When reality becomes somewhat unreal
Well, for what it's worth, I just couldn't come up with an original title, so I went for one that has a higher likelihood of actually attracting some "not-your-average-day-management-article-browsing" readers. I would love to write a real essay on sex, drugs and rock and roll, and one-day I probably will, but not right now. No, this time I feel it's appropriate to highlight change management as part of project management. What is change management? Why do we need it? What's the approach that PMBOK and PRINCE2, as leading project management frameworks, take towards managing change so ultimately project chaos can be avoided or at least reduced to acceptable levels? So I sincerely apologize for altering your reality and not meeting your expectations by discussing SDRR to a level that suits your immediate needs. Please bear with me and things may yet turn out to be more exciting than the eye reveals, or actually your mind reveals, at first glance.
When reality is described by a single word
For some people everyday reality seems to consist of work-eat-sleep-and-multiply, and 'no' I won't go into any specific sequence of aforementioned activities, but believe that drugs and rock n roll may have either a stimulating or inhibiting effect on one or more of these reality-creating components. I told you I would try to keep it a bit exciting, as I would like to meet at least some of your expectations that were set by this article's oh-so promising and inviting title! For many other people, especially those involved in running, managing or supporting projects, everyday reality may well be described by a single word, which is 'CHAOS', utter and complete chaos! I bet some of you are showing the first glimpse of a smile on their face, and are thinking "Yeah - I know where this going!" Come on, it all started so well... New - really cool leading edge - project... lots of commitment, involvement and excitement... lots of promises being made... great schedule... abundance of resources... fantastic team... nice budget... it all seems too good to be true.
When reality starts to sink in
Yeah, we've all been there and we've all gone through the same pain and pleasure of running projects. Initially everything runs according to project management plan, but then these peculiar messages start to penetrate your shield of near project management perfection, such as:
- Could we move that wall here, rather than having it over there?
- Someone decided to start painting two weeks ahead of schedule!
- The customer approved this extension yesterday? Why didn't anyone inform me?
- What do you mean our key architect just changed jobs?
- When did management decide to cut the budget by 20%?
- No, I can't have this test finished by tomorrow and I don't care that you're behind on your own schedule! Just let me do my work!
- Who decided to use a different supplier? Their components don't have the quality we need to finish this job according to the customer's requirements.
- Why are we three weeks behind schedule and $50,000 over budget? Doesn't anyone here keep anything under control anymore?
- Who decided the team could do overtime? This means we're going to blow our budget bigtime!
- What do you mean the customer decided to delay payments until March?
Don't you love it when a plan comes together (Hannibal, The A-Team), and don't you hate it when it doesn't? Well, speaking from experience, when working in project management space better straighten your expectations starting right now: Murphy's law (when things can go wrong - they will go wrong) ensures that project management plans never come together, unless you actively stay right on top of them for 200% of the time!
When Murphy takes over your reality
There are at least two important factors that make Murphy's reality a very real and tangible one. I'm not saying they are the only two factors, but I have all reason to believe they are in the top-5 and they won't be giving away their position any time soon. I believe the first factor to be communication related and the second one to be scope related, although I ultimately believe that scope issues (we're going to talk about scope-creep in more detail) can be avoided by investing enough energy and time in the way we communicate.
Now before I start divulging my communication and scope related secrets and humble opinion, I feel it's appropriate to give you a bit of an idea where and if these topics are covered within the two leading project management frameworks: PMI's PMBOK and OGC's PRINCE2. Although some claim these frameworks are as different as chalk and cheese, I don't share this opinion and actually feel they're quite similar on the inside although they appear to be quite different on the outside. Both frameworks use the concept of a project (management) life-cycle that reflects the project's "natural" evolution.
When different realities turn out to be quite similar
PMI's PMBOK presents 5 so called process groups, which are:
- Initiating process group
- Planning process group
- Executing process group
- Monitoring and controlling process group
- Closing process group
OGC's PRINCE2 presents 7 individual processes, which are:
- Starting up a project
- Directing a project
- Initiating a project
- Controlling a stage
- Managing product delivery
- Managing a stage boundary
- Closing a project
Surely you're able to pick up the similarities between these two very "different" approaches. Both frameworks also refer to a number of concepts that are important to our understanding of project management. Whereas PMI's PMBOK refers to so called knowledge areas, OGC's PRINCE2 prefers using the terminology themes.
PMBOK's nine knowledge areas:
- Project integration management
- Project scope management
- Project time management
- Project cost management
- Project quality management
- Project human resources management
- Project communications management
- Project risk management
- Project procurement management
PRINCE2's seven themes:
- Business case
I guess however you twist and turn this they do seem quite similar to me, and are even in perfect balance when taking the somewhat unscientific (and that's an understatement) approach of 'dumping' these items on both sides of the scales (5+9 versus 7+7). Yeah, go weird, just add a third framework of 14 items and 3x14 = 42, which as always is the answer to life, the Universe and everything else (read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams). Where did I get stuck in this text... Oh... yes... communication and scope!
WORK IN PROGRESS - SHOULD BE FINISHED SOON :-)
Live long and prosper