PMPeople to trust Projectized Organizations

How can I make my project finish on time and on budget?

Answer: You have to report status on a regular basis, taking corrective actions to reduce deviations when you have time, your options are still open to reach agreements, etc.

What if I don’t have project status reviews?

Chances are your project will end up behind schedule and over budget. Since you are the project manager, management will blame you.

Are project status reviews so important?

Absolutely: Maybe the most distinctive attribute for a project manager professional is to report status periodically to a project steering committee. Professional project managers use these review meetings to involve key stakeholders in problems and seek solutions with them.

Let’s say I am a project manager and I see a potential problem that could cause great over cost and delay in my project. Keeping this to me or to my project management team is not the right way to manage. I better share risk implications in the next review meeting, proactively suggest some responses and get the steering committee decide. If this risk eventually happen, then it will not be my fault.

The right place to show everyone that you are a real professional in project management is when you conduct a project review meeting. In the following video you can get good advice on what goes into a project status report, the document to support a project review meeting.

Now let’s move from the single project manager to the projectized organization:

What makes an organization highly professional in project management?

Obviously, this is not done just by getting many professional project managers on board. A projectized organization, above all, must implement processes for project monitoring and control. At each project status report, project managers should report global state, performance against project baselines of scope, schedule and costs, etc.

In PMPeople we think the best evidences on project management maturity should be the ones directly accessible to project stakeholders. To pursue this goal, we have two features already implemented. The third one in roadmap will be implemented under Blockchain:

  1. Provide project work performance information and receive feedback: For each project review date, stakeholders can see the global status and some details about schedule, scope and cost performance. They can provide feedback to the project manager through comments and change requests.
  2. Make stakeholders access easy: Project managers can add new stakeholders to their projects by themselves. Additionally, a subscription code can be produced for users to proactively request to follow a certain project. By using this code, they automatically subscribe as project stakeholders. Anytime, project managers can reject any stakeholder or prevent this subscription mechanism.
  3. Reliable status reports with Blockchain: Regular project status reporting prevents any surprise about cost overruns or delays when the project ends. We get this mostly done with the above features. It could be possible, however, that this status reports are fake, outdated, altered, deleted, etc., without the knowledge of any stakeholder. If this happens often, all the benefits sought with the good practice of periodic follow-ups are lost: stakeholders do not trust, project managers do not feel compelled to report, temptation arises to make up reality. This bad practice is only prevented totally if: 1) non-alterable evidence that at least one stakeholder has verified the report is stored; and 2) the report can be re-verified by the same stakeholder, or any other, comparing it with an independent registry not controlled by the tool. We want to implement this last feature under Blockchain technology. Read this article explaining some implementation decisions.

From our point of view, the minimum information for a project status report should be:

  1. the current project state,
  2. the global project’s health check,
  3. the baseline performance –scope, schedule, cost– and
  4. the change log with approved change requests.

These four fields can represent, at a given date, the project public status record.

We can use this public record to represent a reliable project log throughout the sequence of review dates.

Four states are possible for any specific project status public record:

  • Private record: Project status has not been stored on Blockchain.
  • Public record: Project manager has stored project status on Blockchain.
  • Verified record: At least one stakeholder has checked that the stored project status matches the information in the tool.
  • Invalidated record: At least one stakeholder has checked that the stored project status does not match the information in the tool.

Let’s see an example:

  • Users granted to access project status reports in PMIS tool can see that dates August 17th and 24th are not been published; date August 31st is published but nobody has verified it yet; September 7th and 21st are verified indeed, but September 14th has been changed in PMIS and does not match the Blockchain record.
  • Project manager can always publish August 17th and 24th. He also can “unpublish” September 14th and set it to public again –PMIS tool will call a new Blockchain transaction that will be secured in a new block.

See this state diagram with the possible transitions:

Stakeholders and project managers will know that project status reports are kept in Blockchain, but PMPeople tool will hide technical details.

We will use Ethereum as Blockchain platform. PMPeople tool will keep transaction codes. Stakeholders will be able to copy those codes.

To keep Ethereum fees low –under USD cents–, we will use IPFS as storage platform. We will use Ethereum transaction just to store the file hash.

PMPeople will generate project status report files and save them to IPFS. We will use our Ethereum account to pay transaction fees. These transactions will not imply ether transferring, just IPFS file hash storage.

To verify a status report transparently to stakeholders, PMPeople tool will build the file from internal data and compare the hash function result with the one stored in Blockchain. If a stakeholder copy the Blockchain transaction code, he could also get the file hash using any of the available public tools to get access to the original file stored in IPFS.

Premium organization owners can make the organization show the “reliable” seal. They just need to have enough balance –15 USD should be enough for around 1,000 transactions.

Significant project management improvements are expected from any project “reliable” organization:

  • Stakeholders in reliable projects will trust project management, they will be more engaged on project reviews and they will proactively help to successful project completion.
  • Project managers in reliable projects will apply best practices in project monitoring and control: they will be aware of people are watching how they are able to manage the project.

Notice that Blockchain transitions –i.e. payment– occur only when project managers publish status reports:

To summarize, our feature to keep status reports in Blockchain will be based on the following points:

  1. Organization owner can switch on/off the “reliable” seal for the organization.
  2. Activation requires a minimum balance of 0.05 ETH (about 15 USD, enough for around 1,000 transactions) in PMPeople account, transferred by organization owner.
  3. PMPeople pays Ethereum fees for project status reports recording.
  4. If owner’s balance is totally spent, then seal is removed.
  5. Actual record file stored in IPFS –Ethereum transaction stores only the file hash.
  6. Users are supposed to have no technical knowledge on Blockchain technology. Only organization owner needs an Ethereum account.

This feature will be used by the roles able to update project work performance information: project manager role, but also PMO Supportive, PMO, portfolio manager and program manager. When they enter a project, in CONTROL > Status Reports, they will be able to click an icon to publish/unpublish.

Whenever a project manager –or equivalent– decides to publish a project status report, next steps will be followed:

  1. PMPeople builds the file from internal information.
  2. File is stored in ISPF. PMPeople keeps ISPF file hash. This hash will allow read only access.
  3. PMPeople stores ISPF file hash into an Ethereum transaction.
  4. PMPeople changes icon to public.

Regarding stakeholders, they will be able to click an icon to verify/invalidate. This icon will be just informative for other roles –requesters, sponsors, functional managers.

Whenever a stakeholder decides to verify a project status report, previously published o already verified, next steps will be followed:

  1. PMPeople builds the file from internal information.
  2. PMPeople calculates the file hash –the same to access ISPF directly.
  3. PMPeople finds Ethereum transaction using transaction code and copy transaction data field.
  4. PMPeople check if Ethereum data matches calculated file hash. If match, then icon is changed to verified, otherwise icon is changed to invalidated.

This article is also available in Spanish