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How to avoid people on projects from owning the project forever

By ITIL® from Experience©

A project by definition is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result1.” But in some organizations projects become programs and some people feel cursed from having been on a project as they can never hand it off to someone and move on to something else - they inherit the project into operations and it becomes their new assigned career. The size of the project doesn't matter. Multi-year, multi-million dollar projects can suffer from poor transition to operations as much as small improvement projects.

The transition or the handover2 should be planned from the start to avoid this. The Charter should include a transition objective or at least have it as a critical success factorCritical Success Factor: Something that must happen if an IT service, process, plan, project or other activity is to succeed. Source: ITIL® glossary and abbreviations, English, 2011 www.itil-officialsite.com/InternationalActivities/TranslatedGlossaries.aspx . By doing so, impact to operations should be discussed, and ideally addressed as part of the project. It also gives the opportunity for the organization to realize the project’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)Total cost of ownership (TCO) is a financial estimate intended to help buyers and owners determine the direct and indirect costs of a product or system. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_cost_of_ownership .

To make the transition real, prepare a deliverable called the "List of Deliverable Reviewers and Approvers."

This simple document has two core sections: 1) Management Products, and 2) Project Products. The PRINCE23 methodology describes these terms as:

  • Management Products: “A product that will be required as part of managing the project, and establishing and maintaining quality (for example, highlight report, end stage report etc.). The management products stay constant, whatever the type of project, and can be used as described, or with any relevant modifications, for all projects. There are three types of management product: baselines, records and reports.4
  • Project Products: “What the project must deliver in order to gain acceptance.5


Here is an example:

Moreover, identifying the author, reviewers and distribution list for each deliverable brings the following benefits:

  1. Deliverable stakeholders are identified
  2. The right people can be involved before the deliverable is started so that they can shape and influence its preparation ensuring that requirements are met
  3. Assurance that essential stakeholders actively participate in reviewing the project's outcome
  4. Avoids a deliverable from being reviewed by a cast-of-thousands” while not getting approved
  5. Guides consultants on who to consult and engage in the preparation of their deliverables


The key point of identifying owners of the Project Products is that it forces operations to be engaged during the project planning to arrange for a handover.

A transition planned from the beginning may lessen the “it’s my babby” syndrome. This may reduce some people’s power created by being indispensable which, in turn benefits the organization by avoiding a single-point-of-failure. Some people may actually want to be on projects if they know that it won't become their lifelong career.


Related:



Category:
Implementation > People
Implementation > Project Management



1. Project Management Institute (PMI), “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” (PMBOK Guide – Fifth Edition), 2013 www.pmi.org
2. Handover: The transfer of ownership of a set of products to the respective user(s). The set of products is known as a release. There may be more than one handover in the life of a project (phased delivery). The final handover takes place in the Closing a Project process. “Best Management Practice portfolio: common glossary of terms and definitions” Version 1, October 2012 https://www.axelos.com/Corporate/media/Files/Glossaries/AXELOS-Common-Glossary.pdf
3. PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) The standard UK government methodology for project management. See www.prince-officialsite.com for more information.
4. “Best Management Practice portfolio: common glossary of terms and definitions” Version 1, October 2012 https://www.axelos.com/Corporate/media/Files/Glossaries/AXELOS-Common-Glossary.pdf
5. “Best Management Practice portfolio: common glossary of terms and definitions” Version 1, October 2012 https://www.axelos.com/Corporate/media/Files/Glossaries/AXELOS-Common-Glossary.pdf


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