When reporting status on your project, we are using the standard signal light colors. Red, Yellow, Green. Red color stands out and says it is in danger. Yellow is caution and Green is a go. It is very easy to understand, just by looking at the color of the project, we can state clearly, how the project is moving along.
The PM is using his status reports to clearly show the color of the project under the top three areas which are also the triple constraints. Schedule, Budget and Scope. All is well when the Green is ON. The alert hits when the project strikes Yellow, but won’t start fires until it turns RED.
RED is freaking the leadership out! And when it really is RED, it needs the most attention, we all are striving to bring it back to Green. But in reality, are the efforts made in the right direction. Are you unnoticeably stacking up one wrong action on the other?
Yes, unfortunately, this happens and is happening. The PM’s are trained by the PMO leadership into something called a process. Yes, it keeps you sane, it keeps you organized, it keeps you on track. But this definitely cannot be a blind man’s standard.
Problem-solving is the most important when a project turns RED. For example, the cause of the issue/risk is identified and a mitigation strategy is established. The PM along with the team’s help carefully does identify the issue/risk and define the steps to mitigate. Once they are defined, the PM documents those in the status report, ALL the efforts are made in that direction to close the risk or issue. ALL the time and everyone’s time should be spent on solving the issue. The Project Manager does his job well on reporting.
Because the project turned RED, everyone in the leadership want to hear why it has turned red and what steps are we taking. That is fair. If that everyone wants to hear it every day differently in different meetings and with all the key stakeholders? This quickly adds up to four different meetings a day, repeating the same thing over. Answering the same questions over. All it brings is frustration and tiresomeness. No added value.
In the end, the process is the only thing that is followed. You will hear “but following the process is important.”
There is no flexibility given to the PM to exercise judgment. The result is overwork, frustration and the project still in RED.
What happened to the most efficient beautiful process? It is evidently broken and needs to be fixed. Meetings are a waste of time, especially repeated meetings, talking the same thing over and with no solution to the actual risk or issue. Time is Money. When we are measuring time(schedule) for the success of the project, we need to understand and admit that all the time and attention should be given to solving the problems rather than discussing the same thing over and over without any result. In such cases, the standard process cripples you down heavily and furthermore brings no value.
So, next time, when a RED project is reported, look ONLY for problem-solving, right attention and right escalations. Rest is all noise. And this has to be acknowledged, understood and implemented by the senior leadership at the PMO.
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