Corner Cutting Survey Results: Risk Monitoring

The corner cutting poll’s third answer (at a low 12 percent) is “On-going risk monitoring and control”.  That result was quite a surprise to me.  Neglecting to perform risk activities beyond initial identification and analysis is one of the most common project mistakes that we see.  Surprise at when risks become issues — or when they become so likely to happen that they should be managed as issues — is a consistent marker of troubled projects.

In our experience, we get a great start in risk management and start our projects with an excellent list of risk events.  Furthermore, we usually will have done good quantitative and qualitative analyses, though appropriate risk response planning is less systematic (which is why it was a poll question).

Any ideas why this came in so low?  Maybe it’s just that Crossderry readers are very sharp and would never miss something so critical :-)   That shameless pandering aside, I’m wondering whether this result was driven by some characteristics of the poll:

  • Was it clear that multiple answers could have been given?
  • Did respondents understand the implied distinctions drawn among the various risk management processes?
  • Was the answer worded well?
  • Was there another risk-related answer that would have worked better?

Corner Cutting Survey 2nd Answer: Performance Appraisals

The corner cutting poll’s second answer (at 18 percent) remains Performance Appraisals for Project Team Members.  This result wasn’t a shock at all to me.  Only relatively mature project organizations even mandate that project managers conduct performance reviews.

As anyone who has been in the SAP ecosystem knows, SAP is a matrixed organization.  This model is a great advantage in at least this aspect of implementing project management: we have an already-established approach for “additional appraisers”.   The reviews are embedded in our project management methodology and our HR processes:

As part of project closing, the project manager conducts final reviews and evaluations of the team members. The project manager and project team member should review and sign the additional appraiser form during a final meeting before the team member leaves the project….  Every member of the team should be evaluated prior to the project ending or the team member leaving the project.  

In other words, project, program, or PMO leadership has the responsibility for performing reviews even when we don’t have direct reporting responsibility for project team members.  This approach allows the PMO to have “soft oversight” of technical and functional resources we don’t directly own.  It also provides excellent opportunities to give future managers hands-on coaching experience.

Corner Cutting Survey Top Answer: Not communicating with senior management

Executive body language after cancelling too many meetings

The corner cutting poll’s top answer (at 22 percent) remains Executing planned communications with senior management.  This answer matches our own experience within SAP, which indicates that proper stakeholder management decreases the probability of risk events, shortens their duration, and lessens their total impact. 

In our experience, the most frequent communications mistake was failure to execute planned executive-level messaging, which eroded the project manager’s position in the eyes of sponsors and other leaders.  Such an erosion of a project manager’s position leads to negative second-order effects, including:

  • Mistrust of the PM’s ability to lead and prioritize.
  • Senior management bypassing the PM in favor of direct communication with team leads and vice versa.
  • Exclusion from decision-making bodies or meetings.

PM Corner-Cutting Poll Results — as of 25 Sept

I had 46 49 (51 now) responses to the my survey question “What are the most common areas that are “cut” in projects or programs?” Below is a bar graph with the current results (I’ll keep the poll open for a while on the right-hand sidebar of Crossderry).

In future posts, I’ll have some commentary on the “top” answers.

Don’t forget the “corner cutting” poll

I’m getting some good response to the “corner cutting poll” on the right sidebar of the blog itself, but I’ll leave it open for a while longer. 

For my newsreader subscribers, the poll’s direct URL is here:

New Poll — Corner Cutting in Project Management

Inspired by a post on Sharp End Training’s blog (here), my post (here), and a comment by PM Hut

FYI, moved to right sidebar

Corner-cutting in Project Management

Elizabeth included this post from Sharp End Training’s blog (here).  I agree with her assessment of the post.  It is a good question but I would have like to seen a take on which corners are typically cut, not why corners were cut.  FWIW, here are my top ten corners typically cut:

  1. Stakeholder management planning
  2. Executing planned communications with senior management
  3. Executing planned communications with non-project stakeholders
  4. On-going risk monitoring and control
  5. Communications planning
  6. Risk response planning
  7. Integrated change control, especially for changes in resources
  8. Performance appraisals for project team members
  9. Quality planning
  10. Contract administration

I’d appreciate any comments on where “corners are cut”…  Perhaps this will make a good poll question?

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