Steve Glover would like to thank Jeffrey L. Green, director of IT product management at IMS HEALTH, for his contribution to this month's column.

We have been discussing those unique aspects of data warehouse development that the project manager needs to especially accommodate. (See the July/August 1999 DM Review column, "Project Management and Data Warehousing.") Equally important are the "Project Management 101" actions that will also impact successful development in the data warehouse arena. This month's column highlights some key actions of the successful project manager.

Use Formal Change-Management Process. Despite the good intentions of all, "scope creep" in projects inevitably occurs. The key to keeping it from dooming a project is to prepare to deal with it directly when it occurs. Up front, you need to impress on the person paying the bills that:

A. The cost and completion time frame are directly dependent on the defined scope.

B. During the course of the project, things may be requested that are outside of the scope; if implemented, these things invariably will cause the costs to increase and the time frame to lengthen.

C. You will use your judgment to determine when a request is out of scope.

D. You will document out-of-scope requests, defining cost and schedule increases that will result if implemented, along with your recommendations on what should or should not be done.

E. It will be up to the person paying the bills to decide if and when a request gets implemented.

Get Formal Sign-Offs. When you request a signature on a good old-fashioned paper document, the effect on the person being asked to sign is amazing. The document is taken more seriously. It is read and evaluated more critically and may be shown to others for their input. A greater sense of responsibility on the part of the signer seems to be almost magically instilled. There is tacit understanding that the contents of the document accurately represent the understanding, desire and agreement of the signer. You can actually force recognition of responsibility for the accuracy of the contents as well as accountability for the consequences of inaccuracy.

Don't Sugarcoat Bad News. It is a lot easier to share good news than bad. It is human nature to want to please others, particularly in a work setting, and especially a project's stakeholders. So most of us tend to "spin" bad news so that it does not sound quite so bad. There is nothing wrong with putting things in perspective and being tactful. However, taken too far, you run the risk of having the impact of real issues and problems not fully appreciated. Sooner or later, this will result in a major disappointment. It is better to let people know right away what the problem is, what the impact will be and what will be done to address it, even if it results in a canceled project. The time to go through the thought process is when there is an option to cancel rather than be stuck later with the results and wasted resources.

Don't be Afraid to Say No. This is a close corollary to "don't sugarcoat bad news." By now everybody has heard that given enough money and time, you can pretty much do anything. But a project manager who manages change by never saying no is not a true leader. Certainly you should try to deal with requested changes mapping out how they might be accomplished. The danger comes when you do not exercise your judgment in evaluating these things and, when appropriate, firmly state that you cannot support what you know should not be done. By the way, you may be surprised how much respect you will get for not necessarily going with the flow.

Learn to Exert Influence in a Matrix Environment. Large, complex projects (and increasingly even not-so-large, complex projects) require a coordinated effort spanning multiple organizational entities. The project manager has to figure out a way to get people not reporting to him or her to do things. A really good project manager is good at doing this. It requires a variety of skills: getting people to embrace a vision, communication and negotiation, to name just a few. In short, it requires good leadership skills.

See a Satisfied Customer as the Ultimate Success. It is important that the project manager adopt a very broad perspective when it comes to satisfying the customer. Completed tasks, budgetary compliance and a grade A project plan with all PERT charts maintained are nothing but interesting footnotes to the true measure of success: a satisfied customer. Experienced project managers continually keep their fingers on the pulse of the customer's satisfaction.

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