In Part 1, we discussed the first four of my personal list of twelve things to do on every project to make your life easier. And by that I mean increase your likelihood of project success. In this second part, let’s examine my final eight actions...
Send project status information to your execs regularly. Keep your executive management team informed of your project status. They may not read what you send, but at least you’ve sent it. And if you need them to knock down a roadblock for you on a project, it will be that much easier.
Track the project budget week in and week out. Watch the budget closely and forecast and re-forecast it weekly. If you’re watching the project budget all the time then it’s not likely to ever get more than 10% out of line – and it will be much easier to fix than a 50% overrun.
Keep the issues at the forefront. Manage ongoing issues as outstanding tasks on the project. Delegate and assign them – make the act of reviewing issue status part of the weekly status call. Unchecked issues can bring a project to a halt.
Keep the customer assigned to tasks. Keeping your busy customer engaged on the project can sometimes be a problem. Avoid that scenario by always finding tasks – no matter how small – to assign to them so they know you’re expecting updates from them during each status call.
Advise the customer on testing. Customers are notoriously bad at or unprepared for testing. Don’t do the testing for them, but coach them in best practices for creating test cases and scenarios. It’s not in your best interest for them to be ill prepared for testing. No matter how poorly they test the system, they’re still going to expect full functionality upon deployment.
Formal signoffs are a must. Always get a formal signoff on each deliverable and milestone. Tuck it away in case you need it later. If problems arise on your project, fingers can start pointing around deployment time. That’s when an official customer signoff on something like a functional design document can mean the difference between getting paid and giving away thousands of dollars of fixes and rework for free.
Prepare a rollout checklist and follow it. A “formal” solution deployment checklist isn’t really necessary, but create something that helps you go back through the engagement to make sure all of your “I’s” were dotted and your “T’s” were crossed. Was every deliverable completed, every signoff obtained, ever task completed, etc. You don’t want to get to a point two weeks after implementation and have support issue that reveals that you dropped a ball somewhere along the way.
Conduct lessons learned sessions. Whether you do several during the project (my preference) or just one at the end, do conduct lessons learned. I know it’s hard to get everyone to stick around at the end of the project to talk about what went well and what went wrong – and it can be painful, too – but you need to do it. It may not make your life as PM easier on the current engagement, but it will help you on your next project and over time it will likely help you and the entire PM infrastructure of your organization realize more project successes. And that’s a very good thing.