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Digital Project Success Checklist


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There is no shortage of high profile digital projects that have run over time, over budget or both. Managing digital projects is hard because it relies on using new unproven technologies, terminology is ambiguous, expectations are high and the desire for constant change of requirements is relentless.

This presentation covers the complete project lifecycle from writing the business case to project closure. We’ll cover both traditional methods such as RAID log and RACI model, and new trends in digital project management such as kanban boards, product vs project management and emotional intelligence.

What is a digital project?
Business case
The importance of executive buy-in
Stakeholder interviews as a requirements gathering and relationship building tool
Requirements, scope and deliverables
The dark art of estimating digital projects
Project methodology – waterfall, agile or hybrid?
Project plan
RAID log - Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies
Managing the team using RACI model
Project closure

Real world examples and an interactive exercise on software estimation will make this talk a dynamic and inspiring experience.

Published in: Technology
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Digital Project Success Checklist

  1. 1. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist DIGITAL PROJECT Success Checklist Marianne Kay ∙ Boye Digital Leadership Conference ∙ Aarhus, Denmark ∙ 7 November 2019
  2. 2. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Marianne Kay Web Content Management Team Lead, IT University of Leeds @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19 | @marianne_ua Digital Project Success Checklist
  3. 3. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist About University of Leeds • Russel Group research-intensive university • A top 10 university for research power in the UK • 13th in The Times Good University Guide 2020 • 8,700 staff ∙ 38,000 students
  4. 4. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Agenda • What is a digital project? • What makes digital projects fail? • Digital project stages • Business case • Executive buy-in • Stakeholder interviews • Requirements • Estimation • Project methodology • Project plan • RAID log • Team and RACI model • Project closure • Digital Project Success Checklist
  5. 5. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist IT projects 45% over budget 7%over time 56%less value
  6. 6. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist What is a project? A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  7. 7. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Digital vs traditional projects Digital projects: • Iterative, because pixels are free • Maintenance has a substantial cost • Multidisciplinary • High degree of uncertainty and complexity @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Examples of digital projects: • New website build • Website redesign • Mobile app development • Migration from legacy platforms • Web accessibility remediation
  8. 8. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist What makes digital projects fail? @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  9. 9. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Digital Project • Business case • Executive buy-in • Stakeholder interviews • Requirements, scope and deliverables • Estimation • Project methodology • Project plan • RAID log • Team (RACI model) • Project closure @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  10. 10. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Anatomy of the Business Case • Executive Summary • The Problem • Proposed Solution • Benefits, hard and soft • Dependencies • Alternative Options • Cost and Timescales • ROI • Risks • Success Factors @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  11. 11. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Persuasive language • Up to the point Front-load main message, don’t ramble • Confident active vs passive avoid ‘I think’, ‘I believe’, ‘possibly’… • Specific helps to focus • Factual everyone wants a number • Has many voices credible sources add weight to your argument @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  12. 12. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist So smart but… • Main Point • Breadth • Depth • Height • Sight How Intelligent People Lose Credibility, and How They Can Get It Back @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  13. 13. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Stakeholder interviews • Identify the problems that need to be solved • Illuminate priorities • Expose aspirations, objectives and visions of success • Unearth evidence • Foster buy-in @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Chris Scott Consultant / Managing Director HeadScape Stakeholder interviews reduce the time it takes to reach a viable solution.
  14. 14. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Stakeholder interviews @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Every single person who will be affected by the project/product is a stakeholder: • Senior Management • User contact people • Users and the public • IT • Marketing and Comms
  15. 15. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Stakeholder interviews How many stakeholder interviews do you need ? • It’s a balance • Some interviews will not provide new information but will foster buy-in • Too much planning = procrastination before action ˇ
  16. 16. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Power / interest grid @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  17. 17. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Requirements of all organizations reported inaccurate requirements as the primary reason for project failure. PMI's Pulse of the Profession® (2014) 37%
