It's a Project Manager's World Newsletter with Dr. James Brown
      January, 2013 Full Moon Edition      

Project Management Tactics for TBD - To Be Determined

Project management is filled with uncertainties and unknowns. All of these unknowns cannot and should not be immediately resolved. Therefore the term To Be Determined (TBD) can be a common part of the Project Management landscape. Additionally, blanket requests or expectations for detail from project teams are counterproductive. Use of detail should be a strategic decision to make sure the team is not overwhelmed providing information that may be of little use. One of the ways to control excessive detail is the effective use of TBD.

It is simply common sense as program or project manager for you to have rules for TBD use by your team. There is nothing wrong with TBD as long as the TBD is not lonely and TBD is time constrained.

TBD should never be lonely

A lonely TBD in the project environment is reckless endangerment with dire project management consequences likely. This means when I have a TBD in order for it not to be lonely there is an associated individual that is responsible for resolving the TBD and a date as to when that resolution is required. These TBD’s should also be tracked in an issues list or an action item list.

So the minimum rules you as project manager should have for every TBD are to…

1. Have individual accountability for the TBD

2. Have a due date for the elimination or the clarification of the TBD

3. Have an action item list or tracking lists for TBD’s to assure on time resolution

This is just sound management practice and allowing TBD’s frees team members from getting bogged down unnecessarily. You do not want to have the team investing a lot of time in something when the value added may be marginal, nonexistent or it can be easier done at a later date. Leaders pave the way for people to be successful and proper application of “To Be Determined” is one of the things that puts individuals and teams in a position to be successful.

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