the  program  and  provide  artifacts  that  will  be  used  to  identify  improvements  and  best  practices.    Focus  on  keeping  stakeholders  in  tune  with  the  program  and  try  to  exceed  their  expectations.    Leverage  their  participation  and  depending  on  the  size  and  complexity  of  the  program,  you  may  want  to  select  several  members  from  this  group  to  form  
    •   15  an  advisory  group  that  can  help  you  work  through  the  more  difficult  areas  of  the  program.    It’s  critical  that  your  team  has  the  current  program  status  and  understands  the  plan  at  any  point  in  time.    This  requires  a  structure  and  the  right  tools  to  enable  them  to  participate  at  the  right  level.    Depending  upon  the  project  management  tool  you  select,  you  may  have  a  client  for  their  smart  phone  so  you  can  obtain  status  as  well  as  push  information  to  them  when  needed.    At  a  minimum,  a  weekly  meeting  and  actions  from  that  meeting  are  communicated  to  the  team.        As  we’ll  discuss  later,  the  focus  on  the  milestone  plan  and  the  applied  hours  for  team  members  is  critical  to  help  you  remain  on  schedule.    Change  management  is  often  overlooked  or  seen  as  a  distraction  for  program  managers.    The  key  to  managing  change  is  to  document  the  baseline  and  identify  changes  to  the  baseline.    A  log  for  all  changes  needs  to  be  managed  for  the  duration  of  the  program.    As  changes  are  identified  they  should  be  reviewed  by  the  stakeholders  at  a  regular  scheduled  meeting  or  if  needed  an  ad-­‐hoc  meeting  to  address  urgent  requests.    Each  change  must  be  considered  against  the  original  scope  and  the  impact  for  costs  and  schedule  quantified.        Managing  your  executive’s  expectations  is  an  important  part  of  any  program.    Depending  upon  the  scope  and  size  of  the  program,  consideration  should  be  given  to  only  the  ones  that  would  require  executive  visibility.    This  meeting  is  to  inform  and  provide  updates.    It’s  not  a  decision-­‐making  meeting  in  most  forums,  although  there  are  exceptions  that  will  have  to  be  considered.    The  meetings  typically  are  scheduled  for  an  initial  review,  a  mid-­‐point  review  and  final  to  close  out  the  program.      
    •   16  Project  Artifacts  Your  project  artifacts  are  the  documentation  of  the  lifecycle  of  the  program.    You  should  have  a  shared  repository  (Drop  box,  SharePoint,  etc.)  that  is  used  to  store  all  the  documentation  for  the  program.    You’ll  post  weekly  status  each  week  that  summarizes  the  actions  and  progress  related  to  the  program.    Maintain  a  log  that  captures  all  the  change  requests  that  are  created  for  the  program.        Schedule  impacts  should  be  documented  because  they  usually  correspond  to  cost  impacts.    Maintain  the  baseline  resource  plan  and  document  any  changes  in  resources  that  occur  with  the  date,  reason  and  impact  to  the  program.    Project  Management  approach  After  having  gone  through  the  checklists  and  following  your  instructions,  you  will  be  well  prepared  as  you  embark  on  your  next  program  management  assignment.        Managing  projects  is  a  discipline  and  an  art,  so  I’ve  given  some  other  helpful  advice  in  the  remaining  portion  of  this  document  to  help  you  manage  your  risks.          The  PMBOK  is  the  body  of  knowledge  for  Program/Project  Management  and  is  quite  extensive.    There  are  several  certifications  that  are  available  so  that  knowledge  of  that  material  can  be  demonstrated  by  the  resources  that  manage  and  support  projects/programs.    There  are  a  number  of  tools,  many  inexpensive  that  can  be  used  to  manage  projects.    One  of  my  favorites  is  SmartSheet  that  can  be  purchased  fairly  inexpensively  and  provides  a  
    •   17  collaborative  work  environment  for  geographically  dispersed  team  members.      There  are  a  variety  of  tools  that  are  available,  but  you  want  to  look  for  the  following  characteristics:    • Cloud  based  • Collaborative  • Ease  of  Use  • Robust  reporting  • Dashboard  capability    Too  many  organizations,  don’t  apply  that  discipline  or  science  to  the  management  of  projects.    Developing  metrics  for  managing  your  projects  What  are  effective  measures  for  project  management?    How  do  you  describe  success?    How  do  you  translate  your  activities  to  the  CFO  in  a  way  they  can  understand?    Typically,  a  return  on  investment  model  should  be  used  to  justify  the  investment.    You’ll  need  to  identify  what  works  for  your  business,  but  have  an  agreed  to  model  in  place  that  is  recognized  by  your  financial  community.    One  of  the  things  that  I  quoted  during  program  reviews  was,  “In  God  we  trust,  all  others  bring  data”.    That  is  a  rule  to  live  by  when  managing  programs.    As  discussed  earlier,  one  of  the  more  challenging  tasks  is  to  manage  a  program  with  a  defined  budget/schedule  using  shared  resources  that  have  other  full  time  jobs.    I’ve  used  the  following  metrics  to  manage  multiple  programs  in  my  career  and  find  that  it’s  one  of  the  best  metrics  to  mitigate  risks  in  a  shared  resource  environment.    
