Everybody makes a wrong turn now and then on a project. Most of the time you can correct the wrong turn and get the project back on track pretty easily. Sometimes it’s a lot harder to get the project back on track and sometimes the project can’t be recovered at all.
Of course, the best approach is not to make a wrong turn at all, but that’s a lot easier said than done. So, I thought I would give you a few ideas that might help you avoid a wrong turn or at least make the wrong turn a lot smaller and easier to correct.
Align the project with the business on day one. The project has to be something that actually has a positive impact on the business and it has to be something that the business actually needs and wants. Just make sure you’re aligned with the business and doing what the business really wants and needs.
Get the functional and technical requirements right. Don’t skip the requirements. Even if the business thinks they know what they want and even if you think you know what they want. Do your homework and make sure you get the functional and technical requirements right. Don’t skimp on this. Make sure you get it right.
Control the technology, product, and solution selection so that you don’t get “sold” the wrong thing. Don’t listen to the vendors trying to sell you the latest technology. Don’t listen to the IT department telling you that the corporate standard is such and such. Don’t listen to the business people telling you they just want this new cool software. Make sure you get the technology and/or software stuff right so you’re using the right solution for the right problem and you’re keeping the solution in the “sweet spot”.
Plan and analyze the project, scope, schedule, resources, and risks. Again, don’t skimp on this and don’t do it after the project’s well underway. Do it before the project starts. Make sure you get it right and make sure you get the buy-in on all this. The old cliché is true. If you fail to plan you plan to fail. And, don’t forget to analyze the risks. No matter what you’re doing there’s risks there and you need to know about them.
And, once you’ve got the project planned out, follow good project management practices. This is just project management 101 – the basic blocking and tackling. But, it you don’t do it, it will come back to bite you. You don’t have to go overboard on this, you can make sure that the level of project management matches the size of the project. But don’t eliminate this – this is a basic that must be there.
Implement some processes that make sure that the project maintains alignment with the business throughout the project lifecycle. If the project is going to take some months or so, there’s a good chance that things are going to change. You’re probably not really aiming at a static target it’s moving. So, make sure you have the processes in place to deal with these changes. If you know that things are going to change, just deal with it matter-of-factly. It’s all part of the business.
Implement program management best practices for larger projects. If you’re doing a larger project, the communications paths go up exponentially. That’s just the way it is. So, use the right kind of program and project management best practices to deal with the size and duration of the project.
So, these are just some ideas. It’s better not to make a wrong turn and maybe some of these ideas might help you avoid a wrong turn. I know it’s easier said than done and everybody makes a wrong turn now and then.
But, if you can do these things I think it will go a long way to helping you avoid the wrong turns and if you do make a wrong it’ll make it a lot easier to get the wrong turn straightened out.
I hope these ideas help. Let me know what you think. I’m always looking for comments and questions. Good luck!