Obstacles to Effective Project Status


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 6 of 8: Ten Obstacles to Effective Project Status

Among the obstacles to effective project status are the following:
1. The way status should be reported is always changing, and there are frequent requests for special reports and/ or briefings that are outside of the normal, accepted standards and processes.
2. Status reviews are not held on a regular, consistent basis: same time, same place, same leadership.
3. There is inconsistent status reporting to management from project to project, causing difficulty in interpreting status.
4. Leaders are too busy to review or accept status.
5. Status is reported at the detail level instead of in a summary.
6. Project managers are too busy working on the project and fighting fires to monitor status.
7. Projects are not structured or organized for status metrics to be easily available.
8. At the start of the project, there is no education of stakeholders to achieve buy-in on how status will be monitored.
9. There is over-reliance on status metrics by management, without a feel for what is actually taking place in the project.
10. Too much time is wasted on the status of stable projects and not enough time is spent on projects that are at risk.

Some companies have project failures because the leadership is made aware of a troublesome project too late to resolve the issue or to improve the situation without dire consequences. Such problems can be identified early as part of the project status process.

The Role of the Program Manager During Project Status Meetings
The program manager’s attitudes and behavior set the tone for all the stakeholders in the project status process. Therefore, consider doing the following:
1. Take the status process seriously. The project managers and the project teams reflect the program manager’s respect for the process. Taking the status process meetings seriously means adhering rigorously to a meeting’s scheduled date and time and following a published agenda.
2. Focus on progress. Some organizations go so far as to call status meetings progress meetings. The focus should be on the identification and resolution of challenges to progress so that the project can proceed at the scheduled pace. Status meetings must be forward-looking and not allowed to degenerate into finger-pointing or blaming sessions.
3. Ferret out key issues. The leader must learn to ask effective questions. There is power in the public questioning of project managers and teams because the questions that are raised publicly, in front of all of the project managers, eventually become the questions they raise internally before the leader asks those questions again.
4. Establish a positive culture. Provide praise and opportunity where appropriate. Allow lower-level personnel to present within their areas of responsibility for their professional development and the development of future leaders.
5. Make timely decisions. Issues requiring a decision should get a decision at the project status meeting or, if that is beyond the program manager’s control, a commitment to escalate the issue to the proper level for quick resolution. Actions and issues should be formally tracked to ensure timely decision making and thorough follow-up.

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.