Much of this week’s NYU SCPS class was spent on recapping the course, which appropriately was about how to effectively end a project and disband a team.
The review covered the ending stages of the project such as regulatory auditing and lessons learned from the PMI perspective as well as the team closing methodologies to reintegrate teams into their work groups or transition into their next project assignment.
I was happy to not hear the term post-mortem during this session except to find out the professor hated it too. To me it has such a negative connotation, as if the project died and now we’re performing an autopsy on it. If things went so awry that the project was cancelled or failed and the recap was occurring perhaps it is the correct term to discover how it died but realistically the project should have ended with a level of success.
Thus, the recap is more a formal documenting:
1. to produce a knowledge base for future projects
2. reenforce a level of individual understanding
Based on the of the positive and negative outcomes both:
1. a personal perspective
2. within the context of the project deliverable as it exists in regard to:
a. the quadruple constraint
b. fulfillment of the goals and objectives
c. within the expectation of the stakeholders
The closing of a project should be treated with just as much care as the opening of one. However, as we have seen with planning becoming a place for shortcuts, closing suffers an even worse fate…
Project closings are often never done or hastily thrown together to simply complete the project. This is a huge lost opportunity for project managers and companies that treat it as such. In addition to the reasons why above the class time was spent with some case study examples as well as our own real work experiences on unclosed projects that the knowledge base then was unavailable for other related projects.
Themes that came from the failure to correctly close projects included:
1. Diminished rate of return from the original project because of a lack of reference materials for work groups or clients using the delivered product
2. Duplication of previously done work by new project teams working on similar projects
3. Future regulatory scrutiny
The remainder of the class was to work on the team assignment from the previous class that would become our final project and presentation.
First, it should be noted we began with the largest team and we already lost one team member over the course of the project. We were able to cope with this thus far for several reasons.
Three were functional to our team design:
1. The individual assignments within the project to this point contained overlap and some redundancies to ensure adequate preparation for decision making and later for the live presentation. This turned out to be fortunate in planning.
2. The person lost was not an explicit specialist so their role could be absorbed into the team and assignments more easily distributed. This turned out to be luck.
3. There wasn’t a formal team contract but early on we agreed on a communications protocol and procedures for escalation if there were problems that were evoked immediately. This was smart planning on our part
Two were a result of team dynamic:
1. The remaining members addressed the loss immediately. It was a priority for us as individuals which when together as a team resulted in an effective and efficient solution to losing a member. This was a function of our communication plan and escalation procedures as well as some good fortune in the ethics of the team members.
2. There was very little effort in coming to a consensus on redistributing the work load or defining next steps moving forward short a member. This was in part good planning in our procedural
As decided in our first meeting we would come to a final consensus on if we would present as a YES to continue the project or NO end the consulting contract at this point.
The decision was an emphatic yes. As I explained previously, I decided to focus the decision by framing it along the quadruple constraint and that methodology resonated with everyone. From the group’s analysis of my notes (included in the last entry) and the recommendation I provided it was a clear choice and easy decision.
The little debate we had was more around the specifics of the presentation such as the level of detail to include and which elements should take priority for the order of the presentation. Using a round table discussion we were able to each present our ideas and opinions and we basically all seemed to be coming from or headed to the same place so the discussions were brief, focused, civil and ideal for keeping the project’s momentum.
We set out next steps within our revised assigned roles, revisited and adjusted the milestones for the timeline and then adjourned.
I would consider the process quite successful to this point. Everyone’s participation has been solid and the contribution is intelligent.