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CONTROL - PROJECT MANAGEMENT CHAPTER 6

Control of time, money, quality, information and organization

eun van Aken shows in his book The Road to Project Success that projects are not a success thanks to the management of the "hard" resources, but mainly thanks to the management of the atmosphere and the attitude within the project team . And yet. It is a quiet idea that there is someone who monitors that you do not have any money halfway through the ride or that it turns out afterwards that the nuts should not have a maximum deviation of 0.0004 mm but only 0.0002 mm.

Time, money, quality, information and organization are not always all equally important. Usually there is one aspect within a project that makes it exciting. Are we able to run a satellite around the earth with exactly that particular speed and exactly that particular ellipse? In such projects, quality is above all the determining factor. But often a project is about time. We must necessarily have the result ready within the set limit. And you will see, it often appears that there is some space in the "money" section, for example. "If we increase the budget to € 90,000, can you guarantee that we will cum on time?" A project leader must constantly be able to answer such questions. He must therefore constantly know how his project stands for. This means that for each of the five management aspects he must have a yardstick and that he must use that yardstick.

A good project management program can help you plan and then manage the resources. Such a program can't take over from you. The success of programs such as MS Project depends mainly on how you handle it. If you agree to go to time writing, you must do the same. The project leader can encourage this by actually using these figures, for example by putting the hours spent next to the planned hours on a weekly basis in the project consultation and discussing notable deviations.

Time

Time plays a role in controlling scarce resources in two ways:


- the amount of time each team member can spend on the project
- the lead time.

The maximum number of hours to spend is usually limited. Because a project is completely separate from regular business operations, project employees can often spend a limited amount of their hours on the project. Plan together how much time is needed for the job. And if someone indicates that they need more hours, the project leader will have to ensure that these hours come or that the job gets smaller. It is important that you discuss such matters well in advance with each other.

Even if you as a project leader know well how much time a certain job costs, it is important that the employee in question has been able to contribute ideas and make decisions. Budge those hours per phase and ask the employees to write time. Take the stand weekly. And take action if you are more likely to go through the hours than planned. More or less the same applies to the lead time.

Clients often want the results to be delivered in the very short term. As a project leader, you are sometimes inclined to say "yes". Do not: do not promise more than you can make true. Involve your project team in planning. They often know even better how much time is needed for a given assignment. Moreover, if they were able to think along, you can also better keep them to that planning. You can plan the continuation by including concrete measuring points per phase and per subproject. Almost every phase is completed with a note. When should that note appear? Moreover, you will also agree on intermediate results for slightly larger projects. Put that between results sharp on the calendar and make sure that everything is ready. Always ask your project team about the state of affairs.

Money

Monitoring the budgets in a somewhat more complicated project is extremely difficult. The Duivesteijn Committee did not do nothing for a year to study cost overruns for major infrastructure projects such as the Betuwelijn. You would expect projects that are managed at such a high professional level to be on schedule. Nothing seems less true. The biggest problem is probably already in the start. Many projects are long-cherished wishes. We will see elsewhere that this is partly the strength of project-based work. But it is also the weakness. If a project leader really wants the result, he is inclined to brush away the possible setbacks and only include the windfalls in the budget. The same applies to his client:

Provide a good accountant who is used to working with projects. Is that not available in your company, make sure you find someone elsewhere! Accounting requires a project a very different approach than the accounting of many regular cases. Make good agreements about the cost centers and what they are for. Make good agreements about entering into obligations. And ensure that all members of the project team know and comply with these agreements.

Quality

The development of a yardstick for the quality of the result is in principle quite simple. In fact, you answer the question: when did the project succeed? If you need to organize an event, specific requirements can be set beforehand. The same applies to building a house or developing a new drug. You test afterwards. In controlling the 'quality' aspect, however, it is precisely that you do not leave the quality of your result to chance. You want to come up with a system through which you can guarantee that your client gets what you have promised him.

In the project plan you include a program of requirements. If you manage to formulate exactly what is done when it is ready, you will in any case have a basis to keep your finger on the pulse during the project. If the result is described fairly generally, it is much more difficult. "Organize a spectacular party that creates a we-feeling." If necessary, it can still be checked afterwards by asking the participants what they think of it and whether the solidarity has increased. But during the preparation you can't do that much with this standard. So formulate the Schedule of Requirements as precisely as possible:

- the party must include at least a fireworks show of 25 minutes in which the fireworks must reach at least an average height of fifty meters (with a deviation of one meter)
- the food consists of at least seven courses of which three are hot dishes
- dinner is served in old porcelain
- attendees know at least fifteen new colleagues by name and know what they do after ten of them

During the preparation you can test all actions to this. You also have an excellent starting point when purchasing the diet products: "Do you also organize fireworks shows that reach an average height of fifty meters?"

