6. A Regular and Comprehensive Status Report
This can be expensive and time consuming, but you need to consider that overhead against the benefits a short, well-structure, current and incisive report can give to you the project manager, to your sponsor and to all decision-makers and stakeholders.
Always build your reports bottom-up starting from the data. This is the best way to avoid ‘confirmation bias’. Confirmation bias happens when you start with your Project Manager’s Assessment summary and then cherry pick the evidence to support your reading of the situation. You are far too unlikely to spot and consider the one piece of deviant, dis-confirming evidence.
7. Real Authority
Make sure that your project team as a whole has real authority to make changes in your organisation, backed up by a powerful governance hierarchy. If the change is important, that authority is merited. If the change is not important, then the project is not merited: cancel it. Only this way, with sufficient authority, can your project management function rise above the petty ‘local politics’ that most organisations suffer from..
8. Project Validation Reviews
If you were surprised last week to read that I have only been commissioned by four organisations to train their project sponsors, then I have only been commissioned once to train project reviewers. And then, I was commissioned not by a project, programme or change management function, but by a senior internal audit manager.
Validate your project by getting a fresh pair of eyes to look over the basics of what you are doing and the quality and performance that are the result. This need not involve calling external resources like your friendly neighbourhood auditors or consultants – nor even by calling me. Find an experienced project manager in your organisation and invite them in to help. If you are feeling daring and want the best value, challenge them to find:
- three examples of bad practice
- three sources of significant waste
- three defects or accidents waiting to happen
- three examples of exemplary performance
- three things you should be celebrating
- three people you should be talking to
9. Attention to Stakeholders
This last point reminds me that you should always give more attention to winning over your stakeholders than you would expect. And this is not because stakeholder engagement will be the subject of my next book (sneak peak). Think about the governance benefits of:
- Wider consultation and therefore stronger scrutiny of your ideas
- Higher levels of support for what you are doing
- Formal approval from a wide range of non-mandatory stakeholders
10. Remove Bureaucracy
Yup, I did say ‘remove bureaucracy’. Inexperienced project managers often assume project management involves a lot of bureaucracy and form-filling. It should not. Remove all bureaucracy that has no value for your project or programme. The only reason to keep an element of form-filling is either:
- it will help you to deliver your project on budget, on target and on time, or
- it will help you do so in a transparent and accountable manner