Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Life Work The Universe...... Reporting, Reporting, Reporting

As followers of the blog will be aware, jobs are being discarded like confetti in my organisation. My team will survive this round of cuts if half go. You can imagine that it's like accepting an invitation to a buffet at the Roman Forum on the Ides of March!

'Performance' is key to survival, that is, be SEEN to be achieving.

So, you can understand that I've been a little distracted over the last week or so whilst I race to bring in my current efficiencies project stage on schedule, and I've done it! PHEW!

In addition I've managed to reduce the requirements for 13.7 man years of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) resources to just 3.1. The Project Sponsor and stakeholders are over the moon. Again, PHEW!

Unexpectedly I won public approval from senior managers and private praise from my colleagues on Tuesday for taking a lead in a diffcult efficiencies workshop. Luckily (sic) I had come to the workshop with a considered and structured strategy for delivering this particular efficiency workstream across the organisation. The workshop facilitator called in sick and I was able to step into the breach.

There is a big HOWEVER! In order to 'achieve', I've had to ignore our reporting mechanisms. Maybe a tactical mistake. You see it's more important to show highly developed plans and write reports than to actually do the project i.e. "be SEEN to be achieving".

I have to report on my activities daily, to do this I have a seperate electronic timesheet, that needs to be completed during the day - when I get to work, go to lunch, come back from lunch and sign out at night. Keep this parked somewhere, I'll come back to it.

For each project I need to create a detailed project plan in MS Project. Only, my stakeholders don't have MS Project and you can't copy and paste from Project into Excel. So, I have to print it out and recreate in Excel for my Project Board and Stakeholders. Once done I upload as a file into a project management and reporting system - but of course, this project reporting system needs to have the whole project plan recreated in it's own format with an emphasis this time on milestones. All of this needs to be updated as the project progresses.

Also, yes there's an also, I HAVE to use a system that accounts for my time and planned allocation of activities, currently up to August 2010. So, once again I have to recreate my project plan, this time adding in my personal details and day to day demands like annual leave, flexi-time (a thing of the past), visits to dentist, union activities, team and non-chargeable internal meetings. But you can't undo mistakes and can't change estimated timeframes to actual timeframes.

I copy and paste the details from my electronic timesheet into an excel spreadsheet and from there transpose it into this system. It's a mess, even I can't follow it.

It's all absolutely barking mad!

Got that off my chest!



  1. Feel for you. I once worked for an organisation in IT where the process manaul was 21 documents and the guide to finding things was 4 A4 pages in length. I was 'lucky' enough to trail this for a small project (first one in the group) before being allowed to use a simple plan to develop and deploy. This sole change saved 60% of my time...

    As for moving Project to XLS - I cheat and as part of the project costs build in a Project Viewer for example.

    Keep your chin up

  2. Thanks Andrew!

    Having a few days away from the office to get back to the important things in life - wargaming!


  3. This sounds vaguely familiar
    "You see it's more important to show highly developed plans and write reports than to actually do the project"
    Of course it's the part of the job I hate most!
    Good luck on keeping your sanity (shooting the hell out of some aliens may help)

  4. I have no problem with creating a sound plan. Very much an advocate of exception management and 'lazy' project management - put all the effort up front in the planning and prep, then ride the wave.... I'm not into recreating plans and reporting again and again in different formats.

    The crazy thing is that the person who insists we use the project managemernt and reporting system doesn't like the printed report format and has them all converted back into MS WORD!

    It's just a complete Cluster Frak!

  5. Good god, that's insane. I am always amazed, when I hear about stuff like this, that companies can get anythign done. Think of the loss in productivity due to that one process.

  6. Oh jeez, this sort of thing is why I am SOOOOOO pleased that I run my own business and don't have to answer to anyone else (well, apart from making stuff that you lot like so you keep us in business, of course!).

    Two mottoes to live by, Mark:

    1) Illegitimii Non Carborundum (don't let the b*st*rds grind you down), and...
    2) Brevior Vita Est Quam Pro Futumendibus Negotium Agendo (Life is too short to do business with f*ckwits)....

    Keep yer chin up!


  7. "...(shooting the hell out of some aliens may help)"

    That made me think of this, which might raise a smile....

    NOT SAFE FOR WORK if anyone without a sense of humour is in earshot!

  8. Glad you take the time to share your interest in the hobby with us! If that helps counter this kind of cr*p, right on.

    So much corporate 'culture' is, at best, just a nasty viral curse.

  9. A Night of the long knives in management, how frightening.
    Me i'm a mere minion, a plankton in the corporate structure. So far the sharks have overlooked me !!!!
    That and i usually do shifts and somebody has got to do them.

  10. I suppose if you do a paper suggesting gains in efficiency will result if most of this BS is dropped then someone will decide that you are 'not quite suited for our company profile' and suggest that you 'pursue new opportunities' elsewhere?

    So, when you're not writing the same report in several different formats, what do you actually do?

  11. Here were I work, we have the same issue with Project.
    The PMs output their Project Gantt Charts as pdfs (you can get free software to do this) to circulate to stakeholders.
    I currently use PDFCreator (
    It creates a "printer" on your Windows machine that will output to a pdf file instead of to an actual printer.