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The New One-Page Project Manager

The New One-Page Project Manager: Communicate and Manage Any Project with a Single Sheet of Paper

The New One-Page Project Manager

Authors: Clark A. Campbell and Mick Campbell
ISBN: 9781118378373
Posted: June 20, 2014
Summary by: Melissa Ly, a CDOT intern from the University of Colorado Denver

Executive Summary

The New One-Page Project Manager, Clark Campbell, and Mick Campbell explore a seemingly impossible task: reduce any project plan to a one-page document. Using The One-Page Project Manager (OPPM) as a baseline, Clark and Campbell provide an updated and expanded guide to combat the problem of too much detail found in project managers’ written plans. They supply a method for project managers to be sufficient and also succinct in communicating project and performance plans.

The power of simplicity is achieved through the use of graphics and visuals. Even though the focus of the book is primarily on being concise, the authors recognize that simple is not always better. Clark and Mick Campbell note that the One-Page Project Manager should not replace an organization’s existing tools for project management; rather, OPPM should supplement the current tools.

There are two distinct kinds of OPPMs: traditional and agile.

Type 1: The Traditional OPPM

There are five essential pieces to a project: tasks, objectives, timeline, cost, and owners.

To achieve full engagement and accountability, transparency is needed. In this case, the traditional OPPM serves as the project’s transparency and addresses the five essential parts of a project. The Traditional OPPM is constructed using a 12-step process. The template can be seen in Figure 1.

project management image

Figure 1: Traditional OPPM Template
Source: www.oppmi.com

Step 1: The Header

The header includes basic information, including:

  • Project Name -- The project objective should have some part in the project name
  • Project Manager --There should be one owner with full communication skills (up, down, and out)
  • Project Objective -- One sentence about the project’s purpose
  • Report Date
Step 2: The Owners

The next step is to list the immediate team that will be working on the project. These owners have primary responsibility for major tasks and will be linked to specific tasks in Step 6.

Step 3: The Matrix

The matrix is where all of the elements of the OPPM meet. This section includes:

  • Major Tasks and Risks,
  • Risks, Qualitative, and Other Metrics,
  • Report Dates,
  • Costs and Metrics, and
  • Summary & Forecast.

This matrix is a simplified way of looking at the project.

Step 4: The Sub-Objectives

Sub-objectives are subordinates to the overall objective and must be:

  • specific,
  • not too complex,
  • measurable, tangible, and verifiable,
  • challenging,
  • realistic and attainable,
  • within resource bounds,
  • consistent with resources anticipated, and
  • consistent with organization plans, policies, and procedures.

There should be no more than 3-5 sub-objectives. Project managers need to be conscious of the project time, resources, and scope when developing the sub-objectives.

Step 5: The Major Tasks

This is arguably the most important piece of the OPPM due to the involvement of both owners and helpers. Each task generated needs to be manageable in size, so that one person can be the lead for each task. In addition, the tasks need to be distinct from each other to ensure clarity in accountability. According to the authors, two to three tasks per reporting period is optimal.

Step 6: Aligning Tasks with Sub-Objectives

There needs to be a link between the achievement of tasks and the achievement of objectives. This step is a matching process. All tasks must match with at least one objective. It is noted that this step is not static; the matching is flexible and changes through the progress of the project.

Step 7: The Report Dates

The project timeline needs to be broken up into a discrete number of steps (e.g., monthly, biweekly, etc.). It is required that the entire team agrees on the increment sizes since they are the meeting and report dates.

Step 8: Aligning Tasks to Report Dates

To complete the project schedule, the project manager must match the tasks to the timeline. For each increment of time, a particular task will take, a circle or checkmark will be placed in the OPPM.

Step 9: Aligning Tasks and Schedules to Owners

Each person designated in Step 2 is assigned a role to each task. The authors suggest using color coordination and letters to distinguish between owner and helper. 

Step 10: Risks, Qualitative, and Other Metrics

Qualitative, or subjective, tasks are listed out on the OPPM. Measurements are depicted using stoplight colors: red, yellow, and green.

Step 11: Costs and Metrics

This is where the budget is represented via bar graphs. The budget can be split into different groups. Before assembling the budget, there needs to be an understanding of the costs.

Step 12: Summary & Forecast

The summary will clear up and ambiguities, questions, and future misunderstandings. This part of the OPPM also works as a status report and writes out an immediate future forecast. The Summary & Forecast section can also answer the whys of the OPPM (e.g., why is this project over budget).

