Jim Highsmith has a nice post about principles and practices. There is a concept about Practices without Principles as well. Here are 10 fundamental principles of how projects work, or should work, independent of any method or process. A principle is a “general truth, a law on which other are founded or from which others are derived.” [Webster]. For the principles of program and project management to be effective they must :
- Express a basic concept
- Be universally applicable
- Be capable of straightforward expression
- Be self evident
These principles encompass the entire life cycle of a project or program, from inception and the discovery of the business or system capabilities, through requirements elicitation, to the creation of the Performance Measurement Baseline (PMB), to the execution of this baseline.
The principles provide several feedback loops to assure that subsequent activities provide measurable information to correct gaps that exist in the previous activities. This iterative and incremental approach to program management assures the periods of assessment for corrective actions are appropriately spaced to minimize risk while maximizing the delivered value to the program.
- Capabilities drive system requirements. All requirements must be traceable to a capability - The principles for defining a capability address the flexibility needed to ensure system responsiveness and sustainability in a context of constant change, while delivering tangible benefits to the buyer. Governance principles provide guidance to institutionalize a process, including its continued assessment and evolution over time in support of the tangible system benefits. The core concept in Capabilities Based development is the focus on the delivery of value. The concept of “Value Focused Thinking” starts with two methods of decision making: the 1st focuses on competitive analysis between the various alternatives, and the 2nd focuses on attaining organization values as the fundamental objective of any decision making process. [Pagatto07]. As an aside this is where a fundamental error is made by those who object to the use of Earned Value. They confuse the Earned Value of ANSI-748-B, with the business value produced by a capability.
- Requirements identify technical and process deliverables. All deliverables must be traceable to a requirement - There are many issues associated with requirements engineering, including failure to define the system scope, failure to foster understanding among the different communities affected by the development of a given system, and failure to deal with the volatile nature of requirements.
- Work Packages describe the production of deliverables - Staying focused on decomposing the system capabilities into clearly defined streams of functionality is a critical success factor. This effort decouples the technical functionality from the system capabilities – increasing cohesion and reducing coupling between each stream.
- Integrated Master Schedule (IMS) arrange the Deliverables, Accomplishments, Criteria, and Work Packages into a logical – risk adjusted – activity network - Arranging the Work Packages in a logical network is an iterative process. It should be obvious which major deliverables come first, second and later. Building an initial network, plotting that network in the Big Visible Chart, hanging that chart on the wall and standing in front of it with all the Work Package Managers is part of developing a credible PLAN for the program.
- Work Package progress is measured as Physical Percent Complete against the planned progress at time of the performance assessment - Measuring progress to plan can ONLY be done with Physical Percent Complete (PPC). Any other measure of progress can not be connected to the delivery of business value to the customer. This is the basis of Earned Value and it is also the basis of Agile Software Development methodologies. Deliver working code at all times.
- Work Authorization assures the sequence of Work Packages produce progress at the planned rate for the planned cost, with the planned product maturity at each assessment point in the IMS - The work authorization system is used by the program manager and his or her designee's in order to approve all work throughout the course of the current program management venture. Even in agile project, a sticky note list of work to be done in named iteration is used.
- Earned Value describes the current performance and provides information about future performance - The combination of advanced planning, baseline maintenance, and earned value yields earlier and better visibility into program performance than is provided by non‒integrated methods of planning and control.
- Conformance with Technical Performance Measures adjusts Earned Value for rework, quality, or delayed features, using Units of Measure meaningful to the decision makers - Technical Performance Measures (TPMs) are traditionally defined and evaluated to assess how well a system is achieving its performance requirements. Typically, dozens of TPMs are defined for a system. Although they generate useful information and data about a system’s performance, little is available in the program management community on how to integrate these measures into a meaningful measure of the system’s overall performance risk.
- Performance feedback from each WP and program level Earned Value adjusts the WP sequence and resource allocation to reestablish an on–time, on–budget schedule - Earned Value Management (EVM) is a program management tool integrates Cost and Schedule parameters as an early warning system for future performance of the program.
- Future performance is based on the To Complete Performance Index (TCPI), Independent Estimate At Complete (IEAC), and the adjusted work sequence - Employing Earned Value Management can present a program with data not available with any other management tool. And while each metric can be useful, there are two metrics are particularly useful in the management of any project, or program, or a portfolio of projects. The Cost Performance Index and the Schedule Performance Index. Both used in the calculation of the To Complete Performance Index (TCPI).