Maximizing Project Performance – Part 3: Change Management

In this final installment of my three part series on maximizing project profits, I'd like to examine how change management fits into the equation. And, believe me, it's a big fit. Change management – when done poorly – can lead an otherwise successful project down a very destructive path.

Project success is usually judged around three key factors: (a) on time delivery; (b) on budget delivery; and (c) customer satisfaction. In fact, success on the first two factors usually goes along way in experiencing success on the third factor. And how we handle change management affects them all. Let's consider...

Carefully managing project scope. One of the most difficult things to do as a project manager is perform scope control. During a project’s planning phases, requirements are discussed, revised, detailed and documented for ultimate approval and sign-off. Thus is the benchmark established, that the project management solution will be required to meet.

Where danger lurks however is in the “discussing and revising” of a project’s requirements. With numerous stakeholders on a given project the risk of scopecreep increases. A successful project manager is able to synthesize stakeholder input and use an “Occam’s Razor” approach to defining the project’s true needs and reserving the “nice to have” elements to a successive project where possible.

Once a project’s scope is defined and approved, it is recommended project managers follow these three general practice elements throughout the engagement:

Utilize a requirements traceability matrix. The project manager can make this as detailed or as simple as they want. The key concept here is to track requirements as those functions are built into the system being developed. It is usually best to do this within the original scoping document – noting throughout the system development process where key requirements are being met.

This will serve two main purposes: (1) documenting that all requirements are included in the design of the system; and (2) making it easier for the end users to test the system during user acceptance testing as they’ll have a better understanding how to verify the requirements and create test cases to appropriately test its functionality.

Stay on top of the developers' tasks. By closely tracking project team members activities on assigned tasks, the project manager can ensure team members are staying on task. This allows a project manager to better identify when team members are engaging in out-of-scope efforts – which is a common occurrence when customers have direct access to team members. Unplanned or out-of-scope work can lead to unplanned hours being spent on the project, which is a huge budget killer and can ultimately hurt the profitability of the project. Weekly team meetings are a great way for a project manager to stay in tune with what work the team members are performing and allow him or her to redirect their efforts if unplanned work is happening.

Don't be afraid of product change orders. If the project manager finds his project team members are performing unplanned or out-of-scope work at the request of the customer, then the creation of a “Change Order” to document the work being requested and performed will allow the project manager to formally charge the customer for this work as well as avoid any budget “gotchas” at the end of the project, which can be upsetting to all parties.

Candidly, most projects require change orders at some point as new requirements come to light and additional functionality must be added. This is why establishing a benchmark at the outset is so critical. Documenting this work, estimating the hours and price, and getting customer sign-off to perform the work will help the project remain profitable and on budget for a successful deployment.

Viewpath’s robust project management platform and intelligent scheduling engine, helps project managers and their team members establish critical project benchmarks, assign the right resources to individual tasks, and perform what-if analyses so appropriate feedback and guidance can be provided to the customer before any out-of-scope work is undertaken. We take the guess work out of project and resource management so project manager’s can do what they do best.

Readers – what are your thoughts on controlling and maximizing the profitability of your projects? Do you agree? Please share your thoughts.

For more information on how Viewpath can help you with your project management and capacity planning needs, please visit www.viewpath.com

 

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