13 de octubre de 2013

Visualize Destiny and Path

Following there are some lines that flows naturally when we integrate in our character habit 2.1) I Visualize Destiny and Path

  • “Affected users will need this training before week 15. Training feedback will be taken into account in change management activities.”
  • “First development iteration will solve all architectural technical issues throughout a prototype. Second iteration will release all functionality for accounts receivable, which is the most critical. Third iteration will cover the remaining functionality.”
  • “Testing separate team will be needed as of 5 FTE in July, 8 FTE in September and 10 FTE in January.”
  • “We should negotiate the licensing terms of the project product. Our company could extend this business line with this.”

Nowadays, many companies have teams assigned full time to project initiation. That is, before project approval, they analyze carefully if those projects are worth doing. They assess, for instance, if those project are profitable, opportunistic, aligned, affordable, etc. While elaborating commercial bids, some companies manage them as real projects, with stakeholders named as bid managers, account managers, investment managers, etc.

Not long ago, I used to prepare many bids, often as much as three per week. Many of them were presented just for image. We already knew the client was not going to select us. Anyway, we had to submit a proposal of good quality. There was much copy and paste, of course, but we only got the feeling of a “good proposal” when we got something resembling a draft version of a project plan. 

Clients will buy you a project because of the price, but also if they feel you have a clear vision about the final results and the way to get them. Therefore, you score high if you are able to communicate your understanding of requirements, scope and work packages. You get the entire client’s attention when you explain how you are going to manage schedule, effort, risk, quality, communication, stakeholders and procurement.

You will get approval from your bosses if they feel you have a clear vision about cost, financing, needed resources (internal or coming from third parties), risks, acceptance criteria, legal liabilities, etc.

As you probably are noticing, the enumerated items above are the elements we should easily find in a typical project management plan. That’s the reason why in the initiation phase it is good practice to have a Project Manager involved —if possible, an effective one with good planning skills. Let’s claim to our organizations to have this good practice, but more importantly, let’s apply those tools and techniques when we have the opportunity as Project Managers, when we are involved in a project not yet approved. We should never work without a realistic and complete plan, and it’s never too early to start planning: We can make assumptions on what we don’t know yet.

You need to put your imagination (that precious human gift) to work at full speed when you start managing a project. First thing first day, an Effective Project Manager has to start imagining the big picture. You rather have two pictures to imagine: 1) The product of the project or to-be scenario and 2) The roadmap to get there. The powerful imagination of Effective Project Managers allows them to answer to questions like: 
  • How will needs and goals change during the lifecycle of the project? 
  • How will be the roll out phase to move to production state? 
  • How will maintenance be operated? 
  • What features will the final product include and what not? 
  • How it will be used? 

To get this vision it is very important the ability to break the whole into parts —but please don’t fall into paralysis by analysis here.

Regarding the roadmap to get the to-be scenario, a very useful technique is to start visualizing the end as soon as possible: What should I deliver to get customer acceptation? And then visualize intermediate steps rewinding until today.

Some advice when using your crystal ball: 1) Write down, prepare documents and presentations: Imagination is reinforced by feedback loops coming when we write down or draw what we think. 2) Update your planning progressively as you discover new information. 3) Don’t do this alone: Start delegating on team members by involving them in the planning process.

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