The Project Notebook

Time, Deliverbables, or Outcomes?

Last week I discussed the right amount of governance, so this week its only appropriate to take a brief look at how governance should function. On several occasions during the week I came across statements and questions about managing by time, deliverables, or outcomes. One person I spoke with mentioned switching to a “deliverables based organization”. Ideally, you will need a balance of each. Each has their positives and drawbacks, so achieving a balance can make a difference to the effectiveness of the management team.

Managing by time alone has an obvious drawback. You may never achieve a deliverable or outcome — the organization will just “mark time” in the configuration you are managing to. Yet I need to manage time to make sure my schedules are correct and recognize events which require corrective actions. In a similar manner, deliverables and outcomes get things to happen, but not necessarily in a timely manner. They are required, however, to get things done. Achieving the balance will get you the on time, on budget, and satisfied customer project delivery.

I’ve noticed the “triangle” concept can be applied in many ways to an organization. Having worked in a company that had customer satisfaction and high availability (99.999%) of its services, I can tell you the most effective plan developed was one that looked at revenue (made sure the money was still coming in), availability (99.999% goal), and customer satisfaction (based on a weekly client services rating of customer “health”). All key company communications carried this message in some form, there were progress charts posted weekly, and bonuses and performance plans were tied to it. Once in a while, a 99.998% was overlooked, but most of the time a “miss” generated sessions to uncover what went right, what contributed to the issue, and a go forward plan of corrective action. The message here is that on time, on budget, and satisfied customers doesn’t reflect the highest values, you may need to modify them to ensure you are looking at the right set of metrics.

Of course you can relate this discussion to metrics and KPI (key performance indicators) as well. Take a look around and see if you can determine what combination will help propel your projects forward to success.
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