Friday, August 15, 2008

Mitigating the Major Sources of Project Impact

I want to expand upon what was found to be the major sources of project impact from our survey results published at the end of July, 2008. These items were found to play a substantial role in the overall project execution success. A focus on these chief contributors should provide a visible and positive impact to a projects execution flow towards early revenue.

Requirements Closure
The primary reason that requirements closure is an issue is because this key step is likely not being managed to meet the teams expectations, it just happens. This is a major milestone in a project and someone must own it, identify expectations, track actions, track deliverables, manage risks and drive it to the agreed closure or it will drag on for months. This significant milestone is the source feeder for the entire planning process and will therefore be your largest contributor to project unpredictability. For information on a formalized process for requirements closure please see the Quality Function Deployment organization.

Individual Objectives
This one has to do with the crispness of individuals deliverable expectations. Is a designer just delivering a schematic or are they delivering a design that includes a package of specific deliverables, analysis activities, test modes and verification steps to meet a specific set of requirements? The team must agree to the detailed deliverables from all activities and then manage towards meeting them. This includes deliverables to and from product engineering, test, project management, marketing and the business as well as each designer. You never want anyone guessing about what they are delivering, where they are delivering it, who they are delivering it to and when they will be delivering it. Ignore the deliverable details and the team will be quietly reworking things to make them right for themselves, further contributing to project unpredictability.

Feature Control
Known as scope expansion, scope control or feature creep; this is the ever-evolving feature set of the project. Change is not necessarily good or bad. However, changes must be visible, have any project impact identified, have a benefit identified and be agreed upon by key stakeholders. The source of a change can be both external and internal; in either case the monitoring and approval must be the same. A change is rarely ever free, although it may be appear that way through a limited view of project impact scope. Be sure to have a process in place to monitor and approve all changes to prevent them from quietly stealing away your time to revenue.

Project Planning
Project planning is not solely the tasks, dates, and resource definitions rolled into a planning tool. A thorough plan must include the deliverable expectations to improve upon the clarity of individual objectives, another large contributor to project success or failure. Design guides can provide an ideal source for this type of information and can be a simple word document or an elaborate online system. Of great importance is that something exists to manage the details of individual deliverable requirements. An individuals deliverable contributions must be part of the planning process and be completed prior to commencement of significant project activity.