Project Management series – Exploring project performance

Salient points:

  • Project management is a human based effort, marriage of ambitious goals, pursuing to change from current stage to a future stage of a product or service under a finite time frame, a huge effort than any other field, so a PM has to be disciplined, with oodles of patience
  • Always be ethical, in the course of product development
  • Consult and act
  • Update all stakeholders upstream when you see a fire on the track
  • PM needs to be passionate and should never get lost in too many inputs form various people across disciplines. Keep your focus, and think it from people perspective and still balance it within the boundaries of processes
  • Spreading kindness through people, to get the job done

Let us review the book – practitioner’s handbook on project performance that includes agile, waterfall and beyond. All brought together by Mark Philips.

What is project success?

A project is usually gauged on the triple constraints and how it has fared – Cost, schedule and quality. However, the truth is very different. In reality, the theoretical application sometimes fails drastically because the practitioner has to operate within the confines of politics, the culture and the environment of that place where the project is taking place. They impact the theory what we have read. So, as a project manager (PM), you have to bridge that gap as much as possible between the messy reality and the theory.  At the end of the day, it all comes to the people involved. They decide upon the success or the failure.

As a PM, you need to be an excellent communicator and is very important that you do it consistently, with the teams outside or inside of the organization. A PM must consider diverse viewpoints before taking a decision. It is beneficial to have a consensus or a belief which is built on various other views from the experts. This will bring the flavor of all PMs’ who worked under different conditions. Taking queues from emotional intelligence, mentoring and leadership; help to gather facts on the best approaches and you will have a large chance of resonating with a large audience. Others purely rely on calculating earned value schedule, CPI, SPI and appropriate numbers define project performance.

What defines a performance?

Satisfying stakeholders, working on projects and using the best options available to come as close to the planned closure.  Some use the metrics to reach a decision and implement, while others may be more focused on the team, using agile methods, letting go of the metrics. It has been seen, experts or gurus now days, applying economics, physics, engineering, law and neural science to deeply study how the culmination of these parameters can positively impact the project outcome.

Is there a similarity between law and project management?

A project manager acts like an attorney and takes into account all the facts/figures, social aspects and presents them to the judge or the jury for the final decision. The client or the main stakeholders act like the judge.  Based on all the data and combined views, the judge will give a verdict, the project is like a case in a court of law. Wrapping social science to the tech fundamentals of management, immensely help a PM get to a decision quickly and make the project, a resounding success.

A project manager can only facilitate the teams to a guided conclusion.

What are the different approaches?

It is important to take into account, the various artifacts of a project – schedule, EVM (earned value management), the critical path, deviations, quality metrics, and agile methods so that a broad spectrum dialog can be done. All our perceptions can change putting the mix in a cauldron. There’s no single salvo to the solution. If the organization permits, pure agile, or a hybrid of waterfall and agile will garner good results. However, few age old practices do not change – historical data, knowledge of processes and policies, fleshing of requirements.

How can performance be measured, if the performance markers change so much, due to its fluid nature in the current times ?

Within the uncertainties, try to set the goals, which will help a PM to drive towards the closure, navigate around the obstacles, keeping the objectives, in your full view. Be creative to circumvent. Continue with touching people, have transparent conversations, be there and get the pulse of the project situations.

No planning is done in agile method of project management. Is it true?

Nothing goes ever as planned. No matter which area, you talk about, almost applicable to any industry type.  Agile means that you can roll them out in bits and pieces, as a matter of fact. Waterfall method is an illusion.

Agile forces us to come up with a product in two weeks.

Recognizing discussions and having constant client interaction and providing clients, with an evolving product, such as, sharing an MVP. Always be open to ideas from other people. Working with different teams provides the scope of knowing culture, methods, history that directly or indirectly impact people behavior.

A client may want to get a product in ‘x’ time frame within ‘y’ budget, using ‘z’ resources to have ‘v’ profit, and all with super good quality. This is next to impossible. That is not always true in real life. A PM should be followed, as this individual has all the ideas of interactions, situations and comes up with the best way forward.

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