Continuing the theme of the week, interdependencies; and yesterday’s blog post “Programme interdependencies. Domino theory!”
Effective management of the project interdependencies across a programme is critical if the expected success criteria are to be achieved. The number of cross-project deliverables (and cross discipline decisions, shared risks and problems, coordinated tasks, shared resources, reliance on output from other projects, etc.) confronted increases with each additional project thrown into the fray.
The example I provided yesterday demonstrated the magnitude of the interdependency challenge in a programme (two thousand interdependencies to manage across the programme). Unfortunately the effort required to manage these interdependencies increases proportionately as the number of interdependencies proliferates between projects. There becomes a point when the entirety of interdependencies becomes unmanageable, unless an effective and rigorous approach is utilised to regulate the situation across the programme.
A critical factor in managing interdependencies consists of adopting a risk focused approach, especially the identification, management and mitigation of interdependency based risk. This approach also needs to encourage cross-project negotiations to help in the mitigation of risk and improve the likelihood of programme success.
All programme managers understand that risk is a natural part of the programme life-cycle. A programme consisting of projects with complex interdependencies will have a dramatic increase in potential risk factors. Programme managers are not only tasked to synchronize and oversee the interdependencies across the programme, but understand the risks and impacts surrounding the project interdependencies. This will lead to the formulation of more realistic plans for delivery and contingency.
In Tom Kendrick’s excellent book “Identifying and Managing Project Risk: Essential Tools for Failure-Proofing Your Project, Second Edition” he states that “Cross-project dependencies, or interfaces, are one of the biggest sources of program-level risk.” And that “Although project interdependencies may be identified during basic project planning, it is the program manager who is ultimately responsible for managing these relationships and their related risks. Initial planning for these predecessor/successor relationships is done at the project level; managing them may require trade-offs and decisions that cannot be made by individual project leaders. Even when interfaces appear to be under control at the project level, each still represents potentially significant program risk to be managed.”
So next time you are tasked with managing a programme, remember that proactive (identification and) resolution of project interdependencies may well expedite your success.