Project Execution Phase: Where All the Action Happens

Direct and manage project executionPlanning is a crucial part of project management. Planning is where the car is washed, fuel-tank and tire pressure is checked, headlights and tail lamps are inspected before you go on a long drive.

The real fun is when you start the journey.

Direct and Manage Project Work is the process in Execution process group in PMBOK, which enables project manager get the actual work done that produces deliverables. A stage where stakeholders’ expectations are met, where project team produces what the business needs.

What does a project produce?

Deliverable.

And something else..

..defects!

In spite of team’s best efforts to produce flawless deliverable, the Quality team finds defects. Upon analysis you may decide to make changes to some of the steps in producing deliverable. At times, you may also discover that customer is not happy with some aspects of the deliverable.

When that happens you raise a change request, get it approved and implement those changes. Hence approved change requests are one of the inputs to Direct and Manage Project Work process.

What else can lead to a change request?

These are some of the reasons for change requests –

  • Team did not clearly understand what customer wanted and did the work
  • At lower level of requirements, team made few assumptions and did not verify them with the customer
  • Team did understand what customer wanted, but while it was at work customer changed some of her expectations and the end result was not to her satisfaction
  • After customer saw the deliverable, she figured out that it was not exactly what she had in mind in the first place. Now she wants some changes in the output produced.
  • Based on quality control team’s recommendations some of the steps need to be changed to produce better quality output

First the required changes are identified, analyzed, documented and then run through a change control board (CCB) to get approved.

And there is a way to do it. In fact, there is a specific process to do it. We will discuss it in a post on Perform Integrated Change Control.

Exam pointer: During the course of project execution several change requests may come up (we will see how in the project management activity to monitor project work and control deviation from plan). Each of these will be looked at to assess their impact on six constraints – time, scope, costs, quality, resources, risk. Only approved change requests are then considered to work upon.

Change requests can happen due to these reasons – Preventive action, Corrective action, Defect repair, and Customer requested changes. Click on this post to know more about these.

Considerations in project execution phase

The change requests approved by change control board are the main aspect to look at, apart from Project management plan which talks about what and how project work is to be done.

Several subsidiary plans from project management plan such as scope management plan, schedule management plan and cost management plan are going to be referred to in this process.

Organizations usually have defined policies and templates around configuration management, defects management, communications management and these become Organizational process assets inputs to this process. There can be more such inputs, such as lessons learnt from similar projects executed earlier and project files, and these are very helpful.

How this is done?

Nothing beats expert judgment, as you are dealing with lot of unknowns during project execution. This is a core tool for managing projects. You could be talking to other project managers, subject matter experts, industry leaders, stakeholders or consultants to get advice.

Project management information systems such as scheduling, managing, tracking tools and configuration management tools are also quite essential.

Meetings held with team, customer and appropriate stakeholders to brainstorm, discuss, evaluate, and decide course of action. This is an important input to this process, but as with anything project manager must ensure that these meetings are held in true spirit and they do not end up wasting people’s time.

What gets produced in a project execution phase?

  • Deliverable – of course. A deliverable is any verifiable product, service or result (remember, PSR) that a project produces.
  • Change requests – whenever project is executed and deliverable are churned out, change request become part of them. We saw what constitutes change requests at the beginning of this post.
  • Work performance data – these are the raw data during project such as schedule progress, costs incurred, quality measurements.
  • Issue log – of course, you’d expect issues to crop up when work is getting done. They are logged into the Issue log.
  • Project management plan updates – whenever work is executed or change requests are raised there could be a change to plans or baselines.
  • Project documents updates – such as requirements documents, risk register, and stakeholder register.

Project work while being executed, any deviation to the plans are also monitored, where checks and balances are put in place to make sure that everything is going according to the plan. One faces various challenges during project execution, and in my own experience the top two that hit hard are (a) assumptions in requirements (b) customers’ ever changing expectations.

What have been some of the nagging challenges you have faced during project execution?

In the next lesson, we shall look at another very important outcome in a project while project work is being executed!

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Folu Obe November 19, 2020, 12:42 am

    Nice one, very informative.

  • Pandurang Chavan November 22, 2019, 7:32 am

    Very informative thanks