Friday, September 29, 2006

Week 4 (Building a Program Management Office)

Thing really took off this week! We were able to do some real in-depth work on the requirements. While we did not solve everything, the team gained a better understanding and we were able to significantly whittle down the list. More work on that to go, but should be OK. We have a fixed budget and a hard delivery date, so there is not much choice about which of the triple constraints is going to give.

I did do some more analysis of the existing documents. What is it about some people and documents???? First, the company has several sets of documentation for projects – corporate PMO, the quality management group, and IT has its CMM documents. There are a few others out there, but those are the main ones. Each group has a very cohesive and useful set of documents and often associated procedures. But why are they so complicated?? Why is there so much information needed to do such simple things? I guess when you give people the job of putting together documentation templates and procedures, they just do not stop. Most of us can put together an action item spreadsheet in 10 minutes. Imagine if that was your job – yikes – 10 minutes of work and you’re on the street? No – why not add links and procedures and notes and more columns and and and…..

Sorry, that was a bit of a rant wasn’t it? I guess it is just so obvious to me why people baulk at Project Management when we walk up to them with a ream of paper and say “if you fill all these out, you’ll be a project manager.” Like that loan guy on the TV commercials with the stack of forms to fill out for loans. Except we will put up with that to buy a house, not to run a project! Funny though isn’t it – the last house I bought was about $125,000 and my project is around $10,000,000 but I’m more willing to fill out the forms for the house. Let’s play with that a moment. I spent about 10 hours over the course of several weeks filling out loan papers and the innumerable legal documents and signing my name about 100 times to buy my house. So if I am willing to spend 10 hours for $125,000 then I should be willing to spend 800 hours for $10,000,000 – yep almost six solid months of filling out forms ! Yet I’ll bet we spend no more than 2 weeks in most projects.

My challenge is to find the “right” amount of useful information that takes an appropriate amount of time and put it into the forms and procedures that everyone can use with the least amount of pain. I am also working on how to organize the reporting structure (not organization / hierarchy so much) in such a way as to spread the work out as much as possible so that each level does only what they need and that information is rolled up to the next level who add what is pertinent there and rolls up, etc. My PMO does not have the staff to handle much work (the PMO being me and one other part-time manager), so we have to spread the burden as much as possible to maximize the value and minimize the pain / cost.

I went back and looked into RACI (Responsibility, Accountability, Consultation, Information) method and I think that will play well here both in relation to forms and procedures. We seem to have a lot of challenges in the roles and responsibilities area so I think I’ll address that first through the reporting, then move to decision making.


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