OUM Manage - The Key to Marital Bliss

During a recent blog on “Applying the Iterative and Incremental Principle”, a follower commented that the waterfall approach was responsible for the demise of his marriage.  He mused that his marriage may have had a chance if he had followed an iterative and incremental approach!

Although this exchange was meant to be amusing, it prompted me to think about the similarity between a conventional marriage and the “marriage” that occurs when an OUM project is initiated.   Without getting into a political debate on the definition of marriage, for the purpose of this blog, let’s consider an OUM Implementation a type of marriage entered into by the Project Manager and the Project Sponsor for the term specified in the contract or Statement of Work (SOW). 

What makes a one marriage successful while another fails?  If you ask five people this question, you would likely receive five different answers based on their unique experience, but I speculate the answers would fall into similar themes:

  • Communication
  • Trust
  • Ability to manage expectations

In OUM Manage, one of the first activities that occur during the Project Startup phase involves the Project Manager and the client (Project Sponsor) jointly creating the Project Management Framework.  This framework establishes the ground rules for the project and is the first step in communicating, establishing trust, and setting expectations.

The key focus for the remainder of the Project Startup Phase is to evolve the Project Management Framework into a detailed Project Management Plan based on the agreed upon foundation.   In prior versions of OUM Manage, the equivalent work product was named the “Terms of Reference”.  Literally, this was the work product referenced to sort out problems when future misunderstandings occurred.   

The PMP establishes, early on, what needs to be done, who should do it, and how it will get done.  Issues and problems are anticipated and resolution approaches are agreed to in advance.  Once the PMP details the who, what, and how, the plan is monitored and updated as the relationship matures and the parties have a better understanding of what works and does not work in their relationship. 

Specifically, the PMP addresses Work Management, Financial Management, Communications Plan, Risk Management, Issue Management, Problem Management, Staff Management, Procurement Management, Infrastructure Management, Quality Management, Organizational Change Management Strategy and more!  I am not a marriage therapist, but I can clearly see the advantage to sitting down and agreeing to these areas early on, and of refining as the relationship grows.   Clearly, the Project Management Plan or PMP is a critical success factor for marital bliss! 

If you think about the positive affect that creating a PMP equivalent would have on a conventional marriage, you should appreciate the value of creating a PMP for every project to increase its chance of success.  Think about the potential issues (risks) that can be mitigated by having a candid discussion on the approach to finances (need I say more?), work responsibilities (who cooks? Who cleans?), staffing (housekeeper or no housekeeper?), Risks (in-laws next door), and Organizational Change Management (kids!) and so on.  If these areas are not discussed until there is a conflict, without a clear approach to how to deal with the potential conflict, the likelihood that trust will erode and the relationship deteriorate increases.

For anyone contemplating marriage – whether conventional or in the project sense, I strongly advice that you emulate OUM Manage and create an equivalent to the Project Management Framework when you are engaged, and that you detail this framework during your engagement -- prior to the nuptials!  If this is done, then you should have much more confidence in the success of the union!

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