The ability to kill projects indicates a mature project management process is in place, said Jeff Monteforte, owner of Exential, a Cleveland-Ohio based project management consultancy. But, boys will be boys, and maturity is something hard to find at many companies. Too often, projects are not stage-gated, e.g. viewed at different times along the way to determine go/no-go status. Also, frameworks such as the CMM (capability maturity model for software development (now replaced by the CMMI capability maturity model for integration)) or portfolio project management (PPM) are non-existent. This leads to an absence of objectivity in the project review processif there is one.
If you can set that up so that it only takes a day or two of time and it only takes a couple of days to prepare for it, you can step back and be able take a look at your entire portfolio of projects and be able make an evaluation of what is really going on, he said.
Another, less tactful approach to the lack of proper project management is to put together Hit Squads that are charged with putting off-the-track projects back on track. This is a much more painful approach than the one outlines above and will undoubtedly lead to hurt feelings and loss of goodwill, but, said Monteforte, the project will get done.
They beat up the vendors, they beat up the development team, theres lots of dead bodies on the side of the road when they are done, he said.
It is better than nothing but thats hardly justification for relying this approach for project management. It is far better to facilitate good, lasting relationships with your business peers that will ease future project management issues and failings. A PPM approach, for example, puts the onus on the business to a) justify in business terms why a project needs to be done in the first place and b) allows the CIO to move out of reactionary mode to become more proactive, said Monteforte.
If youre not using them already, there are many frameworks and methodologies to get you started, said Tandems Wyman.
The techniques we use are techniques you can use both externally and internally and should use, he said. There should always be these feedback loops. Ive never been one to believe in the big-bang theory: In the last day everything comes together and the whole world is happy.