Visualizing the Project
New projects get launched every day. Most of them get off to a fast start, but many of them do not get off to a good start. Projects can quickly go off the rails when teams don’t have a clear understanding of what each team member is contributing during each phase of the project. And, sometimes they don’t agree. So how do you quickly & easily construct and communicate milestone objectives, team member contribution, and highlight gaps and overlaps? The Function Phase Matrix is a simple, but powerful tool that will do just that.
What is the Tool? Function Phase Matrix
The Function Phase Matrix is an excel-based tool that allows a cross-functional project team to identify project objectives, roles and responsibilities, and key deliverables throughout the milestones of a project. Typically the responsibility of the program manager to ensure completion, it is best created as a team exercise to allow cross-disciplinary discussion on potential gaps or overlaps between the disciplines. It can also be used to visually identify dependencies between team members and milestone deliverables.
What are the Benefits?
- Ensures all key deliverables have assigned accountability
- Ensures cross functional alignment at the phase/milestone level
- Phase Objectives
- Key Deliverables (and dependencies)
- Functional responsibilities
- A scalable tool that can be applied to large or small teams; simple or complex projects; local or globally dispersed teams.
- In addition to being a valuable tool for the project team, this tool can be utilized in management reviews to ensure that the team is aligned to both product and delivery expectations.
What Business Problems Do We Solve?
Getting the most out of your team: Many times projects experience setbacks that are avoidable. Specific examples include late decisions, poorly managed expectations, lack of focus within the team. The Function Phase Matrix can increase the effectiveness of a project team by reducing team churn and confusion that leads to project delays, rework and lack predictability.
What are some considerations?
There are a few things to consider when applying this best practice. First, the tool doesn’t take into account the strength of the team member’s skill set. Within any functional area, skill sets can vary broadly. This tool clarifies “what will be delivered by whom”, but does not provide a qualitative element to appraise a team member’s ability to deliver. Secondly, teams should consider expanding the tool to identify dependencies for each deliverable. In its simplest form, the tool doesn’t not take into account the leadtime and/or cross functional dependences for key deliverables within a phase or milestone. Schedule delays or resource impacts can be avoided if this element was added.
A large, globally disperse software company has a product portfolio that includes 50 projects of varying size and complexity. The leadership team has approved a revised product roadmap, which include the immediate kick-off of three new projects. Teams are spun up quickly, and are asked to formulate a project plan to ensure they will deliver to the objectives of the project.
To gain clarity of cross-functional deliverables by phase, the project managers holds a team meetings to complete the Function Phase Matrix for team project.