Project Management: Getting to One Version of the Truth

One common problem organizations encounter is the existence of multiple concurrent plans for a single project. Between the various cross-functional groups, from accounting to engineering to HR, you may discover there are too many schedules in use. With all these timetables floating around, how can you trust any of the resulting progress estimates? The true status of each activity soon becomes a big question mark. Sound familiar? It’s the “many truths” problem and it could doom your project to failure.

 

It isn’t just those people executing the project plan that are hindered if there are multiple versions of the truth floating around. The company’s leadership team also relies on accurate, up-to-date project information to support their strategic plans. They may be making commitments to customers or investors, cementing deals with business partners, or approving resources based off erroneous data.

 

If you want to avoid trouble and drive your efforts to a successful completion, you must ensure that everyone involved in the project is operating off the same set of facts.

 

One dynamic schedule

Getting to one version of the truth begins with the development of a single, dynamic schedule to drive every activity across every functional group, both internally and those outside the organization. Because it’s dynamic, changes to the timeline can be incorporated as they arise. This gives the project team an integrated schedule they can use to maintain alignment with the project’s target completion date.

 

This lone schedule eliminates confusion by giving every team member identical information at every step of the way. For example, vendors will no longer run the risk of working off a separate schedule which often begins life as a faithful copy of the original but is seldom updated to include mid-project changes. By leveraging one dynamic schedule, anyone on the team or within the company’s leadership group can also quickly see what’s happening with the project. They’ll know where the original timeline has changed, when critical milestones are expected to occur, and how much of the project is still left to execute.

 

Continuous field updates

If information isn’t routinely flowing in from project team members and collaborators—and being shared out to them as well—the schedule will quickly become fractured, with some groups using newer data and others relying on obsolete information. To avoid the proliferation of multiple timelines, any emerging issues, whether it’s a delay in the delivery of a piece of equipment or a task that is completed earlier than expected, must be communicated back to the PM, who will then update the dynamic schedule to reflect the latest developments. The end result is a project plan that is accurate and dependable, and contributes to the entire team’s use of a single version of the truth.

 

Ongoing progress monitoring

Even if the team begins the project with the same version of the plan, it’s crucial that everyone continue to have access to reliable information throughout the entire lifecycle. To present an accurate picture of the project’s status at any given time, progress for every activity must be continuously monitored. Along with regular field reports coming in, each functional group should provide routine progress updates to eliminate any potential data gaps.

 

Coupled with the dynamic schedule that drives the project, PMs will be able to compare progress against the master plan. If conflicts are spotted, they can reach out to the individual or group responsible for the activity to confirm if something has interrupted forward movement that hasn’t been reported. This level of insight and proactive monitoring will enable the PM to spot any issue that could impact the project’s final completion date.

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