Making clear project decisions

5 reasons why you need to have a clear and transparent project decision process

Every project regardless of if it is big or small will require a number of decisions over the duration of the project.  Some will be very simple, low impact and can be made by team members.  Others will be complex and or have a very high impact requiring sign-off at the highest level.

The outcome of decisions will impact the direction and outcome of the project.  It is also possible that the resulting outcome will be positive for some and not good for others.  Therefore, decisions and their outcomes can be very emotive.

It is important that every project, programme and PMO have a clear and transparent process for making, recording and communicating project decisions.  Below are 5 reasons why!

Point of Reference

Over the years I have been to many meetings where the same topic is discussed.  It is very frustrating for the project team as instead of moving forward, all the attendees want to do is keep debating the same point and options.

This is even more frustrating when the project team think a decision is made!

Having a clear process for decisions and communicating them, helps solve the issue by providing a clear point of reference for the discussion.  Instead of debating old points.  The project team can ensure that the decision information is shared ahead of the meeting as part of the meeting material.  This will help focus the attention.

Likewise, in conversation, being able to reference a decision helps with the common understanding; provides context and generally helps everyone move on.

Allow Progress

There are many junctions during a project where different paths can be taken depending on a decision.  In many cases progress cannot continue until a decision is made (a choice is made).  If the process for making the decision takes a long time, this will impact progress.

Where the decisions points are communicated in advance, sufficient material provided resulting in a rapid decision, this allows progress to continue at pace.

Alignment of Stakeholders

It is common for members of senior management to have different agendas.  This presents a problem to a project manager as they gain agreement to a decision, only then to find another senior manager disagrees.  This is even worse if there has been significant progress since the decision that now needs to be revised or even thrown away.

Having a transparent decision process means that all stakeholders make the decision at the same time.  This helps avoid misalignment.

Demonstrate Control

Project management depends on good governance to reach decisions.  Having a good decision process demonstrates that the project is in control.  During a project audit, governance papers and decision logs are one of the artefacts that will be requested at the start of the audit.

Being able to provide the artefacts to support the decision process will show the project is in goverance and in control.

Help Avoid Mistakes

Ensuring all stakeholders are engaged in the decision process helps mitigate the risk of incorrect decisions based on incorrect data or information.  It should provide a better chance that concerns or inaccuracies are spotted, raised and resolved.  While not a 100% guarantee, it does help reduce the risk.

Summary

Having a clear, transparent project decision process where all stakeholders are engaged will greatly assist the progress of a project.  Decisions will be able to be made in a timely manner and communicated meaning the project can move forward with confidence.