Most projects are made up of several sub-groups of people. These sub-groups of people have interfaces with each other whereby they exchange and share information, documents and outcomes. They also provide and request support from other groups to start,complete and execute a project process. Most of the time project inefficiencies occur across the interfaces with other sub-groups on a project.
The best way to ensure efficiency and effectiveness across project interfaces is to increase transparency around assumptions that people within the various project sub-groups may be operating under and to test whether they are accurate and understood by others on the project.
Note that project interfaces can also refer to processes that involve others within the home office environment or the company structure. These “external” groups to the project may be setting high level processes and goals, which creates the environment that the project team needs to operate in. The diagram below shows how interfaces can be seen from a project perspective. The overlaps shown in the circles below indicate areas or processes where two or more project sub-groups have to participate in order to successfully complete the process.
The Team-building activity that I am sharing helps various interfacing groups understand differences that may exist between how they think they should be interfacing with other groups and what the actual expectations from other groups are.
The Team-building activity to define project interfaces resource link.
This activity can be used in many different ways:
- Clearing up interface issues among geographically dispersed groups working on the same processes or projects;
- Clarifying how different functions should interface with other one another on a project, a work process or any other initiative/objective they are working towards;
- Clarifying any differences in perspective among cultural groups or different shifts of people in the same function working on the same tasks as that function interfaces with other functions to complete specific work processes; (in this case it is a function checking itself for consistent execution of the same work processes performed at different locations or during different shifts.)
- Getting clarity on how projects should interface with each other and/or the corporate groups they work with in order to successfully execute processes with multiple interfaces.
The reason that interfaces with other groups tend to be where delays and frustrations occur is because it is common for people to analyze and optimize processes only for the portion that they are responsible for. This perspective means they often overlook how their efforts impact others or how the efforts of others impact them and they fail to take the bigger picture into account. This activity will support efforts to improve the outcomes of inter-group processes as you work towards greater successes on your projects and initiatives.