As hopefully all of you know, a requirement we have put on ECSS projects is the development of work plans. The intent of the work plan is to document the expected and completed work with deliverables, milestones, and expected levels of effort; so that there is a way to assess progress during and success after the project ends.
There seems to be sentiment that the workplans are hard to put together, and I know on the management side it seems to take on average more than a month to create them (after I have contacted the lead consultant.)
First, the hope is that the workplans can be developed on average in about 2-3 weeks. Clearly, there will be exceptions because of travel or holidays. Along these lines, I think some staff may have had difficulty getting the PIs to respond. That certainly can happen. Going forward, we will include alternate contacts if we have them (like grad students or co-PIs.) And if you have trouble getting the PI or alternates to respond, please let me or any other of the AUSS management know.
As for difficulty in developing the workplans, I think some are worried that putting a deliverable or milestones with target quarter dates may commit them to something they are not sure can be attained – the workplans can be modified within reason as the project progresses, so this should not be a concern.
Similarly, I think some are worried that incorrectly estimating their effort levels will be a problem – that is not the case. We just want an estimate up front, and this can be updated each quarter if needed.
We've provided a lot of comments in the template itself regarding % effort and expected completion quarters and such. We have also given comments regarding quantitative measures in milestones, project group participation, and ensuring all deliverables are addressed by at least one milestone. It is expected that the Work plan will be fluid and these items can be changed. We just have to report on it.
With all this said, what can be done to improve the process? What can we do to streamline the process?