Critical Action Planning – How to Manage Through Poor Visibility (e.g. Concept Phase Projects)

English: Tree in fog Visibility next to nothin...
English: Tree in fog Visibility next to nothing on bridleway through Foxlane Plantation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Managing concept phase projects is challenging with any project management tool or technique, because you start with almost no certainty about the tasks that will be needed. We can surely imagine some work on concept brainstorming, preliminary requirements definitions, market research, component ordering, prototyping, concept testing, and report writing. But it’s really hard to be much more granular than that, when we haven’t even defined requirements or brainstormed concepts yet.

What’s a Critical Action project manager to do?

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Critical Action Planning – Eleven Best Practices For Managing Long lead Items

FabricaRusia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vendors have lead times. New custom components can have really long lead times. Long lead components are the most incompressible of project tasks, so you need to manage them closely.

I’ve seen all the screw-ups: parts and orders misplaced, fires at vendor plants, incoming inspection backlogs, you name it. As a project manager, it’s your job to prevent these errors and keep the trains running on time.

Here’s how.

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Critical Action Planning – How to Manage and Measure Scope and Progress

Scopes change. It’s practically a law of physics. Even if the overall project goals don’t really change, we often find that the project is harder to accomplish than we originally thought. During the project we often discover a need for new features, or our regulatory strategy changes.

Critical Action Planning makes it easy to incorporate and quantify scope changes. In fact, simple quantification of scope and progress is one of the key benefits of the Critical Action Planning approach. It’s a by-product of the technique, that requires virtually no extra work.

Here’s how.

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Critical Action Planning – Why “Division of Responsibility” Is The Wrong Approach

Within a medical device project, “division of responsibility” among project team members is usually the default. “Division of responsibility” enables team members to feel ownership of major components of product design and simplifies accountability for project managers. What’s not to like?

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Critical Action Planning – Seven Keys To Prioritizing the Task Backlog

New day, new data, new priorities. Like all Agile approaches, overall project execution is optimized when the highest priority tasks are performed in each “Select-Perform-Assess” cycle. So great project performance depends on great prioritization.

The project manager should expect to spend significant time every week re-prioritizing the Project Backlog, with the help of the team, incorporating project learnings and new information from the outside world into the existing project plan.

I’ve identified seven keys to Project Task prioritization, which actually can be used with any type of project management. For example, while dependencies in Gantt charts create a natural sequence of many project tasks, Gantts provide no prioritization when multiple tasks are ready to be started.

While perfection is surely the enemy of the good when it comes to task prioritization, an analytical approach can reduce errors and help the team achieve consensus on priorities. Here are the seven keys I recommend.

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