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The Presidential Transition Act made it the law, the OPPM made it simple

The importance of effective and well-planned presidential transitions has long been understood. The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 provided a formal recognition of this principle by providing the President-elect funding and other resources “To promote the orderly transfer of the executive power in connection with the expiration of the term of office of a President and the Inauguration of a new President.” The Act received minor amendments in the following decades, but until 2010 all support provided was entirely post-election. The Pre-Election Presidential Act of 2010 changed this by providing pre-election support to nominees of both parties. Its passing reinforced the belief that early transition planning is prudent, not presumptuous.

The Romney Readiness Project was the first transition effort to operate with this enhanced pre-election focus. While Obama’s re-election prevented a Romney transition from occurring, it is hoped that the content of The Romney Readiness Project book can provide valuable insight to future transition teams of both parties.

The OPPM was used as the overall project management system for the Project. For each phase a master OPPM (described as “Level 1”) was created to show all the major deliverables, schedule, supporting activities, and who was responsible for each. This OPPM was then cascaded down to subsidiary OPPMs covering each activity in more detail. Generally speaking, one line item on the Level 1 OPPM was expanded to an entire Level 2 OPPM, with a similar expansion of detail between Level 2 and Level 3. Examples of Level 1, 2, and 3 OPPMs for the Readiness Phase are shown in Appendix 3.1 of the book.

Clark Campbell, Founder & Author

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Agile Joins the OPPM Family

The fourth book in the OPPM Series is scheduled for release by John Wiley & Sons on Christmas Day.  B&N and Amazon are now accepting advance orders.  In addition to vivid color, and continuous OPPM improvements, this book will introduce the Agile OPPM.  Therefore, a few comments comparing traditional with agile project management will be helpful. And of course, we need a visual.

  Traditional Agile Project Management

 The above figure shows the basic similarities between traditional and agile project components.

  • Each makes progress over time toward a vision.
  • Each requires cost and resources.
  • Each strives for higher quality and lower risk.

Traditional & Agile Project Management Differences

This second visual reveals that the processes and the approach differentiate these two powerful project methodologies. Suppose the traditional triangle on the left represents a project to build a Boeing 737 aircraft. The 737 entered airline service in 1968 and is the best-selling jet airliner in the history of aviation, with more than 7,000 aircraft delivered and more than 2,000 on order as of April 2012. The vision is clear, we know exactly what we want, and the plan for delivering the value includes the whole vision. Engineering specifications are clear, supply chains are well defined, production costs are precisely known, and manufacturing times are defined and documented. Quality is built in to the process with operational excellence, and the acceptable parameters for risk reducing tests are standardized.

We know what we want, how long it takes, how much it will cost, and how to guarantee high quality with the lowest risk. And, we release a completely finished aircraft, capable and ready to fly.

Now let’s suppose that the triangle on the right of Figure 3.3 represents the agile approach to designing and deploying a new in-dash GPS system for New York’s fleet of taxicabs. We have a fixed budget and a highly publicized date, 24 weeks away, when the mayor plans to announce the new upgrade.

We have the high-level outline of a vision, yet there is disagreement among various stakeholders on which features are most important. We have selected 20 cabs into which we will place the latest release of our GPS every six weeks. We will plan and deliver it in three 2-week sprints prior to each of four releases. Each release will provide fully working software for a minimally marketable set of features. We will set and reset feature backlogs and priorities along the way by working with cab drivers, customers, and other stakeholders.

As we progress through each sprint and release, we will be adjusting our vision as priorities are repositioned, technology is refined, and learning is acquired by our development team. When the mayor presents the newly equipped taxis to the city in six months, he declares the project on time and on budget, with a final vision a little different than was originally presumed, acknowledging that quality was addressed and improved in each iteration. He is aware of the reduced risks of missing the delivery date of his announcement or exceeding the budget, while continually surpassing stakeholders’ expectations, even though those expectations are quite different at project completion than they were in the beginning.

Agile OPPM templates and examples will be made available for download in conjunction with the release of the book.

Clark Campbell, Founder & Author

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If it has a staple through it, or a paperclip around it - they won't read it

Many years ago, I was teaching an executive MBA course in project management. Every other weekend, the class would meet and two of the students had to prepare (to the best of their ability) an executive-level status report on an existing project. In the first class meeting, two of the students volunteered to “get the pain out of the way” and be first to team up and prepare a status report for the next class meeting.

In the next class meeting, they handed out a 15-page status report to each student. I then followed them around the classroom, picked up all of the status reports, and disposed of them in the trash can while the whole class watched. The two students that prepared the reports were quite upset. I then told them to prepare another report for the next class meeting and, if the report had in it a staple or paper clip, I would dispose of it in the same way.

The moral to the story is clear: Executives do not have time to read what’s on their desk already, so why give them too much information in which case they will either refuse to read it or study it with a microscope and find a fault. Executives want the answers to two questions: Where are we today? And where will we end up? Do you really believe this cannot be accomplished on a single sheet of paper? The One-Page Project Manager series of books are encouraging you to do just that. Making this part of your Project Management Methodology will simplify and improve your project communication, especially with busy executives.

—Harold D. Kerzner, PhD

Senior Executive Director International Institute for Learning, Inc.

Clark Campbell, Founder & Author

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