Monday 6 December 2021

How to upgrade the project management?

In any project or plan, situations that require decisions from the project team often occur. At this point, it is especially important to define clear upgrade paths and protocols for issues that cannot be resolved within the team, which can greatly speed up the project and reduce internal conflicts. So the author shared the four-step approach to project management.

In any type of project or plan, there is often a need to upgrade decisions above the project team level, typical scenarios such as project scope changes, unforeseen technical issues, budget overruns, and delays or changes in schedule.

Whether it's a company's decision-making process, planning process, or research and development process, it's cross-functional, and there are generally three ways to operate these cross-functional processes (functional, weak, strong).

"in a strongly matrix organization, these issues can be particularly costly, with people reporting to functions (engineering, marketing, finance, manufacturing, etc.) essentially "borrowing" to project managers to deliver deliverables.

These people may work on multiple project teams at the same time and contribute to their functional teams. Near-chaos can occur when a process encounters a barrier in such a system.

Suppose there are some technical issues that will cost the process 10 percent more money and require more resources or time.

  • Finance team members may go back to their leaders to report that the engineer wants to exceed the budget;
  • Engineers may report to their supervisors that the scope of the project has changed and that they are not meeting technical requirements;
  • The product manager may give feedback to his leadership that the engineer level is not good enough to meet the customer's requirements, etc.;
  • meanwhile, the project manager is asking his leader for more time and money.

These supervisors may then meet one-on-one or in different groups to discuss the situation, to argue about who should be blamed, and so on:

At the same time, the project remained stalled until some kind of consensus was reached, but the team was in a state of resentment after a behind schedule and budget overruns.

There is a clear way to avoid these situations, but requires advance planning and senior management support.

You need to define a very clear upgrade path for any issues that cannot be addressed within your team and get the entire organization to agree on an upgrade agreement.

Define a supervisory team of the right people at the supervisor level and an upgrade team of managers at the vice president level.

The upgrade path is shown in the following image, which contains typical roles in the team:

These teams are in place and we need agreements that everyone agrees on:

If someone on the project team feels that there are issues within the team that cannot be resolved, he will submit them to the project manager or project team meeting.

If the pm and the team agree that they need to upgrade, they will propose at least two alternative solutions and make recommendations to the oversight team before doing so.

Upgrades should be completed or led by the project manager and handed over to the supervisory team, which, of course, does not mean that people should not communicate with their supervisor, who should be aware of the problem but not make an external upgrade;

Otherwise we'll be back in chaos. they should discuss it as a supervisory team, not in a vacuum.

The supervisory team should agree to meet immediately (e.g., within 2 business days) and decide what to do. For busy executives, and sometimes heavy travel, the timing can be difficult;

Nevertheless, even if that means evening or weekend internet or conference calls, they should do so; or you might specify a proxy. if they can solve the problem, they will do it.

If they don't have or don't have decision-making power (such as increasing the budget), they send it to the upgrade team along with their recommendations.

The reporting team also agrees to meet within 2 business days and follow the same rules.

If they cannot decide or make a decision, the issue is referred to the highest decision-making level, which agrees to make a decision within 2 business days.

When the project manager gets the decision, he or she will immediately record it and send the document to all interested parties in the form of: "this is the problem, this is the action the management team decided to take, so this is our new record plan." ”

If everyone in your organization agrees to upgrade paths and upgrade protocols, the project will be much smoother and the sense of blame will be minimized.

In the example above, the time to resolve any issues or reset the scope of the project or expect to be reduced from weeks or months of wheel rotation to a maximum of 6 days.

How to design the upgrade process?

The upgrade process defines decision boundaries and escalation paths across the organization to resolve issues quickly and clearly.

The process is designed around the core project team and the clear project manager, allowing the core team to make decisions at a lower level of the organizational structure, along with a predefined process for exception management (promoting high priority issues to a higher level of upgrade workflow).

This process minimizes the time required for upgrade decisions and is one of the essential tools in agile product development.

The project manager creates the process in four steps

Define the decision category

these can include areas such as finance, staffing, tools, and technical functions.

when defining categories, the project manager should pay attention to the correct balance of the number of categories based on organizational complexity. project managers should avoid too many issues to move to the next level, overburdening the process and leaving too few to provide a meaningful upgrade path.

this is especially important in new product development, where there are additional risks inherent.

In each category, the project manager shall determine the appropriate promotion procedures in accordance with his or her functional responsibilities

The project manager should start at the lowest level in the organization, usually an individual contributor.

Some decision categories can have parallel communication (functional and cross-functional) and typically come from project managers.

Define key organizational contributors and their decision-making power, including project managers

this can vary depending on the size and complexity of the project, and in some cases there will be a dual communication path (functions and projects) to ensure rapid decision-making.

The project manager and management review

Agreeing on categories, decision authority, and upgrade procedures is decision-making power, and it is important to suggest that the upgrade process should be signed by management.

What are the benefits of the upgrade process for the project manager?

  • Minimize delays in bringing products to market;
  • Promoting accountability in decision-making processes;
  • Save time and effort by providing a clear upgrade process for decision-making;
  • Coach new team members on how to make quick decisions.

What business issues have been resolved?

One of the effective strategies for reducing time-to-market is to find a way to make decisions when teams and projects are stalled, and escalation issues can trigger the next level of communication.

The upgrade process is also valid only if all levels of the organization agree.

When communicating project upgrades across functional teams, the next level of management team needs to be prepared to provide quick guidance.

In addition, the quality of the team determines the effectiveness of the upgrade process, and team members are willing to take responsibility for driving decisions and have good judgment to implement those decisions within their terms of reference.

Upgrades are not just for the development phase, and if problems arise, the company may need to upgrade issues in portfolio management activities.


The project upgrade diagram depicts the responsibilities and communication paths for effective decision-making:

  • Left column categorizes the decision types;
  • Middle column provides a specific type of decision mapped to a category;
  • The right column shows the upgrade path from individual contributors to top management.
  • Not all decisions are made at the highest level of the organization, and the scope and impact of the decisions will determine what level of authority is required.

Case studies

Jay is working on the next version of its flagship product, which will be available at its annual meeting in seven months' time to market.

The hardware team is in the early stages of design and making progress.

Although Jay has assigned two members from the firmware team to the project, they have not yet started work. Leo, one of the hardware engineers, is concerned that if they don't get involved soon, development will be delayed.

In a conversation with one of his firmware colleagues, he learned that they were still updating for the previous version and would not be available for three weeks.

Leo couldn't solve the problem on his own, so he relied on the team's project upgrade diagram to fix it as quickly as possible.

By using the figure above, Leo determines that this is a staffing issue that is about to affect the progress of the project.

He reported the issue to his functional director, Jack, who is also a member of the cross-functional project team, and he did not have permission to the firmware engineer, so he notified the project manager of the resource conflict.

He also referred the issue to his functional director, Bill, who is responsible for managing all engineering teams in the business unit.

Bill decides to have a firmware engineer continue their current job and allocate the second engineer's time to provide personnel for the new project.


Defining clear upgrade paths and protocols for issues that cannot be resolved within a team at the beginning of any major project or program will greatly accelerate the project process and minimize hostility in the organization.

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