Improve Outcomes: “Fitting Program Leader® In” to your Work and Workplace: Part 1

This post gives project and program managers direction to:

  1. improve client’s satisfaction of your project communication such that you become their most favored contractor,
  2. Improve motivation of project resources by improving the precision and clarity of their tasks, and a way to monitor and control them.

This Post is organized along PMBOK standards* which are recognized as the leading specifier of project tactics.

First, identify guidelines for planning an appropriate approach to project communications management:

  1. The One-Minute Manager** goal-setting process helps improve task-setting among resources by setting a model for communication, praising, and correction. Consult it when writing tasks.
  2. Goal-setting includes the task, its budget and schedule, and its quality criteria (can write long criteria in Activity Record View’s “Attach” tabs).
  3. Review with the resources using a Gantt view to assess time availability.

 

Identify the types of information to be gathered in order to begin creating a communications management plan:

  1. A project organization chart for identifying people who need to interact with the PM. Divide into resources and stakeholders.
  2. A work breakdown structure, to look for opportunity to divide project responsibilities to others,
  3. Official project schedule, in order to set task start and finish dates,
  4. Project Scope of Work, in order to create tasks to further delineate and to accomplish.

Perform a Communications Requirements Analysis for a project:

  1. Should everybody’s tasks be shared among some or all resources?  This is a gut decision, and is based upon company culture and the PM’s style.
  2. Does it make sense to review a resources’ progress in regular meetings with the resource and his/her supervisor?  The skill level of the resource will guide this.
  3. Stakeholders can be informed of status by sending them printed or pdf’d reports from the Queried Reports submenu.  If they see tasks that they don’t understand or don’t support, they can contact you and work out a better task definition.
  4. Resources get their copy of their tasks after jointly creating them with the PM.  The PM emails them their tasks contained in a Review.tab file.  The user puts the file into Program Leader’s “Maintenance” folder, and then imports them into their Program Leader copy using its External Activities review panel.

 

Communication Methods and Technologies to achieve effective communication, given the needs of specific project stakeholders:

  1. Install Program Leader on the PM and resource’s machines. Purchase licenses so as to be able to import data.
  2. Add to the machine’s backup set the Maintenance folder that Program Leader creates.  This is assuming the IT department uses a backup utility for client machines.
  3. Resources start to self-train using the Documentation and Videos available from the Effective Project Solutions website (http://effectiveprojectsolutions.net).
  4. Decide which licensees enroll for in-person training and subscribed support from Effective Project Solutions, LLC, or provide support to users from well-trained internal users or the project manager.

 

Identify the elements of the communication model

  1. The PM decides with whom they will interact using Program Leader.
  2. Decide to assign WBS managers to scope of work items, who would then monitor lower-tier other resources using Program Leader and report to the PM their progress.
  3. The PM creates “Client Project” in Program Leader for tasks that the client would be interested communicating about.
  4. The PM creates a related Performing Organization Project to monitor project administration and tasks not intended for client communication.
  5. The PM prepares for client meetings by reviewing and editing the Four-Part Client report. During the meeting, the PM projects the parts, in sequence, on a wall.  This organizes discussion in a positive, teamwork-promoting atmosphere. (Also distribute handouts).

Gathering the Inputs for Managing Communications

Recognize the type of information the inputs to the Manage Communications process contribute to it:

  1. Obligations that resources have to the PM and the PM to the client are appropriate subject matter for Program Leader tasks.
  2. Recurring tasks can be input a Performing Organization project, but it’s good to avoid cluttering up with the mundane.  Use other ways to remind the PM and project team of these.
  3. Anything with a potential cost impact or risk impact should be put into Program Leader.
  4. High-level scheduling for large projects should be left to dedicated scheduling software. Program Leader is best suited to tasks subordinate to those schedules. Program Leader has Gantt charts sufficient for scheduling small projects.

 

Performance Reporting

Recognize how performance reporting is used as a method to manage communications.  Making sure that what’s communicated is received and understood:

  1. PM reviews Metric reports to review compliance against scheduled finish dates.
  2. The Metric reports also shows upon which project and resources the PM is putting the most attention.
  3. PM reviews Metric reports weekly of supervisors and subcontractors in order to prepare to communicate performance to those individuals.
  4. When a supervisor or subcontractor executive calls on the phone, the PM executes a Supervisor report and discusses at that moment.

 

Distributing Communications and Making Updates

  1. Distribute task sets to resources using Program Leader’s® External Review Process weekly. The resource review, edits, and returns a file with their updates. The PM reviews then discusses progress individually.
  2. PM reviews all tasks and considers what actions to take, using the Four-Part report and Calendar view.

 

Program Leader – Interaction with other PMBOK Processes

How Program Leader interacts with other processes during the management of a project:

  1. Project Cost Management – Program Leader budgets and records change orders. Who approved a change and when, how was this communicated, and what cost code and funding account apply, are collected and organized.
  2. Project Risk Management – Risks are assessed, impact quantified and summarized in Program Leader.

 

References:

*PMBOK® Communications Management Planning, Fifth Edition (Project Management Body of Knowledge), published by Project Management Institute

**Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, The One Minute Manager, Berkley Books, New York, 1982