RiVidium Program Management Program Management
Program Management

Why do so many projects fail? Researchers regularly conduct studies to find out the leading causes of project failure. Should you reference studies by such groups as Gartner, Carnegie Mellon University and the Project Management Institute. The studies reveal a recurring theme. Here are some of the common causes they identify:

  • Poorly defined organizational objectives.
  • Loose project sponsorship and executive leadership.
  • Project manager untrained.
  • Loose scope containment and project change control.
  • Poorly defined requirements.
  • Lack of consultation with key project stakeholders.
  • No risk management plan.
  • Unrealistic project estimates.

Successful projects do not just happen. They require structured planning, the right tools, insightful management and good interpersonal skills. RiVidium is a thought leader in Program Management and will position your organization on the path to success. Some of the key areas RiVidium can help you with are:

  • Best Practices.
  • Project Planning.
  • Requirements.
  • Quality Management (QM).
  • Risk Management (RM).
  • Earn Value Management (EVM).

RiVidium's Best Practice Strategies

Bringing projects in on time and on budget is always a challenge. With the competing demands for labor and capital, projects have many internal and external forces that can contribute to a derailment. It takes a strong sense of direction, efficiency and leadership to keep the project on track. RiVidium uses the the following Best Practices for successful Project Completion.

Project Sponsor

Before you start your project, find a committed project sponsor who has sufficient clout in your organization. Your project sponsor will prove invaluable in helping you overcome organizational roadblocks as they arise.

Key Stakeholders

Analyze who your project's key stakeholders are and communicate with them throughout the course of your project. Your stakeholders can make or break your project. Compile a stakeholder communication plan with the help of your project team and sponsor.

Measure Success

Get your sponsor and key stakeholders together to work out the measures of success of your project. How will you know if your project has succeeded? What are the key indicators of success? Get everyone on the same page from the outset.

Project Methodology

Decide upfront the methodology you will use on your project. Through what project phases will the project proceed? What will be the key go/no go decision points? What are the expected project outputs for each phase?

Project Schedule

Draw up a project schedule that clearly allocates project tasks to team members. Identify which tasks depend on others for their successful completion. Communicate schedule progress regularly to all team members, as well as the project's sponsor.

Change Management

Make sure that project changes don't get out of hand by reviewing and authorizing all proposed changes. Evaluate each proposed change for its impact on project cost, quality and schedule.

Identify Risks

Do not let an unforeseen event sink your project. Find out what risks can threaten your project and build a risk mitigation strategy into your project plan. Issues will also arise from time to time, so you will need to keep track of these and communicate their impact to all concerned.

Documentation Requiremets

Decide at the start of the projec which documents your project will generate and when. medium- and small-sized projects, keep documentation requirements to a manageable level without significantly increasing the risk to the project.

Measure Progress

Once your project finishes, use the metrics of success that you agreed upon at the start to evaluate project performance. Was it within budget? Was it on schedule? Did it produce what it was meant to produce, and with the required degree of quality? What can you learn from this? Now report your project's performance to your sponsor and the key stakeholders.

Follow-up with Stakeholders

Follow up with the key stakeholders and your project team members, and find out how they felt about the project. Was the project a success from their perspective? How did the project impact them personally? From this analysis, you will discover what went well and what did not go so well. Apply these lessons to your next project.

Project Planning

Project Plan Gantt Chart

The key to a successful project is in the planning. Creating a project plan is the first thing we do when undertaking any kind of project.

Often project planning is ignored in favor of getting on with the work. However, many organizations fail to realize the value of a project plan in saving time, money and many problems.

The RiVidium team uses a practical approach to project planning. Our project planning capabilities have the breadth and depth to ensure projects will be tracked and managed to successful completion.

Step 1: Project Goals

A project is successful when the needs of the stakeholders have been met. A stakeholder is anybody who is directly or indirectly impacted by the project.

As a first step, RiVidium identifies all the stakeholders in the project. However, it is not always easy to identify the stakeholders of a project, particularly those impacted indirectly. Examples of stakeholders are:

  • The project sponsor.
  • The client who receives the deliverables.
  • The end-users of the project outputs.
  • The project manager and project team.

Once we understand who the stakeholders are, we document their needs. The best way to do this is by conducting stakeholder interviews. We take time during the interviews to draw out the true needs that create real benefits.

