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Charting The Unknown


It is important to recognize that your organization culture sets the tone for how you approach projects. For example,

  • Does your company always expect people to do more for less?
  • Does the management routinely insist on, or agree to, unworkable schedules?
  • Are team members encouraged to underestimate their realistic efforts?

If so, these are signs that your organization may have a "must-win-at-all-costs" view of projects. You may want to consider how idealistic, but impractical, expectations could set the stage for project failure. Before you start choosing, estimating and staffing a project, ask yourself these important questions.

Will Coordination With Many Different Collaborators Be Needed?

Involving many people means complex hand-offs. If your project includes client or third-party collaborators, how will people interact? Should all parties remain in direct communication? Or should each group have a single point of contact? Also think about the division of work, and each group's responsibilities to the others.

Are The Primary Collaborators Unfamiliar To The Project Team?

If it does become necessary to recruit one or more new contributors, %rill you be able to verify whether they can do the job? If the unfamiliar parties have stretched the truth about their capabilities, you may be in for trouble. If there is a way to have them prove themselves first, that is ideal. Or else have a contingency plan.

Are Project Team Members Discouraged From Raising Concerns?

Before and after the project starts, team members will identify all kinds of challenges. Do you want people to raise red flags when they see potential problems or do you prefer everyone to keep quiet, maintain a stiff upper lip, and work 24/7 if needed? The team culture will determine whether the members verbalise and address in a timely fashion the many pitfalls that can appear along the way.

Are There Insufficient Review And Test Cycles In The Schedule?

Allocating enough time for review and testing iterations commonly presents a challenge. Regardless of your initial planning, if project delays begin to add up, what will people want to cut? Can yon afford to reduce testing and still deliver quality?

Are There No Standard Protocols For Managing Scope Changes?

When the inevitable "add-on requests" materialise, consider how they will affect the project. Unless you have a tool, such as a project change request, to adjust the official budget and time frame, you will always be at risk for cost and schedule overruns.
 

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