Projects/programs are liable to deliver on the contract and the approved changes. Projects and programs typically are approaches to strategy execution. At times, the Project Managers are asked to provide a little more than what is specified in the contract, and we invariably deliver that 'little more' after the authorities approve it, to build a relationship. Let us not confuse this additional delivery with 'Sugar Coating' and 'Scope Creep' – both are bad words for Project Management. They get into the space of other deliverables for the projects and impact scope, cost, and schedule, without any approvals and visibility to the leadership.
However, delivering on 'Conditions of Satisfaction' is the best means to develop a bond with the Client. CoS ( Condition of Satisfaction) is defined as expectations in the program that remain implied and can be challenging to be explicit. While seemingly insubstantial or subjective, they are very much part of the vision and strategy of the organization as envisioned by the top leadership. It means understanding the Client's intent, even if it is beyond the plan and delivering on the longer-term purpose.
A global aircraft engine manufacturing company recently engaged PMCoE (http://www.projectmanagementcoe.com) to project manage setting up of their establishment in central India. The contract was typical, consulting on project management, preparing the project plan, stakeholder management, monitoring, communication, and risk management. The project had a clearly defined scope and needed to be completed within six months and operations to commence during the seventh month. Operation delivery had financial impacts. With the plan approvals and team availability, the project was kicked off as planned. The delivery of ten major work products required integration and had multiple dependencies to complete the project. The project was proceeding smoothly until the fourth month when the senior executive of the primary vendor developed a medical condition that resulted in multiple constraints on his travel and availability. The probability of such risk was considered low, and the mitigation plan included an identified alternate resource from the PMCoE to pitch in. As the PMCoE representative got positioned at the leading site, one of the critical service providers was found entirely deficient in the services assigned, and it was too late to replace him. Instead, PMCoE was assigned his tasks. To add to the risks, the rains and unexpectedly low temperatures severely impacted the overall productivity of the team. The site being at a remote location had inherent challenges of procuring required skills and materials to provide for globally accepted standards of service needed for a fifth-generation aircraft engine operations. The clients' team after a site visit during the end of the fifth month believed that on time the completion of the project is highly unlikely. However, the leadership, both at primary vendor and PMCoE, led with the determination of delivering the problematic project. They had decades of experience in managing difficult deliveries and worked along with the team on the ground. The project was delivered within an acceptable schedule, and the operations began without any financial impact from the delay.
Here are a few takeaways from the projects for the project management community.
1. If PMCoE would have worked on the contracted scope, the completion of the project on time was difficult. The delay would have resulted in losses to all stakeholders, including the users of the services being delivered.
2. Effective risk management is essential. Surprises can come from anywhere, and being caught unprepared can result in significant damages. Each risk is an opportunity, a well thought over mitigation plan can throw many occasions, while managing the project.
3. The leadership for all essential projects needs to be experienced and professional. Teams will follow and make the 'difficult' happen.
4. The project leaders must be qualified in managing the projects. At times the senior management does not realize the nuisances of the project management profession, and hence there are significant losses to strategy execution.
5. It is a must that all changes in the scope, contractual obligations, and the approved deviations from the baselined project plan are appropriately supported and documented. However, it is critical to understand and deliver on the Client's strategy and the conditions of satisfaction. It is the delivery of the 'conditions on satisfaction,' which results in a strategic partnership and generates an overall more significant business.