Is Your Project Management Process Broken

Is Your Project Management Process Broken?

We Donít Know What We Donít Know

At first when you hear this statement, it will sound ambiguous (like Donald Rumsfeld said or Dan, the CIA officer in Zero Dark Thirty said). But let's talk it in terms of project management. If you donít have well set project management process, you wouldnít know what is happening, what is going wrong and how to fix it.. Or let me put it this way - in absence of proper project management process, can you manage every project delivery in consistent & predictable way? No! I hope this article will help you realize the importance of having project management process.

Just having project management process is not enough, you need to set those right, be adaptive/flexible to improve, correct mistakes. How would you know that your project management process is broken and is no longer working fine?

  • Is your team working extra time?
  • Are you always on toes, going after team members for project activities update?
  • Does your portfolio manager/program manager or practice-head relentlessly chase you for more project status report?

A Microsoft study of nearly 38000 respondents across 200 countries including US has found that every work week, 17 hours are actually unproductive ones i.e. nearly three productive day per week. Respondents also think that they spend nearly six (5.6) hours every week in meetings and 69% of these meetings are not productive. As per one of the statistics, in last 20 years the working time has increased by 15 percentage. In another survey finding only 25% of the respondent said they are fully engaged at work whereas whooping 19% said they are actively disengaged at work,

Doesnít it look chaotic, frustrating and alarming? What we need is to remain on track/focused, be more productive, seamless collaboration, good process to review changes requests, performing project update, reviewing project progress and leading a cohesive, productive team to drive project success.

If you are able to relate above situation, clearly there are problems with the way projects are managed and delivered. Once you are able to identify these problems, you will be able to fix it. But how do you identify these problems, what are their symptoms. In this post, letís look at two such issues with your project management process.

  1. You donít know who is working on what and what is real status
  2. Your boss is pressing for some or other reports every alternate day
  3. Your project data is scattered in discrete tools without providing any integrated view
  4. You are bombarded with changes request every day and you donít know how to manage those

You donít know who is working on what and what real project status is

Without Project Management Process - No Clear Visibility Into Project Status

Do you know what your team members are working on - exact activity on any given day, what is the exact progress made for planned activity, are they working on some ad-hoc activity like issue, report, change, anything? If you donít know these, what is the point looking at resource capacity planning or resource load report or even project schedule (Gantt chart)?

You do realize that something is wrong with your project management process as your team keeps working on ad hoc requests, unscheduled, unplanned work - half of the time! Let me share another interesting finding by Human Resource Planning Society of assessment of team work in fortune 500 companies. The study states nearly staggering 80% of the respondents have difficulties in assessing work done by their teams.

Letís think about it for a moment! Even if 50% of the project managers find it difficult to evaluate what their team has really done, how would you even plan project work for them - forget about planning for upcoming project, work that you can assign tomorrow or next week - any unplanned activity like issue or risk?

Here is the major problem, if you can see it : you are unable to figure out whatís going on, you still keep asking your team for update, supposedly keep tracking their work and try to put together teamís status update into some report. You are already spending much of your scarce time in compiling such reports through meetings, status calls, emails and what not. And whatís the real value of these reports?

It is always interesting and useful to ponder over history and statistics as long as we try to improve our life - be it work or personal! In next post we will look at four more symptoms that are telling you that your project management process is broken.

In the meantime, you will find really useful to hear about the Project Management Lessons Learned by NASA Executive.

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