Consistent portfolio reporting in the absence of a comprehensive PM methodology

A common concern is that the lack of a comprehensive project management methodology is a key impediment to being able to evaluate a portfolio of active projects in a consistent fashion.

While this gap may increase the risks of poor data quality or incompleteness, I believe that you can introduce a few standards to support consistent reporting while still enabling project teams sufficient flexibility to choose the degree of rigor that is used to manage their projects.

I would focus on:

1. Task progress reporting – if teams insist on using a percentage complete method of reporting progress against tasks & projects, insist that they follow one of the following approaches – 0/100, 0/50/100, 0/25/50/75/100 and accept no other options.  If they are using the (better) method of evaluating the remaining effort on tasks, you can then allow for more granularity.

2. Issue severity – to overcome individual biases (i.e. conservatives vs. gamblers) it is a good idea to define an objective basis for setting the severity of a project issue.  For example, if the issue does not have an action plan in place and has the risk of creating a 25% or greater impact to the schedule, it should be flagged as “critical”.

3. Frequency of status reporting – this needs to be driven by your portfolio review team’s schedule.  If they meet on a monthly basis, then project data needs to be updated a couple of days in advance of the scheduled meeting date so that you have sufficient time to chase down laggards and do a quick sanity check on the data before it is rolled up for the portfolio review.

4. Define a bare minimum of metrics to be tracked – the following should cover the key knowledge areas:

  • Overall work or percent remaining vs. expected overall work or percent remaining
  • Forecast project completion date vs. approved project completion date
  • Spend to date vs. expected spend to date
  • Forecast spend vs. approved budget
  • Actual effort vs. planned effort to date
  • Forecast overall effort vs. planned overall effort
  • # of unresolved critical & high severity issues
  • Customer satisfaction – green (“all is well”), amber (“customer has expressed some concerns”), red (“customer is not happy”)

In summary, focus on a few key standards, and allow project teams to have flexibility over the rest.  This will help to ease the organization change of introducing a comprehensive project management methodology while still addressing mandatory reporting requirements.

Categories: Facilitating Organization Change, Project Portfolio Management | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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