Imagine you are put into a car ,You have to drive it to a known destination. The car has a beautiful dashboard but none of them will work unless you manually update their values. How good will it be if you have to pop a dipstick inside the fuel tank to find how much fuel is there and then update the fuel meter. You go to the battery compartment, use a voltmeter to measure battery voltage, come back and update the dashboard. You go to engine compartment, measure the temperature of engine oil and update the temperature meter and so on .
This brings us to 2 major questions :
- How often should you get down from car to measure and update the dashboards ? 2 hrs? 60 minutes ? every 30 minutes ? every 10 minutes ?
- If you have to tell outsiders why your car is not driving correctly , will you have a feeling that if only I didn’t tell you every 15 minutes what my vehicle parameters are, I would have reached home by now?
Too much is being made out by various organizations on Project Dashboards. The Senior Management often believes that this is often the epicure of all project problems. Once they get dashboards, they can parade each project manager whose projects have parameters in red. This zeal of CEOs/ COO/ VPs results in passing a whip whereby once in a fortnight/ week a mail is sent to all. The Project manager stops all his activities, tells all team members to stop activites. They just do one thing, collect all metrics dump it on a spreadsheet. The sheet then is sent for consumption by the Sr Management. Once this exercise is complete, this gives a sense of superiority to management who believe that they have reins in their hands. All is good with this process only till you abstract yourself and look how in reality things work.
In ordinary/ extraordinary cases ,what is done is: A not so old vehicle of reliable make is bought, the dashboards are automated, most consumables( Fuel, radiator coolant, battery level, tyres etc) are adequately filled, the driver is suitably skilled and licensed to drive. While this is true for ensuring even VVIP motorcades; For Project management , the sponsors take an entirely tangent route. No body buys a reliable vehicle ( Project Mgt Processes viz PMBOK or PRINCE) ,) The approach followed is : They make their own vehicle ( PM proceses), Every one wants to get the metrics manually updated , the PM does all that the guys with passive car dashboard was doing . they do not ensure that the Project driver is licensed (PMP, PRINCE certified) or at times if s/he is licensed , tell them to run the project not in sync with licentiate rules but narrow current priority. The PM finally rams the project into the wall wondering what went wrong. He had learned driving projects on his own could crank the project to start and had some idea on steering and brakes too… An investigation is ordered, PM screams at management, management screams at PM, PM screams at team members ,every body thinks somebody else was to blame.
A driving parameter gone wrong has to be immediately addressed, whats needed is LIVE feed to PM on whats going wrong at that instant, not a court of inquiry once in 15 days to let a PM find out whats wrong and then non drivers telling her how she should drive.. Its time world bodies standardize the framework of PM dashboard , all project based companies embrace them and licensed PM drive all projects. Every thing good happening in the world is probably attributable to projects.