Thursday, January 18, 2007

Project Management for Professionals - Completing the Plan

Note to Reader: this post completes the current series of notes on project management for professionals. A list of previous posts can be found at the end of this post.

We now come to the last stage in the project management cycle, completing the plan.

The first goal in this stage is to obtain client acceptance of the project result. This means that the client agrees that the quality specifications of the project parameters have been met. This part of plan completion overlaps with and is also an integral element of plan implementation.

The second goal is to ensure that we record and gain from the lessons arising from the project.

Given these goals, key steps in plan completion include:

a. Making certain that the client is happy throughout the project with regular feedback

b. Checking each project output before delivery to ensure that it meets specification.

c. Making sure that the client is satisfied with performance at each milestone and with each deliverable. If the client is dissatisfied, then the reasons for this must be clearly established. In this context, it is important to distinguish between:

(i) Client dissatisfaction relating to the original specification, ie, it may not in fact meet the need it was expected to meet. This can arise at any stage in the project. Resolution of this issue may require project modification.

(ii) Client dissatisfaction relating to our performance against specification. In this case we need to be very clear on the grounds of dissatisfaction to ensure that we can take the appropriate corrective action

So long as steps a) through c) have been carried out, final client sign-off should be a formality.

d. Ensuring that we thank everybody who has been involved in the project.

e. Carrying out a full project review to identify and capture lessons.

The process to be followed here is summarised below.


The objectives of the debrief should be to:

1.Identify any deficiencies in performance from our viewpoint or that of the client and suggest ways of overcoming them in future.

2. Identify those features in performance which were particularly good to see what lessons they might hold for our work in general.

3. Identify any other general lessons from the project which might be of broader application to our work, including intellectual property and any spin-offs.

4. Specify resulting action items.

No Fault Debriefs

All debriefs should be carried out on no-fault basis. We should be concerned with deficiencies in our collective work, not those relating to individual performance. Any problems here should in fact have been identified and dealt with.

Debrief Process

Consistent with the debrief objectives, each debrief should among other things:

1. Review performance against budget and time lines.

2. Look at the level of client satisfaction with the result, together with any client suggestions for improvement.

3. Examine project management and production issues to identify any areas where we could have improved performance.

4..Identify any broader issues requiring modifications to policy and procedures.

5. Discuss possible spin-offs.

Prior the debrief the project manager should collect any necessary information and identify any obvious issues for discussion. Following the debrief, the project manager should write up the results, with copies to the project and debriefing files.

Previous Posts in this Series

Note on Copyright

Material in this series is drawn from the Ndarala Group Short Guide to Project Management. The material is copyright Ndarala but may be reproduced and quoted with due acknowledgment.

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