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Performing Program Rescue - Measuring Impending Failure.

Posted Feb 14 2011 9:00am

Sometimes, the view from the inside looking outside, is very different from the view of the outside looking inside. As a program manager you need to be cognizant of the Warning Signs of a failing program and know how to right the ship - especially if you have just inherited a program. Over the couple of weeks, we will go through performing program rescue and to address each failing attribute.

We all know programs and projects are deemed a success or failure commonly by two attributes:


  1. On Time

  2. On Budget

But frankly it goes a little deeper than that polyanna perspective. Were the desired business outcomes achieved? Why or Why Not? That is your true measure, after all we do programs and projects to achieve a tactical or strategic goal. So did you get the goal, why or why not? Will you get the goal? What do you need to change to achieve the goal?

Let's take a look at a program, choose one of yours, and I'll go through one of mine. Recently, I inherited a massive directory services consolidation. We are consolidating 65+ directories down to 1 as a foundational program for an enterprise wide ERP system. The goal is to lay the foundation and have everyone on a single directory structure at least 6 months before the ERP system project kicks off at the health system.
So what is our program's measure of success? Assuring the legacy Microsoft and Novell directories are consolidated, 6 months before the ERP system project kicks off.

Now is the time to look at on-time and budget from a grand scale. Let's start with budget. The budget for the whole program is amount YY, however for this fiscal year I have FY10 dollars. Overall my budget is a eighth of the overall. Now let's look a little deeper, what is in the budget. I have software purchases for tools, contractors, and travel.

Next take a look at on-time, we have to complete the consolidation on 8 health systems. However we have only completed 1. We have 2 starting up and 5 to go. Additionally we have 3 of the hardest directories to consolidate on point for this year. This is a 3 year program, and we are expected to convert a third of the volume.

There is a warning sign, we have eight of the overall budget, and need to complete a third of volume. How did you do on your project or program? Please share your comments in the comments section.

Taking a look at the ERP Program, currently they only have three published schedules. So I need to assure I will meet those 3, and they are currently underway with 1 done and 2 ongoing. Going a bit into the weeds for the 2 in process health systems, it appears as if we are slipping on milestones, due to not having resources on boarded. We will need to change the schedule while still keeping it aligned with our commitments to the ERP Program and close the gap between anticipated funding and anticipated conversion volume. Take a close look at your program, for the goal to be achieved what needs to be changed? When starting to determine if you have a failing program take a look at the big picture, what are the desired business outcomes, is the budget and schedule on target to achieve the goal? If it is we will need to look at warning signs, if not what needs to be done to correct the problem?


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