10 Minute Project Health Check

There is a multitude of literature on project success factors but most methods to check project maturity are pretty heavyweight and time-consuming. They are more geared toward improving the overall project management competence in an organisation as a whole rather than assessing an individual project.

A simple way to assess the project management quality of a single project would be to check if the project management methodology of the organisation was adhered to. This is a good step, but can lead to the methodology being applied in a clinical fashion to check the boxes.

Project success builds on the system of people, objectives, work, deliverables and use of deliverables to constitute a cohesive whole. And project success does not conclude with the acceptance of agreed deliverables, but with the benefits realised by using those deliverables in operations. The below checklist is an attempt to assess an individual project against this systemic and end-to-end view. The list is not complete, but focuses on the ‘must haves’. As such, even a few boxes that cannot be checked as true, may break the project.

Project Conception Phase
The problem you want to solve and the change you want to make to solve that problem are clearly specified
The project has been selected from several options as the best approach to making the change and solving the problem
The deliverables, i.e. the goods and services, that the project will deliver are clearly specified
Acceptance criteria have been defined for the project deliverables that are approved by the users and the project sponsor
It is clearly defined how the project deliverables will be handed over to and used by operations
The benefits of using the deliverables in operations is defined and made measurable
Project and operational risks have been assessed and planned for
Project Initiation Phase
The benefits of making the change is larger than the cost of producing and using the project deliverables
An executive sponsor with sufficient influence, command over resources and competences sees the benefit and wants to drive the change from initiation to benefits realisation
A project manager with the right knowledge and skill set has been freed up for the project and given sufficient authority
There is a proven project management methodology in place and the project team has sufficient knowledge and skills on this methodology
Project Planning Phase
The work required to produce the project deliverables has been identified and broken down into mutually exclusive but comprehensive parts
The work effort required to produce the deliverables has been realistically estimated
The people required to do the work have to produce the deliverables been freed up from other tasks
The people required to do the work to produce the deliverables have agreed to SMART objectives
The tangible and intangible resources required to produce the project deliverables and hand them over to operations are available or have been budgeted
Project Execution Phase
All project team members know by when they should complete which tasks
Project team members are motivated and capable of completing their tasks
Project Monitoring & Control
Risks are regularly monitored and managed
Feedback from project team members on project progress, concerns, issues and risks is continuously gathered, assessed and managed
Regular status reports on production of deliverables against plan and on risks are made to the project sponsor in a standard format
Project Handover to Operations
The project sponsor has approved the project deliverables based on the defined acceptance criteria
The users have approved the project deliverables based on the defined acceptance criteria
Users are able to use the project deliverables effectively in daily operations
The realisation of the intended benefits has been verified
If the intended benefits have not been realised, corrective action has been defined, planned and implemented

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