It takes a multitude of actions to get a project up and running, actions which need to be properly identified and coordinated to carry the project through to a successful conclusion.
Team coherence and efficiency hinge upon both the appropriate allocation of project actions in accordance with each person's skills, and the clear definition of responsibilities.
Each individual, whatever their level of involvement, must be aware of their own particular actions and responsibilities.
The Project Manager must also be able to check progress at his/her level and at the lower levels at any given moment.
Action management is the method for guaranteeing that these objectives are met.
The very purpose of action management means that it must be implemented at the earliest possible stage.
It is the Project Manager's responsibility.
Action management methodology defines:
- the scope of action management,
- how an action is allocated,
- the tool for recording and method of communicating an action,
- how an action is updated and closed.
In theory, all actions should in fact be managed. In practice, the sheer number of actions that have to be implemented as part of a project precludes their being systematically subjected to formal management. They are far too numerous and so the scope of action management is restricted.
In general, action management concerns:
- actions arising during reviews,
- actions that come from the Steering Committee (SC),
- actions arising during interface meetings with the next level up,
- critical actions identified during project progress meetings.
If the project team is small, in particular when there is no Product Manager, it is advisable for only the most critical actions to come under action management and to deal with them during progress meetings. Minutes will be drawn up for every meeting setting out the actions identified, whose responsibility they are and their deadlines. Subsequent meetings will review previously identified actions.
The progress made concerning actions that came from a review or Steering Committee meeting will be presented at the following review or Steering Committee meeting.
If there is a Product Manager in the team, the list of managed actions could be extended and be the subject of more complex processing (individually following-up action owners, etc.).
2. Allocating an action
Responsibility for performing an action must be clearly identified.
The Project Manager is in charge of allocating responsibilities: for each action identified, the Project Manager appoints an owner, or an action monitoring manager when the action is the responsibility of an external organisation.
3. Recording and communication
To ensure the traceability and visibility of all actions carried out and their progress, action management must provide for a procedure for recording the actions and their characteristics.
In general, a list of actions is drawn up, by hand or on computer, in the form of a summary table. This table includes all the information required to monitor, perform and close each action (see the sheet Action Summary FM-8).
The list of actions is updated by the Project Manager (or the Product Manager if there is one) prior to every progress meeting. He/she reviews each action currently underway: he/she identifies the actions which have been closed and prepares the list of open actions in order to check on their progress during the meeting.
5. Closing an action
As soon as an action has been performed, the owner sends the supporting elements to the Project Manager (or to the Product Manager if there is one) who authorises closure based upon them.
FIELDS ON THE ACTION SUMMARY SHEET
Action No.: Chronological number.
Action description: purpose of the action.
Date: date of the meeting at which the action was identified.
Type: type of meeting during which the action was identified:
- Steering Committee: SC
- Review: R
- Interface meeting with the next level up: I/F
- Formal progress meeting: PR
Minutes ref.: reference of the minutes from the meeting during which the action was identified.
Owner: name or organisation appointed to perform/monitor the action.
Date due: planned closure date.
Closing date: date on which the action was actually closed.
Closure ref.: reference of the document justifying closure.
Closure manager: person authorising closure of the action.
Remarks: additional information.