Monday, January 31, 2011

The Project Manager’s Cycle

“What does a project manager do?  What value do you add to my project?”
This begins a series of posts on The Project Manager’s Cycle.  That is, those activities the PM performs every reporting cycle – the Monitoring and Controlling activities of the PM.  I have always worked on a one week reporting cycle, but some environments operate on longer cycles, such as two week cycles and monthly cycles.  That said, I believe that the more frequently this cycle is repeated, the more consistent the results.
Since this set of activities is a circle – when the last step is completed, it starts over at the beginning – “beginning” and “end” are purely arbitrary.  I document the cycle as starting when the project performance metrics are posted (e.g., if team members have to post their hours by Friday afternoon, then the cycle starts when those results are available to me).  I have worked with MS Project with Sharepoint and EPM and Clarity (formerly Niku) Workbench.  I’ve also worked in environments where these metrics are just not available, which requires some flexibility.  Sometimes, you just have to make do.
The Project Manager’s Cycle includes these activities:
·         Validate the metrics
·         Validate task status
·         Incorporate approved change control
·         Reschedule/Replan
·         Check variances and progress/productivity
·         Communicate planned/expected resource utilization to resource managers
·         Develop earned value reports
·         Review risks and mitigation actions
·         Review issues and action items
·         Review commitments and action items
·         Conduct client/sponsor status meeting
·         Conduct project team meeting
·         Publish the project status report
This list doesn’t show dependencies.  Some of these activities can (and should) be conducted concurrently, while others are dependent on prior activities.  Over the next baker’s dozen posts (or so), I’ll go into detail on each of these Project Manager Cycle activities, including its importance, its dependencies, why I show them in this sequence, and the detail of what each activity includes.
Well, the ferris wheel is slowing down, ready to start loading new passengers.  I invite you to join me on this ride as we circle the cycle.

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