PM Commentary by Stacy Goff
If you have not reviewed parts 1-3, we suggest that you go do that before continuing here. Some following this series are a bit incredulous. One week or less, huh? What a pipe-dream! Some teams spend an entire week and get 10% that much information, much less the needed levels of management commitment. We mentioned our Rapid Initial Planning processes. Many organizations perform this type of quick-start approach today, so our method is no longer anything new. The RIP (as we called it, although some thought that meant Rest In Peace…), is a way seek the prerequisites that smart project managers assure for every project.
Case Application: Product Data Management System
In the early 1990s, one of the few remaining US-based military shipbuilding companies had a mandate: Update to an end-to-end PDM (Product Data Management) System within several years, or lose their ability to bid on new warfighter systems. A PDM supports the entire process, from concept, through Design Engineering, to Construction, Sea Trials and Validation, Delivery, and importantly, Parts Inventory Management for the life of the resulting product; in this case, a warship. One could say that this was an Information Technology project, because IT was involved. We felt it was a business survival strategy, because the future of the entire business was at stake. Besides, while their shipyards were vast, their IT staff numbered fewer than 20 people.
A business partner, Dan Myers, of Requirements Solutions Group, engaged the client for one week, meeting with Business Executives. They performed an intensive Data Requirements-gathering session, papering the walls with all aspects of their ship-building business. These busy Executives dedicated an entire week, full-time, to understand everything about the ingredients of success for their business.
The following week, we went in, and spent four days working with that same group. We used our Project Initiation Rapid Initial Planning session. In a totally non-technical way, we parsed the massive program into subprojects (based primarily on timing and sequence of information flow across the organization), identified and measured scope of each project in the program, discussed strategies and approaches, including use of software packages, contracting out to “Big Six” consultancies who had relevant experience, identified assumptions and estimated the project multiple ways, stepped back and identified risks and responses, and developed fairly detailed project plans for each phase of each project of the program. In three and half days.