Accountability and the Mystery of the Missing Artifacts

It took me a few months after I first arrived to understand the entire IT lexicon at my new company. It took a little longer to understand the necessary artifacts and constructs required for proper project management. These are the necessary items to understand to properly fit into this company’s IT culture. These items produce a common ‘language’ from which communication and action work together to accomplish a set of goals. But what happens when the ‘language’ is missing?

Whether you participate in SDLC or Agile, there are a minimum set of artifacts that needs to be created and used to effectively communicate the project and ensure that it was completely correctly. These artifacts are important for several reasons:

  • Establishment of a baseline for understanding the goals and objectives of the project.
  • Creation of common definitions vital to effective communication between project participants.
  • Outlines what is, and is not, expected of each participant.
  • Provides measurements for success.

There are others of course, but from a project management standpoint having these items covered would go a long way to instituting a can-do environment. And it is can-do environments that consistently build the applications that a company needs to stay competitive and profitable….Which is in everyone interest: Executive, manager, associate, customer and shareholder.

So when artifacts are missing they jeopardize the successful completion of projects necessary for a company to stay competitive and profitable. This is an accountability issue. Even if a well establish standard is in place, if the project participants do not ensure that the proper artifacts are being produced, the project team is not being accountable:

1. (of a person, organization, or institution) Required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible.
2. Explicable; understandable

I will suggest that any time the prescribed artifacts are in absentia then some accountability is missing. And when accountability is missing, our path toward competitiveness and profitability will start to suffer. So it is in the interest of each participant to ensure that accountability is maintained. In doing so, you help the project and your fellow associates to achieve the company’s goals.

Techniques that can be used to ensure accountability for artifact creation:

  • Organization Level
    • Implementation of standard processes and auditing functions for project artifacts.
    • Ongoing associate training and engagement.
    • Programs for the team recognition of proper project management processes: Recognize benefit of associate accountability.
    • Remedial training/interventions for projects not following standard processes: Recognize harm of a lack of accountability.
    • Active monitor of projects, from inception to completion.
  • Project Level
    • Effective feedback from the project manager to participants.
    • Maintain effective communication to all project participants and appropriate organizational entities.
    • Participant enrollment and proper delegation of artifact creation.
    • Employ appropriate process and tracking features for selected methodology: Seek out necessary assistance.
  • Peer Level
    • Work within the team dynamic to identify missing artifacts.
    • Volunteer to assist in artifact creation.
    • Provide feedback using positive and enrolling communication.

I’m sure there are quite a few more techniques that we could add; these are but a few ideas to establish and maintain a culture of accountability.

So, what artifacts are missing from your project(s)? What are you doing to ensure accountability? What is that missing accountability costing?

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