Birds of a Feather
Here's How to Streamline and Unify Executive Reporting when Leading Different Types of Projects
By Marat Oyvetsky, PMP
Keeping leadership in the loop on multiple projects is easier when the projects have a lot in common. When initiatives share similar scopes and execution approaches, project managers can straightforwardly formulate an integrated schedule and status report showcasing everything being managed and the paths to successful completion. Large companies often have the luxury of creating silos in their project management teams to allow related projects to be managed and reported in similar styles. For example, a company might silo its IT infrastructure or IT security projects, assigning project managers to work in only one of these areas.
But I've witnessed organizations that suddenly make project managers straddle silos. They hand someone very different projects while still expecting reporting to be the same across all of them. In those scenarios, project managers are left to their own devices to try to communicate to leadership succinctly and effectively.
LESS REALLY IS MORE
It can be tempting to go into detail while reporting on a project's status, challenges and risks. There is a basic tension between project leaders' deep knowledge and executive leadership's interest in a project's overall health, budget status and time to completion. But resisting the urge to go into the weeds is particularly critical when you're managing dissimilar projects. Here's how you can create homogeneous reports executive sponsors and other leaders can quickly consume and understand.
Focus on high-level milestones. By breaking down all the projects into high-level milestones for each, project leaders can report on the basic timelines of each work stream regardless of technology or methodology.
Create a master dashboard. Master project dashboards can illustrate the overall timeline for all in-flight projects and communicate their respective completion dates. A picture really can be worth a thousand words.
Map key business initiatives to project timelines. Executive sponsors view projects as a means to strategic ends. By mapping key initiatives to each project timeline on a dashboard, you'll communicate when leadership can expect certain technologies (or whatever the projects will deliver) to be available in support of business plans. This approach also helps highlight any dependencies between the projects.
Create a simple scorecard. Executive leadership is results-oriented, so focus on what was completed, what is planned and any risks that might complicate and/or slow completion. The scorecard will allow executive leadership to easily see the health and overall status of each project—regardless of management technique. PM
|Marat Oyvetsky, PMP, is program director at Trace3, San Diego, California, USA.|