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Continuous Improvement Through Incremental Adjustment

“The call to action in the execution phase involves incremental adjustments to the rescue plan using the Lead-Track-Resolve guideline that was described in the last chapter. The extended project team needs to understand that additional problems and stresses can still arisse and that it should not become disillusioned when they do arise. Indeed, the sooner further obstacles are encountered, the more time that is available to deal with them.”

“By identifying the problems early, they can be turned into tools for adjusting the project requirements and schedules in small steps to keep the final deliverables on track. This is the essence of the incremental adjustment approach in the execution phase. Building the best rescue plan is only the first step. Adjusting the plan according to what is actually being observed on the project is the second one.”

Moment-to-Moment Measurement

“Traditional project tracking is intended to minimize the number of interruptions experienced by project team members as they do their work. While noble in its intent, this approach relies on several assumptions that can prove to be inaccurate. Not forcing project team members to confront the true status of their initiatives contributes to delays in and of themselves. They may continue independently working on something that could be solved with someone else’s help. In fact, they may even be focused on the wrong thing altogether.”

“There is a common statement in project management groups that says something to the effect that ‘nothing gets done until the last minute.’ Looming deadlines get people focused. A series of deadlines is an immediate call to action.”

Avoiding Previous Mistakes

“Lessons from the pre-rescue portion of the project need to be analyzed and summarized. This knowledge in hindsight needs to be reviewed with the extended project team. Some of the mistakes that were made may be culturally influenced. These mistakes will be difficult to overcome. The project rescue initiative may be shielded from the negative influences of the corporate culture temporarily – with the support of the executive sponsor. But the influences will paradoxically return with mounting success.”

“Knowledge of past efforts is a powerful tool for dealing with these influences as the emerge. This must also be done without resorting to an ‘I told you so’ attitude, in order to maintain a sense of business as usual and to keep personality out of the situation. Fulfilling personal objectives or seeking personal satisfaction can damage the network that has been crafted to enable the rescue.”

“It is also common for behaviors of the team members to begin to revert to their previous states as progress becomes visible. Some team members will be on your side during the emergency, but they may begin to want things their way as soon as they sense that disaster has been averted the previous mistakes list is an important reminder of the dangers of retracing past missteps.”

Deliverables

“The project deliverables need to reflect the current state of the project. Any incremental changes or adjustments need to be reflected in the deliverables list, discussed elsewhere in this website and shown in the figure below. While the figure shows the deliverables that created the first significant draft of the deliverables, each needs to be maintained in subsequent phases.”

“These documents are important for keeping all the team members in alignment and for resolving misunderstandings that can arise when lots of people are busy doing lots of different things in parallel.”

Integrating the rescue approach with a development methodology
Integrating the rescue approach with a development methodology

Measuring Progress

“How can you know how well you are doing during this phase? The tolerance for error is very low at this point, so the most accurate picture needs to be known at any given time. Progress needs to be measured in several dimensions to get a complete picture of how the project is doing and where to allocate resources if problems are identified:

· Measure activities on the project plan

· Measure progress against deliverables that need to be completed

· Measure against the milestones

· Assess the work captured in the issues log

· Ask team members how they feel the project is going”

“A weakness in even one dimension detracts from a statement of overall progress and should trigger additional work to catch up. These dimensions should be included in the project status report or portrayed on a dashboard as color-coded symbols. The status of the project needs to be clear so that it can be surmised at a glance.”

Incorporating Feedback

“The openness, flexibility, and forgiveness that went into planning the project rescue should not be discarded at this stage. While the project rescue manager accepts accountability for the results, along with the executive sponsor, it is still a team effort overall.”

“Identification of missing activities or even deliverables should not be met with defensiveness. By this time, there have been several opportunities to collect input from every member of the extended project team. If something was not identified during those opportunities but becomes known now, it is a collective responsibility to incorporate it into the project plan and resolve it going forward.”

“Feedback can be collected in a number of ways. An open-door policy should be encouraged. Team members should also be asked to raise issues at any time. They can also simply respond to the frequent status reports that are distributed and raise their concerns to the group.”

“Identification of a missing or inaccurate requirement may not automatically mean that it needs to be incorporated into the project plan during the current phase. There is another reason to remain objective and not take things personally. A proper analysis can only be done if everyone is skeptical about the business advantages of inclusion and are not perceived to be defensive.”