Tools for Better
Focusing on just eight points can create a higher level
of project success By Mike Scott
Many problems that come up con- sistently with projects can be addressed quickly and easily— through implementing consistent systems that capitalize on repeating
successes and learning from failures.
In projects, we’re always working as
teams. I’m amazed at how many people
give projects to people and then the projects get way off course, don’t get started at
all, or miss targets and deadines. Here’s a
way to do things differently, by focusing
on the areas addressed by the Eight-Point
Project Success Checklist. Download a copy
and try it for your projects (link information provided below).
Completion. Give and get a specific
date and time for completion of the
project. Projects started by e-mail can be
fraught with confusion because people
don’t always think their e-mails through.
Pick up the phone and call to resolve anything that’s not clear. A 15-minute meeting with your boss each week (with a clear
agenda) is a good way to clear up any questions that have come up in the past week
or, if you are the boss, with your staffers.
Clarity. Have all projects paraphrased
back. Be specific about what you don’t
know or don’t understand.
Plan. Have all projects planned out
into deliverables and plans. Projects
are really just a series of tasks. When you
plan out projects, plan out the deliverables—then the tasks within them. Look
at the major deliverables of that project—
there may be a lot of them. Then eventually
you’ll have a whole series of tasks to get
each of those deliverables completed. It’s
crucial that the project planner is clear on
what the deliverables are before beginning
the plan. It’s easy to get off-course quickly
if you don’t see the bigger picture.
Obstacles. Determine the project
obstacles with solutions prior to commencing work on the project. A good leader
is always looking at what could go wrong
and how to prevent it. As you start working with people on a project, work with
your team to come up with the charter.
Every project plan should list obstacles
Track. Specific tracking meeting dates
and times should be set during the
project planning process. At review meetings, if the tracking meeting shows that
project is off-course, your team has the
opportunity to make corrections before
it becomes a serious problem. The plan
has tracking points so everyone involved
knows where they are supposed to be at
any given time—without micromanaging.
When this gets built into the process, things
will start to change in your organization.
Project Charter is a clear and definite definition of a project. See the “More Tools to
Download” box for details on this worksheet for project planning.
A Project is a series of planned-out deliverables and tasks designed to achieve a stated
goal by a specific date.
Deliverables are the major components required to ensure that a complete project is
Project Sponsor(s) are those individuals who ensure continued support for your project.
The Project manager (or leader) does whatever is necessary to make sure that the members
of the project can do their work.
Stakeholders are all those groups or individuals (internal or external) that are impacted,
or that can impact the outcome of your project.
Key Stakeholders are a subset of stakeholders who, if their support is withdrawn, would
cause the project to fail.
An example: Let’s say that mom decides that the family needs a new car. The project sponsor is
mom (she’s the one who is going to ensure that the overall project get supported). The project
leader is probably dad. The stakeholders might include the kids, the bank, the car dealer, mom,
dad, the insurance company, and maybe even the dog. What are the major deliverables? Financing,
buy versus lease, insurance, make/model, and budgeting, for example. It’s a lot of work to get each
of those done, so we divide up the deliverables among the team; each team member can start
developing the tasks involved in accomplishing that deliverable.