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Control – part 14 - Assessing the situation

PRINCE2® methodology encourages the continued capturing of lessons throughout the project.
Within PRINCE2 2009 the theme Progress [see Progress - purpose].

The purpose of the Progress theme is to establish mechanisms to monitor and compare actual achievements against those planned; provide a forecast for the project objectives and the project’s continued viability; and control any unacceptable deviations.

The Progress theme provides the mechanisms for monitoring and control, enabling the critical assessment of ongoing viability.

What is the effect on other activities?

A good Project Manager will encourage Team members to raise issues before they become embedded.
The most important feature is not to panic and try to assess the impact on the project.
Several methods can be used for this and this is discussed in more detail later.

People should be encouraged to consider not only the immediate project activities but the potential affect on other projects and areas.

What can be done to correct the problem?

When acting on any issue there are two things to consider:

  • how does the team correct it?
  • if it was on the critical path and time has been lost how do we get the project back on track?

When these have been resolved only then is it worthwhile asking why it happened and what could be done to prevent a reoccurrence.
Naturally, knowing the reason for the problem could be significant in terms of the correct action that may prevent reoccurrence.
This last aspect should be carried out with a view to learning lessons for the current and future projects and not as an excuse to apportion blame.

Under PRINCE2 2005 the use of a Lessons Learned Log to capture experiences and a Lessons Learned Report (CP3) is encouraged.
These are now called the Lessons Log and the Lessons Report within PRINCE2 2009.

How can we the project back on track?

The biggest worry for a project is has it gone, or is it likely to go, off track?
This will usually focus on the end date and the overall cost.
However, there may be a suggestion that the final product quality may not be met.

All project issues raised should be examined for their affect on these three areas.

Why did it happen?

Naturally, management would like to know why a particular issue arose.
Initially, this should not be the focus of discussion as the main priority is to ascertain the affect of the issue on the project or other areas.
The next step is to devise any actions that may be necessary and arrange to execute them.

When this has been done the reasons behind the project issue can be sought.
Too much focus on this area at the start may send out the wrong message.
You need to establish an environment where project issues are raised and not hidden.

How do I ensure that it does not happen again?

Once you know the reason for a project issue discussions can begin to ensure that it does not happen in the future.
Again, under PRINCE2 [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’] this would be part of the Lessons Learned Log.

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