It is important to keep the size of a project. Specially when it comes to quality. Good is good enough. So if the average height should be fifty meters, you should not do everything to lift it to sixty meters. That is an important difference with routine work: you will strive for ever better.

Information

Because a project involves a lot of people who are not used to working together, it is important to make clear in advance who gets what information and what he or she needs to do with it. When you start working with a project within an organization, a shared file folder can be an important tool. Only the project team can join this folder. For each document it is clear who has the authority to change and who can only read. When you work on a project with several companies, a joint website can take over that role.

Finally, good file management is crucial. How do you deal with earlier versions of files? Who archives? What do you call your files? Who adapts, who controls? Arrange it well and on time.

Organization

Under this heading you will consider the organizational structure of your project in your project plan. You define the responsibilities, tasks and manner of decision-making. There are three perspectives in this:

1. How do you manage the tasks and responsibilities within the project team?
In principle, this is fairly simple. The project group members are part of the project group because they have a certain expertise. That is their field and they are responsible for that. Often it is useful to agree on who takes note, who manages the project archive and who takes care of the coffee. More importantly, you make clear what the position of the project leader is. The project manager is responsible for the result. So he is the boss. But at the same time project group members are content experts in their area of ​​responsibility. They can only work well if they have a certain degree of freedom. So make arrangements in advance about who can decide about it. To what amount can a project group member independently enter into obligations? Can a project group member request help from colleagues from the company on their own authority who are not part of the project organization? This type of question does not play a role in smaller projects. But it can't hurt to talk about this in advance.
The same applies to the method of decision making. The project leader is the boss, we wrote for this. But what if the whole group is against? Is it then "most votes apply"? You can only arrange this very limited in advance. Assume that the project leader will make the decision anyway. And if everyone is ahead of the project leader, there is more to it than just a difference of opinion. And then? See Managing a project .

2. How do you arrange the coordination between project team and client?
What applies within the project team also applies to the coordination between the project team and the client. It is important to make good agreements about tasks, responsibilities and powers. You are talking about money, approving interim results or communication with the regular organization. The project manager is responsible for the coordination with the client. He has to make sure that he is very regularly at the table with the client to discuss the course of events and to involve the client in the project.

That seems easier than it is in practice. Clients tend to get started with something new when they have put the project on track. And give them something wrong. But people can actually have only three priorities at once. That is why you, as project leader, run the risk of losing the leading position in the principal's list of priorities over time. And if you fall out of the top three, it's wrong. Then you have to whine for attention and time. So plan to catch up with a quarter of an hour every week and make sure you have something to report during those fifteen minutes. Your client needs to feel that his contribution makes you want him.

3. How do you arrange the relationship with the regular organization?
The strength of a project-based approach is that you are separate from the regular organization. In other words: that you do not suffer from it anymore. That is sometimes also the weakness. Because it happens that a project group proudly shows the result after months of work and that people in the mainstream organization wonder: what happened in the name of God?

In principle, the client is responsible for this. However, it can't hurt to let some of your project occasionally be heard. A concise newsletter is a possibility. It is more convenient to occasionally catch up with your colleagues in work meetings.

A more formal approach is to include a steering group in the project organization. Such a steering committee is chaired by the client and acts more or less as a sounding board for that client. If you develop a new management information system, you can form a steering committee of a few managers and some importers. If you are working on an organizational change on a project basisyou can form a steering committee with members of the Works Council and management. For the project group such a steering group is useful because they can be a link with the standing organization. Such a steering committee can be very awkward if your client wants to hide or if you consider the steering committee as a cloth for bleeding: you are not a project manager or client, but you are in the steering committee.

All functions re-appointed, described and valued

Already during the preparation of the merger it was clear that all 250 functions had to be re-named, described and valued. The management also wanted the pillow to be nicely shaken: they wanted 50 functions to disappear and they wanted at least a quarter of all employees to have a different function after the merger. The project group developed a project plan in which not only those concrete results were identified but also included the following objective:

"Employees consider the new functions as an opportunity and make use of them. This is expressed in a maximum of 5% objections to the definitive job assignments. "

This objective required quite a bit of the project design. It was not the formulation of 200 new functions that became the challenge, but the support for the employees. This made good communication the task for the team in one go. A communication plan was developedthis provided for the development of new functions by P & O and staff working groups and an information market for all employees and their families organized by these working groups. The working groups described the new functions on the basis of a series of afternoon sessions with large groups of colleagues. In doing so, they strived for consensus: everyone should be able to find themselves in the new job description. Other instruments included a weekly newsletter on shopping list format, a monthly update for managers and coordinators and personal interest registration.


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