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Essentials of Project Health Assessment

With the new project methodologies in vogue, IT projects have adopted the approach of continuous monitoring of project status. But is this enough? Why are there still surprises in IT project results? Well, the answer is not in “How frequently we review” but in “What questions we demand an answer for”.

Some key essentials to determine the project status, keeping the focus intact, on all project dimensions – Design, schedule, people/resources and cost. Repetitive checks on these can, to a large extent, identify lapses or prevent projects going awry. This will also help turn the attention to the spirit of the review objective rather than its format.

  • Measure alignment of project design to a 5-Point project charter rather than the project scope documents. Scope documents are often too long, shifting and not objective enough for project group to map results. Non-Alignment to project charter can raise brows while non-conformity to some part of the scope, features can be left for the project team to wade through.

  • Often, projects wander off from NEEDS to WANTS. While a project contingency kit may be planned, it is key to ensure that the contingency is not consumed for fulfilling mere Wants with Needs losing its share.

  • People are at the realm of projects. Conflict management and promoting collaborative approach gains key role in project success. In most project reviews, conflicts are swept under the carpet only for it to emerge larger and stronger at the later and critical stages of the project. Recognizing these conflicts during these health check reviews and re-aligning people back to project charters can be a great relief to all project stakeholders.

  • Reassessment of Activities in critical Path and associated risks. Are there inclusions to or exclusions from the critical path. This helps realigning the project plan considering changes or new discoveries.

  • Sometimes, two or more projects may be inter-dependent and tracking the impact on each other becomes pertinent. A common representative health assessment team should clearly demonstrate the adverse impact that any project may have on others and also ensure that short term measures are avoided to circumvent given the interested parties are not the same.

And lastly, it is important to note that the project health assessments are not meant for solving all the problems of the project. It is, rather, meant to discover any signs of project sickness or impediment which needs urgent attention. It is therefore best to keep the health assessment reviews focused towards key outliers and leave status updates out of scope. Keeping them short and concise with a limited stakeholder group in attendance is equally important.

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