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February 23, 2015

How do project teams approach problem solving? Part -2

By: Manikandan Chandrasekharan, Technology Consultant

Define a contingency

What are all the possible ways for the best possible solution to go wrong? Every task can be subject to multiple conditions needing to be favorable. Even if one doesn’t happen to be desirable, a contingency is needed as a buffer.

How much negative impact can come by resource related constraints? Sometimes, key resources are not available and assigned to other projects or are not available currently due to other reasons owing to which the project doesn’t have the right skillset to execute a task in a given timeframe.

How much negative impact can be produced by time delays? Resource constraint could lead to time delays and other factors like application related issues or business requirement changes could also lead to time delays.

How much negative impact can come by slow decision-making processes? This could be avoided by companies to a considerable extent if a good decision making team is put forth at the start of the project. There can be meetings after meetings but unless a decision maker is ready to decide, no progress would have been made.

Monitor the implementation of the strategy/ plan

What is the actual time taken to accomplish the tasks? Constant monitoring leads to greater efficiency in project management. Any delays identified initially can be corrected to avoid further major delays or hiccups.

Any additional resources needed to meet a deliverable? It’s the prerogative of each of the team members to inform the Project manager on what they need and if anything in addition is required.

What issues come up during the implementation? This varies based on the situation and environment one works in. Either way, issues do come up most of the time.

How to go about resolving these issues that prop up? Project resources have to work towards resolving them to move forward and this happens effectively when people apply themselves. Noone knows everything and so good leadership and team can effectively resolve these situations by bringing in their wealth of knowledge to the table.

Did contingency account for these issues? Most of the times, a contingency is set for these issues that prop up midstream but at times some come unaccounted for. These issues might be stated from Client’s IT team or the implementation partner or consulting team, either way both sets of people would like to have this resolved and a decision maker has to decide the best way to move forward.

If so, how much of contingency budget and time is eaten up solving this? The Project management team decides this. Often during initial stages, the team is hesitant to spend a lot of their contingency budget but as time goes on, based on project progression, the funds open up to be spent on.

Does resolving this issue delay the timeframe to achieve the end goal? This is a key question to be answered. Just because something comes up doesn’t mean it has to be attended then and there.

What are the priorities for the problem to be solved? All project related issues and risks have to be prioritized based on user needs and technological challenges for not having these issues resolved.

Do the biting issues add more woes to the end goal that it has to be resolved? Teams often have to look at the big picture in decided how much of these issues really matter to the end desired goal at this point in time. Some issues might be aesthetic; some may be “nice to haves”, andsome “must haves”.

Make the decisions to keep moving forward. Decisions have to be made based on the priorities and since the project would already be in progression, these decisions would have to be quick.

Satisfy the business community who requested to address the problem

Bring the users in and test the solution? Once everything is executed, it is important to satisfy the business users. Their endorsement is key to whether the implemented solution works and if so, then does it work exactly as expected.

Note the nitty-gritty changes requested by the business users? If certain changes are asked for at a later stage in the project, make note of requirements. Perform the necessary due diligence before deciding on the future course of action.

Determine if the change requests can be addressed for using contingency funds? If funds are available, decide how best to use the money. If not, don’t hesitate to state the facts and ask the business user community to fuel in extra cash if they need the changes implemented.

Get the Change Management Board’s buy-in and execute the plan. Ensure a smooth transition for the business users so that current live environment is not disrupted by a change and that everyone in the firm gets familiar with the change.