Stage Control & Product Delivery
In the context of the PM4SD approach model, the Stage Control & Product Delivery process constitutes the core of the PM and Team Managers activity during the Project Life-Cycle. It is in this process that delivery stages are managed, issues and risks are dealt with and products are developed, All of this within the constraints set by the project Time, Cost, Scope, Quality, Risk, Benefit and Sustainability objectives.
The PM will divide the tasks amongst team managers according to the relevant stage plan. While the teams develop the products, the PM will make sure the plan is being adhered to and any eventuality is identified, assessed and dealt with in the most efficient manner to ensure a controlled yet efficient delivery of the stage’s objectives. The Manage by Stages and the Management by Exception principles play a big role in this process, as the PM will need to monitor any deviation from the stage plan to avoid any uncontrolled change to the scope of the stage itself.
The products developed during a stage must also be controlled to ensure any quality criteria and expectations are met before they are delivered as complete. It is during this process that the quality activities identified in the Stage Plan will take place.
The Project Board will be kept informed on the progress of the stage via regular Progress Reports which the PM will send at an agreed frequency (normally decided at the creation of the Communication Plan). The PM will be kept informed of the status of the individual products through Checkpoint reports sent regularly by the Team Managers. This process will cover the day-to-day activities of both the PM to control a stage and the Team Manager to create and deliver products. These activities will constitute an iterative cycle during a stage, iterative as it will repeat as long as the stage is running. The PM and Team Managers will carry out the following main tasks:
- Agreeing and assigning work to the Team Managers (PM)
- Agreeing and accepting the Work Packages (Team Manger (TM))
- Monitor progress of each individual Work Package (PM)
- Develop products according to specifications (TM)
- Reporting Progress to the Project Board (PM)
- Delivering completed Work Packages to the PM (TM)
- Take action to deal with Issues and Risks (PM)
These iterative tasks are common to all the project’s stages with the exception of the final delivery stage where the PM must also perform the Project Closure activities.
Agreeing and Assigning Work Packages
Within the PM4SD model, work is divided, planned and assigned according to the products to be delivered, in accordance with the Focus on Products principle. The PM will identify the need for a particular product during the planning activity and will create a Product Description (with input from the Senior User) around which a Work Package can be created. The stage plan created during the Stage Definition and Planning process will contain a schedule of the Work Packages to be developed during the stage. In the planning phase the PM will have identified the Work Packages based on the information available about the products at that time. Once the Work Package has been agreed the PM will then give authorisation to the team manager to start the development process.
Agreeing and Accepting the Work Packages
Throughout the stage, the PM will need to work with each team manager in order to create a detailed document that will cover all aspects of the duties the team manager will have to carry out. The PM will provide all the management information relative to the Work Package while the team manager will contribute the technical and development planning aspects of the work to be done. At this point Project Assurance might also intervene to assess and make sure that the agreements the PM and team manager have taken are in line with the Project’s strategies and are compatible with the approach and the Supplier’s resourcing commitments.
The main recommended activities for the PM and Team Manager within these sub-processes are:
- Check the Stage Plan for Work Packages to be delivered
- Review the PID for any relevant arrangements to be applied to the Work Package (i.e. reporting requirements, Quality standards etc.)
- Complete each relevant Work Package as per Stage Plan
- Agree Work Package definition with the team manager and assess Acceptance criteria
- Authorise work to commence
Monitor progress of each individual Work Package
Once a team manager has been authorised to commence work on the product development the PM’s primary responsibility is to monitor the status of the Work Package and the general status and progress of the stage against the planned objectives. The monitoring of each individual Work Package will provide the PM with the real data needed to perform regular progress assessments for the stage and to ascertain whether the plan is still in line with the forecasts to achieve the desired objectives for the stage.
There are various ways in which the PM can monitor the status of a work package. The formality and frequency with which the PM will perform these tasks is dictated by the agreements made during the assignment of the work package. The PM can quickly assess the status of a product being developed by requesting to review its Configuration Record, which would have been updated to show the current status of the product.
