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Friday, April 26, 2013

Technical Performance Measurement and Status Meetings


In the previous chapters, we have covered many of the tools and techniques used in the Monitor and Control Risks process. In this chapter we are going to take a look at last two items in the series namely “Technical Performance Measurement” and “Status Meetings”

Technical Performance Measurement

Purpose: To uncover any deviations that may exist, such as differing functionalities, than what was planned for the Project.

This technique compares the actual technical accomplishments in the project to the planned technical achievements. It helps us to identify and forecast the degree of success in achieving the scope of work taken up as part of the Project. Practically speaking, every project is taken up to accomplish some scope of work and in this process, we are just checking to see if the risk of any deviations from the planned accomplishments exists.

In order to use this technique, we must have quantifiable objectives that can be measured on a technical level. This can be done only when project work (Execution) is underway and we are in the Monitor and Control phase of the Project. In real life, you may see this activity taken up during significant project milestones.

As we complete this activity and as deviations are identified, they are documented with all supporting information. Once this information is available the Risk Management team could suggest corrective actions to keep the project on track with the original plan.

A project where the risk management team fails to identify deviations from plan early and fails to implement corrective actions on time, will almost always fail.

Trivia:
I have used the term almost always because – Miracles too happen in real life but I believe in hard work more rather than miracles.

Status Meetings

Before we begin, a Status Meeting is technically not a tool or a technique but is something that can greatly help address project risks. So, logically, as it is used in monitoring and controlling risks, it has been given a kind of honorary technique status for this process.

Any team meeting that addresses risk management in the project as an Agenda Item for discussion would come under this category. In real life, getting everyone in the team to gather in a meeting is not so easy esp. if the people who are to attend the meeting are senior in the org hierarchy. So, once we assemble the key participants, we must utilize the time available effectively.

Benefits:

The more often risks are addressed, the easier we can identify and deal with them.

Risk management is an ongoing activity and is not something that happens say once in a quarter. But, unfortunately this is how risk management happens in real life. People feel that risk management is yet another process/activity that has to be done just because the people higher up say so. So, the effectiveness of this whole activity is greatly depleted.

How we educate our team and stakeholders about risk management and make them understand its benefits will greatly help set the agenda and objectives of the meeting. At the end of the day the key stakeholders and senior management want us (Project Managers) to execute a successful project which finishes on time and within budget. Risk Management is not an overhead; instead it can help achieve the project objectives without any last minute surprises. This is something that must be understood by everyone participating in these meetings to make the most of the gathering.

The amount of time we spend discussing risks in our status meetings, depends on the number of risks, their complexity, their probability and impact etc. We typically will examine all the risks in our Risk Register, their response plans and then gather feedback from the meeting attendants about them. An open floor could give way to newer and smarter suggestions which may not come out if everyone does not understand the importance of the activity or if everyone is not given an opportunity to contribute.

As project managers, it is our responsibility to utilize the knowledge and inputs that our team members may have to get the best out of our Project.

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