Integrity Management

A project has its essential complexity (science part of project mgt.) which can be divided and conquered. A project also has its man-made or accidental complexity (art part of project mgt.) which can’t be divided and conquered. The high accidental complexity can impact and make the essential complexity unmanageable. Almost all PPM tools on the market today don’t support integrity management that systems in the financial service industry commonly support. The lack of integrity protection results in distortions that have affected over 70% of projects failed.  According to Project Management Statistics 2022, only 23% of organizations are using project management software today. 77% of organizations manage projects manually today because the management data provided by the project management tools aren’t useful. PPM can provide you rich functionality with good integrity protection.

Why multiple sources of truth (MSOT) hurts

Let’s suppose that you have three different teams working on your project and each week they report to you their status is “on time within budget” and you report to your superiors accordingly. When your project is over 90% complete and you do the final check-in with your three teams, then you find out that each team was only on track if they defined their goals incorrectly. The project as a whole is not on track at all. All of a sudden, your project is changed from over 90% to 50% complete.

Real-life stories similar to the above are very common in project management, see The Myth of 90% Complete. And don’t think the problem is just how the 3 teams defined their goals. If in your next project, you pay special attention to how your teams define their goals and you will still have a reasonable chance to have a 90% complete problem, but perhaps for a different reason.

The root cause of the problem is multiple sources of truth (MSOT0. When people sense that their environment allows MSOT, they often take advantage of it.

How multiple sources of truth (MSOT) is created

Using the above example of three different teams working on a project, if each team uses one MPP file to record its progress, then it will have 3 sources of truth.

Multiple sources of truth (MSOT) also often come from people’s lies by omission. For example, a task is late and its responsible person is not reporting it and wants to wait until another task on the critical path is reported to be late so that the entire project schedule will be adjusted and her task will no longer be later under the new schedule.

How PPM maintains single source of truth (SSOT)

PPM maintains the information of each project information in a centralized database. The project information that each project stakeholder sees comes from the same database and is being displayed or refreshed in real-time. When a project stakeholder is changing his or her task information, the change will go into the database in real-time.

What are other project integrity issues that PPM can avoid?

  • Garbage-in Garbage-out
  • Even with SSOT, it doesn’t mean that people can’t do “garbage-in, garbage-out”. For example, you are the maker of the design spec deliverable and you claim that it is 100% complete. PPM will not accept it is 100% complete until the planned checker (usually whom the deliverable is being delivered to) reviews and accepts the deliverable. This is called the 4-eyes principle or maker/checker control which is commonly used in information systems in the financial service industry.

  • % of Complete
  • Besides using policies such as maker/checker to control the % of complete in the activity level (leaf level) of the work breakdown structure (WBS), PPM doesn’t allow users to directly input % of complete to non-leaf nodes. The system automatically computes the % of complete of each non-leaf node based on the % of complete of its offspring to avoid lies at the top.

  • Change and Re-approval
  • Depending on the preset enterprise policies, changes to a project outside of the policies will trigger re-approval. This is to avoid changing the project plan without letting the stakeholders know.

  • Baseline
  • A project plan & execution is baselined each time it is being approved or re-approved. A project stakeholder can always compare the current project plan & execution to any previous baseline to see the difference.

  • Audit Trail
  • For every change to the project plan & execution, PPM maintains the audit trail which is non-erasable. The automated audit trail captures people’s behaviors in the project and allows the environment to be more transparent.

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