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Simple solution to the constraint complaint

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As project managers, we’re all aware of the RAID log concept, to capture risks, actions, issues, decisions and any other information a project manager may wish, or be obliged to record.

But, how many project managers use one, really use one?

Most project managers have one, or use integrated tools foisted upon them by their customer or organisation. The common complaint, however, is: “I don’t have time to complete mine; I’ve got more important things to do.” Also known as the ‘constraint complaint’.

At T-Systems we decided to tackle the constraint complaint head on and revaluate the tools we use, both integrated and optional, and the benefit we sought to achieve.

We were not seeking to create a rigid method to provide additional Management Information (MI) reporting or force our project managers to log actions, issues, risks etc. After all, our project managers are highly trained and competent people and know what they should do.

What we wanted was a highly effective, all-encompassing tool that delivered cost savings in terms of project management effort and improved customer service. What we needed was a ‘Project Journal’ – a collection of logs and registers in one Excel workbook.

Wow, you may sarcastically think!

But hang on a second; before you write it off completely, our journal has not only improved access to internal governance, including risk registers and lessons learned logs, it has also systematically transformed the way we deliver projects.

In a fast paced environment, with project managers  moving from one account to another, and contractors being used on an ad hoc basis (not to mention the fact that project managers need holidays too!), significant focus is required on the handovers of projects.

The ‘Project Journal’ provides a record of project information, and an audit trail of past and current actions, issues, risks and decisions. In project transfers we’ve started to achieve much slicker handovers, saving significant project management ‘effort’ (cost), and minimising impact on delivery times and quality, thus providing benefit to our customers.

The tool is used daily by our project managers, who are free to edit and amend to suit style, project and customer. Only the minimum number of logs and data are mandatory and to provide extra flexibility, additional registers and columns can be added. While existing ones can be moved and reordered.

The bottom line is that our project managers feel the benefit, and our customers see it too.

We’ve not reinvented the wheel here. It is after all, a simple spreadsheet – but with zero constraint complaints. 

This is a Project Excellence blog written by T-Systems, headline sponsor at the 2014 APM Project Management Awards.


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  1. David Lynch
    David Lynch 02 September 2014, 12:07 PM

    Great blog item; it got me wondering why Project and Programme Managers often think that these are generally shelf-ware once written. I have recently replaced much of a RAID by a Questions Log. In doing this I have sort of done a Windscale ... Sellafield renaming trick. It is really an issues log with a different name. It, like your "Project Journal", documents issues, solutions, answers, reminders etc. and hence becomes an almost one stop source of information.Still these I think do not solve the underlying problem but they step round it (and that is itself good IMHO as we get the benefits).So why are RAIDS often written then put on the shelf? When I mentor Project/Programme Managers I try to get them to understand that a Project Manager should spends say 30% of their time making sure risks don't impact, 30% of their time dealing with issues (percentages are variable of course) and the rest of their time on things like critical success factors and the various other project activities such as planning, re-planning, reporting (and that can be a big percentage) and so on. If a Project Manager's work is not around these and meeting the requirements then are they actually adding value to getting to the desired project or programme end state?So as regards the "constraint complaint" are they, as is to be covered in today's webinar "too busy on the urgent to focus on the important?"