Project Delivery - Measurement and Reporting

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Project Delivery — Measurement and Reporting

Considering all of the work that a typical IT organization is expected to deliver each year, it is easy to see how even major commitments may be overlooked in the furious effort to get things done. To avoid this pitfall, it is incumbent upon IT to clarify its commitments to all concerned. Next, IT management must ensure compliance with its commitments. The ongoing project management process forces the team to relate actual accomplishments to plan. If the IT organization employs customer relationship executives (CREs) as customer liaisons, these folks will regularly visit their assigned customers to review their SLAs and any outstanding project delivery commitments with the IT organization. The goal of these discussions is to assess overall customer satisfaction with IT performance. These talks, however, will rarely dwell on the factual details without an effective and efficient mechanism for conveying that information. To this end, the author employs operations report data, as detailed in Chapter 4, and a collection of one-page project scorecards that, in single snapshots, convey all the essential information about particular project statuses. [12]

The scorecard is a monthly view of project work that includes a brief description of the project, the customer value proposition, a list of customer and project team participants, this month's accomplishments and issues, a schematic project plan, and a Gantt chart of current project phase's activities. Each scorecard is color-coded as follows:

  • Red — the project is in trouble but its problems are beyond the control of the project team (e.g., a vendor is late with product delivery, or another project, upon which the current project depends, is seriously behind schedule).

  • Yellow — the project is facing difficulties, but the team has those problems under control.

  • Green — the project is on time and on budget and does not face any serious difficulties.

  • White — the project was completed during the past month and was signed off on by the sponsor and the working clients.

  • Purple — the project is on hold or otherwise pending.

See Exhibit 10.

Exhibit 10: Scorecard Template

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Because it is designed to be customer-centric, the scorecard's features make it accessible to all. The objective and value statements align the project work with the goals and objectives of the enterprise. The monthly highlights report on current accomplishments relevant to customer delivery, just as the issues statements speak to the immediate barriers to success. The summary project plan tells the customer what he or she really wants to know: "What are the key project milestones, and when will I see results?" Lastly, the Gantt chart at the bottom of the scorecard details the timeline for the current phase of activity. In short, the scorecard covers all the information that a sponsor, working client, or CRE needs and wants to know about the status of a project in that business unit's portfolio. If more is required, the CRE can work with the project team to produce the added information in real time.

Typically, the project manager prepares the scorecard with input from the project director. This is an important distinction. Bear in mind that although the project manager supports the project director, he or she remains independent. The expectation is that the project manager will bring his or her objectivity to bear when preparing the scorecard and will be more aware than the project director of other projects in the overall IT portfolio that may be adversely impacting its delivery. If the director and manager disagree on the status of their project, the director has the last word. In practice, such conflicts are more often the exception than the rule. More to the point, the project manager and his or her PMO colleagues exercise considerable influence over these matters, helping the project director to view and present team accomplishments honestly and to assist in addressing issues as they arise.

Customers are not the only consumers of scorecard contents. The IT management team has an interest in the status of all IT organization project work on three different levels. First, there is the immediate concern about the status of IT's commitments to its customers. Because the management team also serves as the CRE cadre for the IT organization, it needs to know about the general health of all projects under way, completed over the past month, or in the pipeline. When they present updates to their customers, CREs should appear well informed about the life cycles of each of these assignments. For most CREs, this is a lot of information to digest. Fortunately, their project scorecards provide the right level of knowledge for such exchanges. These documents will also highlight problems that may be researched for a more detailed understanding before any meetings with sponsors and working clients.

The second level of interest in scorecard data is what these updates may suggest concerning the IT team's overall service commitments. As the scorecards report on the sunsetting of superannuated systems, the introduction of new products and services, or the integration of new classes of end users, all of these events have implications for the infrastructure, support, and training teams. Furthermore, because as a practical matter it is nearly impossible for IT line managers to engage simultaneously in all ongoing IT projects, scorecards serve as an early warning system for those IT partner providers. Upstream providers will learn how delays in their own assignments may impact others. Down-stream consumers will find out about developments that may in turn influence their ability to meet their own project deadlines and may encourage them to plan around these delays or pressure those in their critical path. Here, too, the project managers take responsibility for these interproject team discussions and negotiations, in effect serving as an early warning system in this web of commitments.

