Effective Project Status


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Execution means going out and implementing what has been planned. This seems obvious, but a lot of programs are continually in a state of firefighting because there is no real plan. Not all the projects in a program have to follow the same execution strategy. The program manager’s responsibility for execution begins with establishing the scheduling plans for projects in the program. This is a conscious decision that has to be made on the basis of the priority of the projects, the resources available, the planning horizon, and the organizational constraints. This is a key aspect of setting up a culture that fosters project success. Even in dynamic environments you must have a plan or a series of short plans tailored to the rapidly changing environment

Our 8 part Guide to Program Execution Processes will guide you through processes to plan and execute a variety of projects so you aren’t constantly putting out fires!

Guide to Program Execution Processes

Part 1 of 8: Establish an Appropriate Planning Horizon
Part 2 of 8: Establish a Scheduling Philosophy
Part 3 of 8: Implement a Stage Gate Process to Ensure Proper Execution of the Planned Schedule
Part 4 of 8: Maintain Integrity with Change Control
Part 5 of 8: Create a Status Process That Allows You To Regulate Execution
Part 6 of 8: Ten Obstacles to Effective Project Status
Part 7 of 8: Project Status Meeting Frequency
Part 8 of 8: Guidelines for an Effective Project Status

Part 8 of 8: Guidelines for an Effective Project Status

Project Summary
The project summary states the overall purpose of the project and clearly relates it to the organization and/or company goals. This answers all the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. A lot of this information comes directly from the business case or project charter. It also provides a reference or link to more information about the project, such as a project charter or project repository. Once this is complete, it rarely changes unless the business needs driving the project change, usually causing a re-baselining of the project, which should also be documented here. Even though this remains mostly static, it is important to include it because the organization and the project team members are often not static, and this tells a new reader at a glance what the project is about.

Current Status
The current status clearly communicates the standing of the project including: the cost baseline showing plan versus actual costs , the organization’s valid (accurate and timely) earned value measures , a metric indicating the customer’s perception of the project thus far. The most important item is the symbol for the status of the project (usually a green, yellow, or red indicator). Clear criteria must be established for what makes a project green, yellow, or red. In addition to the overall project status indicator, some organizations show separate status indicators for the triple constraint (cost, schedule, and scope).

Upcoming Events
The upcoming events shows the planned activities and events for the short term (usually one to three months) and the major milestones beyond the short-term planning horizon. This provides a snapshot preview of what is on the plate of the project team over the near term.

Challenges and Issues

The challenges and issues provides a mechanism by which the project manager and project team can notify management of challenges and issues and, more important, identify their approach to overcoming those challenges and resolving those issues. It also provides an opportunity to highlight where decisions or higher-level influence is necessary. Unfortunately, many projects produce less than desirable results because management does not provide critical decisions to project managers in a timely manner.

Management should be keenly aware of the necessary decisions and should be held accountable for making the hard decisions that are required. This serves as a basis for driving accountability to both the project manager and his or her leadership. Project managers should be taught to be explicit about what decisions are needed. Note that this means that project managers should provide multiple solutions with a recommended course of action for the program leadership to pick from.

Once your team has decided on their plan and process, PPM software can help you execute that process. WorkOtter helps you successfully execute your program process strategy for project success. Get a demo of WorkOtter and see how we can make your program management effective.

“The Handbook of Program Management: How to Facilitate Project Success with Optimal Program Management, Second Edition” by James T. Brown is a copyrighted work of McGraw-Hill and McGraw-Hill reserves all rights in and to the Content. ©2014 by McGraw-Hill Education. Purchase the book on Amazon.