Strengthening Execution with ALM

We all are aware of the abysmally low rates of projects being delivered on time, within budget and with the desired quality. One of the most prominent reasons is poor Execution. Project Managers often are challenged with having to satisfy multiple stakeholders – their boss(es), customer(s), team members, auditors, etc. Consider the political and matrix nature of most organizations and you have a situation where he/she is being pulled in multiple directions, trying to balance between the opposing political forces.

Most of the time therefore, gets spent in trying to manage your stakeholders, communicating to them what they want to hear in a way they want to hear (so that they really “hear” you), escalating risks and issues in a manner that escalates the point but yet does not offend people, setting expectations of how the project is “really” doing, etc. In a reasonable size project in a constrained environment, this becomes a full time job. Activities like task planning, analyzing slipping tasks, tracking risks and their probability of actually happening, focusing on product quality, handling your team – tasks that the project manager should actually have been doing – get less time and focus. Depending on where the escalation is, the project manager is fire fighting one issue after another, running from one meeting to another! Before the guy takes time to breathe, the day is over… the entire environment is a high stress environment.

The irony is that because the Project Manager is not able to do what he/she should have done in the first place, the situation actually gets worse. Everyone is working 10-12 hours but the situation spirals out of control.

ALM tools significantly help you in getting the situation under control. They help the Project Manager by creating the WBS, inheriting risks from past projects or similar projects so that you do not miss out something that others experienced, tracking the project progress, getting real accurate status based on actual time sheets, building reports for different stakeholders with s single click, give the metrics that identify the right trend from the wrong trend, documenting MOMs and Action Items and tracking them to closure… the list can go on. This is 60-70% of what the Project Manager should have been doing but gets very less attention. Even when it does get the attention, it is done in a hurry or not in the right frequency. ALM tool restores this balance by automating almost 70-80% of these tasks. The Project Manager now needs to spend only 20-30% of their time on these tasks. This leaves him/her bandwidth for doing all the tasks that need proactive thinking, looking ahead with the crystal ball and trying to forecast potential problems or points of failure, do expectation setting with all stakeholders and spending time with their team members.

People sometimes complain about the high volume of cumbersome data entry. I keep reminding them of two things – 1. You would be doing 70% of these tasks today. However, it would be spread in multiple spreadsheets and documents. 2. If you really want to get data from the system on which you can make dependable decisions, then you do need to execute the project with granular, accurate, real-time data. The final result is quite worth it!

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