With each of these 12 steps laid out, a final product may look like the following OPPM (Figure 2):

OPPM

Figure 2: Traditional OPPM Example
Source: www.oppmi.com

Traditional OPPM Reporting Steps

There are five steps of generating a report using the traditional OPPM:

  1. Add in the report date.
  2. Fill in major tasks’ progress and their respective progress dots. This step requires a unified team with straightforward communication.
  3. Designate qualitative performance in the Risk, Qualitative, and Other Metrics section with the three-color scheme (red, yellow, green).
  4. Report expenditures. There needs to be a projected bar and actual bar in the bar graph. The three-color scheme works here, too.
  5. Complete the Summary & Forecast section.

One can track the progress of the project by adding a vertical red bar corresponding to the timeline on the OPPM (see Figure 2).

Type 2: The Agile OPPM

  • Agile projects are different from traditional projects due to the nimbleness and quickness of the Agile project management approaches. Fundamental to “agility” in projects is:
  • The wish and ability to respond to change quickly
  • A team that is collaborative, self-organizing, and client-centered
  • The delivery system that is incremental and iterative

Clark and Mick Campbell focus on the “Scrum” style of Agile project management. Agile/Scrum differs from the traditional method in that agile method is team oriented, has fixed resources, plans for fixed time boxes, and has many smaller releases (as opposed to a single, large release). However, like the traditional OPPM, Agile has a 12-step construction. Figure 3 shows the template for this OPPM.

Agile OPPM

Figure 3: Agile OPPM Template
Source: www.oppmi.com

Step 1: The Header

This provides the basic information, including:

  • Project
  • Product Owner
  • Scrum Master (similar to a coach for the team)
  • Vision
  • Report Date
Step 2: Development Team

A permanent “scrum” team should be delegated to a project. Typically, the optimal size is between 5 and 9 members.

Step 3: The Matrix

Similar to the traditional matrix, the agile matrix is the meeting point for all the different aspects of the OPPM.

Step 4: The Feature Set

Meeting and collaborating with the customer will uncover certain features that they find valuable.

Step 5: Releases and Sprints

Estimation of effort required is used for the prioritization of feature sets. Typical variables to use for prioritization are story points or development hours.

Step 6: Aligning Sprints with Feature Sets

Using the agile OPPM, project managers can show which feature sets align with each planned sprint and release.

Step 7: Sprint Dates and Time Boxes

Agile projects are committed to the incremental and frequent delivery of work solutions for fixed periods.

Step 8: The Schedule

This step aligns the sprints and releases with time boxes.

Step 9: Backlog Burndown

Burndown charts are graphical displays of development progress for each sprint or release. The charts display the amount of backlog that remains.

Step 10: Risk, Qualitative, and Other Metrics

Like in the traditional OPPM, this section deals with the qualitative analysis. The performance measure uses the three-color stoplight scheme.

Step 11: Overall Status

This step provides a status report for stakeholders and senior management. The status is depicted using a burnup chart, which display the amount of work completed. There are two lines in the burnup chart: ideal and adequate.

Step 12: Summary & Forecast

This section informs readers about how the project is doing and any immediate forecasts.

Agile OPPM Reporting Steps

Unlike the traditional OPPM, there are seven reporting steps for the agile OPPM.

  1. Insert a vertical red line on the current time.
  2. Fill in feature set and schedule dots to indicate the completion of “sprint”.
  3. Color in Sprint Status based on the sprint performance and completion.
  4. Fill in boxes under Risks, Qualitatives, and Other Metrics section. Use the three-color stoplight scheme.
  5. Calculate team velocity (amount of work the development team can accomplish in one day and numbers of units of work completed during specified interval) and complete the burndown chart.
  6. Fill and analyze the overall status.
  7. Fill in Summary & Forecast to explain why things are happening.

Types of Thinking, and Implications for Project Management

In addition to the two types of OPPM, Clark and Mick Campbell recognize three types of thinkers: visionary, start-to-finish (starters), and finish-to-start (planners). By understanding that teams are made up of different kinds of thinkers, project managers can tap into the strengths of each person.

Further, the authors explain the use of one-page project managers in effective program management offices (PMOs). First, OPPM can be used as the dashboard for PMOs. Secondly, OPPM can be the communication system for project management systems. In addition, tools are readily available to train PMOs to the OPPM. Once trained, submitted project OPPMs can be consolidated and the PMO office can prioritize the projects. And, finally, OPPM allows project reviewers to think about all the essential elements and to continually improve projects.

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