Once we have conducted all the interviews and have a comprehensive list of needs, the next step is to prioritize them. From the prioritized list, we create a set of goals that are easily measured. A technique for doing this is to review them against the SMART principle; in this manner, it will be easy to know when a goal is achieved.

Once we establish a clear set of goals, they are recorded in the project plan. Additionally, we include the needs and expectations of the stakeholders in the project plan.

With the most difficult part of the planning process completed, we then proceed to examine the project deliverables.

Step 2: Project Deliverables

Using the goals we defined in Step 1, we create a list of things the project must deliver in order to meet those goals; additionally, we must also specify when and how each item must be delivered..

The next phase of Step 2 is to add the deliverables to the project plan with an estimated delivery date. More accurate delivery dates will be established during the scheduling phase, which is the next step of the project planning process.

Step 3: Project Schedule

The next step is to create a list of tasks that need to be executed for each deliverable identified in Step 2. For each task, identify that the following are established and/or completed:

  • The amount of effort (measured in hours or days) required to complete the task.
  • The resource personnel who will carry out the task.

Once we have established the amount of effort for each task, we calculate the effort required for each deliverable, as well as an accurate delivery date. From there, we update the deliverables section with more accurate delivery dates.

At this point in the planning, we choose to use Project Management Software to create the project schedule. We input all the deliverables, tasks, durations, and the resource personnel who will complete each task.

Some of the other plans we generate within our Planning process are:

Human Resource Plan

Identify by name, the individuals and organizations with a leading role in the project. For each, we describe their roles and responsibilities on the project.

Next, we describe the number and type of people needed to carry out the project. For each resource personnel, we detail the start date, estimated duration, and the method we would use for obtaining them.

Communications Plan

We create a document showing which people need to be kept informed about the project and how they will receive the information. The most common mechanism is a weekly or monthly progress report, the purpose of which is to describe how the project is performing, the milestones achieved, and the work planned for the next period.

Risk Management Plan

Risk management is an important part of project management. Although often overlooked, it is important to identify as many risks to the project as possible.

Requirements Management

Business analyst holding out a requirements document

RiVidium's requirements gathering is an essential part of project management. Fully understanding what a project will deliver is critical to its success. This may sound like common sense, but, surprisingly, it's an area often given far too little attention.

Many project teams start with the barest list of requirements, only to find later that the client(s)'s needs have not been properly identified, addressed, or understood.

One way we avoid this problem is by producing Requirements Documents. These documents are a guide to the main requirements of the project. They provide:

  • A succinct requirement specification for management purposes.
  • A statement of key objectives - a "cardinal points" specification.
  • A description of the environment in which the system will work.
  • Background information and references to other relevant material.
  • Information on major design constraints.

The contents of the requirements documents should be stable or change on a progressive basis.

Once we have created the requirements documents, we ensure the customer and all other stakeholders endorse these, and that they understand that these and only these will be delivered.

Finally, we ensure cross-referencing of the requirements in the Requirements Documents with those in the Project Definition Report to ensure there is no mismatch.

Earned Value Management (EVM)

Earned Value Management

Earned Value (EV) is a management tool for tracking and communicating a project's status. Earned Value Management (EVM) lets you know the actual state of the project by comparing the current project performance against the plan. Knowing the project's performance lets the organization take the actions needed to ensure the project is completed on schedule and within budget. However, like any tool, in order for EVM to be successful, it is vital to use it correctly. After 20 years of managing projects using EVM, RiVidium has found that using Earned Value to manage projects doesn't automatically guarantee success; in fact, using it incorrectly can be even more detrimental than beneficial. The good news is that RiVidium has the experience and resources to ensure proper EVM implementation.

RiVidium conducts Performance-Based Earned Value (PBEV) as an enhancement to the Earned Value Management Systems (EVMS) standard. PBEV overcomes the standard shortcomings with regard to measuring technical performance and quality (referred to as quality gap). PBEV is based on standards and models for systems engineering, software engineering, and project management that emphasize quality. The distinguishing feature of PBEV is its focus on the client requirements. PBEV provides principles and guidance for cost effective processes that specify the highest defined measures of cost, schedule, and product quality performance.

Our Program Managers conduct accurate reporting of integrated cost, schedule, and technical performance in coordination with our EVMS system, and they ensure our procedures comply with the EVMS Standard. We ensure accuracy of our EVM data by ensuring that the following occur:

  • The indicated quality of the evolving product is measured.
  • The right base measures of technical performance are selected.
  • Progress is objectively assessed.

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