How To Get One View of the Truth on Projects

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Have you ever been in one of these situations on your project:

  • The team members disagree about the latest status of a task
  • Someone recalls a decision differently to you and doesn’t agree with the way forward
  • Someone tells you that your data is wrong because when they work it out they get a different answer
  • A stakeholder informs you that they have been told something different by a member of your project team.

Yes? These are all examples of lack of consensus and the inability to stay ‘on message’ within the project team. And why does it happen? Normally because people don’t have one view of the truth.
By that I mean that there are multiple different ways of looking at things related to the project. If you are working out resourcing based on effort you’ll get a different answer to someone working out resourcing based on duration. Budget estimates might include tax, but they might not, and if they don’t, you’ll get different figures to someone else who has worked the prices out including tax.
These are two simple situations and I’m sure you can think of many more where different departments use different databases and sources of data to calculate critical factors and measurements related to their project. There’s no way you can get consensus on data and status if you aren’t all looking at the situation in the same way.
So, what’s the answer? Well, aside from routing all requests for information through you as the project manager (which I do not recommend at all) there is a new way of working that should alleviate these issues.
Enter the digital PMO.

Let’s get digital

The digital PMO is a concept I first came across in a recent article in PM Network by Abid Mustafa. Essentially, it’s a hub for all things project-related, using technology to deliver project-based data to anyone, anywhere at any time and on any mobile device. It’s digital and it’s mobile, and it’s aimed at providing one version of the truth through a number of platforms but presented in a web-friendly way.
The advantage of a digital PMO is that you do get consensus. Based on one source of data, there isn’t any way for someone else to interpret the information differently. And with 72% of companies having a PMO, there is some scope for these to develop the resources they have available online and move to being digital in the near future.

How does it work?

You might already work in a business with a PMO that is fully or partly digital. If you’ve got access to real-time data, dashboards and projects reports accessible online then you’ll know what I am talking about. When you can direct stakeholders to see your project status and data online then it’s much harder for them to misinterpret the situation.
Real-time data is also great for stakeholders as it speeds up decision making. They can see the data they need to make a decision from their iPad or whatever, and then you get the project moving again. No need to wait for the next Project Board, and you are seeing exactly the same as what they are seeing.

Getting started

If you are interested in convincing your PMO to go digital then be aware that there can be a significant investment in time and energy involved. To get one source of the truth you need to have one source of the truth – a single portal or at least a single interface acting as a portal into multiple data sources.
There will also be an obligation to do things differently in other areas: the more you put online, for example, the more your internal customers will expect to deal with you online. Why email through a change request when it’s faster to submit an electronic form and get it approved via an electronic workflow? These are the sort of changes that a digital PMO can implement, but it all takes time (and probably cash too).
Even if you don’t have a digital PMO or the option to invest in databases and online portals you can increase your chance of having one view of the truth on your projects by encouraging your team to look at data in the same way and by recording the rationale behind decisions in a log. Think about other creative things that you could implement in order to keep your whole team on the same page. If you’ve tried something, why not let us know how it turned out in the comments?

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