Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Project Manager’s Cycle – Review Commitments

“Yes, Anita, your family needs you at this time of loss.  My thoughts are with you and your family.  Do what you need to do and take all the time you need.”
With this post we conclude the “behind the scenes” activities of The Project Manager’s Cycle.  You won’t find this activity in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK).  This activity is performed during the Managing & Controlling practices of the Software Engineering Institute’s (SEI) Capability Maturity Model Integrated (CMMI), for example, the CMMI for Development, which can be downloaded.
I often take for granted the people that make commitments enabling my project to advance and succeed.  It is humbling to be reminded of the ephemeral nature of their commitments, including:
·         The Sponsor, for committing to the all-important budget
·         Owner(s), for committing resources, for committing to the requirements and for committing to success by running political interference
·         Resource Managers, for committing team members when needed
·         Project Team Members, for committing to their estimates, schedules and deliverables
·         Vendors, for committing more than just the terms of the contract or SOW, but to committing their organization’s reputation to our project success
Commitments are universally conditional (implicitly if not explicitly).  You have money as long as market conditions are the same and you maintain the ROI;  you have political protection as long as it in your Owner’s best interest to provide it;  you have resources and team members as long as the priority is the same and project schedule is consistent.
Because commitments are conditional, they are revocable.  Therefore, the savvy project manager will track all commitments made to and for the project and regularly reassess their reliability.  This is especially important when the project deviates from plan.  Which is why this is probably the highest priority for a project manager taking on a troubled or recovery project.  After all, the commitments are not just made to the project – they are made to the Project Manager.  And when these key stakeholders lose confidence in the PM’s ability to deliver, those commitments will dry up.
Have you taken a project commitment for granted that came back to cost you?  What did you learn?

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