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Managing Multiple Projects (3/4): Completing Tasks “Projects Kickoff”, “Budget Control” and “Informing the Management”

Let us consider four more tasks related to the range of issues of managing multiple projects. Two previous ones are considered here.

Task: to eliminate obstacles during implementation of the controlled projects

This task may be generated, for instance, by the following situation. Seeing external signs, MPM understands that the state of works at the department is not well. What do we mean speaking of “external signs”? For example, one of the leading developers has left; or some grave design mistakes have been revealed; or unexpected and consuming presale “knocked” the developers out of their schedule.

Solution

In order to make decisions for this situation MPM should get explicit parameters of project statuses under new conditions:

  • charts and summary reports on “affected” projects;
  • workload of the employees who could plug the newly formed “gaps”;
  • modeling of various situations to evaluate the effect of his solutions;
  • charts and summary reports on the project taking into account the correcting data.

Colour-coded indication at the workload diagram shows potential problems in projects and works:

Colour-coded indication at the workload diagram shows potential problems in projects and works

Task: to launch a new project

Let us describe exemplary situations causing this task to arise for MPM.

Situation: sale team wants to understand when we will be able to start working on a new project

“When will we be able to start working on a new project?” it seems to be one of the most frequent questions arising during managing multiple projects. And nearly always we have to give a swift reply, as either the contract is “almost signed already”, or “we cannot miss such an opportunity”, and so on. It is necessary either to encourage them, or, on the contrary, to refuse firmly. In both cases the decision should be based on tangible evidence in order to meet the expectations in first case and to give a reasoned reply in the second one.

Solution

In order to solve the situation MPM needs to acquire the following information:

  • when the employees with the required qualifications have “gaps” in their schedules;
  • what is the degree of workload of these employees (may be, an employee would be able to take part in both current and new projects for some time?);
  • workload of these employees in the current projects; statuses of the projects engaging these particular employees (implementation speed, priority);
  • if it is possible to freeze them without great damage.

Situation: CEO demands launching the project immediately

CEO (or some other “big boss”) wants to launch a project. We mustn’t let him down, so if we agree, we must be 101% sure that there will be enough resources when necessary. Otherwise, if it is impossible at the moment, we should specify, clearly and in a reasoned manner, which projects will be affected if we do launch the project now.

Solution

In order to model the consequences of launching new projects urgently, MPM needs to acquire the following information:

  • presence of employees having necessary qualifications;
  • statuses of the current projects they are engaged in;
  • how much the employees are engaged in these projects.

Efforts chart in reference to skills allows evaluating engagement of the employees of certain qualification:

Efforts chart in reference to skills allows evaluating engagement of the employees of certain qualification

Task: to prepare the data for the top management to make managing decisions

This task may arise from the following situation. The management is used to ask questions on the state of affairs at the most unexpected moment. And you should answer quickly and accurately.

Solution

To prepare the data, MPM needs to acquire the following information:

  • the list of “problem-free” projects (including illustrative charts);
  • the list of “problem” projects (including illustrative charts);
  • get the list of problems for the problem projects;
  • data on workload of employees in order to be prepared for questioning on possible options of solutions for the problems.

Task: to control compliance with the consolidated budget of the implemented projects

Let us describe situations in the projects causing this task to arise for MPM.

Situation: there is a suspicion that the budget for separate projects or for the whole portfolio is exceeded

Solution

To check this suspicion, MPM needs to acquire the data on actual work for the corresponding projects (summary reports) or for all the projects of the department.

Situation: MPM needs to understand if they manage to stay within the limits of the budget till the end of the year (quarter/half year)

MPM should stay within the limits of the period budget (for example, of a year, half year, a quarter), and if he can’t manage this, he should be ready in advance.

Solution

In order to solve the situation MPM needs to acquire the following information:

  • actual work performed for all the projects;
  • assessment of costs up to the end of the period.

Software for completing the tasks

Here you can find the description of ProjectsProfiler, one of the programs helping to complete these tasks and also a number of other tasks typical for the situation of managing multiple projects.

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