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Posts Tagged ‘project’

PROJECT AUDITS

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 19, 2010

When you complete a major project, it is a good idea to conduct what is called a “Project Audit.” The idea is to document what went right and wrong during a project and, hopefully, learn something beneficial from the experience. Surprisingly, few companies take the time to perform such an audit. If the project was successful, they want to move quickly to the next assignment. If the project was a disaster, they want to bury and forget about it as quickly as possible. This is a shame under either scenario.

If the project was successful, the elements for success should be clearly identified and become a part of a company’s “best practices,” thereby others can emulate and achieve similar success. If the project was a disaster, the elements leading to failure should likewise be documented so others can avoid similar pitfalls. Either way, a Project Audit is a valuable document, which is why I’m puzzled when companies avoid performing them. It is certainly not a waste of time and money. As the old saying goes, “We learn from our mistakes as well as our successes.”

Frankly, I think people are more inclined to feel embarrassed about a Project Audit, as you hear of too many project failures in corporate America these days, particularly in the I.T. sector. It seems people have trouble finishing projects on time and within budget. In fact, project overruns seem to be the norm. Consequently, people do not want to have their name associated with a disaster and will go out of their way to cover it up. I guess it is human nature to think this way.

Companies avoid performing Project Audits so much, many of them have forgotten how to prepare one. First, the person performing the audit should not be the project manager or lead designer. Rather, it should be a neutral observer who doesn’t have any problem judging both right and wrong. The Project Auditor should analyze the following:

1. Estimated versus Actual schedules and estimates (both costs and time).

2. A final Cost/Benefit Analysis should be prepared which, hopefully, can be compared to one prepared in the initial Feasibility Study.

3. If the project is product oriented (to design and develop something), an analysis of the finished product versus its design specifications should be prepared.

4. Conduct interviews with project participants to gather insight as to what went right and wrong.

The final report should be professionally prepared and presented to pertinent managers and executives to study. The presentation should be somewhat clinical in nature as the presenter should avoid both disparaging and complimentary remarks as they may offend someone. Just be matter-of-fact in the presentation and let the reviewers come to their own conclusions.

Years ago, we were asked to perform a Project Audit for a company in Wisconsin, it’s part of what we do as a consulting company. Two projects were observed; Project “A” was executed smoothly and professionally, so much so that the project team wasn’t recognized for their accomplishment, thereby creating a morale problem. Project “B” was the antithesis of “A” and went out of control almost from its inception. Remarkably the Project Manager and team leaders of Project “B” were well recognized and often complimented for their ability to put out fires during the project. We made note of this in our Audit report but went on to say that the only problem with rewarding their “fire fighters” was they also happened to be the company’s chief arsonists. Whereas the “fire fighters” were recognized for screwing up, the Project “A” team went virtually unnoticed for doing a good job. In other words, our report revealed shortcomings in how people were rewarded in the company.

Maybe that’s the real reason why people don’t like to perform Project Audits; they plain and simply don’t want to hear the truth.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see: http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 10, 2009

I was talking to a consultant in the Philadelphia area recently who was lamenting about the state of Project Management in this country. He had been employed for over thirty years as a Project Manager in plant construction, was certified in his craft, yet found the state of project management to be quite primitive, which is surprising when you consider all of the tools available for managing projects these days. This led to a dialog as to why the state of project management had deteriorated. I contended this was nothing new and should not come as a surprise. I then cited four reasons for the problem:

First, as my friend suggested, people tend to take a tool oriented approach to project management as opposed to thinking the problem through themselves. Here is another area where we have created a dependency on technology and come down with a bad case of the stupids when it fails us. The scope of project management is large and consists of a variety of concepts and techniques, most of which are not complicated and can be easily taught, but are not. Consequently, college students graduate knowing how to use certain tools, but lack insight into basic concepts which hinders their ability to solve problems and work with others.

Second, executive management does not have an appreciation of project management and does not understand its scope, nor the integration of concepts. For example, project planning is required prior to developing an estimate, which then fuels scheduling, all of which is a precursor for effective project reporting. Some executives naively believe project management is nothing more than producing a schedule or buying computer software to record worker time. Some even think project management is cheap and refuse to invest in proper training for their people or acquiring an integrated set of tools for them to use.

Third, project management is necessary when you need to control multiple people on multiple projects with complicated work breakdown structures. However, it falls flat in this age of short term thinking where there is a tendency to attack smaller bite-size project assignments in a “quick and dirty” manner (aka “agile”).

Last but not least, it must be remembered that project management is a people oriented function, not administrative, clerical or technical. In other words, Project management is a philosophy of management, not a specific tool or technique. It is getting people to complete project assignments on time, on schedule, within budget, and in a particular sequence. If the truth were known, there is nothing complicated about Project Management; it just requires discipline, organization, and accountability; three ugly words in today’s business vernacular.

At the end of the phone call, my friend thanked me for being a sounding board and said he felt better after talking with me. I replied I wasn’t surprised, after all, misery loves company.

Such is my Pet Peeve of the Week.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Tune into Tim’s new podcast, “The Voice of Palm Harbor,” at:

http://www.phmainstreet.com/voiceph.htm

Copyright © 2009 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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