When do you use this configuration?
We have used this for every large program with many individual projects. It can be a global (such as actions from the yearly Employee Satisfaction survey), business-wide (e.g. increase the profitability of a business unit), or local ( like improving efficiency of a production location) project, with the following characteristics:
- a set of projects (generally > 10)
- where all results and revenues are reported together
- there is a Program Manager for the complete set of projects
- each individual project is managed by a different project manager
- to be finished in roughly the same timeframe
What were the issues?
The risk of a set of projects, managed in different ways, is that the Program Manager has to chase everyone for updates, will receive these updates in various formats, and needs to spend much time to turn these diverse bits of information into one proper report. While the official reporting is done once a month, management is always asking the Program Manager “how things are going”, which means the Program Manager has to know the status on a daily basis. And this may cause some stress…
What are the benefits of this setup?
Every project manager updates his or her projects in the Team Site in one list. This enables uniform reporting and automated aggregations.
There is no document editing involved, so no issues with check-in/check-out or overwriting changes.
The Program Manager can spend time on analysis, progress and solving issues, rather than on collecting and aggregating data.
The online reporting also allows for many different permanent slices-and-dices (views) and real-time graphs of progress, making the need for official progress reports even less.
The priority of these configuration projects is generally very high:
- Many people save lots of time by having one place to go for the project’s progress
- These projects are generally very much aligned with business priorities
- External partners can have access to the Team Site and online meetings, so they spend less time and money on travel
How is the TS set up?
- The backbone of the site is an issue list or custom list, with “versioning” on. Versions are useful to store monthly updates, but also to see the progress of the project over time.
- Every project is one line item.
- The “Assigned To” is the project manager. She or he edits their own item(s) on a regular basis.
- We use many different metadata columns depending on the project, e.g. country, department, business unit, workstream, project type, etc.
- The fields that are updated most often are on top, allowing the project managers to edit with as little scrolling as possible.
- We prefer choice fields over lookup fields. The project’s metadata are known and do not change during the project, so we do not need to make it easy to add options; and choice fields in the list reduce the risk of someone accidentally adding, deleting or editing an option.
- Project managers have no “delete” permissions to avoid accidents.
- “Traffic lights” give a quick overview of progress and pain points.
- We create many views to slice and dice the information.
- In most cases, making all projects visible to all project managers is beneficial and stimulates discussion and a healthy sense of competition. In some cases we filter all views on “Assigned To”= [Me]. This is the case when layoffs, reorganizations, acquisitions, divestitures or other major business critical outcomes are expected. In those cases, the Program Manager will set personal views. (Most people do not know how to create personal views or do not want to take the time, so this is quite safe)
Using traffic lights
Everybody always loves traffic lights as status indicators, which makes it easy to see “the good and the bad” at a glance. We have used 3 ways to create them:
- Texts (Green, Yellow, Orange, Red), with a description of what these terms mean. This is very basic, but often works well. It is also the most simple and stable solution.
- Uploading coloured icons and asking people to add the appropriate link.
- Using a calculated fields to color code. This is a more sophisticated way, but not always necessary. I do not have much experience with it.
Some interesting views and graphs
- Projects not modified in 30 days or more. This view is helpful for the Program Manager to chase the project manager for updates
- Red and Orange projects. This view shows the projects that need management attention.
- Projects grouped by Phase, by Workstream, by Country etc. These views all help the Program Manager decide where to take action and where to find success stories and good practices.
- Views with sums on the realized savings or revenues.
- Gantt Chart
- My Projects
- Graph of projects by Phase. This shows progress of the complete PMO and is very useful for Management. (See also my Telesales example)
Are you also managing programs and individual projects in Team Sites? Please let me know!