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Going Backwards: Project Management Foundations on Project Churn

backwardsSteve Hart could make a study of “project churn”, that is, the forces and actions within a project that slow down its expected deadlines and progress. He explains how constant scheduled team meetings (whether anything needs to be discussed or not), negative communication from stakeholders, and overall non-productive actions can slow project progress to a complete halt. Hart then provides a few examples of how project churn can happen and types of project churn. Most revealing is what he dubs the “grenade”: 

The Steering Committee generated good discussion about the current plans and upcoming milestones. The team agreed that the right corrective actions are in place to successfully roll-out the new web site within two weeks of the original baseline milestone date. At the end of the meeting, when you ask “are there any other comments or concerns?”, the VP of Sales (who rarely attends the Steering Committee) raises his hand and says, “The way this system is being rolled out is going to be highly disruptive to field associates.” Shouldn't this risk have been raised a little earlier in the project? Churn. 

Hart then lists a few actions to take that limit project churn. The project manager in this case plays an enormous role in eliminating as much project churn as possible, either through better automation of issue management and stakeholder communication, eliminating unnecessary meetings, or developing a system of requirements gathering that makes sure every stakeholder agrees to requirements early in the process (and not during a wrap-up meeting).

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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