Also, the Quality log can provide an indication of the status of a particular Work Package by documenting any quality checks (and results) that may have been performed on the products. As a minimum, the PM is kept informed by the team manager on the status of the work performed via the regular production of a Checkpoint Report. The team manager will send the Checkpoint Report to the PM at the frequency agreed in the Work Package.
During product development, the team manager will be in charge of performing some “management” activities such as:
- Reporting regularly on progress
- Ensuring quality checks are carried out and results are communicated to the right roles and reported in the Quality log
- Provide status information regarding the product’s life-cycle to those in charge of maintaining the Configuration Records
- Informing the PM of any Technical Issues/Risks which might impact the Work Package Delivery and that are outside the scope of the Team Manager knowledge
The main recommended activities within these sub-processes are:
- Gather progress information from the Checkpoint Report (PM)
- Update the Issue Log and Risk Log where necessary (PM)
- Update the Stage Plan with actual data and adjust Forecasts (PM)
- Review the Work Package for development procedures or standard to be applied (TM)
- Report Checkpoints to the PM at the agreed frequency (TM)
- Escalate Issues and Risks to the PM where outside delegated authority (TM)
- Update relevant product documentation (Quality Log, Configuration Records) (PM and/or TM)
Reporting Progress to the Project Board
This is a good point at which the PM should stop and have a general review of the entire stage. By gathering information from the checkpoint reports and all the finished Work Packages, he/she can ascertain whether the performance of the stage has kept in line with the planned objectives. Also at this time, the PM will perform a general Stage Status Assessment in order to compile the Progress Report to be sent to the Project Board, as documented in the Communication Plan.
By following the Management by Exception principle, the PM does not need constantly to seek advice and authorisations within a stage, but instead he/she is given delegated authority, within set tolerances (which equates to the Stage Tolerances) to make decision without the need for Project Board intervention. Nonetheless the Project Board must be kept informed in order that they can compare actual achievements at stage level with those planned at Project Level.
Delivering completed Work Packages to the PM
Once the work has been completed on a Work Package the team manager will deliver it to the PM who will make sure that the development requirements have been met before the Work Package can be formally accepted. Also at this point the PM will re- assess the progress of the stage by updating the stage plan with actual data and by re-calculating the forecasts for the remainder of the stage.
The main recommended activities within these sub-processes are:
- Review progress for the stage (PM)
- Revise the Risk and Issue Logs where necessary (PM)
- Update the current Stage Plan (PM)
- Review identified Lessons (PM)
- Send Progress Report to the Project Board (PM)
- Review the Quality Register and the Work Package to make sure all activities have been carried out (TM)
- Review the Work Package for hand-over procedures (TM)
Take action to deal with Issues and Risks
As mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, the project environment is often subject to a high number of unexpected events, which may have an impact on the outcome of the project. Sometimes these events are identified prior to their occurrence and treated as risks through a structured Risk Management Procedure, as described in chapter 4. Other events, for which the occurrence has not been forecasted or avoided, will be treated and dealt with using the Issue and Change Management Procedure, also described in chapter 4. Most of these occurrences will take place or require a possible intervention during a management (or delivery) stage. It is the PM’s responsibility to be prepared for any such event and to counteract/mitigate the impact in order to keep the project on track for the delivery of its outputs within the agreed objectives of Time, Cost, Quality, Scope, Benefit, Risk and Sustainability. Although it is the PM’s responsibility to ensure that Issues and Risks are managed, they will be assisted by other stakeholders in the identification and resolution of any event which may impact any part of the Project. In fact anybody, from the Team members working with the Team Managers to the external corporate stakeholders, is encouraged to raise any potential threat, opportunity or problem to the PM as early as possible and to help with the monitoring and resolution of such events.
The main recommended activities within this sub-process are:
- Ascertain the type of event (issue/risk)
- Assess the Probability/Priority, Impact and status of the event
- Look for possible counter-measures to be taken
- Assess the overall impact of the event on the project objectives and plans
- For events with impacts which deviate from any of the assigned tolerances escalate using the Exception procedure (chapter 4)
- Plan and propose corrective actions
- Implement the corrective actions once a decision has been taken