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MANAGING PROJECTS THROUGH PROJECT REVIEWS

Introduction
Project management is one of the high-responsibility tasks in modern organizations. Project
management is used in many types of projects. Completing a project is not the same thing as
ending the project management process. Simply finishing doesn't ensure that the organization
benefits from the project's outcome. A good time to start thinking about the project management
review is when members of the project team remember the most shortly after the project has
been delivered, and when most of the problems have been ironed-out.

Start to list ideas and observations while they are still fresh in people's minds. However, to
adequately assess the quality of the implementation and complete this process, one needs to wait
long enough for the changes caused by the project to truly take effect. There will probably be a
period of adjustment before finally reviewing the solution as it was intended to operate. This will
likely help in overcoming some of the usual resistance to change, hold people's hands while they
operate new systems, and eliminate technical problems that didn't emerge when deliverables
were tested. Typically allow a few weeks, or even a few months, before doing the full Project
Management Review (PMR). Where possible, allow for at least one, full, successful cycle of
business before reviewing lessons learned.

Project Management Reviews


In the process of project management review, it is important to understand the main reviews so
that the right tools of management can be established. Project Management Reviews are used by
the Project Manager to accomplish three things:
Check on the status of the sub-projects to determine if there are problems within them that
are beyond the ability or authority of the sub-project leader to resolve
Ensure coordinated handoffs between sub-projects for joint or shared Project deliverables
Identify risks between sub-projects and risks that are likely to migrate from one project to
another

These reviews are normally scheduled to occur on a regular calendar schedule, such as the first
and third Monday of each month. The reviews are attended by all of the sub-project leaders and
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key Project stakeholders. The Project Manager normally starts the meeting with a quick
overview of the status and near-term goals of the Project to ensure alignment and then each of
the sub-project leaders provides a status report of their sub-project. The sub-project leader
reports focus on points of interface with other sub-projects and the reduction or elimination of
risk on their sub-project. These are not activity reports but rather are risk reviews. Formal
minutes and action items should be maintained for these reviews and filed in the project archives.
There are three types of reviews in Project Management which include In Process/In Progress
Reviews, Phase End/Decision Making and Post Mortem/Post Implementation. These are
discussed below:

In Process/In Progress Reviews


This is done to know the status of the project or product at interim, know whether the planned or
actual value of the schedule and effort will be met or not and to know the utilization effect of the
resources. It requires Informal (One to one method) and walkthrough (detailed examination of a
product on a step by step) techniques to achieve its objectives.

Phase End/Decision Making


At the same time, the phase end review is performed to verify phase objectives are met, to verify
phase exit criteria and to verify phase performance in terms of effort, schedule, and quality. It is
done through a formal Reviews technique of inspections.

Post Mortem/Post Implementation


Lastly the post mortem or post implementation review is done to identify if we achieved or not
what we were set to do in business terms, and what shouldve been done, identify the process
improvement and to demonstrate the effectiveness of the process. This is performed using formal
Reviews technique of audits.

Project Management Reviews Tools


During project management review process, a number of tools and techniques are applied. These
tools and techniques are used to enhance the review process of project management. Some of
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these tools are introduced to help in identifying the problems faced while others are introduced to
help come up with the solutions to the problems identified. The following tools are discussed in
this document and include: Stakeholder Issue Log, Project Dashboards, Change Management
Log, Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT), Just-In-Time Project Management and
Gantt Chart among others.

Stakeholder Issue Log


In Project Management Reviews, Stakeholder Issue Logs are formal documents that record
meetings with the project team and key stakeholders to review the current status of the project as
compared to the original project plan. In the Management Reviews there is emphasis on whether
the project performance is adequate for the project to deliver on the overall project objectives.
Often if the project has encountered issues, such as resource constraints or scope creep, the
stakeholders conducting the review are able to provide assistance to the project team to
overcome these issues.

The format for these reviews is usually set by the stakeholders and addresses the topics that are
most important to them. The review may be a formal stand-up meeting; it may be an informal
discussion setting, a written report, or an update to an electronic dashboard. Regardless of the
method used, these are formal status reporting meetings and need to be treated as such. The
project manager should keep an Action Item list or Stakeholder Issue log for any questions that
arise in these reviews. Also minutes from these meetings should be maintained as part of the
project records.

Table 1.1: Stakeholder Issue Log


Prog Name
No. Issue Stakeholder Resolution Responsible Date Date Closed Status

Affected Action Team Member Assigned

Project Dashboards
This is a tool of project review management that has proliferated as more organizations start to
manage projects within the context of a portfolio of projects. A dashboard is a great method for

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capturing a snapshot of a project and presenting that to stakeholders. Dashboards contain a small
subset of project status information that is used as indicators of whether the entire project is on
track. The dashboard information is used to make decisions concerning changes to projects or to
the project portfolio.

