Friday, 29 June 2012

When a risk becomes an issues is this a nightmare or walk in the park..?

When a risk becomes an issue should the update to the Product owner and Board be a nightmare on Elm street on a Friday evening at midnight or a walk in the park on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon?

A fly on the wall look at the face to face meeting with the Product owner / Sponsor and the communication to the Board.

It was 3.30pm on a miserable Thursday afternoon in November and it was time for our regular Product owner catch up & status review. We were 3 weeks in...

I walked in to Jade's office in my usual friendly fashion.  We exchanged pleasantries about the project and the team.

What really mattered though was that there was a possibility that we might be delayed or even worse, deliver late! I knew that Jade would hit the roof if this became our reality.  This was a crucial time for the business and particularly for Jade as she was determined to see this project deliver before the end of the fiscal in August.  Moreover, this implementation was one of the items promised to the markets last year at the AGM.

Forget the fact that it actually took 3 months to get the final approval from the board to proceed.  I was still tasked with turning the vision into reality and that it happened in the time left before the next AGM in August.

Jade motioned for me to sit down, we discussed general progress this week and I explained how the risk that we had discussed 2.5 weeks ago at kick off may manifest because the Lead Architect's wife, Margaret,  had been admitted to hospital at the beginning of the week and was in a serious condition.  Margaret was 7 months pregnant and had given up work at 3 months as she has suffered 2 previous miscarriages and her doctor had suggested that she needed to spend more time resting.

Joe had been completing the design, engaging with different teams within the organisation and working tirelessly to get the design completed in the 3 weeks agreed ready to be sent out for review.

2.5 weeks ago, the Program Board had agreed for us to move forward, the business plan incorporating the CBA was complete and approved,  the PID incorporating the high level plan had been approved and Project Charter had been issued.  The design had started, the first 2 developers had been released for their induction, after weeks of tryng to persuade their line Manager that they were the best resources for the task ahead and if we were to deliver on time, to scope and within budget and the BA was in place. Everyone was doing their thing.

After the kick- off meeting I had met with the team, started to expand the plan, the Architect design was coming together then suddenly, a text message came through on Monday, while I was on the train coming into the office, "I won't be in today, Margaret's been admitted to hospital and is under observation. I'll call you later. Joe"

So after months of Jade trying to convince the entire business of the need to actually start this project a spanner out of the blue had lodged in our wheel of progress and we had no idea when Joe would return.

Joe had rang me on Monday afternoon and again this morning as I had specifically requested that if he was not likely to be back within a couple of days that I would appreciate it if he let me know in time for my meeting with Jade today.

I was disappointed as I knew what Jade  had gone through to secure funding and approval to get us this far, so I could imagine how she was going to feel when I shared the news.

After the meeting, I  discussed my suggested mitigation with the team and with Joe on a conference call and we all agreed that this would be the best Approach till Joe came back to work.

On Friday morning, I went to see Jade, after having another brief chat with Joe and shared our mitigation strategy.  I would send out the document to all the key stakeholders in its current form and ask for initial comments by  Wed next week. This would enable everyone to at least get early visibility of the design, even though it was not complete.

Yes we lost a week, but because the team understood the challenge we decided that this was the best mitigation in the circumstances.   There was simply no tolerance in the plan.  Jade and I shared this approach with the rest of the board who accepted the risk and also agreed that Development could begin even though the Design was not yet approved.

A nightmare on Elm street or a walk in the park?

What would you have done differently?