2

I am a project manager with a Prince2, Agile Scrum background working for a company which almost solely utilises Prince2 for managing its projects.

We are about a 1/4 of the way through a 8 month project and the Team Managers (Work Package Owners) are consistently not providing checkpoint reports for their work packages. When they do provide them days late, they almost always ask for additional time to complete the work and provide either no or very poor justification for it.

The boss of the Team Managers while supportive (towards me) does not have any impact on this problem. It has been going on for months and years under previous projects.

Besides from going and working elsewhere do you have any suggestions for dealing with this? I am interested in both the people side and also the project management mechanisms/processes/tools side.

EDIT The reason why they don't provide the reports would vary depending on who you were to ask. The Team Managers are busy (we all are) but being busy doesn't mean you stop doing your job and in the event you could not complete it in time, you would let the PM know. I believe they don't provide or delay the reports because (1) they are not actually managing the work assigned and its hard to report on as a result and (2) that the weekly checkpoint report provides a audit trail of sorts of the frequent delays which doesn't reflect well (see point 1)

  • 1
    Why don't they provide the required reports? – Tob Jun 26 '15 at 5:00
  • The reason why they don't provide the reports would vary depending on who you were to ask. The Team Managers are busy (we all are) but being busy doesn't mean you stop doing your job and in the event you could not complete it in time, you would let the PM know. I believe they don't provide or delay the reports because (1) they are not actually managing the work assigned and its hard to report on as a result and (2) that the weekly checkpoint report provides a audit trail of sorts of the frequent delays which doesn't reflect well (see point 1). – JS- Jun 26 '15 at 5:55
2

It sounds to me like this specific issue is probably the tip of the iceberg. Although the company has clearly publically invested in deployment of a formal PM methodology, it sounds like there is no real appetite for the structure and control it provides, either "at the coalface" or with the management.

Simply put, if there is no appetite for enforcing a simple and useful procedure like regular Checkpoint Reports within the management, then you will not be able to achieve it yourself no matter how much you plead, argue or logically debate. If it has always been done this way "for years" then that is the way it is done at the company.

It would take a paradigm shift within the company management and culture in order to effect such a change. Having said that, it is possible to deploy small incremental change by stealth in such an environment but it takes a long time. You have to start with the tiniest of change, that appears to benefit someone in some way. If you can make someone's life easier with a small procedural change then they will likely adopt it (why wouldn't you opt for an easier life?) and you can build on that over time, covertly, until you entrench new ways of working. The problem you currently face is that completion of Checkpoint Reports does not make their life easier, it actually makes it harder for no benefit or gain on their part. Since no-one has ever, and no-one will ever force them to comply, they won't do it.

If there is real appetite within management for more control and structure (which is often brought about by a need to be more accurate with job estimation, delivery dates, quality issues and rework costs etc.) then the new direction must come from the top.

Sadly Project Management is probably just seen as an annoyance within the structure that pesters the workers and doesn't deliver value to the management (otherwise they would enforce better practises).

So in summary:

  1. If management see the benefits of structured PM (and perhaps it will take you to show them these benefits) then work with them to determine what, from the methodology, is mandatory for your organisation, what would be nice to have in your organisation and what is irrelevant to your org. Don't try and deploy every part of Prince 2 just to be Prince 2 compliant, that will waste a lot of time and money
  2. If management has no interest in this then determine if you are in for the long haul and work out where you need to get to procedurally and lots of little steps in between, then deploy them slowly, embedding each one properly before you move on to the next one. You probably will not want to be transparent about this plan- no-one wants to feel like they are being manipulated by stealth!
  3. If neither of the above are likely to work for you, then you just have to work out whether you can live with the current systems or leave

It is intensely unsatisfying, and a miserable existence to boot, for a process and detail driven Project Manager to have to manage an unstructured and uninterested chaotic process. I know, I've been there. No good ever comes of it.

Good luck!

  • Thank you Marv, for such an in depth response. It is nice to know that others out there can appreciate my dilemma! #2 feels like the best fit right now and actually it's probably what I have been doing for some time with a hope that #1 starts to happen. I have posted a followup question pm.stackexchange.com/questions/15333/no-checkpoint-reports – JS- Jun 27 '15 at 2:38
1

I suspect not providing checkpoint reports is one of many symptoms that you are experiencing. It appears your organization has a very low to non existent PM capability maturity. Also, it sounds like your eight-month project is not a material project for your company.

The good news, you can only go up from here. Notwithstanding trying to make your current project successful, I would devote a lot of time pitching the benefits of increased PM maturity to the most senior folks of your company. For them, it could come down to a lack of understanding how good it could be, in terms of decreased costs, meeting deadlines, improving revenues, with even one step higher in maturity. Build the sponsorship; that has to be the first step. Once you have that, which includes a level of authority for you (which translates to "get on board or get out of the way"), you can develop your plan to build maturity over time.

Re-frame in your mind this as an opportunity. You get the biggest chunks of value moving from zero maturity up the first two or three steps.

  • Thanks for the positivity and advice David :) It is easy to get pessimistic about it! I have attempted to convince the senior folks with limited success (sales has never been my strong suit!). I think the challenge is, currently the company gets paid well for delivering poorly delivered projects hence there is little incentive to change. – JS- Jun 27 '15 at 2:42
1

Get a bunch of open-minded people involved in the problem (or those invested in solving it) into a room, grab a whiteboard, and keep asking why - map out the symptoms, root causes and "vicious cycles" as nodes/links until you feel you've found the true origins, then ask yourselves if they can be fixed or not. i.e. root cause analysis (http://blog.crisp.se/2009/09/29/henrikkniberg/1254176460000).

Many times it will lead to things like "because management doesn't trust anyone below them", "because most employees don't care about what we make", or "because it creates job security for Bob", so be forewarned. :)

  • Thanks Jeff. I love that Crisp blog. Those interested in solving it and having open, frank , genuine discussion are not the ones in control (though there are some exceptions but they are outnumbered). – JS- Jun 27 '15 at 2:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.