At any moment in time our IT organization is involved in 40+ IT projects. An IT initiatives has to be greater than 100 hours to be considered a project. The only way we can do this with an acceptable level of success is with the support of our Project Management Office.
Our Project Managers do not usually get involved in completing the tasks in a project (although they will occasionally pitch in). Generally they are assisting the IT and business champions with developing a plan and managing to that plan. There are a number of project controls that leadership relies on to monitor projects and get involved when necessary. The status report is one of those controls. Every Friday the Project Managers update all of the status reports. I spend a lot of time reading status reports.
When projects are behind schedule, not receiving the anticipated level of effort or in jeopardy of not meeting its objectives I tend to get involved and see what is necessary t get on track. Often this is just a phone call with some words of advice. I think the phone call and attention may be more important than the actual advice.
But, some projects with glowing status reports will receive a lot of attention from me. I am sure my IT teammates must think I randomly decide to get involved in some projects. Our very observant CMIO, Dr. Pete Sanderson, has cracked the code. This is what Pete recently observed…
While the status reports are an important project control, the issues list is even more important to me. I have a sense of how many issues a project should be generating based on size and complexity. I expect issues. Surfacing issues is a sign of progress. Typically the status report will identify how many issues that project is managing. If I don’t see that information in the status report I will pull reports out of our issue tracking system.
The ideal project will have lots of issues with lots of progress addressing those issues. On-time projects with no issues bother me more than late projects with lots of issues.
If you don’t have an online system for managing project issues it is time, in my opinion, to make that a priority. Excel doesn’t work. You need something that can be edited simultaneously by multiple users. I prefer QuickBase (www.quickbase.com). But, there are lots of options.