Sports are often touted as building character and developing the ability for individuals to work more effectively in teams. Intuitively, this makes sense, but beyond competitiveness and socialization, it can be hard to identify precise parallels between sports and business. But, after 30 years of coaching while working through FIFA national level classes, I think there are some important parallels between effective game tactics and strategy, and effective project management using FlowWright PM software.
To effectively execute projects or to effectively compete on a soccer field, making play predictable for your team is mission one. In soccer, you coach your players that defensively (example at below left) that risk always flows in one direction so that it can be contained by design by other team members, and when executing on attack you coach your players to recognize opportunities based on what the other team presents (see below image).
The same principles are at work in executing projects. To execute, you plan carefully and make sure that everyone can predict what everyone else is doing in order to achieve high quality and efficiency. And, it is important to plan risk to flow in predictable directions and have plans in place for how to deal with that risk. There are two ways to go about employing good project execution:
- Use standard tools like MS Project or Oracle’s Primavera in combination with relentless project oversight and flawless communication, or
- Use FlowWright PM to capture planning and ensure real-time oversight and communication are happening according to plan.
For a complex project, just as in the case of a real test match, under-preparing leads inevitably to losing. “Every battle is won before it is fought,” is a common coaches mantra. And it is true. And using MS Project or Oracle Primavera to plan and execute leads to unnecessary inefficiencies and delays that result in cost and schedule overruns. Why is this? Because:
- Relationships between tasks (dependencies) are very difficult to capture
- Tasks themselves are simply named, not defined in the plan
- Plans are prone to cosmetic changes that don’t comport with real time/cost impact
- Communicating a plan to a team via a list of tasks does not work well
- Task execution and order of execution are not enforced or verified
- There is no accurate, real-time understanding of project status and progress
- Team members, especially when projects take place across sites and silos, have very poor visibility into project
- Plans typically include only optimal execution plan: few contingencies are built into plan
What the above means is that the typical approach relies on “just being good” instead of building out planning infrastructure that ensures that the project is successful before it even begins. Inevitably, projects run this way end up depending on poll planning, which is massively time consuming and injects significant schedule and/or financial costs.
Using FlowWright PM ensures that the project battle is won before it is fought. FlowWright PM allows project managers and teams to build a project plan in a workflow form, where all dependencies and contingencies are captured:
In addition, each task is described thoroughly during planning, including:
- References to SOPs or guidelines (if needed,)
- Checklists or general description of task,
- Who the task is assigned (person or group)
- Task duration, man-hour time, earned value,
- Communication requirements (acknowledgement, reminder, time-out)
- Where documents/work product should be automatically captured during execution
The advantage of graphical configuration is clear: everyone on the team can understand a plan, understand their own roles, and contribute to make the plan more robust. Where there is risk associated with a project plan, the workflow can accommodate that risk by building in contingent paths - and a plan can also be modified to assure no risk as needed.
During execution, FlowWright PM's advantages are even more apparent:
- All tasks are delivered to each participant in real-time
- Real-time graphical progress is available to project managers and participants
- Critical paths are also shown in real-time and shift to reflect on-the-ground progress
- Managers can re-assign tasks as needed
- Documents/work product are captured in context
- Real-time reports show progress versus plan (tasks, man-hours, earned value)
Because execution is linked to the plan, and because team members indicate task completion electronically, the project team knows exactly what has been done and what needs to be done. Anticipated risks are managed according to plan, and unanticipated risks can be reacted to by managers in real-time - when decisions can still make a difference.
Where FlowWright is executed electronically via a browser interface, it makes running complex projects that involve multiple sites and disciplines more feasible and much more effective.
This is the way to win the game before it is even played: put the time into to build a plan that is fault-tolerant and give team members a clearly actionable set of tasks. Let our team help you today!