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Realigning with Industry Best Practices

“We have generally been aligned with industry project management best practices and principles throughout the project rescue intervention. However, there are some aspects of the rescue intervention that require an intense and streamlined approach to move troubled projects forward. Project rescue interventions always focus on the project areas that generally result in troubled or failed projects.”

“There is a cost to the rescue approach. By following the ‘essential’ path – which is one step above the critical path – we control an uncertain environment to produce a set of positive results. We also expect extraordinary effort from the extended project team, high priority within an organization, and a level of intensity (e.g. several checkpoints a day) that are just not sustainable over the long term.”

“After a project rescue is successfully completed as per the revised objectives at the start of the salvage process, realignment with industry best practices is required. As shown in Figure 1, the rescue methodology is completed, and the project team begins to transition back to the standard corporate management and development methodology. The rescue organization begins to transition out of the process at this time as well.”
 
Figure 1
 
Project Flow
 
 

Best Practices

“A corporate standard may not be defined for the management and development methodology, or the rescue process may show that the one already in place is not capable enough to support the demands of the project. The lessons learned from the intervention can be used by the executive sponsor to drive the selection of another methodology.”

“There are many sources of best practices that can be used to establish corporate methodology. Some of these (e.g. flavors of Agile methodologies) are available for free on the Web. Others can be purchased with a project management tool. Most of the larger consulting organizations also have proprietary methodologies that they can offer to client organizations in return for a consulting engagement or an upfront fee.”

“Several groups or standards, such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Control Objectives Information Technology (COBIT), the Project Management Institute (PMI), Capability Maturity Model (CMM), each offers a separate ‘body of knowledge’ that can serve as a template for your project methodology best practices.”

“No single source is thorough enough to cover all the needs of most organizations. To build a rigorous project development methodology or project management methodology, it will be necessary to thread different pieces of knowledge from these sources based on your organizations specific needs.”

“For example, the PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge offers a generic project management approach that can be used to either drive the selection of a third-party methodology or form the basis of a new corporate standard. The PMI approach consists of a combination of project management knowledge areas and project management processes. In particular, risk, quality, communication, controls, and change control are well covered. These can be adopted within the high-level phases shown in Figure 2.”

Figure 2 also shows the generic horizontal linkages between the different phases of a standard project management and development methodology. These linkages are important for ensuring the integrity of the collective processes and the accuracy of the deliverables that are produced.”

Figure 3 shows a more detailed view of a generic project management and development methodology. The deliverables shown in the figure are the minimum number required for most projects to be delivered on time and budget. Missing even a few of these is quite risky. By the time problems are identified, a substantial salvage operation may be required to undo the damage. The deliverables are shown in the phase that typically creates them. They are modified in subsequent phases of the life cycle.”
 
In the world of software development, best practices abound. There are many industry standards available for the organization to choose from, e.g. ISO, CMMI, etc. There are also many different software development methodologies to choose from, depending on the size, technical complexity, and solution you're implementing. To learn more about how to establish best practices in the area of software development, and manage the risks, click on this link.
 
Communication is key to success in delivering projects. While communications are not a key deliverable of the project, such as the products or services the project creates, communications are important because they keep the project team and key stakeholders appraised of project progress and also because they keep the project manager up to date and allow them to take the preventive and corrective actions necessary to keep the project on track.
 
Validation is important to the project because it's the proof that we delivered what we promised to deliver and with the degree of quality we agreed upon. While this section deals with testing, there are other validation activities that ensure we're building the right thing such as design reviews, code walkthroughs, test plan reviews, etc. To learn more about Communication and Validation and questions you should ask about those areas, click on this link.
 
Quality Assurance refers to the set of processes and procedures that ensure the right activities are planned for delivering the desired degree of quality. This term is sometimes used as a catch-all to refer to both the oversight of quality activities (referred to as Quality Control by the PMBOK®). Put another way, Quality Assurance is responsible for choosing the set of Quality Control activities that best fits the products or services being produced by the project while running the tests, taking the measurements, and correcting errors is the responsibility of Quality Control. To learn more about choosing the best Quality Assurance practices for your organization, click on this link.
 
We use control here to refer to the control of project management processes and activities, not specific to Quality Control activities whose focus is the products or services of the project. Project control, as defined by the PMBOK®, covers all aspects of the projec including Quality Assurance. While Quality Assurance may be under the umbrella of a separate group in the organization, it will be up to the project manager to engage that group and ensure the Quality Control measures meet project requirements. The Quality Assurance group will take responsibility for the Quality Control activities focused on products or services. The project manager is responsible for ensuring the quality and proper execution of processes and activities outside the product or service domain. For example, the project manager must ensure that the planned weekly status report for the project is authored and communicated on the planned dates. To learn more about controlling the project's processes and procedures, click on this link.
 
Now that your project rescue is over, it's time to assess the health of the team that succeeded in rescuing your ailing project. Is the team ready to move on to the next project? Is there any residual ill-will or finger pointing as a result of the rescue? For tips on how to go about retiring the team from the project with minimum impact to operations and maximum benefit to the organization, click on this link.
 
Anyone who has experience in managing projects knows that changes to the project plan are inevitable. Whether they come about due to changes in the market place, changes to regulations, standards, or policies, shrinking budgets, poorly defined requirements, or any other source, the question isn't 'Will the project experience change?' it's 'How well can the project manage change'. The page accessible by clicking on this link will provide you with a thumbnail sketch of what you are trying to accomplish with a change management plan and some questions that you can ask to assess the quality of the process.
 
The last page in this area deals with managing the technology used for the project and any other non-Human resources needed to facilitate the work. In the IT industry non-human resources typically means computers, desks, phones, and software which the team uses. Technology will mean any technology that is an integral part of the product being produced by the project. For example, if Java is chosen as the programming language for the application being developed, the project team must manage the installation of Java software on the development teams computers. To view the questions that should be asked to assess whether the rescued project used the best practices available, click on this link.