Within a project team, Dashboards were used by project managers to focus the project team on
the few key items that would drive project performance. Therefore the current critical path
activity is tracked for schedule status, the current activity with the most uncertainty in resource
requirements is tracked for cost status, and the most challenging activities are tracked for project
performance/quality. This is an excellent use of dashboards, especially when working with a
virtual project team.

Figure 1.1: Project Dashboards

Project B

Project C
Project A

Project D

Project F
Project E
Project

Charter Approved
Plan Approved
Schedule Status
Cost Status
Performance
Completion Date

As more organizations decided to manage their projects as a portfolio of projects, they have
recognized the need to have a means of measuring the projects in the portfolio both against each
other and with respect to their objectives. The dashboard offers that mechanism as each of the
projects report on key metrics that are used by the senior management or Project Management
Office to check the status of the projects. Often the dashboard measures the status through the
Red light-Green light method. This type of scoring uses colours to indicate project status on the
key measures. A Green light indicates that everything on the project is going according to plan. A
Yellow light indicates that there are some problems, but the project team is working the situation
and should be able to contain the problem. A Red light indicates that the problem is so severe; the
project team cannot resolve the problem and achieve the project objectives without help from the

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stakeholders. The senior management team and PMO use the Dashboard to make resource
allocation decisions and to call special Project Management Reviews.

Change Management Log


This tool is very straight-forward. The need for it increases as the project complexity increases. I
can't imagine running a Complex project without one, but I have never used one on a Simple
project. The necessity on a Complex project is because these projects are managed as a set of
Focused and Full-scale sub-projects. The boundaries between these sub-projects will inevitably
need to change as projects progress. Sometimes the changes are due to shifting milestones.
Sometimes the changes are the result of activity deliverables that are passed between the
projects. In any case, the changes in one sub-project cascades into changes in another sub-
project. The Change Management Log tracks the implementation of the change across the sub-
projects. It can also track the implementation of the change within a project, especially if the
project activities are conducted in multiple locations or if there are multiple phases underway at
one time. Using the Change Management Log is similar to using an action item list. Each item is
tracked to ensure it has been completed.

Table 1.2: Change Management Log


Prog Name
No. Change Sub-projects Affected Sub-project Impact Planned Implementation Status

Date

Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT)


The project review technique, commonly abbreviated PERT, is a statistical tool, used in project
management. It is designed to analyze and represent the tasks involved in completing a given
project. First developed by the US Navy in 1950s, it is commonly used in conjunction with the
critical path method (CPM). The technique is often referred to as PERT/CPM, the CPM standing
for critical path method.
Critical Path Analysis or PERT are powerful tools that help in scheduling, organizing,
coordinating and managing complex projects. Complex projects require a series of activities,
some of which must be performed sequentially and others that can be performed in parallel with

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other activities. This collection of series and parallel tasks can be modeled as a network. PERT is
a method to analyze the involved tasks in completing a given project, especially the time needed
to complete each task, and identifying the minimum time needed to complete the total project.

A PERT chart is an effective tool in identifying critical paths and managing tasks. It's effective
for building "what if" scenarios, and it useful in planning for possible obstacles along a project's
life cycle. It incorporates uncertainty by making it possible to schedule a project while not
knowing precisely the details and durations of all the activities. It is more of an event-oriented
technique rather than start- and completion-oriented, and is used more in projects where time is
the major factor rather than cost. It is applied to very large-scale, one-time, complex, non-routine
infrastructure and Research and Development projects. There are three numbers that each
activity time in PERT is associated with. These are the important estimates that managers can
give fro the completion of every activity. These estimates are:
Optimistic Time Estimate (TOPT), which is the minimum time period in which the
activity can be accomplished, with the presumption that everything will proceed better
than expected. That means the fastest time an activity can be completed where it is
assumed that all the necessary resources are available and all predecessor activities are
completed as planned.
Most likely time estimate (TLIKELY) if the manager were asked for, not three, but
only one estimate, then this is the value that they would have given.
Pessimistic time estimate (TPESS) - This is the maximum time period required for an
activity to be completed. From an inclement weather, to the prototype or design review
being rejected for reworking all over again; managers can think of everything that can go
wrong, when arriving at this value.
Therefore the expected completion time (E) is calculated as below:
E = [(TOPT + (4 x TLIEKLY) + TPESS)]/6

The first step to scheduling the project is to determine the tasks that the project requires and the
order in which they must be completed. The order may be easy to record for some tasks (for
example, when building a house, the land must be graded before the foundation can be laid)
while difficult for others (There are two areas that need to be graded, but there are only enough
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bulldozers to do one). Additionally, the time estimates usually reflect the normal, non-rushed
time. Many times, the time required to execute the task can be reduced for an additional cost or a
reduction in the quality.

