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Checklist for a Project Review



Prof. Dr. Ulrich Anders

If a project starts to lag behind or if it is already significantly delayed and has time or expense budget overruns, management not seldom asks a project management consultancy to carry out a project review. Here we provide for a checklist of the items to check. Missing checkmarks reveal the reasons why the project is on the path to fail and indicate what needs to be done to fix it.

There are basically two sets of reasons why projects are doomed to fail. The project was not setup adequately in its context with the company: too many unclarities, company politics, unrealistic expectation or simply too little support. Companies that are less experienced or little mature with setting up projects may already have a problem here.

Some of the deficiencies can be fixed by a strong and experienced project manager. (S)he pushes ahead and achieves the necessary fixes in the context by help of the status report or by his/her communication skills.

However, a weak or unexperienced project manager will not yield such improvements. On the contrary, weak or unexperienced project manager start managing and assigning people instead of putting the structural pre-requisites in place: status reporting, definitions and methodologies, principles, procedures and infrastructure. Or in other words: if you find a project with no high quality status reporting and progress tracking, you already can make conclusions on the project manager’s experience and ability.

Project Context

These are the most needed items that a project requires from its context:

  • A unique result owner and a specified project sponsor who “pays for” or “represents the payments of” the resources.

  • Project is seen as a realistic source of a specified value which compares to the costs the project takes.

  • The project does not generate conflicts of interest or objectives. If this is unavoidable the conflicts are managed in the context but outside of the project by the project sponsor. There is also absence of pressure from company politics or from wrong management promises.

  • Clear and communicated responsibilities, priorities, responsibilities and managerial powers.

  • A governance structure - e.g. in the form of a Project Steering Committee, which has the task of eliminating external project hurdles and defining cross-functional priorities.

  • SMART objectives and realistic timelines based on reasonable estimates and plans.

  • The project relies on internal knowledge and not too much on external resources only.
  • The project has an reasonable time and expense budget also for unforeseen issues.

Project Management and Control

These are the most important structural items that a project need to have in place in order to work systemically successful:

  • Bi-weekly issue & progress tracking on the basis of a proven concept project control status report.

  • List of ALL involved people in and around the project.

  • Clear »finished« and quality agreements and a rigorous quality control for each deliverable.

  • Fast decisions making with little time delay and an amount of bureaucracy that is as low as possible.

  • Project manager with experience in project management and knowledge of the subject.

  • Reduction of complexity and size through extensive modularization of the project into manageable teams with a minimization of interdependencies.

  • A defined project methodology and specified procedure.

  • Clearly assigned project team members that are dedicated to the project and not split between various functions.

  • Project members that are motivated and have a sustainable workload.

  • Proper modern and distributed project management and control software that prevent the re-invention of the wheel.

  • Individual responsibilities for deliveries and services at all hierarchical levels.

  • Adequate communication software that facilitates easy and efficient information exchange.

  • A documentation and handover repository, that carries the project results that are handed over to the result owner.

© Prof. Dr. Ulrich Anders

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Last change: 2022-01-02|00:58

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