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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Logistics - Deciding a common location for all document sharing

Some of these posts can seem very logical and obvious, but in reality, many of these items have come up based on experience learned from various projects, shortcomings and feedback provided by the teams with whom I have been working. And they can be very important, even though they may not seem much.
When you have a number of different teams working on the same set of tasks, there are a number of documents, instructions, examples, demos, and other artifacts that need to be shared between these different teams, shared real time and with the required access available to all these different teams and their team members.
And it was one such case that caused a delay of around a week in the actual schedule of one such task that was being coordinated between different teams. A delay of any kind has a ripple effect on the entire schedule, and when schedules are less than a year, a delay of a week in any such related task can cause significant problems to the schedule and lead to some fire-fighting in the team management. In this current case, we eventually ran into an issue where a rights / security caused a blockage, and the person tasked to ensure the coordination did not even know about this security problem.
During the course of a project, the project / program manager cannot take on each and every area, and in one particular case, the coordination between a team located in the main geography, another team located in a different geography and a vendor team located in another geography. The vendor team was new to the product and had to be brought up to speed on the processes and technical knowledge of the product. In the light of some of this coordination effort, a team lead with experience of some of the relevant functional area of the product was put in charge of the coordination effort, reporting every week to the overall manager of the product about the status.
The lead started out well, using previous experiences to set out some of the required documentation. However, when an outsider vendor is needed for the product work, they need to be granted permission for the documentation area, And this permission cannot be granted by the team, but by a central IT unit which is responsible for all server access.
The problem turned out in this case was that part of the documentation was placed in a server that was off-limits to any outside vendor (there were some specific security protocols for some of the more important servers, especially those where code is resident on the server); but this information was not known to the project lead responsible for the coordination. The project manager knew this information, but the multiple tasks being done by the manager and the leads ensured that a proper discussion did not happen for the next 4-5 days, at the end of which a meeting resulted in the lead learning this security information, It took another 2 days to make changes to the documentation location, and then get the required permission. This entire stand-off did need to some changes being made on some parts of the schedule, not something that the project manager welcomes.
What the learning from this was that we did not do the required leg-work before starting this part of the phase, especially about a common location for sharing of documents and the permissions for these.

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