Great question from the PMI group. I’ll look at a couple of ways to handle this depending upon the tools you are using. If you have projects that are part of a program that have separate plans… Then you have an issue where you need to have working sessions to determine cross dependencies. That being said, there are a couple of ways to identify views of your “Program” plan which will have all of the cross dependencies in it as well as critical path items represented from each of the sub programs. I think we need to establish some assumptions on the environment that you have. I’ll show 3 scenarios:
In Option 1. The Pro is you have complete control. The cons are too many to list so let’s just identify what you will have to do to manage external dependencies…
1. List each Critical Path item and below that show all dependencies below it. this would potentially show one Task with different project tasks below it.
2. Show the same view but based upon your resource. Subtasks will show what projects this resource is associated with.
Ideally you would be using a tool that allows that. If not, you should have each of the sub project plans reference their external dependencies in their plan as a milestone with the “EXT” in front of the task name. It can be a milestone task and then any of the items that are dependent on it will be listed properly. Any changes to the expected task completion will need to be communicated amongst the team (most likely in the weekly status meeting) hopefully as it happens. Some PM’s do not like to have other people’s tasks represented in their plan because the think they will be editing their plans, or possibly negatively impacting their plans. That is exactly why you do want them in there, you just have to clearly identify them as external and diligently follow up on them.
When dealing with multiple plans, I usually have a single Integrated Project Plan which pulls out program specific tasks as well as all Critical path items from each sub project. If you don’t have a tool that combines all this for you you need to create some “standards” across your sub projects so you have consistency. As an example to set up your programs so you can track interdependencies:
Now you have the information identified so you can produce reporting and status against those key tasks (note: You might tag a summary item as critical path representing multiple child tasks).
Here’s an example of how this looks. note: I am using our online tool for this, but you can do the same thing in Excel. In Fact our online tool was created from the excel tools that did this.
There are 3 items in this dependency across 3 different projects within the same program. The key here is they are each being managed by different project managers, but because of the online tool, there is automatic updates across projects. If we back up one level and track by updates, then there would be 3 separate tasks that are managed by 3 separate PM’s that ar eupdated manually in each of their plans.
You can now provide status updates on cross project Critical Path items:
This is only reportable if you have put standards in place so you can report off of them.
I will be speaking at the OC-PMI Leadership conference on September 10th 2016! Please feel free to research and hopefully register for this event. It will be in Anaheim CA. I will be speaking about Tools and Tools Maturity within an organization as well as a Project Manager’s tool chest.
This session will cover 3 levels of tools maturity:
Thanks and I hope to see you there!
Contract Program Manager ☁ Contract Project Manager ☁ IT Professional ☁ PMO In A Box Founder