Guiding a project manager on whys and wherefores of project management for easy scaling of the project into a program needs a lot of careful thinking.
It often demands a smart balance between executing useful practices that project personnel understand & support versus what they view as a hindrance to getting their work done.
This blog attempts to provide some useful suggestions essential for building out a framework while scaling your project.
Program Management - Do’s and Don'ts
A program is a combination of multiple projects that are linked to each other to fit into bigger overarching business goals. It needs a step-up approach to strategically achieve business objectives. Depending upon the expanse of the program, one needs to decide on a formal approach for orchestration, prioritization, and delivery.
Here are some do’s and don’ts that everyone involved in the project should take care of-
- Follow a rationalized and well planned approach
- Use right tools to accomplish desired outcomes
- Communicate to the right people at the right time
- Form a governance committee
- Delegate efficiently
- Lose your calm and patience
- Say “yes” to everything
- Need not be afraid of conflicts
- Don’t be afraid to highlight/raise risks to stakeholders
- Be guilty or too harsh on yourself
Consider These 8 Points For Effectively Scaling-up a Project
Key areas that would help in scaling up are as below:
- Initial estimation of projects
The high-level analysis and estimation of the projects involved in the program can help in preparing your timelines and budgets. While waiting for complete details can be endless and unfruitful, it’s advisable to pick up the pace via the initial layout, i.e., plan and kick-off.
You can get started with the initial scope and budget for the program and gradually prepare for the upcoming months or years.
2. Layout the plan with dedicated timelines
Once the estimations are ready, a complete roadmap of the program can be chalked out by adding the start and end date of each project. A calendared view of the program with timelines is a good reference point for your budgeting and resource management. Without a complete picture and farsightedness, things can fall out of place and give you less time for planning.
3. Resource planning
Once you have identified the resources required per month, you can easily mark your requests to the HR department. Resources can be timely onboarded and offboarded from the projects. The available list of people with identified skills for a known duration is now readily available with you to manage resources in a controlled fashion. It helps you prepare for all upcoming needs and release resources to the pool, smoothing the process.
4. Identification of key resources
People running your projects decide the fate of the program. The leaders at this position play a key role in maintaining the success of the whole program. So identifying the key project managers to run the projects is very important. Never compromise on the quality of people leading your projects. Interview them, analyze the management skills according to the program needs, and then deploy.
5. Defining and streamlining processes
It is very important to have a set of processes developed and made available to everyone joining the projects under the program. Processes are maintained to run the projects on similar lines as they serve the common goal. Keep your checklist ready and share it with every onboarding project team. A checklist plays a predominant role in streamlining the processes and ensuring that all key aspects of a program are taken care of.
Here is your go-to checklist that you can refer to anytime while designing your processes to keep the team’s functioning the right way-
Overview of the project, client/vendor details, key stakeholders list, and reference training material/videos form an important list to be maintained for new project teams. Identify a list of documents and processes which every team member should run through when joining a project.
The templates for the discovery workbook, user manuals, project plans, release plan, & demo scripts should be created and placed at a common location for easy access to people. These templates along with PM tools should ideally serve all projects to save on time and energy. It helps in starting the new project without any hiccups and they don't need to reinvent the wheel.
Engineering practices and documentation for coding guidelines, branching strategy, tag-based release management, quality check tools, deployment strategy, etc are a must to maintain consistency and standardization of the program.
List of identified scrum ceremonies and its target audience help new/old team members to be aligned. Each member then follows the practice religiously. Maintaining a calendared view of scrum ceremonies of each project provides visibility to the program manager
List of identified scrum ceremonies and its target audience help new/old team members to be aligned. Each member then follows the practice religiously. Maintaining a calendared view of scrum ceremonies of each project provides visibility to the program manager.
It is imperative to understand and define the metrics which can render the status of the project. Ensure that project managers understand the value of it and have a dashboard ready for their projects. Well-defined and agreed-upon metrics for all projects can provide a consolidated view of the program.
6. Communication Plan
After doing all strategic planning and management, stakeholder communication becomes cardinal for program management. Effective communication creates a bridge between diverse stakeholders involved in the program. Following are the steps for it-
- Identifying all external and internal stakeholders
- Prepare a communication plan by determining what information needs to reach to which stakeholder and in what way
- Distribute information by making relevant information available at the right time
- Manage stakeholder expectations by addressing their issues whenever they come
7. Progress Reports
Collect all status & progress reports from your managers and distribute them to your stakeholders in a program deck. Try to extract information and show them in a concise and meaningful way, including future predictions. This is the best way to reach out to a wider audience with all assimilated information in a program view.
Every beginning has an end and it should be ended gracefully. The job of handing over the deliverables to your customer, passing the documentation to the business, canceling supplier contracts, releasing staff and equipment, and informing stakeholders all mark a dignified end to the project. Ensuring project closure information in your program view and getting business sign-off thus becomes inevitable.
Though each of the above steps can be expanded and explained comprehensively as individual topics, this blog offers a concise view of scaling up and gearing up for handling multiple projects, bigger teams, streamlined processes, and consolidation of the program.
Keep calm and continue managing :)