Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Focus on Commitments than planning for Schedules

Communicate commitments proactively and follow up on the commitments to showcase it is done as per the plan. That is the secret of great project successes and basic expectations of all clients worldwide.

Commitments are misunderstood by many including managers as creating elaborate Gantt and plans and tracking the happennings to plans. Yes, these are required for many reasons. Understand cost, complexity, schedules, audits, controls, risks, etc. It gives a holistic view on whether the revenue earned is profitable and plug the leaks in the system to maximize gains and invest more in better customer experience.

But these grand scheme of things are not close to what commitments can do for client and your business leaders.  What is valued much is a delivery arriving at a planned and pre-communicated date. Making it a habit to ensure constant flow of deliveries at set future dates that are consistently proposed in advance is what commitments are and symbolizes great working practices. In short milestone after milestone we just to need to keep sharing the dates in advance and release at the pre-committed date to gain trust and premium worthiness to our service portfolio.

If you notice, in actual projects, plans and schedules get adjusted to the actuals and those planned dates serve to analyze the differences with the acutals for next projects. The plans serve to improve predictability over a period of time. It is a common understanding that plans exist to be scrapped and redone as the work unfolds and new players, deliveries get produced that alter the environment to deliver.

Commitments need to always come from grounds up. People on the field say they will deliver the desired scope in the given time. As long as manager keeps the course by keeping themselves out of the way and work towards clearing the impediments in the paths for working professionals, the commitments are bound to be met.

Clients are happy hearing from the actual field people on the feasibilties, risks and dates with inputs from managers than gloss over presentations detached from the actual workings.

Commitments need to always be near term. Because this is the only specific that can be controlled and managed without interferences and distortion and thus can be met.This is quick, transparent, visual and tangible. More frequent the positive feelings, better is the perception and experience.

Commitment messages are understood nearly the same by every one: "I am going to get it, I am getting it and I have always got it." Semantics to this may wary, but the messaging is consistent, clear and harmonious throughout all stakeholders and without ambiguities.

This is what Kanban and Sprints in SCRUM help you achieve. Kanban helps people in ground share the status visually. Sprints focus on delivering near term goals and scope. Both Kanban charts and burn down charts show case the ability of teams to deliver on commitments and impediments crossed to deliver them.

Believe me, making a project successful is not rocket science. But it is utmost difficult because of lack of commitments and over relying on past plans and practices. These can easily be overcome with little discipline of tracing Kanban charts daily and meeting daily to share and exchange workloads, dependencies and learnings.

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