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Last Updated Date May 25, 2021 |

Challenge

To provide an effective communications plan to provide on-going management throughout the project lifecycle and to inform the Project Sponsor regarding status of the project.

Description

The quality of a project can be directly correlated to the amount of review that occurs during its lifecycle and the involvement of the Project Sponsor and Key Stakeholders.

Project Status Reports

In addition to the initial project plan review with the Project Sponsor, it is critical to schedule regular status meetings with the sponsor and project team to review status, issues, scope changes and schedule updates. This is known as the project sponsor meeting.

Gather status, issues and schedule update information from the team one day before the status meeting in order to compile and distribute the Project Status Report. In addition, make sure lead developers of major assignments are present to report on the status and issues, if applicable.

Project Management Review

The Project Manager should coordinate, if not facilitate, reviews of requirements, plans and deliverables with company management, including business requirements reviews with business personnel and technical reviews with project technical personnel.

Set a process in place beforehand to ensure appropriate personnel are invited, any relevant documents are distributed at least 24 hours in advance, and that reviews focus on questions and issues (rather than a laborious "reading of the code").

Reviews may include:

  • Project scope and business case review.
  • Business requirements review.
  • Source analysis and business rules reviews.
  • Data architecture review.
  • Technical infrastructure review (hardware and software capacity and configuration planning).
  • Data integration logic review (source to target mappings, cleansing and transformation logic, etc.).
  • Source extraction process review.
  • Operations review (operations and maintenance of load sessions, etc.).
  • Reviews of operations plan, QA plan, deployment and support plan.

Project Sponsor Meetings

A project sponsor meeting should be completed weekly to bi-weekly to communicate progress to the Project Sponsor and Key Stakeholders.  The purpose is to keep key user management involved and engaged in the process.  In addition, it is to communicate any changes to the initial plan and to have them weigh in on the decision process.

Elements of the meeting include:

  • Key Accomplishments.
  • Activities Next Week.
  • Tracking of Progress to-Date (Budget vs. Actual).
  • Key Issues / Roadblocks.

It is the Project Managers role to stay neutral to any issue and to effectively state facts and allow the Project Sponsor or other key executives to make decisions. Many times this process builds the partnership necessary for success.

Change in Scope

Directly address and evaluate any changes to the planned project activities, priorities, or staffing as they arise, or are proposed, in terms of their impact on the project plan.

The Project Manager should institute a change management process in response to any issue or request that appears to add or alter expected activities and has the potential to affect the plan.

  • Record the background problem or requirement and the recommended resolution that constitutes the potential scope change. Note that such a change-in-scope document helps capture key documentation that is particularly useful if the project overruns or fails to deliver upon Project Sponsor expectations.
  • Review each potential change with the technical team to assess its impact on the project, evaluating the effect in terms of schedule, budget, staffing requirements, and so forth.
  • Present the Scope Change Assessment to the Project Sponsor for acceptance (with formal sign-off, if applicable). Discuss the assumptions involved in the impact estimate and any potential risks to the project.

Even if there is no evident effect on the schedule, it is important to document these changes because they may affect project direction and it may become necessary, later in the project cycle, to justify these changes to management.

Management of Issues

Any questions, problems, or issues that arise and are not immediately resolved should be tracked to ensure that someone is accountable for resolving them so that their effect can also be visible.

Track the owner of the issue, dates of entry and resolution as well as details of the issue and its solution.

Significant or "showstopper" issues should also be mentioned on the status report and communicated through the weekly project sponsor meeting. This way, the Project Sponsor has the opportunity to resolve and cure a potential issue.

Project Acceptance and Close

A formal project acceptance and close helps document the final status of the project. Rather than simply walking away from a project when it seems complete, this explicit close procedure both documents and helps finalize the project with the Project Sponsor.

For most projects this involves a meeting where the Project Sponsor and/or department managers acknowledge completion or sign a statement of satisfactory completion.

  • Even for relatively short projects, use a Project Close Report to finalize the project with a final status detailing:
    • What was accomplished.
    • Any justification for tasks expected but not completed.
    • Recommendations.
  • Prepare for the close by considering what the project team has learned about the environments, procedures, data integration design, data architecture, and other project plans.
  • Formulate the recommendations based on issues or problems that need to be addressed. Succinctly describe each problem or recommendation and if applicable, briefly describe a recommended approach.

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