By Gary Kennedy, P. Eng., PMP (2022-11-29)
This Article is a continuation of our previous Project Team Alignment discussions, such as:
Capital Projects Representatives of Operations & Maintenance for Process Plants.
Complex Projects Alignment (Parts A and B).
Happiness is ... an Aligned Team.
Survival is … an Aligned Team.
(See the above PM Articles here: https://www.lpsglobal.ca/blog )
Project Managers, with critical SUPPORT from their associates and executive superiors, should ensure that project teams have a solid base of alignment at the beginning of projects and at the start of each stage within the project. Usually in the Kick-Off "and Alignment" Meetings.
The challenges with ensuring Project Team alignment include, but are not limited to:
Project role titles can be misinterpreted without detailed documentation.
Business card titles are usually VERY different from project team role titles.
Company Organization Charts (for long term operations, typically) are rarely the same as Project Org Charts (for short term multi-org project development, typically).
RAM-RASCI Tables provide good overviews of Role summaries, but are not normally formatted to contain the full project roles and responsibilities details.
CBS (Contract Breakdown Structures) and similar DRM (Division of Responsibilities Matrices), are helpful for contract/scope management, but are not formatted to allocate individual team member responsibilities in practical detail.
Team Alignment Sessions, involving prescribed INTERACTIVE discussions, have been developed in detail for the benefit of project-performing organizations. These intend to include summarized technical and procedural topics with a focus on achieving the objectives of the project.
The Team Alignment Sessions are typically performed for a number of hours at the end of all of the project Kick-Off (KO) meetings (at the launch of all stages, as well as at the very beginning of the project). With the help of a capable facilitator, each member of the project team takes turns addressing these types of questions within the full attendee group:
What tasks and responsibilities do you have in your project role?
Who do you report to functionally (project) and administratively (company)?
Who interfaces with you on your inputs and outputs?
How does this fit with the project goals and deliverables?
Do we see role gaps, overlaps, and disagreements to be resolved?
Where are opportunities for improving the Efficiency and Quality of the Work Processes of the Team Members?
This is a general summary of the approach, but it would normally involve more details and worksheets. Of course, processes and documentation should be adaptable to scale up or down to a reasonable yet effective level, depending on the size and complexity of the project. When done correctly, with CEO and VP buy-in, these are very useful TECHNICAL-PROCEDURAL sessions to minimize gap-overlap risks and enhance project performance.
- End of Main Article -
- Appended Case Example -
Case Example: IMPORTANT REMINDER, these Team Alignment Session are about 95% TECHNICAL and WORK PROCESS conversations. They are not just friendly chat sessions. Alignment will help ensure there are no performance gaps or overlaps in the interface between Team Members. FOR EXAMPLE:
- PM: "We have a critical shipment of XYZ Equipment arriving in about 3 months. Procurement Rep (PRP), is that correct?"
- PRP: "Yes, we plan to finalize the order 3 weeks from now."
- PM: "PRP, have you started a detailed plan with the Warehouse Manager (WHM)"?
- PRP: "Yes, this is critical, so we've started discussions and put meeting notes in the project SP folders";
- WHM: "Yes, we have."
- PM: "Dandy. I hear that XYZ equipment is sensitive to storage temperatures. PRP, I guess you have that all planned?"
- PRP: "Well on my past projects we had network software that connected storage specs with our Engineering & Warehouse Groups."
- PM: "Do we have that software package set up here?"
- WHM: "No, we don't have such software, actually."
- Engineer: "First I heard of it. Need to close this loop."
- PM: "Then a critical Action Item is to:
"Plan offline a simple work process to compensate for the absent Inventory Software Package, including, but not limited to:
Seek a person on the team, or a new person, to prime this set of responsibilities as an interface between Procurement and the Warehouse Team.
Design communications and action plans to ensure that XYZ Equipment is stored correctly and not receive any damage from temperature or otherwise.
Ensure key Stakeholders are involved and approved, such as SHER, QA, Engineering, etc.
Adjust the RAM/RASCIs, and affected Project Role Descriptions, to add this important activity item.
Send out a Change Notification to the Project Team and other affected Stakeholders to ensure that all are aware of the new process, plus invite any feedback.
Discuss this new process in the next Project Team meeting and "Close" it in the Action Items column if it is fully accepted at this time."
In Summary, all of the Work Processes, PM documents, and PM tools are usually "evergreen", meaning that they are supposed to be updated when the project team realizes that they have gaps or overlaps in their work processes. Nothing is ever perfectly planned in the beginning of projects and stages; thus, Alignment Sessions (and as-needed spontaneous Alignment Discussions) allow for continual improvement to increase productivity and reduce significant project risks.
- End of Appended Case Example -