Fact Based Management – Projects

Many things need to occur to ensure any project is successful.

In this post I’ll discuss two things that are particularly important.

1.  Describe the measures of success

When setting up the project, objectives are usually set to describe the problems the project will solve or to describe the benefits it will provide.   Compliment these objectives with measures of success.  On a BI project this might be : Reduction in hours spent producing reports or for a change management project try and describe numerically what is being changed such as : Hours of process time.

The benefit of doing this is two-fold.

First, it will help the sponsor and approver decide if the project is worth the investment.  I’ve seen some instances when a popular sponsor/executive has promised some benefit/improvement to their boss which leads to a project that is hard to resist.   When expectations are built without good facts to base them on it can be difficult to back down.  With a clear mind be sure to check the objectives and measures of success will deliver the expected benefit. Don’t assume the benefits will occur just because the executive wants it.  It’s easier to challenge a project with a good solid argument if this is done as early as possible.

Additionally, during a project when the inevitable scope creep occurs, before accepting the scope creep you can check how this impacts the objectives and measures of success.   I’ve seen many instances where scope creep has been accepted and the sponsor/stakeholders don’t realise until the end of the project that a key deliverable is no longer in scope.

2. Subject Matter Experts

If the project is to change an existing business area.   Nothing can be more important than bringing in someone from the area that has expert knowledge of the area and the existing process. These people have usually been around for a while and are well known in the team as other people often go to this person for support.   This person is a key change agent.  Without their support it will be harder to make the change in the wider area.

For all the love in the world the project manager won’t have the knowledge to make decisions without the support of the subject matter expert.

Likewise, if a new IT system is being introduced you need someone with expert knowledge of the system and how it will interact with the business process.

If the system expert can only be found outside the organisation don’t be tempted to skim the time of the consultant too low. You might save cost in the short run but worse case the project can be put at risk or more usually key objectives may not be delivered satisfactorily.

I hope you’ve found this post useful.  Please share any experiences you have on projects.


About Lee Hawthorn

Data Professional
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