    •   18  Actual  versus  Planned  Hours  This  is  one  of  the  best  metrics  to  know  how  well  you’re  doing  and  if  your  resources  are  expending  enough  time  each  week  to  support  the  deliverables.    Many  times  I’ve  seen  significant  problems  at  start  up  because  the  resources  aren’t  able  to  break  away  from  their  day-­‐to-­‐day  duties  to  support  the  program.    Remember,  the  seeds  of  success  are  planted  in  the  first  30  days  and  if  you  don’t  have  the  visibility  into  how  much  effort  is  being  applied  up  front,  then  you  will  be  behind  the  curve  as  you  start  out  of  the  gate.    It’s  also  critical  to  have  an  experienced  scheduler  develop  the  program  milestones  so  that  you  have  manageable  “chunks  of  work”  up  front  and  can  show  progress.    Many  times  I’ve  seen  program  managers  think  that  everything  is  fine  because  they  didn’t  have  any  discrete  deliverables  during  the  first  30  days  and  during  the  status  meetings  everyone  said  things  were  fine.        Milestones  Planned  and  Actuals  This  metric  is  used  to  track  the  milestones  each  week  that  are  due  and  record  the  actual  completions.    It  provides  a  
    •   19  cumulative  total  as  well  so  you  can  see  if  you’re  building  a  backlog  and  provides  at  a  quick  glance  whether  you  are  on  track  or  not.            Communicate  risk  in  terms  the  business  will  understand    When  it  comes  to  managing  risk,  communication  is  job  number  one!    Being  able  to  convey  the  real  value  of  an  IT  project  is  a  required  skill  for  CIOs  who  want  to  make  IT  a  competitive  advantage.    This  means  that  you  will  explain  the  key  reasons  for  the  risk  in  business  terms.    Does  it  affect  competitive  advantage,  speed  to  market,  and  profitability?    If  you  were  replacing  a  mainframe  platform  because  the  vendors  will  no  longer  support  it  might  well  be  reason  enough  to  move  forward.  This  is  managing  technological  risk  -­‐-­‐  and  its  a  concept  everyone  can  understand.    
    •   20  If  you  describe  it  as  infrastructure  thats  not  going  to  be  supported  anymore  and  theres  an  opportunity  to  reduce  cost  by  replacing  it,  most  CFO’s  can  support  that  concept.  Dont  try  to  embellish  the  justification  in  concepts  such  as:  • Our  programmers  will  improve  their  productivity  because  it’s  newer  technology  • Our  processes  will  improve  since  we’re  starting  using  a  new  technology    If  you’ve  never  been  disciplined  to  document  your  processes  in  the  older  environment  why  do  you  think  you’ll  do  it  in  the  new  environment?    Pure  nonsense,  because  history  will  predict  the  future.      The  more  you  put  those  intangible,  soft  benefits  around  it,  the  harder  it  is  for  the  organization  to  understand  and  reprioritize.    Project  Dashboards  For  project  management,  you’re  always  going  to  deal  with  the  triple  constraint  of  scope,  cost  and  schedule.    How  you  manage  it  and  apply  the  discipline  to  project  management  will  determine  the  success  of  your  efforts.        Build  a  dashboard  that  describes  your  critical  success  factors  on  a  one-­‐page  chart  and  use  that  as  your  guide  for  the  program.      Each  dashboard  can  be  different  depending  upon  your  program,  business  and  unique  challenges.    I  typically  always  use  red/yellow/green  to  identify  the  status  of  the  triple  constraints.    The  other  metrics  that  I  track  will  be  on  the  milestone  actuals  and  then  a  forward  look  that  tracks  the  upcoming  milestones  by  week.    With  a  forward  look  you  can  orient  the  team  to  the  schedule  and  apply  the  right  focus  to  work  through  any  issues  that  may  arise  with  the  schedule.    
    •   21  If  your  program  is  on  track  and  hitting  all  your  milestones  then  the  dashboard’s  focus  will  be  different  than  if  you’re  behind  schedule  and  trying  to  recover.        Hopefully,  you’ve  picked  up  some  valuable  advice  in  this  article.    Use  checklists  to  prepare  yourself  for  a  successful  start  up  with  your  program.    Remember,  the  seeds  of  failure  are  sown  in  the  first  30  days.