Change Management
January 7, 2013

Coaching your project to gold

We are coming off the high of cheering for Canada’s finest athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic games in London this past summer. Like any project, the performance of this multi-year effort of preparation culminating in the Games can be assessed.

By definition a project is a temporary endeavor with a defined beginning and end undertaken to meet specific goals and objectives. The Olympic Games are the final stage in an intensive athlete training project. While the training objectives for each athlete are different, the goal of any Olympic athlete is the same: to bring home a medal and establish themselves as one of the best in the world in their chosen sport.  

All through their “project,” athletes need to see progress: faster times, longer distances, and so on. Performance measurement and intermediate target setting play a major role in making this happen.

However, there is an often forgotten team member of an athlete’s Olympic training “project”: the coach.  The coach is an expert in his/her field, providing guidance and encouragement to the athlete, pointing out what can be improved and identifying corrective actions based upon the intermediate performance measures.

The definition of a coach is not dissimilar to that of an independent project reviewer. A project review is an independent assessment of project performance and applied project management practices, the result of which is to provide improvement recommendations throughout the project lifecycle and contribute to meeting the expected results. An athletic coach also provides an independent assessment of an athlete’s performance and recommends ways to improve his/her performance. Like a coach, a project reviewer is the eyes and ears observing and guiding a project though its lifecycle, based upon evidence-based performance measures.

A project review is most effective when it is conducted by an independent third party. An objective approach to an assessment of project performance enhances the credibility of a project review by providing reasonable assurance from an independent source that a true and fair review has been conducted.  

Another important quality of a project reviewer is solid project and performance management experience.  An ideal reviewer has past experience implementing projects and the credibility needed when providing recommendations resulting from the review.

A project gate is a formal checkpoint where progress and performance are assessed against the original plan based on the project performance framework. The number of gates varies depending on the project. However, a performance framework and associated metrics are established at the beginning gates; later gates are when the project’s performance is assessed against progress made. Formalized independent reviews performed at predetermined points or gates during the project permit performance and results to be reviewed and recommendations made to support decision making.
 
An independent reviewer will ascertain project objectives and performance indicators as well as ask the tough questions such as, “Is the project accomplishing what it set out to do? Is it still worth allocating organizational resources to? Are there any course corrections that need to take place?” Based on the answers to these questions, management can implement the improvement recommendations and, at the next gate, the independent project reviewer will then ascertain how well these improvements have worked, as well as continue to assess ongoing project performance.  

Like an athletic coach, an independent project reviewer understands what it takes to be successful and provides guidance based on experience and independent observation. To optimize the achievement of project objectives and outcomes, consider planning for independent project reviews at each of your project gates. This may be the decision that will drive your project to gold.

Carmelina Calarco, PMP, is a senior consultant in the Planning and Performance practice with Interis Consulting (Carmelina.Calarco@interis.ca). Catherine Hoople, PMP, CMC, is a principal in the Transformation and Change practice with Interis Consulting (Catherine.Hoople@interis.ca).  

Sidebar
An Independent Project Review:

•    Is an independent assessment of a project’s progress and performance;
•    Provides “coaching” to the project team to maximize team performance;
•    Is conducted at pre-determined intervals or “gates” in the project lifecycle;
•    Asks tough questions such as “is the project accomplishing what it set out to do”; and
•    Provides specific improvement recommendations to management.

About this author

0 comments

There are no comments for this post yet.

Be the first to comment. Click here.

Change Management
 
In the show today, J. Richard Jones talks with Dean McKeown,...
 
Leadership, service delivery, change management, performance measurement, big data, transparency, digital...
 
The “Magic Loogie” scene is vintage Seinfeld. It is a pastiche...
 
Welcome to the fall edition of CGE. Since our last issue,...
 
We risk missing out on the potential “Artificial Intelligence” has to...
 
In the 5th century BC, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem....
 
From research to policy implementation, Canadian public servants possess the knowledge...
 
We all ask why governments fail, often spectacularly, to carry out...
 
Citizens are embracing technology as it rapidly changes. The experience that...
 
Federal efforts to increase the use of data to inform and...
 
Emerging technologies are getting faster and smarter. Cognitive capabilities, robotics and...
 
Canadian Government Executive is honoured to have Michael Wernick, Clerk of...
 
On a recent visit to Ottawa, I had the opportunity to...
 
Does your organization have a very narrow view of what digital...
 
With businesses and government agencies increasingly operating in a highly information-based...
 
Canadian Government Executive media through its upcoming TechGov event is providing the...
 
The answer my friends is blowin’ in the wind … BOB...
 
There’s no shortage of organizations claiming to have a digital transformation...
 
Laskey Hart guest hosts CGE Radio this week with a summary...
 
Rules and accountability are helpful in developing and standardizing processes but...
 
Canada’s top soldier said the Armed Forces continue to be locked...
 
It’s a common notion that young workers born in the mid-1990s...
 
