Did you ever have one of those weeks where you had an unexpected project get dropped on you? Of course these projects don’t just come with a tight deadline; they also come with vague requirements and expectations for high quality of work. Maybe it has happened to you today already! Well I had one of those ‘moments’ recently. I call it Project 729. Seven days to my daughters 9th birthday.
A little background. My hobby is woodworking. My daughter, Morgan, loves dolls. Exactly one week before Morgan’s 9th birthday, my wife asked me how the bed is coming along. I replied, “What bed?” Since I had spent a little time in my shop lately, she said Morgan was convinced I was building her a bed for her 2 American Girl dolls. I was told in no uncertain terms that she would be devastated if I didn’t come through with a handmade bed for her.
Where to start? As with any project, you’ve got to gather requirements. Functionally, two dolls had to be able to lie on the bed side-by-side, with a 2” thick mattress and a couple of small pillows. I added some of my own details, such as making it sturdy enough so that she could stand on it (because she will), specifying it be made from native oak that was harvested from a tree in our yard, kid-proof it by rounding all edges and using non-toxic finishes, plus I decided it should be personalized with her name. I outsourced the production of the mattress, pillows, sheets, pillowcases and comforter to my mother-in-law, thereby reducing risk of missing my deadline. When looking at the skills and availability of my virtual team, resource management if you will, this was the obvious choice.
Next, I had to set up a project schedule. Remember, I’m not just dealing with a deadline – it’s a birthday. That date is not moving. I knew I would need 3 days of finishing work at the end, so all the design and woodworking needed to be done within the next four days. Some things could be done in parallel, but it was very important to identify what my critical path was going to be. I sensed that the headboard would take a lot of time due to the extensive hand work involved – rasping, filing, sanding. This is where I needed to focus my attention.
Things were going along as planned until a last minute design change, of course. My wife thought it would be a “good idea” to add a strip of walnut on the footboard to tie in with the letters on the back. Resisting the urge to fight scope creep, I quickly added the accent piece and completed the project in time.
As you can see, our everyday lives have a lot in common with our professional lives with respect to delivering projects. The big difference is that projects at work tend to be far more complex, may be inter-related with other projects, or even be part of a much larger program.
Governance, the domain associated with managing programs, resources, risk, requirements, portfolios and configurations, assuring quality and regulatory compliance, as well as the real-time reporting of status and deliverables associated with the tasks, is a critical function of what many of us do every day. Yet it is surprising how little attention is sometimes paid to actively managing these processes. In many instances, simple spreadsheets break down the work required, a document lists the requirements, e-mail serves as the communication backbone, and status is delivered at discrete, regularly scheduled meetings with generally suspect and out-of-date information.
Of course, there is a better way, and I’d like you to join me on journey to find the best path towards getting your projects and programs under control. I would like to hear what you are up to and what your challenges are in this area. I hope to be a regular contributor to 3D Perspectives on the domain of governance, keeping you informed of what DS and ENOVIA are up to. Stay tuned!
Oh, one last thing. Just when I thought the parallels between Project 729 and my work life were complete, my daughter introduced Product Portfolio Management into the mix – she wants a matching set of dressers for next year!
Dan Raun works for ENOVIA.