  18. 18. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Requirements • Poor requirements • Easy to use • Accessible • Page load times under X seconds • Over-ambitious requirements • 100% availability • Bug-free • Unlimited lifetime (online forever and for free) • Unnecessary requirements (want vs need, solution vs requirement) • The website / app should be just like the previous one, but on a new platform • The website will run on XYZ platform @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  19. 19. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Requirements • Poor requirements • Over-ambitious requirements • Unnecessary requirements • Provide context • Offer realistic alternatives • Link to business goals @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  20. 20. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Scope creep • Poor requirements • Ambiguous scope (assumptions, exclusions) • Inconsistent requirements gathering process • Not involving users early enough • Underestimating technical complexity • Lack of change control • Project length / gold plating @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  21. 21. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Software Estimation Software developers are often asked to estimate projects in unfamiliar business areas, projects that will be implemented in new technologies, the impacts of new programming tools on productivity, the productivity of unidentified personnel, and so on. Estimating in the face of uncertainty is business as usual for software estimators. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  22. 22. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Estimation Nine women cannot deliver a baby in one month @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  23. 23. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Estimation • As a rule of thumb, the minimum schedule time can be calculated by doubling the cube-root of the number of estimated staff-months. So for example for 8 months: @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist 8 * 2 = 2 * 2 = 4 • For a 10% reduction from the nominal schedule, you need a 30% increase in staff numbers; Software Estimation by Steve McConnell
  24. 24. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Agile or Waterfall?
  25. 25. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Hybrid / High-frequency waterfall • Frequent face-to-face collaboration stand-ups, progress meetings, UAT demos • Transparency backlog, sprint boards, release notes Azure DevOps, Jira, Confluence • Prioritisation group a ceremony for ‘why’ • Minimum Viable Product @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  26. 26. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Project plan @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  27. 27. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Project plan: Azure DevOps • Epic, feature, task, bug • Capacity (holidays, absences) • Sprints • Kanban boards • Backlog • Release notes @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  28. 28. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Project plan pitfalls • Resource allocation availability vs skill • Estimates unreliable or unrealistic business target vs estimate • Holidays, sickness back-up resources • Suppliers not delivering or causing delays @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  29. 29. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist RAID log @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  30. 30. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist RACI: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed responsibilities/
  31. 31. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Project closure • End of Project report • Summary of completed work • Reasoning for items that were de-scoped • Lessons learnt • Technical debt • Follow-on actions / recommendations • New processes, training, documentation • Formal recognition of the completion of a project • Resources released • Thank you / celebrate! Projects that are not formally closed become never-ending projects or result in orphan unsupported products!
  32. 32. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Project vs Product Project Product Resources and funding are invested in the initial project, little is allocated to ongoing support Ongoing support and maintenance is as important as the initial project Service owner Product owner All work complete at the end of the project Backlog forms the basis for future iterative improvements One-off initiative Long-term product vision
  33. 33. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist What makes digital projects fail? • Poor planning • Poor requirements • Scope creep • Resources: lack of skills, competence, motivation • Poor choice of technology or supplier • Underestimated complexity • Inadequate, optimistic budget and/or timescales @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  34. 34. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Digital Project Success Checklist  Adequate planning  Stakeholder engagement  Competent, motivated team  Well-defined requirements  Frequent and effective collaboration  Suitable technology and reliable supplier  Project plan based on reliable estimates  Budget and timescales with 20-30% contingency @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist
  35. 35. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Resources Project Management Institute The 70-20-10 Rule for Leadership Development Dulux Visualizer Augmented Reality App So Smart But… How Intelligent People Lose Credibility, and How They Can Get It Back by Allen N. Weiner 10 of the worst requirements I have ever seen Stakeholder interviews: essential insights for successful projects Software Estimation: Demystifying the Black Art, by Steve McConnell How Good an Estimator are You? RAID analysis How to use a RACI chart to define roles and responsibilities
  36. 36. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist Marianne Kay Web Content Management Team Lead, IT University of Leeds | @marianne_ua Thank you The price of inaction is far greater than the cost of making a mistake. @marianne_ua @UniversityLeeds #boye19Digital Project Success Checklist − Meister Eckhart