The Powerhouse PM – Throws Stuff OFF the Wagon!

During the early stages of a project it is expected that the Project Manager (PM) will accumulate numerous tasks and to do’s which must be completed in order to cross the finish line. Effectively managing these into (or, more importantly, out of) the project plan is crucial. This includes determining:

  • Which items are in scope (necessary to ensure success) vs. out-of-scope (unnecessary, and/or could be addressed after “go-live”)
  • Timing and interdependencies
  • Ownership

Building on a prior post, this is the phase when the PM is “drinking from a firehose” taking everything in / making sure no details are lost. All well and good!

That said, over time (relative to the project scope/magnitude and complexity) the project “wagon” will be loaded up with the agreed upon tasks and activities that the team will address as part of the plan.

It is at this point when the Powerhouse PM must be absolutely tenacious to ensure that each and every meeting (and day) more things come “off the wagon” than are added “to the wagon.” This is not to say that new information won’t materialize that must be factored into the plan. However, too often, silly little delays can be introduced by not QUICKLY nipping things in the bud.

I was recently in a project team meeting in which we were discussing the final phase of data conversion round 1 (of 3). Being that it was round 1, we weren’t looking for perfection. We were “testing”, looking to ensure we had “the basics” covered. That is, we could load each data element to the system and perform some rudimentary reconciliation to ensure things looked good. From here we have 2 more opportunities to “perfect” things.

During the team meeting 2 questions came up related to inconsistencies in and/or incompleteness of the data. The conversation started down the path of how this could be rectified (going back to pull more data and creating scripts to update loaded data) and what the impact would be to the (already tight) schedule.

It is at this point when the Powerhouse PM exclaims: STOP! And, reinforces the fact that the data is “good enough” for this round. Perfection is NOT what we are looking for. If we are 80% or better then we are in good shape. Allow NO DELAYS!

If we had been “way” ahead of schedule and team members had plenty of time on their hands we may have been “tempted” to consider addressing the above. Even then I would suggest the same course of action would be appropriate, because I have found that “work expands to fill the available time.” As such, whenever there is wiggle room in a schedule, don’t be tempted to “burn it” on anything that isn’t absolutely critical to project success, or for that phase of the project. That time WILL become necessary later on in the project when something new (the inevitable curve ball) shows up that must be addressed.

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