19 May 2009

Performance management

The five phases of a project (in the PMI context) are

1. Initiate
2. Plan
3. Monitor
4. Control
5. Close

Of course plan – monitor – control is an iterative process in itself. So maybe there are really three phases to a project; the beginning, middle and end. Like a story.

You are constantly correcting your plan in response to information you gather. You’ll then act on your modified plan to optimise performance, or minimise problems.

Here is my question;

Who’s job is it to implement the changes to the project plan and then to action them.

It appears on the face of it to be the project manager’s job, and at the detailed end it is. But first you have to gain approval to vary from your constraints – budget, time and scope.  Oterwise something else is going to suffer.

I am learning that in many projects the project manager does not have access to a sponsor or project owner who will or can engage in this decision making process.

What does the canny project manager do in this circumstance? Access your contingency until you get the conversation had? Press the matter with your sponsor or management (maybe using the squeaky wheel method)? Break the chain of command?

Or stand back and let it play out with an “I told you so” card ready for when the call finally comes to see the sponsor.  Can you pre-empt this situation by talking it out with the sponsor first? Not always.

Which approach is going to make the customer happiest? Which one will make them least annoyed?

What is your strategy?

While we are at it, here is this week's lecture notes on performance management.

Pic by YaniG, CC @ Flickr.

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