It’s one thing to build a project definition and the workplan. It’s another thing to effectively manage the project. If the project manager could just could create the plan and the work assignments and have everyone complete their activities on-time, your life would be much easier. However, the process of managing the team and the workplan is more complex than that.

Therefore, to understand how the project is proceeding and to ensure that it stays on track, management controls are needed. The project manager needs to go around and ask people how they are doing. The project manager also needs people to tell him or her how they are doing in status reports and status meetings. These activities make up your overall project management process for managing the workplan. However, team members do not always respond well to these processes for a number of reasons.

They may think the processes are cumbersome and keep them from completing their deliverables.

They may feel they will be punished for bringing bad news or doing things incorrectly.

They may not feel the project management processes are effective.

They may have a normal human tendency to rebel against processes that feel like controls.

The processes may not be comprehensive or make sense. Team members may have tried to follow the processes, but found they were not complete or they were not supported by other people.

They may feel that the project manager is not following the procedures and so the team doesn’t feel like they need to either.

They may see other people going around the processes without consequences.

Knowing and recognizing these normal human tendencies will help design a set project management processes that are appropriate to the project being managed. The project manager also needs to communicate the processes effectively, including the overall value to the project. Once discussed with the team, it is important to apply the processes consistently for them to be adopted successfully on the project.

Who Should Update the Workplan?

In most projects the project manager is responsible for the workplan and updates it on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. In most projects the project manager is the only one that is allowed to update the plan. However, there are some options, especially for larger projects.

In some large projects, the project manager asks each team member to update the workplan with a current status and effort hours (if the effort hours are being tracked). In this scenario, the team members normally indicate whether their assigned work is completed. If not, they identify the percentage of the activity that is complete, or adjust the end-date to reflect when the activity will be complete. They can also plug in their actual effort hours for each activity so far. In most cases, team members are not allowed to assign themselves to new work, add new activities or otherwise alter the workplan. After the team members update the plan with current status, the project manager can begin to evaluate the overall project status.

For very large projects, it is also common for one or more workplan administrators to be assigned to update the workplan with actuals on behalf of the project manager. They can get information from team members and update current status and actual hours worked. They can run a standard set of reports for the project manager and get additional information from team members for anything that looks unusual. The workplan administrators bring this all to the project manager for final analysis and evaluation. The bottom line is that the additional staff perform much of the logistics associated with the workplan, but it is still the responsibility of the project manager to understand what is going on and make the appropriate decisions to complete the project successfully.

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