Monday, November 23, 2009

Planning vs Reality - XPM solution, a way of work

When we are planning how we want to work, we imagine a lot of ideal tasks and activities, we plan them in order and then we estimate how long the effort will take.
Everything seems that will perfectly fall in place; ordered and planned. Everybody has its own set of tasks, roles and responsibilities, with different steps or iterations defined.
But then we crash against reality, reality is not an orderly process, reality does not follow strict pre-set plans.

Some time ago a colleague told me something interesting which I applied for many aspects of my life: "Reality is dynamic".
This phrase doesn’t mean we don't need to plan, but it means we also have to manage. Knowing that our ideal plans will not be perfectly followed (not because we don't have an organized team, but because reality won't let us follow our perfect pre-set plan) we have to prevent the differences between the plan, the schedules and the reality. We have to prevent and manage the risks of each task and step.

But how can we do that? We need to measure our performance, we need to understand how we work and what things that can happen during a project which will affect the schedule, the plan and as a result the deliverable time or even make a project fail, are.

Now the questions remain; where do we take that data from? And what can we do with that data?
In order to acquire the knowledge to manage reality, we first need to learn from it. We need to record our results (our work, how long we work in each activity, etc.). However that is not enough, a good team needs to be highly communicated so that every team member can achieve the member’s goals, while at the same time helping the others also meet their objectives. In other words, each member will record his interaction with the project, in order to let the rest of the team know the status of his work. These "things" that "happen" through the course of the project are what we call "work items". We need to record and track the work items in order to acquire knowledge about problems, new ideas, successes and failures at any point of the project.

So, if you read up to here you might be thinking that if we record and communicate we are ready to manage and to plan; well not really. We still need to transform data into information. By transforming the recorded data into information we can study and analyze the "past experience" in order to predict and plan better. Besides, we are better prepared to manage risks and problems, and to manage reality versus plans.

With our new XPM tool, we are getting into a new generation of projects, we are making project management and project planning easier and more interactive.
We are letting team members focus on their real responsibilities (their role tasks) and bringing information to the managers in order to decide better and know more about the team, clients and projects reality.

XPM brings a set of Office add-ins to let all team members (including managers) record their project interaction in a simple way. XPM lets managers plan and manage risks and reality by simply transforming data to useful and rich information.

As a result, we become aware that our working routines need to change, as XPM is not just a tool, but a new way of work.

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