In order to find out which strategies and priorities CFOs are...
 
A small but rapidly growing number of businesses have started hiring...
 
As populations grow and age, the demand for services increases. As...
 
Computer software company Adobe, has migrated more than 11 million pages...
 
Here’s some bad news for organizations contemplating projects that have something...
 
The facility of a top-secret military communications group in Borden, Ontario...
 
As the adoption rate of big data technologies among Canadian companies...
 
By Craig Killough In March of this year, the Prime Minister’s Advisory...
 
Written by  Roxanne Descôteaux When I first became a manager over...
 
Every four years, on average, Canadians elect a government from among...
 
It’s no secret that LEAN has demonstrated great success in the...
 
There have been a great number of change initiatives in the...
 
If you ask any municipal Chief Administrative Office (CAO) across Canada...
 
Change is difficult. The psychology of loss aversion means we are...
 
After serving in the public service for 24 years, Norman shares...
 
The federal government, through Shared Services Canada, is focusing on integrating...
 
The Centre for Creative Leadership has published a paper called Public...
 
“Finding efficiencies” might be an overused cliché, but allied defence forces...
 
Are you overwhelmed by your to-do list? Does so much of...
 
The idea of a merger of DFAIT and CIDA is not...
 
If your internal planning and reporting systems seem “archaic,” how do...
 
Strange as it may seem, a majority of us would opt...
 
What characterizes successful change management? Six leaders and leadership teams will...
 
The British Columbia Public Service is vying for talent in an...
 
In times of change, middle managers make the difference. Sandwiched between...
 
Once again, Policy Horizons Canada has prepared exclusively for CGE a...
 
Like an athletic coach, an independent project reviewer understands what it...
 
In October, Wayne Wouters, Clerk of the Privy Council, received CAPAM’s...
 
As young public servants, members of the national Federal Youth Network...
 
Canada’s North is at the forefront of unprecedented change and the...
 
Public sector reform can be like falling down a rabbit hole...
 
Transforming Government for the Future...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.4 April 2007 “On any journey, it is important...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.4 April 2007 How will Canada keep on top...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.2 February 2007 So you think you’ve got it...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 Consider the following recent history: Ontario...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.6 June 2007 Learning and development are best achieved...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.5 May 2007 Peter Harder retired recently. He served...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.5 May 2007 Karen Ellis est vice-présidente de la...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.3 March 2007 Many leaders view change as an...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.2 February 2007 The 2005 centennial celebration of the...
 
CGE Vol. 14 No.5 May 2008 Crown relations with First Nations...
 
A strange paradox has emerged in the quest for Gov 2.0....
 
While the focus in recent years has been on Web 2.0...
 
How can an organization work seven times faster when it knows...
 
À titre d’employée de la fonction publique de l’Ontario (FPO), j’ai...
 
As an employee of the Ontario Public Service, I’ve been looking...
 
The 2011 federal election has focused on policy and leadership. But...
 
À l’instar de nombreux autres employeurs, la fonction publique de l’Ontario...
 
Like many employers, the Ontario Public Service (OPS) has a sizeable...
 
Unless you have been working in a silo, it is obvious...
 
Le problème actuel n’est pas seulement le départ à la retraite...
 
It’s not just that executives are about to retire – it’s...
 
Au cours des derniers mois, de nombreux fonctionnaires fédéraux ont dépoussiéré...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Most observers will be acutely aware...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.8 October 2007 The biggest challenge facing government executives...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.7 September 2007 Julius Caesar left us with one...
 
Don’t trust anyone over thirty, Jerry Rubin pronounced in 1967. Jerry,...
 
Wondering why it sometimes seems so blankety-blank hard to get anything...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Not long ago, an energetic web...
 
« Toutes choses étant, par une puissance immortelle, de près ou de...
 
Half a millennium since first contact between Aboriginal peoples and European...
 
In terms of performance measurement, incentives for success and penalties for...
 
Changer la culture des employés un outil à la fois Le...
 
Quote of the week “We manage our books really well and...
 
"All things by immortal power, Near and Far, Hiddenly To each...
 
The Internet is a key channel for public service delivery. Recent...
 
Quote of the week “What was clear when you visited some...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.10 December 2007 When new policy collides with entrenched...
 
Quote of the week “(P)ublic service should be a career of...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.9 November 2007 Youth…still wasted on the young. It’s...
 
Quote of the week “Government can’t simply step into the void...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.8 October 2007 When Pat Collins left Ottawa in...
 
Quote of the week “…civil servants may be intractable points of...
 
CGE Vol.13 No.7 September 2007 By: Guy D’Aloisio, Mchel Laurendeau, V....
 
Quote of the week “…thinking government is necessarily the solution to...
 
Quote of the week “If there is gravy at city hall,...
 
Quote of the week “The IPAC DM/CAO survey…provides insight into your...
 
Some title Some author
Some excerpt
In the show today, J. Richard Jones talks with Dean McKeown,...