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…and not a nail in sight.

How do give your project the best start, with 6 questions.

What is the real reason that projects are successful? There are a number of factors, not least of all the specific project method that’s employed. I love it when you engage in a conversation with a project fanatic. I’m talking about people who are adept at a specific flavour of project management and get uncomfortable in discussions on the benefits of any other approach.

Whilst not knocking any one style in particular, it’s worth taking into consideration that certain project approaches do tend to favour certain circumstances. Agile does have a lot of benefits when working on software development projects for example. It is important to understand that they all have strengths and weaknesses and it is important to get an understanding of both. When you’re faced with someone who is brilliant at one type of project approach ask them these six questions.

  1. Is it right for the environment that it is being deployed in?

Is the approach a natural fit to the business and the type of project that is being undertaken? Agile for software development, Waterfall for an office move?

  1. How are the project elements communicated?

What is the ‘preferred’ method of communication, the updates, project reports and so on? How well do they work for the business and for the stakeholders? It’s all very well for the consultant or project lead to be a guru in one particular method, but if the stakeholders can’t make head nor tail of the updates, it might be for nothing.

  1. What is the technical backbone of the methodology?

Is it heavily reliant on proprietary software? Does it require additional training, is it only available to a ‘select few’? Or is it all in the head of one or two project managers using a Gantt chart that no-one else has access to?

  1. What are the immediate benefits of the solution over others that might be available?

Are there fewer people needed, is it quicker or more cost effective than other approaches that are available?

  1. What about any other benefits?

Is it easily migrated to other projects, or to other parts of the businesses?

  1. How does it get us close to the solution?

Ultimately, will it deliver a reliable result or objective that meets the stakeholder’s requirements, completed within an achievable, pre-agreed time-frame for the money that was set aside and completed by a team of people who would be willing at the end to do something similar.

If asking the questions above result in a blank stare and furious muttering about how waterfall project management dates back to World War 2 and has no place in the business, then you might have a problem on your hands.

But catching zealous behavior early and adapting the approach to your specific needs is as important to ensuring the successful completion of a project as the method being deployed.