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 7 of 8: Project Status Meeting Frequency
The frequency of project status meetings can be weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on the project’s duration and risk level. Daily status meetings may be held by the project manager for critical and/or troubled projects. A typical program calendar is shown in Figure 5-1, and a project status meeting agenda for a program or organizational unit is shown in Figure 5-2.
The presentation charts for overall project status should exactly represent the detailed status sheet. Use backup charts only as required. Not only does this avoid duplication of eﬀ ort, it also emphasizes the importance of keeping information current and accurate. Therefore, the tool used to accomplish the task should be the same tool used in presentations. A lot of organizations waste signiﬁcant time preparing charts for presentations, but when you use the tool, it exposes leadership to it and sometimes helps identify process improvement opportunities.
Projects in good standing, with all aspects of the triple constraints in control, can be reviewed rapidly, typically in less than one minute. When this process is initially rolled out, the meeting will take longer, but when the project status process is mature, the project is healthy, and the leader is familiar with the project, the status summary report allows the leader to eyeball the chart in less than a minute and say, “Next project, please.”
A good project status meeting is really an exception-focused activity with discussion of what is off plan or off process. Therefore, if a project is in good standing and has no issues, a discussion is not warranted. These are the project status reviews that take less than a minute. The goal is to establish a project status culture in which the leaders are not talking about what they could and should read for themselves but are addressing issues that require decisions, dissemination, or escalation.
Every project manager within the program should be ready for a detailed project presentation with a few days’ notice or less. Projects should rotate through detailed presentations at the regularly scheduled project status meeting at the discretion of the program manager or organizational leader. It is important to have detailed project presentations from projects that are in good standing in addition to projects that have challenges. A project in good standing may be reviewed in detail at quarterly meetings or at designated general status meetings.
The status meetings serve as a forum for critical decisions with regard to troubled projects. Sometimes decisions have to be escalated outside this forum, but the general rule should be that decisions are made at the meeting. It is important to establish a culture that doesn’t allow issues that require decisions to persist without resolution and in which project managers know when and where to go for decisions beyond their control. Unfortunately, a number of organizations suﬀer because decisions either are not made or are made in haphazard circumstances that are not migrated through the entire organization. The project status meeting is a decision tool and a communication tool that prevents those problems.
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.