Posted on 21 July, 2008 by duardo
|Underpinning the concept of “Management by Exception” is the PRINCE2 Exception Report template.
Once a plan is forecast to exceed its tolerances, the red flag needs to be sent up the pole. This template is the red flag and so it is built for speed, and not intended to be a repository for in-depth analysis. It seeks to put the critical information in one place for the key decision makers to select the most appropriate option to move the project forward.
Raising the red flag of exception mgt
The first part of the template deals with defining the deviation and its consequences. The key here is to accurately describe the problem and communicate it well to the reader. The second part is a very straight forward analysis of the courses of action available to the decision maker a brief analysis on their impact on key areas of the project such as the business case, risks and tolerances followed by a recommendation.
A couple of tips for creating effective Exception reports:
- Use bullet points
- Summarise the deviation into a picture
- Summarise the recommendation into a picture
- Try to strike a balance between keeping it brief and having sufficient information for the decision maker to do a full appreciation, particularly if the exception is sizable.
The key here is to communicate the problem and the solution quickly, smart managers will make the connection between the bullet points and won’t require detailed analysis. Executives also love pictures so try to use them to drive home your analysis. They tend to be a smart bunch who like to think quickly on their feet, accurate pictures help them make the right decisions quickly.
Hint: I always try to make sure I have someone with a creative background in my PMO. These people are invaluable in their ability to create and communicate messages using many different media such as video, print, graphic design, photography, multi-media and the internet (to name a few).
Finally, its worth noting that this method isn’t new to the world of management, military officers around the world are taught the same method, some armies refer to it as the “individual estimate” which involves a quick appreciation of the situation, development some courses of action (COA), a quick evaluation of the COAs (do nothing, most likely, most dangerous) then selection and execution. So when you’re on a good thing why change it?
Filed under: PMO, PRINCE2, Templates | Tagged: exception management, issue maangement, PRINCE2, Project Board, Project Management, Risk Management | Leave a Comment »
Posted on 27 March, 2008 by duardo
|Unfortunately it’s too easy to let your management systems fall off the rails when deadlines are looming or if senior management has lit a fire under the project.
So to help you, the Project Manager, keep an eye on the “engine” of your project try using a weekly checklist to reflect on the key operational activities / considerations that will keep your project on track.
In this checklist I’m going to suggest using a five day work week as it’s a convenient ‘packet’ of time to plan for and report against. However you don’t have to use the work week as your unit of measure as it is highly dependent on your context.
For example, in some critical projects the Project Manager may mentally run through this checklist daily. Alternatively I’ve seen some organisations talk about this information in months and quarters although I wouldn’t recommend it. As always, you will need to adapt this to suit your own time frame.
The suggested headings are listed below, but you can download the MS word version of the checklist here.
- Progress to date and against plan
- Resource Forecast (rolling 30 day)
- Human Resources
- Equipment & Services Forecast
- Project Team
- Issue Management
- Change Control
- Risk Management
- Quality Management
- Knowledge Management
Filed under: PMBOK, PMO, PRINCE2, Templates | Tagged: business, checklists, Management, operations management, PMBOK, PRINCE2, Programme Management, Project Management, Projects, Templates | Leave a Comment »
Posted on 24 March, 2008 by duardo
|This is a pretty controversial template. Some PMs when presented with it, faint at the sight of all the section headings recommended by the commonly available Work Package template.
Others gleefully tap their fingers together at the prospect of creating more detail and more control. The answer, fortunately for the more reasonable of us, lies somewhere in the middle.
Put simply, documenting and communicating a Work Package is a really good idea. After all how can you ask someone to deliver something if you can’t write a brief plan for it? And what happens if it all goes pear shaped and everyone is running for cover and point fingers at each other? How do you measure performance against plan?
The good people at OGC (the makers of PRINCE2) have made mention of the potential problems resulting from requiring too much information in the work package. The PRINCE2 handbook recommends that the “…process needs careful implementation to avoid being over-bureaucratic” and “For small projects … the link between this process and Controlling a Stage (CS) will be much less formal”.
However given the potential ramifications on the team’s morale and the PM’s reputation, I’m going to drive home the point to ensure new project managers, who are trying their best to get their heads around the processes, think before they leap.
The Work Package Template isn’t about creating more work…
How much and what kind of information you require from your team managers is contextual. To find the right balance you really need to understand the project, the organisation(s) involved and the team manager personalities / relationships (both up and down the food chain) to ensure you are customising your Work Package template to suit your team’s actual information requirements and not the other way around.
For example, if you have already established “Standard Operating Procedures” or SOPs in your project for quality checking, project reporting and problem handling and escalation, you don’t really need to reinvent the wheel so you can drop some sections or just reference the relevant SOPs. If you have a small team or a larger experienced team who have been working together well for a number of projects you won’t need to document the work package to within an inch of its life.
Unfortunately the recommended template that has been floating around the internet is a little cumbersome for my liking. In the Work Package Template I’ve added to this article, I’ve retained most of the section titles but added a little more structured and focuses on key “what do I need to know / what is going to hurt me” information at the top and less important information at the bottom of the document.
Compare the two and let me know what you think!
Filed under: PMO, PRINCE2, Templates | Tagged: PRINCE2, Programme Management, Project Management, work package | 1 Comment »