APM PPQ Use Information To Inform Reviews And Help Manage Deviations From A Project Plan.

Paul Naybour

Paul Naybour talks to Tom O’Shea about progress reviews and managing deviations from a project plan…

Summary Transcript

Greetings and welcome to another Parallel Project Training podcast. Today, I’m joined by Tom O’Shea. Hello, Tom.

Tom O'Shea discussing progress reviews

We’re diving into the PPQ assessment criteria, with a particular focus on the intriguing subject of reviews. PPQ progress reviews or stage reviews are often the highlights of a project, but they hold significant importance. We have four assessment criteria to discuss, so let’s address them sequentially.

Firstly, let’s tackle the first one, which requires a critical evaluation of valid information necessary to review various factors at key stages in the project lifecycle, in alignment with the employed lifecycle.

These assessment criteria are expressed in concise and straightforward language, emphasising clarity. Now, let’s delve into the concept of reviews. Reviews can sometimes be confused with progress reports. However, we’re referring to more formal reviews conducted during a project. These go beyond routine weekly or monthly reports and resemble health checks or integrated baseline reviews. Such reviews focus on a project’s formal performance assessment.

For instance, an integrated baseline review aligns with earned value terminology, aiming to audit and ensure the accuracy of the project plan before finalising it. Gate reviews and go-live reviews are common, while Agile projects typically involve progress reviews rather than formal reviews. Nonetheless, large Agile projects may necessitate occasional formal reviews for effective management.

Regarding the reliability and validity of data used in reviews, the source of information is vital. Determining where the data originates and ensuring its reliability are key. Finance departments, for instance, typically provide reliable data, but its format and relevance must be considered. Progress reports from team leaders should be scrutinised for evidence supporting their claims.

The concept of “three lines of defense” involves self-checking data as a project manager, internal review by another department, and external assurance through audits. These three approaches offer various perspectives, each with its value.

Moving on, obtaining information is crucial. It may come from formal documents, discussions with subject matter experts, or primary sources like finance systems. Occasionally, creating your data collection and recording methods may be necessary, but cost-effectiveness must be considered.

Next, we critically evaluate the importance of aligning reviews with organisational, legal, and regulatory requirements. This involves assessing whether specific legal, organisational, or regulatory obligations exist in the project’s context and determining which reviews can demonstrate compliance.

In mature organisations, compliance with such requirements might be ingrained, but in newer or less mature organizations, alignment may not be as straightforward. In such cases, proposing organizational reviews or reviews tailored to expected governance points can be beneficial.

The assessment criteria challenge you to provide reasons or methods for ensuring alignment. Remember, sometimes the question may not explicitly require two reasons.

Moving forward, we delve into critical analysis of situations where deviations from the project plan might occur. Understanding why deviations happen, whether internally or externally, is crucial. Deviations can result from various factors, such as insufficient resources or unclear sponsor requirements. Resolving these deviations involves re-evaluating the plan, discussing with stakeholders, and potentially considering options like altering scope or increasing resources.

Finally, we critically analyse the reasons for accurately documenting deviations from the project plan. Documentation serves to explain why deviations occurred, which aids in understanding and improving future projects. Prompt identification of problems allows for timely corrective action. It also provides an audit trail, which is invaluable in case of disputes with suppliers or legal actions.

In essence, documenting deviations helps maintain clarity on why a project is where it is. These criteria encourage a comprehensive understanding of project management and the significance of reviews, alignment, analysis, and documentation.

Thank you for joining us today.

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