A typical project management methodology (PMM) will facilitate knowledge management, repeatability, comparability, quality, and future impact. An organization that fails to develop and implement a PMM may jeopardize its productivity and potentially its overall success. A common scenario for small- to mid-sized, and indeed even some large companies, is to have a few components of a PMM that arise organically over time, but lack a comprehensive, planned methodology that enables end-to-end management of projects.
A Project Management Framework
GRIDALL is a project management framework that supports the development of a comprehensive PMM. It can be used to build PMMs that sustain project management activities across a wide variety of industries and project types. It can be used when creating a new PMM from scratch, and for assessing existing PMMs for gaps. It can also be used as a teaching tool for junior PMs and for advanced practitioners who are looking to improve their effectiveness.
The GRIDALL model has six components: Goals, Risks, Issues, Decisions, Actions, and Lessons Learned. Each component builds on the previous one in sequence. The most valuable PMM will achieve all six components.
There are seven core tenets of the GRIDALL model:
- Every project needs a goal.
- Every goal has its risks.
- Every risk can become an issue.
- Every issue requires a decision.
- Every decision is followed by actions.
- Every action imparts an opportunity for a lesson learned.
- Every lesson learned can be applied to future goals, risks, issues, decisions, and actions to improve repeatability, quality, and future impact.
While none of these components are novel in and of themselves, the GRIDALL model offers an improvement on more common tools such as ADI logs and RAID logs. First, ADIs and RAIDs are not complete and often leave out some key project information (i.e., goals or lessons learned). Secondly, ADIs and RAIDs do not provide for a continuous flow of project information throughout the project management lifecycle (risks are often considered in a vacuum, not in the context of goals; decisions are often standalone rather than in the context of the issue)—more on this in the next section. Finally, ADIs and RAIDs do not provide a feedback loop where lessons learned can be applied to future goals, risks, issues, decisions, and actions, and thus they do not enable teams to continuously improve on their performance.
GRIDALL as a Project Communications Model
By building the GRIDALL components in sequence, the continuity of information enables better goal realization, risk management, issue resolution, decision making, and action planning. For example, when assessing and communicating risks to other stakeholders, it is important to link the risk back to the project goal that is affected. When presenting an issue to a decision maker (whether it be an individual or a governing body), linking it back to the risk (if previously identified) will help by providing context to the issue. When communicating a decision, linking it back to the issue that faced the team will provide much needed context. When communicating actions, linking back to the decision that was made will provide context into the rationale for choosing the selected path forward.
In the final step, capturing and sharing the details of your journey through the GRIDALL process will enable others to learn from your experience. Acknowledging the lessons learned provides institutional memory that can serve you, your team, and other teams when the same or similar situations come up again. The Lessons Learned step provides a feedback loop to improve repeatability, quality, and future impact.
Using GRIDALL to Assess Your Organization’s Project Management Methodology
I’d like to propose that the GRIDALL project management framework can be used to assess the completeness of your organization’s PMM. When assessing such, consider the following:
- Do we have a clear goal-setting process? Are our goals shared transparently? Are our goals readily accessible?
- Do we manage risks effectively? Are risks documented (i.e., in a risk register) in a place that the team and other appropriate stakeholders can see?
- Do we identify and respond to issues effectively?
- Do we make decisions quickly and correctly? Are decision-making roles clearly defined and understood? Are decisions captured and shared quickly across the project team?
- Are decisions implemented effectively in the form of action plans with clear definitions of who, what, and when?
- Are we gathering lessons learned to share across the organization to improve future efforts?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and have several materials to share with regard to using GRIDALL to fill gaps and potentially improve upon current tools used in your PMM. I’m also interested to see if anyone in the MPUG community is willing to update Microsoft’s Project Accelerator offering by adding a few of the GRIDALL components (i.e., goals, decisions, lessons learned).