Deliverables-based project management, or as Timm Esque, author of “No Surprises Project Management”, calls it “Commitment-based” project management, makes tracking of deliverable completion relatively easy. Rather than worrying about the task details, the PM worries about the status of the deliverable. And here are a few rules I apply:
1. It is either “done” or “not done”. 60% done is “not done”. Sorry, but the customer will only care if the team delivers what s/he wants, not 60%.
2. The consumer of the deliverable needs to “accept” it. That is, the consumer needs to say that it meets the requirements
3. Within two weeks of the commit date, the commit date cannot be changed. There are some possible exceptions but rare. If you allow changes to commit dates, you are only fooling yourself.
4. Once the commit date passes and the item is not complete, it is late. In the spreadsheet I use, it automatically changes to red with white, bold letters. Pretty obvious and the owning team doesn’t like it, so it gets their attention.
I’ve developed a spreadsheet that automates the determination if an item is on time or late (as well as whether it’s missing a commit date). See the attached picture. The spreadsheet also generates a”Performance Against Commitments” (PAC) chart, which I’ll talk about in a moment.
By reviewing any late items and the items due this week during our regular weekly PM lead meetings, I can quickly assess where we are and reinforce the need to deliver against the commitments. If there are issues that prevent a team from delivering on an item, I use the meeting to encourage discussions among the teams (I also remind them not to wait for the weekly meeting to talk to each other, something that is not always done).
In addition, I use the PAC chart to graphically depict whether we are on track or not. As long as the “Cumm Done” line is tracking to the “Cumm Planned” bars, we are on schedule. If we fall behind we quickly get an indication that there’s an issue. Very effective, in particular if you ignore the 30%, 60%, 75% done. Ideally, we are right on top of the commitments or ahead. Refer to the PAC chart to get an idea of the concept.
In addition to the original map days and the weekly PM lead meetings, I hold as-needed (typically monthly) all-day face-to-face follow-on map days. These are opportunities for teams to meet face-to-face to discuss areas they are working on and resolve items. In addition, we develop additional details for the project since the original map lacks details out in the future.
So, that’s the gist of this approach. Do we do away with Gantt charts and supporting tools? Possibly, but that’s a topic for another blog.
Jose Solera, PMP