Managing Performance at each Level Section 1
Managing Performance at Level 1 entails locking down a Rules Based environment. Instructions for people and for software engaged in the process must be as precise as clockwork. The role at this Level is to regulate the process, to ensure conformance with the common rules set, to monitor Total Quality Management process, to adhere to ISO or other quality systems, to look for assignable causes of variation and correct them in a timely fashion.
This is largely a tactical undertaking. The essence of a Project Managers performance obligation to stakeholders at Level 2 is to achieve a reasonably prescribed functional implementation on budget, on schedule and within target quality. This requires a Project Manager that can achieve a methodology implementation, and one capable of marshaling the people, equipment and resources through that methodology. The backbone of the methodology is generally a Gantt chart or Pert Chart. Detail complexity is managed through the Work Breakdown Structure. There should be no significant dynamic complexity determinants. Risks and the risk registry are critical to success. Obviously, the Project Managers intellect and personal fortitude in maintaining discipline to the methodology will be essential.
This is an Objectives-Based orientation, a strategic venture. The notion of reaching for an object notwithstanding lower level consideration was honed in management academies during the mid1980's as "Management By Objectives. At Level 3 managing performance entails simultaneously balancing both user needs and project outcomes on a continuous basis throughout the implementation, keeping tabs on the budget burn rate as prudent investor and on a timely basis know which parameters to adjust and when to maintain that overarching objective.
Part of the exercise is conditioning the larger corporate institution to the nature of your challenge avoiding the infiltration of the program operation by institutional rules, policies and procedures that don't apply to, and can't be applied to, Level 3 realities if success is to remain in the offing.
The Program Director is not a passive overseer but rather holds the command of the key trade-off decisions on route to the solution that will make or break success. Some hallmarks of effective practice are:
- Understanding the distinction between detailed complexity and dynamic complexity and the implications of this on predictability,
- Understanding the rudiments of the Systems Engineering Methodology,
- Knowing the Systems Engineering waterfall model and the folly therein,
- Implementing evolutionary Prototyping with "evergreening",
- Managing the dynamically evolving baseline,
- Recognize dynamic complexity - don't suppress it,
- Engaging in Continuous Risk Management refresh,
- Managing cost growth - don't suppress it,
- Deciding how and when to reduce to Level 2,
- Considering Commercial Off the Shelf Alternatives for systems and subsystems,
- Managing opportunity proactively,
- Being conscious of the diminishing opportunity to correct early redirects,
- Conducting regular (daily) briefings,
- Exercising timely and decisive impact analysis change control.
The previously addressed levels start with the premise prerogative to implement whatever you want. You decide the functionality and then go to hell and back to try to deliver it. Such is the luxury of closed systems. Open systems, with their external determinacies, don't give you prerogative to implement at will. Sustainability of the product is dependent on what the end users will accept.
The first order of business is to have a solid review of the world around you to determine if the business you are in remains sustainable in future, if changes to corporate roles and structures are required, if their need be expansions or reductions to the corporate organization. The Level 4 project, whether you intend it or not, is a corporate rebalancing exercise.
External determinacies should delineate between external determinacies where the Program Director has influence and external determinacies where the Program Director does not have influence. The Governance network should expand sufficiently to encompass the leadership of these areas where there is influence.
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2. Wilson, James M., Gantt charts: A centenary appreciation, European Journal of Operational Research, 2003.