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The book “Execution, The Discipline of Getting Things Done” by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan, and Charles Burck finds the inability to execute a plan to be a weakness in many organizations. There are likely to be hundreds of books and other guidance on the topic of Project or Change Management and how to “Get Things Done”.

At ACA we have simplified our approach, called 4 Core Elements and 3 Wrap Arounds, to Project and Change Management (Figure 1). The graphic fits on one page so we can post it on our wall as a constant reminder of how we manage projects and change.

The “4 Core Elements” include Scope, Schedule, Budget and Quality / Expectations.  We look at these 4 Core Elements as being elastic.  For example, when we are deep into a project and we consider a change in scope, we look at the 4 Core Elements to determine what is being affected.  Most of the time we cannot increase scope without some effect on Schedule, Budget and Quality / Expectations.

The 3 Wrap Arounds include setting sensitive performance measures, establishing low thresholds for poor performance and having the courage to make difficult decisions.  We use Earned Value with burn-down curves to track our progress.  If our Earned Value is greater than 1, we are good; if it is 1 or less then we are not good.

Making difficult decisions is perhaps the trickiest part of this approach. When a project is on the verge of not going well we remind ourselves that if we stop and fix things before the project money is spent then we can recover and live to fight another day. Once the money is spent there is no recovery.  If there is no recovery, then we have potentially lost a client.

The graphic above serves as a reminder that change may be inevitable, but it is also manageable if we apply the right principles.