When I encounter a triage situation, like the one starting in January, I'm always surprised at how many steps it took for the program to get to the ditch. Small, simple steps that led them over the cliff without even knowing it.
The discussion usually starts with blaming the tool. In the program management and program controls business PROCESS IS KING. Many decades ago, we used to do the program perform by hand with a quadrille pad and a pen. So tools only make the work effort more efficient, not necessarly more effective.
When we're managing a program we need both thorough and credible processes for the plan to
GET BACK TO GREEN and KEEP THE PROGRAM GREEN
For the GET TO GREEN plan to be thorough it must:
- Identify and classify sources of all data and the variances for that data. This means that measures of Physical Percent Complete must be used for all work activities at the Task level.
- Assure all related systems and processes have bi-directional traceability between the work being performed and the data the provides visibility into that work.
- Identify underlying / system-related cause(s) of gaps in this data traceability.
- Continuously focus on opportunities to improve systems, processes, and people, and if none are apparent, can explain why.
- Define a plan to address any and all opportunities to improve or explains why the organization isn't addressing those opportunities.
- Explain — when improvement plans are justified — who will carry out the plan; when that person(s) will carry out the plan; and the methods for measuring result.
For the GET TO GREEN plan to be credible it must:
- Involve people closely associated with all aspects of the systems and processes under review.
- Receive support, authorization, and encouragement from senior leadership.
- Present findings that are consistent and whose conclusions the Root Cause Analysis developed during the triage process.
- Consider relevant external examples of working systems, processes, and people skills needed to keep the program GREEN. No need to invent something new.
The challenge them becomes how to KEEP THE PROGRAM GREEN. Again Process is King. Know working management processes are available for any program or project domain. If the processes are not applied correctly, consistently, thoroughly, and credibly, then the project or program will be back in the ditch soon.
I have a colleague who has a phrase he uses on troubled projects. In his best southern (below I-10) Louisiana accent, he says...
How do ya know you'rer in the ditch? The weeds are hitting the windshield. Turn the wheel to the left and get out of the ditch. From then on try and keep the car between the white lines.