Friday, April 19, 2013

Planning or Delivery is More Important?

"Maturity of mind is the capacity to endure uncertainty.”
                                                                                                - John Finley

Which would you say is more important:  Project Planning or Project Execution?
There are lots of these question forms that are just meaningless, but this one isn’t.  You can have good (consistent, reliable) project delivery even with poor planning;  but you cannot have good planning without good delivery.

If you think about it even briefly, it’s obvious why successful planning requires reliable execution.  Planning is, after all, the projection of future activities.  The plan includes the activities to be performed as well as predictive criteria about the activities (start date, end date, duration, cost, etc.).  If you can’t predict the activities that will be performed, then the plan is flawed and unreliable.  If you can predict the activities, but the activity criteria are unpredictable then the plan is flawed and unreliable.
Reference Figure 1, a control chart example I created for this post.  Note that you cannot predict the quality of the result because the process is out of control (and apparently worsening).   There’s a saying that you can’t control what you don’t measure.  I’ll take that to the next level by saying that you can’t plan for what you can’t control.

Figure 1
Figure 1 and unreliable project delivery capability are prime examples of an organization that is not process mature.  This is comparable to the CMMI Maturity Level 1 organization.  To improve delivery, your organization needs to move up the maturity level capability for whatever methodology (e.g., P&SD PM or Consultancy PM) is most important (whether that is CMMI or OPM3, for example).

Since the essence of project delivery is the combination of planning processes with monitoring and controlling processes, this offers some insight on where to start if your organization needs to improve the project delivery capability.  First, capture and track (the right) project metrics.  Next, select the maturity model that is appropriate for your organization.  Then, begin systematically implementing and institutionalizing the processes in the maturity model.
Once you have the capability to deliver consistently, reliably and predictably, then you can plan and your plan will also be reliable.  Now that’s maturity.

Do you know how to use a maturity model to assess and improve your organization’s project delivery capability?  What has been your experience implementing maturity model capabilities?  What were the results?
© 2013 Chuck Morton.  All Rights Reserved.

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