With apologies to Sir Walter Scott: Oh, what a tangled contract we write, when first we practice to outsource. Having managed outsourcing projects on behalf of both the customer and the third-party administrator, and managed transitions from one outsourcing firm to another on behalf of several clients, I have a lot of anecdotal evidence that outsourcing generally works best on a spreadsheet—in practice, results tend to be rather variable. But because most business decisions are ...
The most significant driver of cost and schedule risk in any project is indecision. While most projects can absorb a few bad decisions or even course-correct without a hitch, delaying a decision almost invariably creates damage. Agile practitioners will typically defer decisions until required to move forward so that the Decider has as much information as possible, but a lack of information isn’t always—or even usually—the problem. Sometimes the Decider just doesn’t feel empowered, and ...
In an earlier age, someone might have been approvingly described as “intrepid,” from the Latin for “not alarmed.” Some naval vessels, including at least one aircraft carrier, have borne the name Intrepid. In the modern age, usage has deteriorated to the ironic or even humorous. Of course, that doesn’t make intrepid behavior—the ability to perform effectively under conditions of uncertainty in complex environments and difficult circumstances—any less valuable. Conditions of Uncertainty (Risk Management) The purpose ...
On Monday, August 8, the Atlanta headquarters of Delta Airlines suffered an “electrical problem” at about 2:30 a.m. Technicians from Georgia Power quickly determined that it was a failed switchgear, a high-capacity circuit breaker box that routes power from two or more sources to the various systems that use it. It allows the orderly disconnect of power for service—until it fails, of course. This particular failure was important because the switchgear provided power to Delta’s ...
A former colleague of mine, Rob Young, recently lamented the lack of rigor in governance by new project managers. This is especially evident in red / amber / green (RAG) summaries in status reports, where a failing project can still be reported as green. “Clearly, there needs to be a common understanding of the status metric that is being reported against and the rationale for moving between statuses.” Rob is absolutely correct: You can’t manage what ...
Most project managers are used to making a qualitative risk analysis in two dimensions: the likelihood that an event will occur, and the impact of the event. And most risk management plans include some sort of “T-shirt” sizing scale to facilitate classification of probability and impact as small, medium, large, and so on. While not particularly rigorous, this approach does have the benefit of getting SME participation without making great demands on their time or ...
Project managers know that risk management is an ongoing process, and risk identification happens throughout the project life cycle. In many projects, the team is empowered to draft risk log entries. Of course, one of the basic requirements in identifying project risks is describing each risk in such a way that it is meaningful to management and other stakeholders who aren’t part of the project team. If you’ve ever seen a risk log entry like ...
One of the challenges of planning and controlling a complex project is delineation of roles. This can be especially challenging when representatives of multiple organizations are participating in the project. For any particular phase or task, it can be difficult to explain what participation is expected of each assigned team member, as roles might change from one task to another. Responsibilities The PMBOK includes a brief description of a RACI matrix or chart in the discussion on ...
I live in the American Southwest—the Mojave Desert, to be specific. We have massive areas of land covered with nearly identical homes, built in clusters called “developments.” The term is meaningful, because the builders aren’t just building houses; they are developing entire communities. Complexity Lives at the Business Level We have a well-established process: The organization with the right to build on a tract of land proposes a plan, which is reviewed by a planning ...
Every three to five years, Project Management Institute conducts a role delineation study. The most recent project management RDS led to development of what PMI calls the “Talent Triangle.” This is a list of competencies in three groups: technical project management, leadership, and strategic and business management. While most professional project managers “get” the first two, many are dubious about that last item. But employers expect us to think beyond our immediate responsibilities. In talking ...