I cannot stress enough the importance of rigour around project plan tracking.
When you start a project you need to understand what it is that you are aiming to achieve at the end of your project. This will of course take the form of detailed information in a Project Initiation Document or Business Case, sometimes both.
You should also have detailed business requirements (for IT based projects) which detail exactly what the system will/should do when you’re finished. These will be used and validated during each of the project delivery phases, and especially in testing.
But, what if your resource planning and estimating isn’t correct? This will of course have a downstream impact on your project plan. And, what if no one is really playing the role of managing project tracking?
I have recently seen a project where the project plan was created, where dates were estimated, knowing that an agile approach was going to be used for delivery. Whilst this is an okay way of working normally, in this instance because the business requirements were only 75% defined there were areas that weren’t understood completely when the development work commenced and so how could time estimates be provided that were anywhere close to the mark. The project plan was doomed from the start.
Then, because of further issues with items being scoped and re-worked, and no one actually fully governing the monitoring of the scheduled delivery, not one of the items on the delivery side met it’s completion date. A short time before go live, and there was nothing completed; nothing to be fully tested; nothing that the business could see and work with in order to feel that they were comfortable and prepared for the go live date.
It is very important that one member of the project team has responsibility for tracking of the scheduled activities. This person may be the Project Manager, or it may be the Project Coordinator. Someone needs to be responsible for shouting out and questioning when things aren’t delivered on time. Someone needs to understand and highlight the risks that might be or are likely to surface when delivery timing isn’t met.
You will naturally have your PCB members asking questions, because of further resourcing and cost implications too.
Project stream leads need to take accountability for their delivery and tell the Project Manager at the first sign of them not meeting their deadlines, what is honestly going on. It is no good covering up with a story. The stream leads also need to ensure that they have the right amount of resources available to them, in order to deliver on their piece(s) of work.
This is very much a team effort. Everyone in the team needs to be accountable and responsible for the project planning and tracking and working as a team. If they don’t do this, then the ability of the Project Manager/Coordinator to rely on updates of tracking will be hindered.
And, bottom line, your project won’t be delivered against time and budget, let alone scope.
Written by Karen Munro
*Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net