Simple solution to the constraint complaint
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.
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How most projects are at the same time both wildly successful and spectacularly disappointing, and everything in between, depending on the point of view of different stakeholders.
Agile has a lot to offer the wider enterprise, and we could perhaps see a time when the whole of an organisation is run on agile principles. Since this will not be about projects or programmes, I believe the emphasis will be on behaviours and structures as opposed to processes and tools.