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Review Project Audit Results

Key Question: Is each team member working only on the specifically assigned tasks in the plan?

"This situation is the silent killer of projects. For runaway projects, the project management team tends to assume that the project team is working on the tasks that are in the plan. However, on troubled projects, project team members very often are working on other tasks, even those outside the scope of the project, without informing the project manager. There are two primary causes for this problem. First the plan is missing tasks needed to complete the project. We covered this scenario earlier in the chapter. The other problem occurs when your project is 'sharing' team members, intentionally or unintentionally. A project team member working on two projects simultaneously works well when the two project managers are communicating with each other. Projects have heavy activity periods and lighter activity periods. By avoiding coinciding heavy activity periods, or at least planning for coinciding heavy activity periods, you can mitigate the impact to your project. Unfortunately, project managers tend not to communicate with other project managers that are not directly in the extended project team. This puts the onus on the team member to prioritize the competing responsibilities. More often than not, that decision is not communicated to the affected project manager and the trouble begins."

"One example of the unintended sharing of a team member occurs when a project team member has maintenance and break-fix responsibilities for the production system. This team member was chosen to be on the development project because of extensive knowledge of the current system. However, that legacy production system is still working, still breaking, and still requires attention. Also, this key person may be fulfilling ad hoc requests from the business organization."

"The best way to determine if your team is not working on the tasks in the plan is to track each team member's effort each week. By having each member track hours expended by task, you will quickly see if they are working on missing tasks or tasks outside the project. If team members cannot account for a full work week or the number of hours you expected for that week, you can assume they are working on non-project related tasks. In any case, you will need to start negotiating with the competing manager to make sure you get the time you need for your project. If you cannot achieve satisfactory results in the negotiations, then relieve that team member from as much responsibility as you can or remove that person from the project. If you let the situation linger, you will slowly kill you chances for success."

The above is an excerpt from a book written by Sanjiv Purba and Joseph Zucchero, published by McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2100 Powell Street, 10th Floor, Emeryville, California 94608 U.S.A. Sanjiv has over 20 years of experience managing large projects and many years engaged in rescuing ailing projects.