I once heard that as a Project Manager I am not expected to be the expert or really do anything much other than manage the three key criteria we all know so well: time, scope and cost.
This statement is good in practice, if we are practicing it consistently! More often than not we let the experts go to it and don’t check in often enough. Are we really willing to let progress, quality and priorities fall by the wayside until we are about to hand over the deliverable to the client? I would think that is too late – we will all be scrambling around trying to solve issues that would have been better addressed earlier in the piece.
Lately I’ve been nosing around in a SureStep text book and they hammer home the importance of actively engaging in project management tasks from the outset of the Analysis phase – they highlight the following areas where without effective and active project management all control will be lost:1. Progress Reporting - an “its fine” comment is not a progress update!
It is easy in the analysis phase to wait until the “documents” are ready to go and report that we have met the deliverable on time (hopefully). But how about reporting on progress while the requirements are been gathered – now that is a novel thought! As an example: we have 4 key areas to gather information on and each requires different people to be involved at multiple workshops – in this example we should aim to touch base with the analyst and check in on progress, attendance, potential issues/risk that have arisen….scope creep is a definite possibility. Let’s be honest a BA wants to make the customer have warm fuzzies and give them everything they need, after all they are not ultimately accountable for the budget and scope – that is our job. So let’s do it!
Again, by leaving it to the last minute to review documentation we are setting ourselves up for potential failure. We have all been in the situation where we are “too busy” and often the last thing we have time for is to read a comprehensive document with a fine tooth comb to ensure it meets our standards and project objectives/priorities. Yet if we schedule in the time during the phase to have regular quality reviews it will mean we are only reviewing small amounts of information at a time and it provides the project team with the opportunity to take corrective action while there is still time and expectations can be managed with greater efficacy.3. Priorities
The final area that gets ignored when we fail to fulfil our project tasks is the setting and monitoring of project priorities. Our job as proficient project managers is to ensure our teams know what they are working towards and within what parameters; who is responsible for what area etc. particularly in relation quality reviews, change/issues/risk management. If these are defined at the outset then we are setting ourselves up for a successful analysis phase which will put us in good stead for the remainder of the project.