Increasing efficiency - Capt. Proj. Document Review Matrix

#1
Currently working for a startup. They lack a proper EDMS so I am making do with spreadsheets and SmartSheet.

My manager has ask that I improve the efficiency of the Review Matrix which Currently lists approvers, reviewers, and informed. Quite often, the approvers will change the reviewers/informed, depending on the document. So I told him the most efficient answer would be to reduce the matrix to list approvers only.

He didn't see this as an improvement.

So, my question is, without having a complete list of every potential document type listed and asking my Engineers to fill-in who they want looking those documents over (this is a $10mil project) , how the heck do I make this system more efficient?
 
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yodon

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#2
What makes your manager think the review matrix (I guess we should say review / approval cycle?) is currently inefficient?

Most often I see companies with WAY too many approvers on documents. Paring that down often increases efficiency.

Another area where I see loss of efficiency is in the review process. One of the reviewers goes on vacation for a week and you can't get the doc through. Or a doc just sits on a reviewer's desk for days on end. Building in coping mechanisms and oversight helps there.
 

Tidge

Trusted Information Resource
#3
So, my question is, without having a complete list of every potential document type listed(*1) and asking my Engineers to fill-in who they want looking those documents over(*2) (this is a $10mil project) , how the heck do I make this system more efficient?
I recommend doing (*1) but restricting the flexibility of (*2). It was the sage who said "indecision is the key to flexibility", so I would try to remove as much flexibility from the potential reviewers, as a project manager you can only establish and maintain the schedule if you know which specific resources are assigned to which tasks. The people assigned to tasks should be appropriate and have well-defined activities as part of the task. "Stare at the work product until you feel it is ok" is not a good use of project time.

If managers feel that they need to be involved in reviews; the most practical thing is to schedule management reviews are pre-identified phase-transitions for the project. You can of course schedule periodic meetings with managers to update them on project executions.

Personally: If there are specific managers who want to have more visibility but are otherwise just slowing down execution, I absolutely would try to sequester them in something like an every-other-day status update meeting. My rationale:
  • The managers will have some specific insight (typically review criteria) that will generally apply... you can give this feedback to engineers
  • The managers might be tempted to micro-manage work,. This will generally interfere with adhering to the schedule, so isolating them can help both them and the engineers to focus
  • It is important IMO to isolate the work effort from the management effort. If there must be ad hocery, keep it as far away from the people doing the work. Changing management strategies can waste time of course, but allowing managers to "brainstorm" among themselves out-of-sight of workers will allow more work to get done.
 
#4
What makes your manager think the review matrix (I guess we should say review / approval cycle?) is currently inefficient?

Most often I see companies with WAY too many approvers on documents. Paring that down often increases efficiency.

Another area where I see loss of efficiency is in the review process. One of the reviewers goes on vacation for a week and you can't get the doc through. Or a doc just sits on a reviewer's desk for days on end. Building in coping mechanisms and oversight helps there.
The inefficiency is in the time it takes to complete the reviews. And yes, the core of the issue (beyond what I mentioned about reviews/informed) is that people leave on vacation and there are no backups in place. I could not convince him that alternate approvers were a good idea because we're using the Sprint model. There is nothing I can do to change that...

The problem I hope to remedy here is the reviewer/informed lists. These people are not necessary for signatures but the approvers still want them notified. However, my approvers keep changing who they want notified depending on the document, regardless of Discipline/Sprint, rendering the matrix useless.
 
#5
I recommend doing (*1) but restricting the flexibility of (*2). It was the sage who said "indecision is the key to flexibility", so I would try to remove as much flexibility from the potential reviewers, as a project manager you can only establish and maintain the schedule if you know which specific resources are assigned to which tasks. The people assigned to tasks should be appropriate and have well-defined activities as part of the task. "Stare at the work product until you feel it is ok" is not a good use of project time.

If managers feel that they need to be involved in reviews; the most practical thing is to schedule management reviews are pre-identified phase-transitions for the project. You can of course schedule periodic meetings with managers to update them on project executions.

Personally: If there are specific managers who want to have more visibility but are otherwise just slowing down execution, I absolutely would try to sequester them in something like an every-other-day status update meeting. My rationale:
  • The managers will have some specific insight (typically review criteria) that will generally apply... you can give this feedback to engineers
  • The managers might be tempted to micro-manage work,. This will generally interfere with adhering to the schedule, so isolating them can help both them and the engineers to focus
  • It is important IMO to isolate the work effort from the management effort. If there must be ad hocery, keep it as far away from the people doing the work. Changing management strategies can waste time of course, but allowing managers to "brainstorm" among themselves out-of-sight of workers will allow more work to get done.
Thank you, this is very helpful.
 
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