Jeopardy management

It is bad enough for a Project Manager when a project encounters a problem – but often that is just the start of distressing conversations with project stakeholders. The key to surviving this mess is recognizing the types of conversations that loom ahead and then avoiding the destructive deliberations while consciously giving preference to worthwhile discussions. One valuable tool that can help in the most serious of situations is a disciplined approach to jeopardy notification and planning.”
Bill Hoberecht
in the PM Notebook.

As we all know, CSPs are in the business of delivering and warranting communications services. This is achieved through an ongoing stream of “projects.” Some OSS provide the tools for coordinating a large pool of resources to work on the CSP‘s many simultaneous project deliveries. These tools might include order management, planned events management, field workforce management, etc.

Jeopardy management is an important element of these tools to highlight when due dates (eg RFS – ready for service) are at risk of slipping. Jeopardy management also has a human component whereby a representative of the CSP will interact with a stakeholder / customer to inform them of the risk of slippage.

Bill’s article (see link above) provides some valuable insights into the human component (eg the common but fruitless approaches of bullying, blame and excuses), but also provides some really valuable pointers for OSS developers.

In the section entitled, “Four Valuable Conversations That Aid Problem Resolution,” Bill points out that positive jeopardy management actions are identifying:

  1. Current state
  2. Recovery actions
  3. Root cause
  4. Strategic improvement

OSS definitely have a role to play in these actions, as follows:

  1. Current state – collecting the information that conveys the current state and likely flow-on effects (eg milestone date slippages)
  2. Recovery actions – this is where DSS (Decision Support Systems) can run simulations to identify the most optimal re-allocation of resources to address issues on this at-risk project whilst also taking into account all other projects being delivered
  3. Root cause – Whilst an OSS may not be able to access information about all of the obstacles encountered, they will be able to collect important statistics such as tasks taking longer than planned, not enough resources with the requisite skills to perform the task, inability to gain stakeholder approvals, quality control / re-work, etc.
  4. Strategic improvement – Identification of project-by-project information may provide insights on macro-trends such as needs for process improvement, training enhancement, personnel change (eg hiring staff, re-allocation of staff, remedial activities for certain individuals), etc. It may even highlight the need for changes to KPIs and/or performance incentives

Decision Support System tools offer a great opportunity to use our OSS and related data to take some of stress out of the human component of jeopardy management. As Bill explains, “In a project where issues thrive, schedules are crucial to the business, and tensions are running high, the handling of a jeopardy situation is fraught with peril. Unless you are anticipating an extended period of unusually sunny weather for your upcoming technology projects, you will almost certainly have to deal with difficult issues and jeopardy situations. Don’t avoid discussions about problems.” Provide your project managers or operators with all the information they need to provide transparency to stakeholders.

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