Thursday, December 24, 2015

Revisting project success criteria

We are nearing the end of the year. It is a great time to reflect what worked and what did not work. It is time to revise the goals, metrics to prepare for the future. In this context, I  would like to  share findings from  current research and few ideas on revising the project success criteria.

Many project managers have been trained on the idea of the iron traingle of project success, that is delivering the project scope within the agreed  time and cost budgets. We also understand that real project success as understood by the stake holders from the benefit provided to them, is much more than meeting the iron triangle. There have been several studies over the years in relating the project performance to project success. Pedro Serrador and Rodney Turner in their paper "The Relationship Between Project Success and Project Efficiency"  (paywalled) surveyed 1386 projects and concluded project efficiency(meaning the project scope, time and cost goals) correlates moderately strongly  to overall project success with a correlation of 0.6. So there is a need to consider  other project success factors and also monitor project success metric from the point of view of the various stakeholders.

Most organizations measure project metrics like quality, predictability, productivity and customer satisfaction on a monthly basis. They may also have an yearly survey with customers to get their satisfaction levels with past projects and identify potential future business. This may not be specifically mapped to the past projects and used for improvement.  The measure of satisfaction from team, customer/sponsor and organization preparedness for future at periodic intervals and relating them to the past projects can make the organizations better at managing  project portfolios. Trying to measure these could be difficult as the  what, when, who and how need to be defined.  Initially the measurement may not be complete. Once the measurement is started, the results may be useful at a higher hierarchy of the organization at first and overtime, the benefit may be felt at the various levels. So the best time is to start now.

If you  already have a better project success metric, I appreciate if you can  share your experience.

Happy holidays and new year...

Friday, November 13, 2015

Evidence driven Project Management competency improvement

In Large and medium organizations, the competency improvement needs are identified using a top down approach.  This approach  helps in taking the organization to the next set of competencies, based on the process/product/technology road maps and assessment of the current competencies.  The needs so identified  are addressed  through the competency improvement of the individual employee, while addressing his/her career preferences. While this is usually helpful as a first step and results in a set of trainings, this  may not help address the deficiencies fully.  I take project management as an example and present an approach for assessing the competency gaps and tailoring an improvement solution that can be driven by Project Management Office (PMO) or equivalent role.

As we know when a  software projects is challenged, root causes are identified and a solution to address the same is implemented. This is more likely to be adhoc and may fail to address  deficiencies holistically. PMOs can  follow the structured approach below as a better alternative.

1) In the recent review period( last month/quarter/year), identify the challenges faced  by each project,  assigning one or more of  the 22  anti patterns (examples: Detailitis plan, Road to Nowhere, Micro management) compiled and  analysed by Pedro Silva, "Software Project Management Learning from Our Mistakes", IEEE Software, May/June 2015 pp 40-43.  This could be tailored as appropriate.

2) Perform a statistical analysis on the anti patterns to identify the top  anti patterns.

3) Identify the impacted roles and root causes.

4) Based on the above, identify the solution from one or more of the suggested solution types (process/role/technology/training).

5) Work with internal/external solution providers to implement the corrective actions spanning process redesign/training/coaching  etc.

6) Repeat the above steps to see whether  the solution  has yielded results.

In my extensive experience in industry, the first and last steps are  not given due importance with the result that the competency improvement remains weak at best. Do you agree? Share your views.