Saturday, October 22, 2011

How to track Projects using e-PMO dashboard – 4

Measuring Risks & Customer Satisfaction

In my previous blogs, we discussed on creating an e-PMO dashboard to view the overall status of the project through meaningful metrics across various Knowledge Areas in a project. For this, I discussed each of the areas through a series of articles.
1)      How to put project metrics into effective use – that deals with the fundamentals and basics on metrics measurement and dashboards. (See, How to put Project metrics into effective use)
2)      How to track Projects using e-PMO dashboard – I – that deals with visualising an integrated e-PMO dashboard and measuring process and tracking progress (see, How to track projects using e-PMO dashboard - I )
3)      How to track Projects using e-PMO dashboard – 2 – that deals specifically about measuring Financials) (see, How to track projects using e-PMO Dashboard - 2)
4)      How to track Projects using e-PMO dashboard – 3 – that deals specifically about measuring HR) (see, How to track projects using e-PMO Dashboard - 3 )
 Now, let us look at measuring the very reason of executing the project – the customer and the process of measuring the overall risks in the project.

Like measuring employee factor and the HR parameters (as in my previous blog), it is equally important and probably a bit dicey to measure the Customer Satisfaction.
Customer satisfaction is more qualitative than quantitative. It is more about whether the customer is happy with the product or service delivered. And on this central theme revolves all knowledge areas. Customer needs to be happy or at least satisfied with the progress as well as end result of the project.
a)      The timelines agreed upon is a major point of discussion especially during the initial process in the project. And even if the time lines are agreed upon, the real test comes when it is time for execution and delivery. Delays, if any need to be managed carefully and sensitively, with genuine reasons for delays.
b)      The Scope agreed upon has always been the biggest challenge to manage with. With most of the managers succumbing to customer and in turn senior pressure to deliver in a crunch time for the so called agreed scope, they end up with a situation where scope creep leads to delays and frustration for both the customer and the project team. So, scope and timelines normally go hand in hand and one has a direct impact on the other. To deal with these situations, it is important to be honest, sincere and disciplined in one’s approach towards making deals. That is where one realises the importance of the project charter, the initially identified risks, the scope and timeline tracking, the RTM (Requirement Traceability Matrix). It all connects…
c)       The cost is yet another area to look into, especially while negotiating with the customer. If the scope is unclear and the time lines rigid, one should be very careful on a fixed price negotiation. One may actually end up making loss or even go bankrupt when things don’t go as foreseen. While scope creep becomes imminent and unavoidable, there are many unknown factors (both internal and external) that can jeopardize the project. A common external example could be an environmental clearance for a hazardous chemical plant set-up where a lot of political and bureaucratic clearances might take enormous time to ensure a safe environment in and around the chemical plant. So, it inadvertently leads to managing risks extremely well. Similarly, if the pricing is purely based on Time and Material, and the customer and the project team later find themselves having difficulty in closing the scope of a project already in execution, then, the scope creep can make a big hole in the customer’s pocket.
Keeping these factors and pointers in mind, some of the important measurements that can help are broadly classified into:
1)      Direct measurements – such as Customer feedback about the quality of the product, project delivery, product installation, project delivery milestones achieved, customer referrals given to new suspects/ prospects.
2)      Indirect measurements – such as Outcome of Product Road Shows, Project Scope adherence, Quality, Timelines, ROI. So, all the project measurements being done are actually interconnected. Point 2 is like a foundation that helps in achieving point 1 i.e., direct measurements. One cannot expect good feedback without having scope, quality, time, cost and HR in place.
A database can be created to track all customer feedbacks, Customer’s experience during deployments, deliveries and upgradations, and all this can be linked to the e-PMO dashboard and a summary can be reported in the customer satisfaction survey.

Why I took this topic at the end is to help appreciate that all that we discussed about processes, project progress, scope, time, cost, HR, Customer satisfaction, and so on, has an element of risk in it. As a matter of fact, risk is everywhere. Coming to projects, the very nature of project is CHANGE. Hence, risk is an integral part of any project. So, it is not about avoiding risks, but how well do we manage it that’s important. Reiterating some of the fundamentals of Risk Management. See my previous article - How to show risk information in Enterprise Project Management Dashboard
Risks can be positive or negative. The whole idea is to exploit, share and enhance the probability and impact of occurrence of positive risks and mitigate, avoid or transfer the impact and probability of occurrence of negative risks. One should carefully design the risk register with appropriate fields like
Risk ID, Risk Name, Risk Details, Risk Owner, Risk Raised By, Risk Raised Date, Risk Follow up date, Risk Priority, Current Status, Risk Response etc..
Risks identification and management should start as early as the initiating process of the project… right when the project charter is being prepared, to highlight the high level risks. A proper Risk Management Plan needs to be in place to plan out exactly how the risks will be managed. Based on the risk management plan, one needs to identify the risks and log it into the risk register. Do a qualitative and quantitative risk analysis. Keep lower rated risks in a separate watch list that could help at a later point of time. Start tracking the risks as early as possible during the executing and monitoring & controlling process.
For this, a separate risk management tool can be developed. This can then be linked to the centralised e-PMO dashboard.
The display of risks can be segregated into high level risks at the program level for top and senior management, detailed level risks at the project level for the executing project managers and leads to view and act upon. Based on the probability and impact of the risk, appropriate RBAG status can be provided to help manage and address the risk appropriately.
So, how does the centralised e-PMO dashboard look like? Again, it would depend on whether the e-PMO has been developed at the program level, or project level. It would depend upon the nature and size of the program or the project. It would also depend on what kind of view and access rights is provided at each level of the organisation hierarchy.
However, simplifying the elements of the e-PMO dashboard as we discussed in this and my previous blogs, it would primarily show (to name the basic elements): Customer Satisfactory indices, EVM related measurements that would give status indicators for time and cost, Scope related measurements, quality related measurements, HR related indices, Project charter and key points related to the very purpose of the project, Risk related details and indices etc. The list and the display will vary from project to project and also on the organisation culture, their risk tolerance level and so on.
However, if a project is being fundamentally progressed with an honest, disciplined and systematic approach and all the key areas as discussed is being taken care of and measured, then the e-PMO dashboard can provide lot of meaning and inference for better project management. 

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