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20+ Project Questions That Reveal Everything

        posted by , April 06, 2013

There's no sense in quietly allowing a doomed project to drag on.

Some projects are failures from the start. Others look good at the start but it soon becomes clear they're doomed.

You've probably managed a project that everyone (including yourself) secretly thought was going to fail. When this happens it's in everyone's best interests to candidly voice their concerns.

Every project entails risk. Every project can fail. Most successful projects encounter dark days when everything seems to go wrong. There's a fine line between being a quitter and recognizing reality.

The following questions cut to the heart of project health. They may help separate normal project issues from projects that will certainly fail.

Recognizing failure isn't about giving up, it's about renewing your strategy, requirements and plan for success.

Ability to Change

A healthy project has strong support from executive management, stakeholders and working level staff. Communication and socialization has ensured that the project is highly visible to everyone impacted. Expectations match project realities. Resistance to project change is low. People feel consulted and engaged.

Does the organization have the ability to execute the project?
Is the sponsor actively committed to the project?
Does the sponsor have the ability (authority, influence) to support the project?
Are stakeholders resisting the project?
Are expectations about the project close to reality?
Is the project visible to the organization?
Is the project widely resisted at the ground level?
Does the project have support to manage the people-side of change?

Requirements & Project Plan

The health of your project starts with your requirements and project plan. Healthy projects have consistent requirements that align with business realities. Requirements consider integration of business, culture, people, training, processes, technology and knowledge changes.

Healthy projects focus on maintaining project momentum. Frequent releases ensure that stakeholder expectations and change are manageable. The risk management and quality management plans of healthy projects indicate clear sailing ahead.

Is the project plan overly aggressive (lack of contingency)?
Are requirements consistent with the realities of the business?
Are releases long, big and/or complex?
Is there a realistic plan to integrate the project with concurrent changes to the organization?
Does the risk management plan identify high impact, high probability risks that have been accepted?
Does the quality plan indicate that quality will excessively low?

Project Situation

The situation on the ground is the best indicator of project health.

A healthy project has an energy about it. Productivity is moving along. Issues are resolved. People are engaged and optimistic. Resistance to change is on the decline and acceptance of the project is running smoothly.

Does the project team have the ability to deliver the project?
Is political infighting causing excessive delays and low quality decisions?
Are project deliverables low quality?
Does your project approach or plan have structural issues?
Do products being delivered have structural issues (e.g. technology architecture issues)?
Has productivity been chronically low?
Are there serious relationship problems with consultants, vendors and suppliers?
Are issues mounting far faster than they could possibly be cleared?
Is the project team in low spirits?

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