Replacing instinct with action: partnerships for success

February 6, 2020

From an early age, we were taught red meant stop, freeze, bad:

  • The teacher’s dreaded red marks on our paper
  • Error messages in red font stopping us from proceeding with an activity on the computer
  • Red lights on a police car warning us of danger

We instinctively avoid all things red, but red often indicates there is something which needs our attention. When we take a step back to reassess our path forward, we can objectively view our efforts and determine where to course correct.

Project teams work hard every day to meet customer expectations. Often goals are high, needs are complex, and as projects evolve—changes occur in scope, schedule, and budget. Articulating these adjustments and informing the steering committee of minor slippage (amber status) versus changes that demand immediate action to resolve (red status) is necessary. A change request defines the impact and ensures consistent understanding across the team, stakeholders, and sponsors. Making everyone aware allows leaders with other insights to weigh in on project revisions. The objective is to make communication proactive and clear to ensure appropriate scope delivery with high quality. The Portfolio Management Office (PMO) is a resource and mechanism to support teams in facilitating communications, providing guidance, and getting projects back to the green status.

In FY20, we re-introduced Project Gating and much of the feedback has been positive about the value provided by partner areas. The gating artifacts shed light on timelines, risks, and technical plans to ensure delivery is smooth and successful. Gating is another mechanism to provide transparency on progress, obstacles, and risks and leverage PMO support to engage partners to resolve challenges. Awareness is important whether a project’s status is red, amber, or green—and through partnership we improve delivery outcome, even if directions change along the way.

Proactive management, discussion, and partnership to remove barriers and make informed decisions makes ITS holistically more successful. The PMO’s goal is to be a partner in that journey. When there are delays or costs that bring us to red status, the instinct is to retreat and stop sharing. The PMO is instead inviting you to partner, inform, and move. Stakeholders remember and appreciate candid insight and successful delivery; together, let’s replace instinct with action.

Service Quality