Monthly Archives: January 2016

project solutions

Four Responsibilities of Executives on Projects

An executive has administrative or supervisory authority in an organization. That authority is used in a number of ways on projects. An executive is typically responsible for the Business Case of a project, which is used to determine whether the project should even be started. Once the project is approved they can impact the success of your project in four key areas.

1. Sponsorship and Funding

Every project within a company starts with an idea. It’s hard for that idea to go much further without backing from the right person and some money to make it happen. An executive can provide the sponsorship and funding your project needs to get off the ground. They are responsible for signing off on the project charter, which describes the project, gives you the authority to manage and, most importantly, allocates the necessary funds to keep it alive.

2. Escalations and Resolution

The second role an executive plays in your projects is to be the go-to person when unresolved problems surface. An executive needs to be on the escalation path, and more importantly on the resolution path of your projects. There are going to be times when others are unresponsive to the project’s needs, or in a dispute about the best direction to take. An executive can use his position to break through these bottlenecks. Here’s a hint: shorten the escalation process as much as possible. Rather than go through a gradual escalation of layer after layer of management, take it to the highest level of management and get it resolved in a fraction of the time.

3. Monitor Projects

Executives sponsor and fund projects. They should also be interested in how the project progresses. They should be interested in ore than when the project starts and when it finishes. They should monitor the project. This includes reading and understanding status report, approving major deliverables and being involved in gate reviews. Of course, the projects that are of interest will vary based on the level of the executive. Senior managers should monitor the larger and more strategic projects. Middle managers monitor more tactical projects.

4. Coach Project Managers

Let’s face it: despite the stereotype, most executives are talented, skilled, and experienced people. Tap into their knowledge. You’re going to run into rough patches on your projects from time to time or will need to make decisions when answers are not so obvious. Sit down with a respected executive and bounce some ideas off of them. At the very least, they may validate that you are on the right path or give you the encouragement you need to keep going. More often than not, they will provide you with a fresh perspective to help make your project a success.

If you want to benefit from the value an executive brings to project management, it’s up to you as a project manager to optimize their role on your projects. View them as another resource you need to bring your project to closure. Who knows, with such a great track record of project success, you may end up sitting in the corner office yourself!

Project Management Process

Create Schedule Management Plan

The Schedule Management Plan describes the process used to develop and manage the project schedule. Not all projects need a Schedule Management Plan, but if your project has a complex schedule that requires special handling, you may find this plan helpful.

The components of the Schedule Management Plan can include:

  • Roles and responsibilities. You can describe different roles and their ability to access the project schedule.
    • Schedule owner. This is probably the project manager.
    • Who can update? Normally the project manager, but on larger projects it could be more complex. For instance, a Project Administrator might make the initial schedule updates based on the project status reports and then provide this draft to the project manager for final updates. It is also possible that team members will update the status of their assigned activities and the project manager will perform final analysis after those updates.
    • Who can read? Usually the schedule is not considered confidential – anyone can read it.
  • Update frequency. You should describe the timing of schedule updates. In many projects the schedule will be updated on the Monday morning. You should also comment on whether the schedule will be updated weekly or bi-weekly. It is recommended that you update the schedule weekly.
  • Progress feedback. This describes how the schedule feedback will be delivered. In many cases this will be in the team member status report. However, it is possible that the progress update will come during a team meeting or through an email.
  • Schedule change review and approval. This is where you define the process required to evaluate and approve proposed schedule changes. It defines the authority for accepting and approving changes to schedule. This approval process does not include internal activity deadlines. It applies to changes in the overall project deadline. It is possible that the project manager may have some discretion to exceed the deadline date by some number of days or weeks, but after that threshold some formal body may need to approve the change.
  • Tools. Describe about any scheduling tool that will be used on this project, who will have access to the tool and what various people can do with the tool (read the schedule, update schedule, etc.)
  • Reports. Comment here on the types and names of reports you are using to manage the project, who will receive them, the frequency of the reports, etc.
  • Schedule integration. Normally each project keeps an independent schedule, but in some instances your master schedule is the result of a roll-up of other underlying schedules. It is also possible that your schedule could be integrated and rolled up to a higher-level program or portfolio schedule.

We believe that these project management plans must provide value to the project manager. If your schedule is not so complex you probably do not need to create the Schedule Management Plan. On the other hand, the project manager should create a Plan if it provides value on projects with large and complicated schedules.