Sunday, January 18, 2009

January 19, 2009 – Going Covert, Part 3

NOTE: On January 12, Computerworld published an article I wrote entitled Covert PMO. This series of entries is a fictional account based on the Project Manager in that article. Any resemblance to anyone from my past, present or future is purely coincidental. To start at the beginning, jump to January 1, 2009 – Going Covert, Part 1.

Day 14, Wednesday – Had lunch today with a couple of other Project Managers, Bill and Darryl. I told them what I was struggling with: Management expectations, resource over allocations and a project without definition. If it was sympathy I was looking for, I was going to have to look elsewhere. No surprise there. They were guys and both had complained about the same things during project reviews I had conducted.

They stopped short of laughing in my face but their little smirks were infuriating.

While washing down our $1.50 hotdog from Costco with Diet Cokes, we came to the conclusion that the processes themselves were not the issue. The biggest roadblocks were:

  • Too many projects for a PM to manage
  • Resources spread too thin
  • Projects held to preliminary budget and dates
  • Processes not communicated to the teams
  • No management buy in to the process resulting in directives at odds with standards and processes

Bill mentioned that some of the other PMs had voiced similar frustrations. We decided to pick up the conversation with them.

I stole an hour in the afternoon to do a little research. My access to the PMO data hadn’t been cut yet. For the most part, PMs each had 2 or 3 projects, but some of them were running more than 5. My rule of thumb says the project management pieces alone take a minimum of 6 to 8 hours a week:
1.5 hr status meetings (15 minute / day or 1 per week) plus minutes
1.0 hr reviewing and updating schedule
1.5 hr updating the project repository and/or creating the project status report
1.0 hr risk / issue management
1.5 hr business status meetings and minutes

With 3 projects half the week is spent you’ve only covered the basics. Any requirements management, technical reviews, conflict resolution, additional reporting or stakeholder management is in addition.

In a prior life I had 3 concurrent projects. Management wanted to give me a fourth. When I presented the math to them they gave it to someone else. I like to think their respect for me went up, but I suspect their tolerance of me dropped instead.

Day 15, Thursday – Met with the team to review the schedule. I kept it somewhat high level, mostly activities and asked them to think in terms of hours, not days. It appears to be a bit of a shift in their normal thinking. I want to calculate the duration based on their availability given the number of projects they are working. They offered minor change, mostly in dependencies and half hearted commitments.
I scheduled a follow up for tomorrow and will nail it down. The rest of the day was spent estimating availability from the status gleaned in our Stand Up meetings.

Jump to Part 4.

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