Por Mauro Rebelo

Programs, Projects, Sub-Projects, Actions and Sprints

[Por que] Sonia Rodrigues says that “the word is not Mother Jane’s house” and you can’t do whatever you want with it. Words have precise meanings that must be respected. Expressions, on the other hand, can have different meanings depending on the context. It’s what we call ‘jargon’. Project, program, sub-project, sprint, release, version, revision, work package, workpackage, deliverable, wave, phase, roadmap, milestones, goals…

[O Que] it is important to define the meaning of these expressions for us at Bio Bureau and BioMA, [Para Que] in order to align our understanding of their meaning and facilitate communication, both between us and with our partners and clients.

[Onde] These definitions will be especially important when organizing activities in Trello, although they are also very important when drawing up a proposal or contract. When it comes to the proposal/contract, we may have to give in to the customer’s jargon. As for our Trello boards, the interpretation given here will prevail.

[Quem] It’s our responsibility, yours, that of the user who creates a board, column or card, to fit it correctly into the project management structure shared by everyone.

[Como] Programs are the primary grouping category and are made up of the projects that make up the development of a product or service. The programs are long-term (years) and follow a road map that can be (in our case is) described by the TRL scale. In our Trello, we have an IDP Board that describes the company’s ongoing programs in columns, with cards listing proposed and contracted projects and contracts (this board is the only exception to the rule that cards and boards should be dynamic and never used as an information repository). The program boards are within the Bio Bureau team and have the approved and ongoing contracts listed in the columns.

[Como] Projects are a big macro, representing major efforts to achieve even medium-term objectives (many months or a few years). Projects can be linked to a contract with a client, or to an internal initiative by BioB itself to create/improve/document a technology, service, product or process. Projects are always linked to a program. Projects always have a budget (cost) and a deadline that need to be respected. Projects always have a general coordinator (who deals with the client) and a technical coordinator (who deals with the team). Projects are listed in columns on the program board in Trello. The cards in these columns list important activities for the general management of these contracts: kick-off meetings, delivery of technical and management reports, accountability, invoicing… These tables list the work packages as understood by the client and as listed in the technical proposal and contract. With a few exceptions, only the management team (CEO, CFO, executive assistant, general coordinator, technical coordinator and PMO) have access to the program and project boards.

[Como] Sub-projects are the unit of execution for contracts and projects. They are organized by the technical coordinator (CTO) together with the team. They are short-lived (weeks to a few months) and deliver parts of the project or contract. It has a defined team that can include people from outside the Bio Bureau. There are deadlines and budgets that must be respected. Sub-projects are the heart of the execution process and help to allocate the team, control costs, measure deliverables and efforts. All sub-projects have a Project Management Canvas (PMCanvas) that describes the product to be delivered, the partial deliverables, the team, the budget, the risks, the deadline and connects to the Project/Contract PMCanvas. Every sub-project also has a folder in GDrive to store all the files needed for, or produced during, its execution. He also has a Trello board just for him, within the program’s ‘Team’, which allows him to share activities and tasks with partners outside the Bio Bureau in a controlled manner.

[Como] Finally, actions are very localized, short-lived efforts (1 day to 1 week) to consolidate information into a product (article, report, application, proposal, contract…). It’s what we call a ‘sprint’. The actions/sprints do not have their own PMCanvas or budget, but must respect those established for the sub-project in which they are included. Actions/sprintst also don’t have their own Trello board and are identified within the sbu-project board by a column and their own labels. The actions/sprints have a defined team and deadline, a kick-off meeting where all the tasks to be carried out during the period are listed, the person responsible and the deadline for each one, and a final lessons learned meeting. The actions/sprints also have short (15 min) daily meetings to follow up on activities.

[Quando] From now on, we will use these definitions for our communication.