Finally, as a package the monthly scorecards act as a bellwether for how the IT organization is handling its project work. Because there are so many projects to consider at any one time, however, IT management requires a more aggregate view of the unit's project delivery performance. To this end, the author has relied on a single, integrated reporting process, called the monthly operations report (see Chapter 4), to capture key IT accomplishments and performance metrics and to serve as a wrapper for the packaging of the monthly scorecards. [13]

At its name implies, the monthly operations report is a regularly scheduled activity. It is designed to serve the needs of IT management, keeping customer delivery at the forefront of everyone's attention and holding IT personnel accountable for their commitments. The report captures qualitative information from each IT service delivery unit (e.g., help desk, training center, network operations, production services, and so forth) concerning issues and accomplishments for the prior month. It then brings together all of the IT organization's most current project updates. Unlike service delivery performance, project delivery may be somewhat complicated to capture on a monthly basis because projects do not necessarily lend themselves to quantitative measures or to regular customer satisfaction surveying. Nevertheless, the report contains two sets of documents that IT management will find useful.

The first is a complete set of project scorecards for the month. I have already dealt with the benefits of these documents individually. Collectively, they afford a portfolio view by the business unit being served or by the IT organizational unit or project team providing service. From the management point of view, these documents prove invaluable when managing customer relationships, proactively addressing customer problems and complaints, and planning follow-on IT investments with individual business units or for the greater enterprise IT infrastructure. The scorecards also alert management to internal IT team problems — both technical and interpersonal. Managers may choose to seize the opportunity afforded by a particular scorecard to recognize and reward or mentor project team members. Reported results may also prompt IT management to make changes in resource allocations, staffing assignments, internal processes, or the services of the PMO.

The second major document type included for project management in the monthly operations report is the project master schedule, as prepared by members of the PMO. The project master schedule groups projects by customer portfolio and then by interproject dependencies. [14] The schedule shows the duration of each project and its status (white for completed, green for on schedule, yellow for in trouble but under control, red for in trouble, and purple for pending). The schedule also reports the names of the project's director and manager, as well as any major issues or dependencies impacting project delivery. In larger organizations, the schedule may even serve as a contact directory for those seeking information about a particular project. Thus, within a few pages, IT leadership can see all of the project work under way at any given time, including projects that are in trouble, critical path bottlenecks, and the names of staff members who might be overcommitted. The presentation is simple and visual. The report's scorecards align with the project master schedule to provide an economical yet comprehensive picture of all project activity within the IT organization.

Although the monthly operations report process primarily serves the needs of IT management, appropriate sections of the report, as well as individual project scorecards, should be shared by the unit's CREs with their respective customers. Through routine meetings with customers, the CRE or the project director and manager keep their sponsors and working clients informed about project statuses. As they inform the customer about project issues and accomplishments, these IT organization representatives manage customer expectations. In brief, the process keeps all projects visible and everyone on their toes. Because project statuses are also reviewed at operations review meetings, no one wants to come forward with bad news, but all must be encouraged to speak up honestly. Here, the independence and objectivity of the PMO may be exercised to good effect by asking PMO personnel to draw out the lessons learned from troubled projects. Bear in mind that the focus of this process is continuous improvement and the pursuit of excellence in customer delivery. Blame is never assessed individually because the entire IT team is held accountable for the success of the whole. These are all powerful outcomes to be gained by a modest and well distributed investment of time in self-evaluation and timely reporting.

[12]The project scorecard template may be found in an electronic form at The Hands-On Project Office,, chpt5~15~project scorecard~template. For examples of the scorecard as applied to real-life projects, see chpt5~16~scorecard~examples.

[13]The projects wrapper of the monthly operations report is pretty modest compared to that of the service level delivery side of the document. What gives the project side its depth is the master project schedule and the associated scorecards. See The Hands-On Project Office,, chpt5~17~monthly project status report~template and chpt5~18~monthly project status report~example.

[14]See The Hands-On Project Office,, chpt5~19~master project schedule~template and chpt5~20~master project schedule~example. For a hardcopy version of the tool see Appendix I.

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The Hands-On Project Office(c) Guaranteeing ROI and On-Time Delivery
E-Commerce Security: Advice from Experts (IT Solutions series)
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 132 © 2008-2017.
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