You recognize the importance of following successful, repeatable processes and providing regular status and progress reports.

But you may sometimes feel that these processes and reports create more tedious work than they are worth and that they are merely serving an organizational mandate.

Many organizations, especially those with a project management office, mandate certain methodologies that typically consist of a plans to prepare and reports to complete. These include:

Essential (best practices)

  • + a work breakdown structure;
  • + baselines for scope, schedule, and cost;
  • + a project management plan; and
  • + communication plans for stakeholders

Optional

  • + organizational chart
  • + procurement matrix
  • + competitive market analysis

It takes time and effort to evaluate methodology and processes. Often, people do not wish to challenge a practice that has been in place for some time even if that practice has outlived its usefulness.
But how do you know if you are giving stakeholders too much information? The data you regularly collect and report may not even be analyzed, or acted upon.

How can you ensure your processes are effective and add value?

Conduct Surveys at the End of Each Project

Engage a neutral party to conduct a survey at the end of each project.

Ask your team whether or not all aspects of the prescribed processes were followed, and if not, why.

Ask customers and stakeholders if the end product, service or result met their requirements, and if not, see if the problem was process-related.

Check on how much time you spent each week or month complying with processes.

Ask about the value of the processes, their usefulness and ideas for improvement.

Some people may not understand why the process exists. They might require an overview, for example, of how metrics on the project are used by those not on the team—and how best to prepare the required plans and reports for the future.

Review Project Meetings and Reports

Evaluate your meetings to ensure everyone who is there needs to be there. Each attendee should have a specific role and be able to make decisions.

Then, at the end of each meeting, assess the time required to prepare for and conduct the meeting, the value of the action items that resulted and the decisions that were made.

To evaluate the usefulness of project reports, ask your stakeholders. Ask if they are reading the reports.

The team should also assess any ad hoc requests for information as another way to evaluate whether the existing reports address stakeholders’ key concerns.

Determine how much time is spent to prepare each report and whether or not a standard template is used.

Create a Process Improvement Plan

After you evaluate your processes and reports, and identify why they don’t work or reasons for their improvement, you can create a process improvement plan.

This plan describes the proposed changes and their benefits. It also addresses how improvements will be implemented and evaluated in the future.

Challenge Your Processes

Working in our fast-paced, global project environment, time must be used effectively to meet our organizations’ challenges and strategic priorities.

The “tried and true” approaches of yesterday may not be appropriate ones today. Only those processes that are considered exemplary should be continued. Ones that need improvement should be improved, and others that are not used should be discontinued.

By Ginger Levin, PMP, PgMP

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