Many of my clients have been taking another look at how they go about delivering projects. For those in software development related organizations, they have either migrated to more agile related methodologies or are seriously considering doing so. For my manufacturing clients, there continues to be movement toward formalizing around a more stage gate methodology.
But regardless of your industry or domain, your processes have to serve the objectives of the project. The process is there to help you deliver, not to be a process for the sake of process.
With that in mind, I propose eight questions that are worth asking about your current project management processes to help you know if they are helping (or hindering) your ability to successfully deliver.
- Common approach. Is there a roadmap (or common approach) that can be used with reasonable consistency such that a team knows how to go from idea to delivery? Or is the approach quite different depending on who is running the project?
- Status. Can you reasonably answer the question “How are we doing on this project?” and have a basis for the answer? Or is status mostly gut feel?
- Adaptability. Is it assumed that change will occur during the project and that there are agreed upon approaches to adapt to those changes? Or does the plan assume there won’t be changes, thus causing pain and heartache when the inevitable changes eventually show up?
- Risk. Are discussions about risk a normal part of your processes? Is there a reasonable way to separate the more critical risks from the others? Or is risk a four letter word, so to speak? If someone brings up a risk, are they listened to and the risk considered? Or are they looked down upon, perhaps as being negative or not being a team player?
- Involvement. Are there clear points where stakeholders and sponsors have the opportunity to intersect with the project in a meaningful way, allowing for business-based decisions to be made to continue, modify, or even end the course of the project? Or are there large gaps of time where the organization is essentially flying blind, only to find out late in the game whether we’re on track or not?
- Governance. Is it reasonably clear who is responsible for what, and how to escalate issues when they arise? Or is there confusion about roles and responsibilities, and muddied clarity on how to escalate issues when they arise?
- Dashboard. Is there a tool (which can be as simple as a spreadsheet or as comprehensive as an enterprise program management system) that allows a high-level overview of projects in flight, including status, key milestones, costs, etc.? This is a project dashboard of sorts. Or does each project have its own metrics and tools to present these things?
- Detail. Are project plans so detailed that it’s a project to management a project? Or is the plan too high-level or non-existent? Ideally there’s just enough detail to provide control without over-burdening the management processes.
This is not an exhaustive list of questions, but how you answer them can say a lot about how effectively your current processes are helping your teams deliver (or not).
What questions would you add to this list? Leave a comment with your thoughts.
We help organizations improve their ability to deliver projects. Contact us if you would like to explore how we can help your organization more successfully deliver your projects.