Define the Milestones and Handoffs - Reviews (#6 in the series Managing Multicultural Projects with Complementary Practices)
By Johanna Rothman
After we agree on the milestones, I broach the subject of technical reviews. All projects benefit from reviews, but I’ve found that on multicultural projects, technical reviews provide an additional communications framework and a context in which to discuss the project issues. Some people are uncomfortable talking about the project-wide issues. Those people may be less reluctant to discuss the technical side of the project, and requirements and architecture reviews provide a framework for them to air issues.. I always schedule requirements and architecture reviews for multicultural projects, and I encourage technical review of other documents. I find that by initiating technical reviews at the beginning of the project, the individual project groups are more likely to continue with technical reviews for their pieces of the project.
Multicultural projects require more formal requirements and architecture reviews than other projects; the formalism helps reduce the risk of communications problems. Some people may not comment except in a formal review mechanism–some people may not realize you want them to comment unless you have a formal review mechanism. Even if people are willing to comment on requirements and architecture, if you don’t make time in the project, the people from various teams will not be able to comment. After all, on an international project, you’re not going to run into each other in the cafeteria.
I use formal requirements and architectural reviews to ensure that everyone on the project understands the project objectives. The formal reviews should include at least one technical representative from each project team. These participants agree that the requirements are correct and can be implemented by the team.
In my experience, e-mail-only reviews and inspections are not adequate for effective review of requirements and architecture documents for several reasons:
- The people who first read the work product “direct” the discussion. Some people are too shy to bring up their issues electronically.
- Some people don’t read the product once other people start commenting.
- It is difficult to get people to agree on a consistent commenting style.
The cultural differences and therefore the focus of the discussion cannot be bridged without some audio contact. I prefer face-to-face discussions, but when that’s not practical, conference calls may be adequate. In my experience, the way people use and understand language to write specs and their comments tends to prevent effective e-mail reviews. This is especially true when most of the project teams are native English speakers and a minority are not native English speakers. I prefer to get the technical people together in person to review requirements and architecture documents. I find that the travel cost is significantly less than the potential risk of product failure.
If you’re working on a very short project, and are willing to take the risk of inadequately meeting the needs of some potential customers, consider some of the Internet-based tools for meetings, coupled with an excellent audio connection. Make sure the moderator is a skilled meeting facilitator, especially when it comes to conference calls.
Original article can be found at: http://www.jrothman.com/Papers/Multiculturalprojects.html
Johanna Rothman consults, speaks, and writes on managing high-technology product development. Johanna is the author of Manage It!’Your Guide to Modern Pragmatic Project Management’. She is the coauthor of the pragmatic Behind Closed Doors, Secrets of Great Management, and author of the highly acclaimed Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets and Science of Hiring Technical People. And, Johanna is a host and session leader at the Amplifying Your Effectiveness (AYE) conference (http://www.ayeconference.com). You can see Johanna’s other writings at http://www.jrothman.com.
- Define the Milestones and Handoffs - Milestones
- Define the Milestones and Handoffs - Terms
- Define the Milestones and Handoffs - Milestone Achievement
- The Fine Art of Scheduling - The Format of Project Schedules - Milestones
- Managing Testing Resources: Five Suggestions for the Project Manager - Lay Out Criteria for Important Milestones, and Stick to Them
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