Don’t Screw These Up: Sustainability, Communication, Measurability, Continuous Improvement

23 Nov 2009 - 12:26 PM under Definitions | Posted by PMStudent

It seems my initial 2 posts on this topic stirred up some discussion but it’s really dropped off.? I’m guessing the series is dragging out too long by treating each attribute individually, so here’s the final 4 I had come up with.

So far we’ve had:

  • Delivering Value
  • Consistency
  • Alignment
  • Confidence

Today I’ll add 4 more.

don't screw these up - by julsatmidnight via Flickr

don't screw these up - by julsatmidnight via Flickr

Sustainability

Every implementation of project management is going to score some grade on sustainability.? There are a few angles on this one.

First, does the way you do projects burn people out?? Do you require overtime because of the way you plan (or fail to plan well)?

Second, is your manner of doing projects sustainable from a community and environmental perspective?? Are you able to incorporate long-term thinking about consequences and include stakeholders because of it?

Communication

In some implementations of project management, communication is very poor.? These don’t last long unless they are being artificially propped up or covered up in some way.? A common perception seems to be that in large complex projects the communication is very one-way and top-down, but I can tell you from my experience that it doesn’t have to be that way.? The best projects are able to draw upon the intellect of people who are in the know; namely the people on the project team and key stakeholders.

Even on small projects this can be a big problem area.? Many years ago I was doing small projects and it changed my life when I started using a communication management plan.? When I got purposeful about communication with my team and stakeholders a new world opened up, and I was able to start seeing the deficiencies in my own ways to improve them.

Measurability

Many of the attributes I’ve already brought up are impossible to assess objectively unless you have some way to measure performance.? Whether you use EVM, a burn-down chart, etc. the best project management I’ve seen always makes sure that results are measurable.

Continuous Improvement

If you are not improving, you are standing still.? I’m not saying that methodologies should seek to overturn the fundamentals that make them great.? I am saying that by incorporating lessons learned into formal practice (doing critical sprint reviews, milestone reviews, etc.) you can not only make the product better, but your project management processes too.

Sure, there is a level of bureaucracy on large, complex projects.? And I can also tell you that I’ve seen continuous improvement initiatives work well on large aerospace contracts for the federal government (US).? Everyone from the small business to the largest projects should be doing this.

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