Episode 8 Week 3 – Friday

Episode 8 Week 3 – Friday

THE STORY SO FAR:

B-Bob has cleared the January 10 Project X delivery date with VBB – the Very Big Boss. It’s Friday afternoon and time for Alice to write her status report.

 

NOW READ ON:

‘What’s so funny?’

It was Reg, who had been passing Alice’s office but seeing her laughing her head off, had looked in.

‘It’s this status report,’ chortled Alice.

‘A status report?’ said Reg. ‘Funny? I’ve seen a few in my time. They were never really that funny.’

Alice flips through the four or five pages of the status report, reciting as she goes. ‘Tasks completed last week, tasks planned for next week, percentage complete, critical issues – ‘

‘Like I said – not that funny. Is it one of ours?’

‘Yeah, I asked if we had a template for status reports and this is what they gave me.

What’s funny about it,’ explained Alice, ‘is that it doesn’t give you the status of the project.’

‘It doesn’t?’

‘No, it doesn’t. Have a look.’

Reg came over, took the report and leafed through it.

‘It kinda does. See up here at the top on the front page – this box that’s coloured green.’

‘Yeah?’

‘So it’s green.’

‘Green?’

‘Yeah – green. As in red / amber / green – you know, like a traffic light. RAG reporting it’s called – red / amber / green /. So a green means it’s on target.’

‘And you’d trust that, Reg, would you?’

It was Reg’s turn to start laughing.

‘Of course not. Everybody around here marks their status reports green. That is until they absolutely can’t hide the truth any longer. That’s why we so many projects here go long. Everything’s hunky dory – green, green, green, week after week and then suddenly they jump out of the cake and it’s red. I think it’s gonna put B-Bob into an early grave. And you know, Alice – deep down, he’s not a bad guy. He just shouldn’t be a manager. Personally, I think he shoulda been a vet. He’s kind to animals – he’s just not that kind to people.’

‘Indeed,’ said Alice. ‘I had a boss once who used to call these kinds of status reports, ‘Day at the Beach’ status reports.

‘Day at the Beach?’

‘Yeah. You know when you were in school, that essay that everybody – no matter what country you went to school in – had to write. It was called ‘A Day at the Beach’ and this is how it went:

Last Saturday we went to the beach in my dad’s car. We went swimming. We ate sandwiches with sand in them. We buried my dad up to his neck in sand. My mum went paddling and a crab bit her toe. We had a picnic. We came home and we tumbled into bed that night tired but happy.’

Yeah, I wrote an essay like that,’ said Reg. Only we used to call it ‘A Day in the Mountains’ – we were a long way from the nearest beach.’

‘Same thing,’ said Alice. ‘The essay and the status report have all the same elements – incidents, colour, excitement, stuff happens, it’s not all good stuff … but there’s the compulsory happy ending – same as your green box. Nobody dies during a day at the beach. Instead, we tumble into bed that night, tired but happy.’

‘So you’re going to introduce a new style of status report?’

‘Sure am.’

‘I’ll look forward to seeing it,’ said Reg and headed out.

Alice turned to her computer and this is what she wrote:

 

X Project

Status Report – Week 3

DISTRIBUTION

Bob, Harry, Sammy, Magnus, Patricia, Ted

 

1 OVERALL STATUS

The project is on target to hit the January 10 deadline.

 

2 PROJECT CHANGE HISTORY

Date – week ending Event Deadline
Week 1

Friday 6 January

We started and the stakeholders requested that the project be completed by 30 June i.e. in six months. Unknown at this time
Week 3 – Friday 20 January The project was properly estimated and a delivery date of January 10 next year was agreed. January 10

 

3 DETAILED STATUS

See attachments.

 

Printing it out, she took it to show to Reg.

‘The top section gives the status. This next section will keep track of the date if it changes.’

‘Is that useful?’ asked Reg.

‘You bet,’ said Alice. ‘If we don’t have that, and the date changes, everybody will think there’s been a slip, even if there’s a perfectly valid reason for the date change. Putting it here reminds everybody why the date changed. If some boss or stakeholder wants to know how we came to be where we are, they can look here.

Without that, especially if there’s a change of personnel and we get some new boss or stakeholder, they’ll immediately assume there’s been a slip. Even if you have an email trail to back all this up, it’s no good – it really is a case of ‘if you’re explaining, you’re losing.’

‘I get it,’ said Reg. ‘Nice.’

‘So I’m going to just attach a few things – the current Gantt Chart, the latest Risk Analysis, the PSI tracking[1], Tasks Completed and Tasks Planned – send that out and go home,’ said Alice.

‘I’m using SAS reporting.’

‘SAS reporting?’ asked Reg.

‘Send and Scarper,’ said Alice. ‘By the time they’re reading it, I’ll be out on a date with my phone turned off.’

‘Nice,’ said Reg again.

 

 

 

 

[1] For an explanation of this see http://fastprojects.org/2019/11/13/how-to-assess-a-project-in-five-minutes/