A recent Harvard Business Review article on "Promise Based Management," reminded me of Hal Macomber's campaign for managing projects through "promise making." You can search Hal's site for all things "promise" for insight into the methods used in construction.
While these processes provide a powerful approach to project "execution," the planning portion of project management still needs to be performed. Learning to speak in the vernacular of "promises" can be performed using a "Deliverables Based Planning" process.
In Deliverables Based Planning, tangible outcomes of work are defined FIRST. The units of measure of "Done" are defined and the facilities needed to complete the deliverable identified. The result is a set of Work Packages, each a complete executable entity containing:
- Description of work
- Requirements to be fulfilled
- Assumptions about these requirements
- Basis of Estimate for all costs
- Dependencies up and down stream for the Work package
- The strategy for delivering the outcomes
- A list of deliverables for the Work Package
- Activities needed to the approval of these deliverables
- Identification of the owner and maintainers of the Work Package
With this information gaining the "promises" from the providers of the resources and materials identified in the Work Package can be made. Without this information it is difficult for those asked to make the "promise" to do so with any confidence that is visible to those receiving the "promise."
A combination of Hal's execution side promise delivery and Deliverables Based Planning lays the ground work for a successful project. Both are needed:
- Planning for the delivery, without a commitment to deliver leads to disappointment
- Committing to delivery without an understanding and assessment of the strategy for delivery leads to disappointment