- Managing a project, eg: house extension, ERP system implementation, or search, selection and procurement exercise; or
- Part of a project team; or
- Consulting about projects, ie: an individual project itself or the structures and processes that support and govern them, and how they’re strategically aligned.
- How often are projects assessed? and
- How can we be sure they're heading for success?
It vitally important to remember that an organization and its business needs change rapidly therefore its projects need to too. It’s equally valid to shut a project down, as it is to continue forward.
Unfortunately this objectivity is often overshadowed by methodology and process. When Projects, Steering Groups and Business have different conversations about business drivers and direction, rollout plans and operational use, the dialogue is more valuable and they can quickly re-balance what the project’s doing vs what’s needed. Who cares how many checklists you’ve got if the outcome will be redundant way before it’s delivered.
In order to be objective and assess what’s going on we need to detach. Get away from the depths of the project and ask the following types of questions:
- What is this project all about? Not the business case, the project in its current state.
- Does it align with strategic drivers?
- What value has it or will it deliver?
- How is that value going to be used, if at all?
From there assess how the project is being run and managed because that too will influence success or failure. This can be done very effectively and within a relatively short period by focusing on 4 key points:
- What’s working well? This is the stuff to keep doing. General rule of thumb - if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
- What’s not? This is the stuff that has to change and once you know this you can put action plans together for improvements or, if it doesn’t serve any greater purpose, phase out or stop immediately.
- What needs to start?
- What needs to stop?
However the ultimate question in any assessment is - Is it fit for purpose? You’ll see quite quickly if it is or not. It may align with the business case but that in itself may no longer be valid or it may have deviated so much that it’s no longer recognizable. Then it’s all about the findings and what happens next; presenting concise recommendations supported by sound argumentation for informed decision-making.
Many projects and initiatives inter-play with others somewhere along the line therefore when assessing for success there’s little to be gained at individual project level. While improvements may be effected during that specific projects' lifecycle sustainable improvement and real business alignment will only come through a broader assessment.
How do you assess for success?