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I run a program management office, reporting to a client on status of multiple projects on a one-page report card. I need to be able to capture and maintain when a milestone slips, including the final milestone's completion date, but still report status on the revised date. The client did not want a report card that included baseline dates, so I don't have that option, and they are insisting that once a project slips a completion date, the condition is always considered "late". I'm not trying to hide any slippage, and I am calling out what was slipped, but if the overall condition is always "late", there is no tracking the revised date appropriately.

How can I track the revised date if the condition is always late?

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    Jim, Welcome to PMSE! Have you tried using any Earned Value Management techniques? – Mark Phillips Mar 4 '13 at 16:19
  • Thanks Mark. That is not something I've tried before, but am willing to consider anything. Trying to implement change in an atmosphere of "this is how we've always done" is a tricky course to navigate sometimes. – Jim Mar 4 '13 at 16:25
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    So once the date slips your customer no longer cares when you are predicting you will finish?? That sounds crazy. Please advise.... – David Espina Mar 4 '13 at 16:31
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    What does the client really want? A dashboard that shows "red" if the project is now or ever has been late? Do they care how late? Second question, Is the confusion on my end, or is the client's direction confusing? (if the latter, then this becomes an entirely different question). – Mark C. Wallace Mar 4 '13 at 17:20
  • Thanks David ann Mark - Mark is correct that they want it to be marked as late if it was ever late, regardless of how late. The client has had some bad experiences in the past and wants to make sure it's not lost on anyone if a project is delivered late. I won't say they're looking to be punitive, but some feel that way. I put it back on the client to suggest how I report the status of the revised date, but so far no feedback on that. You both seem to understand what I'm asking, and exeperiencing. I'm trying to satisfy the client's need, but I want it to be meaningful to anyone reviewing. – Jim Mar 4 '13 at 18:51
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Intriguing question. The client wants the project marked as late if it was ever late as a defensive measure against ultimate late delivery. I believe I'm not alone in thinking that this conceals opportunities to intervene and avoid late delivery.

I think that if I were the PM on this project, I would want to satisfy the client's desire for a "defensive dashboard", but also want to communicate the opportunities for intervention. There are a couple of ways to do this, but the one that appeals to me the most would be to adopt @Mark Phillip's suggestion and use EVM. Print the Red Stoplight on the dashboard, but in the center of the red bulb print the current SPI. For me there is a big difference between a red bulb with a 1.01 printed in the center and a red bulb with "1.17" printed in the center. (I might go so far as to print the first in white and the second in yellow; yellow on red should be alarming enough.) (Bonus; you get some Section 508 compliance as well!)

The other truth that I see in the question is that although the client doesn't want to track the revised dates, I would. The dashboard can't be the only project tracking M&C tool. I've got a half dozen tracking charts and tools that I use for my own reference and brief the client only if they're informative. The client may or may not wish to be informed of these - your client seems more interested in allocating blame than in ensuring project success, but that is the client's perogative. Your reputation will be based on whether the project closes successfully.

  • I appreciate the feedback. Project management methodlogies are dictated here, otherwise EVM sounds like an approach I would take. Working for a large company does not leave much room for individuality. Reporting status is virtually all I have. Since my role is the program manager, not project manager, my individual success depends not individual projects rather keeping all parties informed and minimalizing surprises. – Jim Mar 4 '13 at 20:10
  • I hadn't anticipated such controversy on reporting status format. In fact I feel they want too much information on a program report card. I'd prefer a succint reporting, with details to back it up on projects in jeopardy. – Jim Mar 4 '13 at 20:11

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