OUM and PMI's Pulse of the Profession: The Third in a Series

Welcome to the third blog entry of the series on PMI’s 2012 Pulse of the Profession .  The previous blog entry focused on Key Finding #2: The desire for organizational agility will also lead to increased use of iterative and/or incremental project management methods such as agile and extreme.   That entry discussed how agile methodologies, such as OUM, help to enable agility because they are designed to significantly reduce project risk and deliver value much earlier in the lifecycle than traditional waterfall methodologies.

In this blog entry we will jump into a look at PMI’s Key Finding #3:  As organizations continue to strive for agility, change management and project risk management will become even more important.  It is apparent from the survey results that even with a move to more agile approaches, project management fundamentals are still important in managing a project to a successful conclusion.   In OUM, both change management and risk management are specifically addressed from the perspective of the project manager’s role in the Manage Focus Area.  Since change management and risk management are vital to the success of a project, the concepts are also intertwined into many of the principles and guidance in the in the Implement and Envision Focus Areas.

First up is a look at change management, which is a key aspect of agile methodologies like OUM, because such methodologies recognize the reality that requirements will evolve throughout the life cycle of a software project.  This does not mean the project should succumb to project killers like scope creep or gold plating.  It does mean that the necessary change management controls need to be in place that so we can be proactive in identifying potential changes, analyzing the impact of the change , and determining the appropriate trade-offs and alternatives. 

In OUM, the change management controls and procedures are established in Project Start Up (the first phase of the Manage Focus Area) as part of the [SM] Scope Management process.  This means the scope change management procedures for the project are established early in the project lifecycle.  These procedures then serve as the basis for responding to possible scope changes throughout the life of the project.

The heart of OUM, as with any agile method, is the iterative and incremental approach.  The iterative and incremental approach helps to allow scope changes to be proactively managed because it breaks the development cycle into shorter durations and allows for more frequent customer feedback.  Potential changes are identified early on in the development cycle, when there is still time and budget to make corrections.  When potential changes are identified, the project manager and team can be proactive in following the scope change management procedures established in Project Start Up to evaluate and deal with the scope change.

Risk management is also inherent in the iterative and incremental approach.  We talk about OUM being risk-focused because a key goal of each iteration is to identify and reduce the most significant project risks.  This helps ensure that the project team addresses the most critical risks as early as possible in the project lifecycle.

Risk management in OUM can start at the enterprise level in the [ER] Envision Roadmap process in Envision.  This process contains the ER.120 – Identify and Mitigate Future State Risks task in which possible technology and business risks related to the future state are identified. This may be a list of identified architectural improvement options or a list of candidate projects identified to realize the future state.  Also as part of this task, a recommendation for each risk is developed which provides for a future state that represents the lowest risk path to a lower cost infrastructure that improves the ability of IT to support the key business and technical requirements. 

Risk management for a given project starts during Project Start Up in the [RKM] Risk Management process.  In the beginning of the project, the project manager is responsible for documenting, gaining agreement on, and communicating a structured Risk Management Plan as well as developing a Risk Management System for identifying, documenting and mitigating project risks throughout the lifecycle of the project.  The list of risks developed during the Envision Roadmap can serve as a starting point for identifying the risks specific to the project.

During the project lifecycle, OUM recommends first starting to work on the most complex requirements or use cases, or those use cases that are the least well defined, or by creating prototypes to find out if specific technical solutions are feasible.  As the project progresses, each iteration should be planned and executed to reduce and/or eliminate specific project risks.  In this manner, the project’s overall risk will be systematically drawn down to zero by the end of the project.

There have been numerous studies and stories in the recent press that show that a lack of change management and/or risk management is a major factor in project failure.  Therefore, both change management and risk management guidance is documented in the Manage Focus Area, as well as being woven into the fabric of the Envision and Implement Focus Areas.   Also, the OUM Level 3 Gathering Requirements course contains in-depth coverage of scope definition and risk management from an OUM perspective.

Stay tuned for the next entry in the series which will address Key Finding #4: Organizations will renew their focus on talent development as they look to grow and gain competitive advantage in new markets.    In the meantime, you may want to look at the Project Management in OUM and Tips for Project Managers documents, which contain practical tips and advice on using OUM from experienced project managers.  Both of these documents are found in the References section of the Manage Focus Area. 

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