I was going to post more about Process Intelligence and the Adaptive Project Framework last Monday but I was snowed under at work. Good thing because John Kamensky posted a great comment on President Obama’s Accountable Government Initiative. As I read the snapshots of the six initiatives, I was struck by how the success of each initiative depends on good project management and good business process management. There was a good discussion recently about the role technology plays in Gov 2.0 but I personally think the key to successful Gov 2.0 and OpenGov are the management methods. We need new methods for managing projects and for continuously improving Gov 2.0 processes.
Traditional project management is still useful. Thanks to TPM, the US Government built Trident submarines, nuclear aircraft carriers, and landed men on the Moon. Much of what made TPM so effective are the innovations pioneered by the Federal project managers such as Earned Value Management and Program Evaluation and Review Technique. But, for TPM to be effective, the goal and the solution must be known in advance and change must be minimized as much as possible.
In the Gov 2.0 reality, change is paramount and rapid while the goal may be well-defined but the solution to achieve the goal is often vague. Timelines are extremely short and so are resources and budgets. Using TPM to manage Gov 2.0 projects is just inviting failure (as the numerous examples in the IT Project Failures blog will attest). For Gov 2.0 and OpenGov to succeed we need new methods to manage these projects and their implementation. That is why I advocate the Adaptive Project Framework.
The APF was created by Dr. Robert Wysocki during his 40+ years as a project manager. He wanted a project management method that could better handle change and allowed for exploring a way to a solution while minimizing wasted time and resources. The best feature of APF is that the project scope is variable and that is what makes it perfect for Gov2.0 projects.
Scope in a project is what work needs to be done during the project (Project Scope) and what features the project product will have(Product Scope). In TPM, both Project Scope and Product Scope is fixed as early as possible. All planning, scheduling, and resource requirements are anchored to the scope and this is why change is so disruptive to the TPM project.
APF uses Cycle Plans and Cycle Builds to incorporate change into the project management process. In the initial planning, the project manager and project customer(s) create a high-level document that defines the project goal and conditions of satisfaction. Then a Requirements Breakdown Structure is built that captures the project product requirements at that time. A Cycle Plan is created that details what requirements will be created during the Cycle Build. The Cycle Build is time-boxed which means that it is a short duration (two weeks to a month).
During the Cycle Build you can have two streams of work. In one stream, some team members explore new features to include in the final project product while the other stream integrates proven features together into the product. As new ideas emerge they are added to the Scope Bank to be part of future Cycle Builds. Any features that are not completed within the Cycle Build are added to the next Cycle Plan. The Cycle Build can also be terminated early if the features are not working or if the current solution no longer fulfills the project goal.
To illustrate the difference, let’s use an example from recent events. Suppose you are working on a project to apply Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies to your agency website. You are halfway through the project when Google launches Google Instant. Then Twitter launches a redesigned search service. This requires a major change in your SEO strategies. Now what do you do?
Under TPM you could continue on with the project but your project product will be outdated and ineffective by the time you deliver it. Or you could cancel the TPM project and start all over again. You have wasted time and resources while incurring the additional costs of a new project. This will not look good on the IT Dashboard.
Under APF, the most you have to do is modify the Conditions of Satisfaction document and the Project Overview Statement. You can cancel the current Cycle Build and begin a new Cycle Plan to incorporate the new technologies and techniques into the final project product. Waste and loss of time are minimized while the current project can continue on toward the original goal but with an improved solution.
In my next posting, I will go into detail about Process Intelligence and how that can help address the issues raised by William Eggers and John O’Leary in If We Can Put a Man on the Moon… Getting Big Things Done in Government. I have also added two new pages devoted to collecting resources about Process Intelligence and Project Intelligence to my personal blog.