Project Management

Project Management nuggets from the information badger

“There’s only two things you can start without a plan: a riot and a family, for everything else you need a plan” – Groucho Marx

  • Always conduct a proper handover from Sales to Delivery; understand the contract’s scope, deliverables, acceptance requirements and payment milestones, and apply rigorous change and commercial disciplines from the outset.
  • Be commercially aware at all times; use the formal change control processes on a small item as soon as possible to reinforce the principles of commercial discipline to your team and the client’s.
  • Always have a Controlling Specification setting out the functional and non-functional requirements of your solution or service and agree it with your client.
  • Use a lifecycle and methodology that is appropriate for the solution or service, understood by the client, and is appropriate for the commercial/financial risk associated with the contract.
  • Always have an agreed plan that is built on clear, trackable work packages that demonstrably cover the contracted scope, deliverables and milestones.
  • Ensure the plan is based on reviewed estimates, has realistic interdependencies between work packages, and covers the whole lifecycle – including warranty, transition/ knowledge transfer and service or support operations.
  • Ensure the plan includes dependencies on the client and third parties; ensure your plan is fully aligned with the plans from your subcontractors or suppliers.
  • Establish a delivery organisation suited to executing the plan, with the right people with the right capability in the right positions; never let individuals and their egos influence your organisation structure.
  • Pay close attention to any activity performed in another country; communicate frequently and well – understand cultural differences and take steps to ensure these do not lead to misunderstandings that cause delay.
  • Track and report progress against the plan using quantifiable metrics and indicators (non-financial & financial); only deviate from plan via approved change control with your client or if very poor progress warrants a re-plan.
  • What gets measured gets done; always measure things quantitatively and analyse what the results signal about the overall health or otherwise of delivery.
  • Manage for success not failure; actively drive progress against the plan to overcome obstacles and achieve milestones on time.
  • Administration is not the same as management but is a crucial part of any project success; always have a structured and accessible repository (filing system) holding all client, contractual, financial, delivery, solution, documents, reports and correspondence.
  • Ensure your filing system is rigorously maintained through the lifecycle; an empowered project support function is essential on large or complex deliveries.
  • Use a risk register to manage and mitigate risk; always consider special products or supplies from small subcontractors as a risk to be proactively managed.
  • Conduct solution and lifecycle phase completion reviews to inform readiness for the next project phase; proceed only if designated criteria are fully met.
  • Never shorten test activities to compensate for solution or service development overruns.
  • Always perform extensive functional, non-functional, system and service tests prior to entering any Acceptance process with your client.
  • Conduct Acceptance using an agreed suite of tests that cover – and are formally traceable to – the requirements set out in the Controlling Specification.
  • Always keep records of all tests conducted, their results and their traceability to requirements.
  • Always obtain a signed Acceptance Certificate from the client for deliverables made and milestones achieved. 
  • No IT system or service is free of defects; always track defect rate and defect correction trends – analyse these frequently and be realistic about what this tells you about impacts on future activities, including warranty and service/support.
  • Balance budget, time and quality when making decisions; always underpin decisions with analysis of quantitative indicators – don’t shy away from making difficult or unpopular decisions.
  • Deal with your client with integrity and honesty; demonstrate ownership of your own problem situations, and an understanding of the clients.
  • Successful Project Management requires personal resilience, leadership, objectivity, good soft skills and common sense, and the execution of project management processes; the probability of success rises when all these are present.