The Network Diagram


The main feature of PERT analysis is a network diagram that provides a visual depiction of the
major project activities and the sequence in which they must be completed. Activities are defined
as distinct steps toward completion of the project that consume either time or resources. The
network diagram consists of arrows and nodes and can be organized using one of two different
conventions. The arrows represent activities in the activity-on-arrow convention, while the nodes
represent activities in the activity-on-node convention. For each activity, managers provide an
estimate of the time required to complete it.

An activity is a task that must be performed and an event is a milestone marking the completion
of one or more activities. Before an activity can begin, all of its predecessor activities must be
completed. Project network models represent activities and milestones by arcs and nodes. The
following is a very simple example of a PERT diagram:

Figure 1.2: PERT Diagram

.
The milestones generally are numbered so that the ending node of an activity has a higher
number than the beginning node. Incrementing the numbers by 10 allows for new ones to be
inserted without modifying the numbering of the entire diagram. The activities in the above
diagram are labeled with letters along with the expected time required to complete the activity.

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The best thing about PERT is its ability to integrate the uncertainty in project times estimations
into its methodology. It also makes use of much assumption that can accelerate or delay the
project progress. Using PERT, project managers can have an idea of the possible time variation
for the deliveries and offer delivery dates to the client in a safer manner.

Just-In-Time Project Management


This technique can be applied to project management to streamline project processes, minimize
the project budget, and increase stakeholder satisfaction. It can help eliminate overproduction
by developing to scope, improve scheduling and quality management by minimizing application
defects and minimize product wait times through proper schedule planning and management.

As straightforward as these sounds, overproduction is the death of all project budgets. In short,
only engage the necessary resources for work package development and develop to scope limit
the ever-tempting nice-to-haves to ensure timely and cost-conscious development. Next, the
tool principles stress the importance of maximizing quality at the source. Try implementing an
all hands on deck philosophy when it comes to inspecting project requirements, the design, and
the final product so that the best solution is delivered to the client.

Full engagement by developers, managers, and stakeholders alike helps to facilitate a spirit of
ownership in the final success of the project. Finally it can help control waiting times. Time
wasters can be planned for and avoided through proper communication and resource allocation.
Be sure to anticipate task completion and be ready to remind the next key player of their
upcoming assignment. Regular notices to the project team will do much to avoid this kind of
waste.

Gantt Chart
This is a bar chart model in project management review, developed by Henry Gantt in the 1910s.
It illustrates a project schedule, the start and finish dates of the terminal elements and summary
elements of a project, which comprise the work breakdown structure of the project. Modern
Gantt charts also show the dependency (precedence network) relationships between activities.

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Gantt charts help to show current schedule status using percent-complete shadings and a vertical
line (see Figure 1.3).

Although now regarded as a common charting technique, Gantt charts were considered
extremely revolutionary when first introduced. The chart is also used in information technology
to represent data that have been collected. The projects schedules are illustrated and show the
interdependencies of each activity to the project manager. Project management is a challenging
task with many complex responsibilities. Fortunately, there are many tools available to assist
with accomplishing the tasks and executing the responsibilities. Some require a computer with
supporting software, while others can be used manually. Project managers should choose a
project management tool that best suits their management style.

Figure 1.3: Gantt Chart Diagram

Gantt charts are excellent models for scheduling and for budgeting, and for reporting and
presenting and communicating project plans and progress easily and quickly, but as a rule Gantt
Charts are not as good as a Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagram for identifying and showing
interdependent factors, or for mapping a plan from and/or into all of its detailed causal or
contributing elements.
Conclusions
Owing to the above discussions, the techniques of project management review involve several
tools and approaches that are aimed to enhance the former traditional approaches in managing
projects today. No one tool addresses all project management needs; the management must use a
combination of tools of managing project reviews. Both of (PERT and Gantt Chart) these project

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management tools can be produced manually or with commercially available project
management software. Project management tools have evolved from simple spreadsheet products
to sophisticated, Web-based project information portals. The obvious trend in project
management software, as with almost everything in information technology, is a move toward
Web-based systems.

References
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http://www.mindtools.com/pages/main/newMN_PPM.htm Last update time unknown. Accessed
Nov. 2, 2002.

Hartman, Francis; Ashrafi, Rafi A. "Project Management in the Information Systems and
Information Technologies Industries." Project Management Journal. Sep 2002. Vol. 33. Issue 3.

Kioppenborg, Timothy J; Opfer, Warren A. "The Current State of Project Management Research:
Trends, Interpretations, and Predictions." Project Management Journal. June 2002. Vol. 33. Issue
2

Project Management Techniques;


http://www.tifb.state.tx.us/Handbooks/Project_Management.htm Last update time unknown.
Accessed Nov. 4, 2002.

Project Management Tools http://www.dbm.state.md.us/mdplan/apdx-bt.htm. Last update time


unknown. Accessed Nov. 6, 2002.

Quick, James Aaron; New, Cheryl Carter. "Grant Winner's Toolkit: Project Management and
Evaluation". (c)2000 by Cheryl Carter New and James Aaron Quick. Published by John Wiley &
Sons, Inc

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