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I am running a Prince2/Waterfall project that is currently about 1/4 of the way through a 8 month timeline. I have been having trouble with Work Package owners not providing me with Checkpoint reports/completing the work.

This is an extension of my question here, which can provide some additional background No / Late Checkpoint reports.

Without these Checkpoint reports I don't know the up to date status of the whole project and that in turn means i cannot properly manage the project/report to the Project Board etc. How would you suggest I call out/manage this? I am interested in the more technical project management side of things.

I have included some options lower down in this post and to help you understand them better i will describe the high level project structure.

High Level Project Structure

Project Board:

  • Sponsor = Client, Snr Supplier = My company, Snr Users (2) = My company.
  • This is where a sanitised view of the project is presented/discussed.
  • It may seem odd that that Snr Users are also from my company and not the client but thats how it is. In actual fact the Snr Users are the Work Package owners. Not the most ideal situation, but its a fact at this stage and will not change.

Project Steering Committee:

  • Made up of the Project Board minus the client (Sponsor) plus a Senior PM.
  • This is a internal group, somewhat hidden from the client.
  • This is where the PM can disclose the true state of the project

I report to both the Board and the Steering Committee.

Here are some options I can see:

  1. Report to the Project Board (as a significant issue) that the Senior Supplier is not delivering and let the Project Board, especially the Project Sponsor put the pressure on the Senior Supplier.

    Thoughts on this approach:

    • I work for the Senior Supplier, and they will not appreciate this (I would be disciplined or fired i expect)
    • I should represent and support the company i work for (assuming no ethical lines are crossed)
    • Would potentially solve my problem as there would now be a consequence for not providing Checkpoint's/completing work, so the Work Package owners would (hopefully) lift their game.
  2. Put the project into exception.

    Thoughts on this approach:

    • I'm not sure that this the best/appropriate approach to call it out using project management techniques?
    • I could only report this to the Steering committee (see option1) and I am not expecting anything to come of it (Low company project management maturity and interest in it).
    • I don't see how I can put the project into exception only for one group.
  3. Report as an issue to Steering Committee, record Steering Committee's decision in minutes/decision log (continue to do this throughout project)

    Thoughts on this approach:

    • I'm not sure that this the best/appropriate approach to call it out using project management techniques?
    • It provides an audit trail to protect myself to some extent
    • It puts me in the potentially difficult situation of concealing the true status of the project to the Project Board (Client).
    • This is kind of the same as option 5 except to call out/report to the Steering Committee and document the path of what has gone on (I can inform the powers that be, but if they choose to continually ignore then thats their choice).
    • This is the option that is closest aligned to what I am currently doing.
  4. Do nothing, let things continue as is.

    Thoughts on this approach:

    • I may go insane ;-)
    • I don't think its the professional thing to do. I'm being paid to manage the project.
    • The project will be delivered overtime, overbudget and likely with quality issues.
    • The project may fail (by various definitions) and I may be the one held accountable.

So...

What do you think of these options? Do you have any other suggestions?

I am asking this from two main angles:

  1. I want to manage the project in a diligent and professional way.
  2. I want to protect myself, I have experienced similar situations where the PM was left out to dry when things have turned visibly "bad" for the project.
  3. I'm sure I will face this again and am keen to have some ways of dealing with it.
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From the strictly technical point of view:

  • Rise a risk. In this case the risk might be project failure due to insufficient control. The cause of the risk is missing or late reports.
  • Perform a qualitative risk analysis (high probability, high impact)
  • Perform a quantitative risk analysis (will cost xy)
  • Don't forget to include team members / experts during the risk investigation
  • Identify risk mitigations
  • Monitor and work on the risks
  • Report major risks to the steering board and ask them how to deal with those (accept, take actions, ...)
  • Thanks Tabias. I would be interested to know what your thoughts are around integrating in issue mgmt to your answer. This is the bit i'm uncertain about: I have a risk identified and each week the risk is realised and an issue should be raised? The issue "no checkpoint report" is resolved after a couple of days (assuming i can get the WP owner to provide it). The risk still exists and is kept open. Next week the same happens again (risk realised, issue raised). It does provide an audit trail, but it seems like a high overhead? – JS- Jul 18 '15 at 0:20
  • @JS Your approach might lead to a regular behaviour and management might get used to it. The risk I would raise is that the project might ... (actually I don't know the consequences). The risks cause is that reports are not available or too late. This one won't go on the issue list. Nevertheless, you can track progress by reporting e.g. the reports delays, identify mitigations, and actions to take to prevent the big risk. – Tob Jul 18 '15 at 3:47
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My understanding of the PMs job is the following:

PM is responsible for the success of the project. The PM is responsible to provide necessary information to the management in order to allow good decisions. If something out of the control or capacity of the PM hinders the PM doing or achieving this, the PM has to escalate this information also. PM is responsible to protect the project team (in the sense of not allowing unfair treatment).

Usually, gathering information about the project status is within the PMs capabilities (functional and personal).

Within your last question, you received good answers what to do to get the requested reports.

To be success with your project you don't need the reports but the corresponding data. Due to the fact that this data seems to be really critical, invest time and effort to gather it.

Here comes the PM techniques:

A main part of the PMs job is usually walking around and talking to people in order got get an appropriate view on the project insides. So here are some possibilities to do this:

  • Set up short stand up meetings (daylies, weeklies)
  • Visit your WP managers and get the info direct.
  • Schedule 1:1 meetings (15min)

But: Do this with the following mindset:

  • They don't know their benefit in providing you the required data (you can take decisions simplifying their work life)
  • They don't know the impact of the required data on the project
  • They are afraid being harmed, as you are. Start working on this cultural aspect by showing them that and how you care.
  • Be supportive, e.g. by asking them what you can do to get the data.

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