Friday, December 26, 2008

How to Solve Common Project Problems - HANDLING RESPONSIBILITY BEYOND YOUR AUTHORITY and REDUCING THE TIME TO MARKET - Project Management Essentials

Solving Common Project Problems

When projects span organizational boundaries, you can suddenly find yourself relying on people over whom you have no authority. They work for neither you nor your sponsor. How will you enlist them as accountable, enthusiastic team members you can count on?
Charter. Ask your sponsor to publish a charter for all the stakeholders. Make sure that it strongly designates your authority on this project.
Statement of work. Explain the reason behind the project, and give them the background necessary to understand its importance to the organization.
Communication plan. Involve them in setting up your primary means of communication. If they are outside your organization, you’ll probably need a
formal means of keeping them up- to- date. Make sure that this is a two- way medium so you’ll know that they are up- to- date and involved.
Small work packages with strong completion criteria. Make assignments easy to understand and track. Involve them in estimating the cost and duration of tasks and in defining completion criteria. The more they are involved in developing the plan, the more ownership and commitment they’ll feel.
Network diagram. Show them how they fit into the project; emphasize the importance of their input and the probable impact on the project if they fall behind on their schedule. If they have tasks with a lot of float, you can let them set their own schedule, but be sure to let them know that you expect them to meet the planned start and finish dates.
Project status meetings with an open task report. Give them updates on the project even during times when they aren’t actively involved. Invite them to status meetings when their tasks are near enough to appear on the open task report. Hold them accountable to the schedule and to the rest of the project team.
Sponsor. Develop a strong relationship with your sponsor by keeping him or her informed of your plans and your progress. You may need the sponsor’s help in overcoming organizational obstacles.

Speed counts in your industry. The pace of change demands that your next release of a current product have a development time 20 percent less than that of the previous release. Between now and the deadline, you have to take your product through requirements, design, and construction, while building in the maximum functionality.
Statement of work. Fast, focused performance demands a solid foundation. Getting agreement on authority, decision structures, and responsibilities among the participating groups will ensure that you don’t waste time fighting organizational battles during the project.
Fixed- phase estimating. Since you’ll be working through the entire product development life cycle, there’s no point in generating a detailed schedule from start to finish. Instead, choose several review points where you can reevaluate the functions of the product against the available resources and deadline. These review points constitute phase- end milestones. You can determine the duration of these phases using performance data from previous development efforts. You will need to stick to these review dates; for the team to meet the deadline, it must meet every phase- end milestone.
Project plan. Develop a detailed plan for every phase. Using a network diagram, identify all possible concurrent tasks. The concurrent tasks are the opportunities for performing more work at the same time; these are the places where adding people to the project can compress the schedule. You can use this technique to determine the largest number of people who can work on the project productively. (Don’t forget the resource- leveling guidelines, though.) Just remember that compressing the schedule by adding people may result in higher project costs.
Completion criteria. Build quality checks into the project every step of the way. Although it may be tempting to skip some of the early quality- related activities in order to save time, you need to stay the course. It really is faster to do it right the first time.
Project status meetings. Be clear about responsibilities and track schedule progress rigorously. Create a culture of schedule accountability by having strong completion criteria, and show clearly that falling behind, even by a little bit, is not acceptable. Build enthu siasm and a positive attitude by celebrating victories all along the way.

For more Information:
Project Management Guide
Defining the Project, Understand The Project Planning Process, Controlling the Project, Project Portfolio Management



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