Project breathalyzer

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9 critical questions to test the credibility of any project

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Project breathalyzer

  1. 1. Project Breathalyzer Asking and answering the “breathalyzer” test questions every week keeps the project team, management, and participants focused on outcomes rather than effort 1
  2. 2. If the PM can’t answer these questions, then the project should be scheduled for immediate review Do you have a current, credible activity network supported by a WBS? Do you have a current, credible schedule and budget? Do you know what deliverables you are accountable for? Can you list the top ten risks? Do you know your schedule compression percentage? What is the estimated size of your deliverables? How were these derived? Do you know the percentage of external dependencies that are not under your control? Does your staff have sufficient expertise in the project domain? Have you identified adequate staff to allocate to scheduled tasks at the proper time? 2/11
  3. 3. Do we have a current and credible activity network supported by a Work Breakdown Structure? Have the critical path items been identified? What explicit provisions have been made for work that isn’t in the Work Breakdown Structure? Does the activity network clearly organize, define, and graphically display the work to be accomplished? Does the top–level activity network graphically define the project from start to finish, including all the dependencies? Does the lowest–level WBS show work packages with measurable tasks and short duration? Are project objectives fully supported by the lower–level objectives? Does each task on the network have a well–defined deliverable? Is each work package under budget control (expressed in labor hours, dollars, other numerical units)? 3/11
  4. 4. Do we have a current, credible schedule and budget for the identified work? Is the schedule based on a project/activity network supported with a WBS? Is the schedule based on realistic historical, quantitative performance estimates? Does the schedule provide time for holidays, vacation, sick days, etc.? Does the schedule allow for all the necessary quality assurance activities? Does the schedule account for resource overlap? Is the schedule for the next three to six months as detailed as possible? Is the schedule consistently updated at all levels in the Gantt, PERT, and Critical Path views? Is the budget clearly based on the schedule and required resources over time? Can the schedule and budget be performed? 4/11
  5. 5. Do you know what capabilities you are responsible for delivering? Are the system’s operational requirements clearly specified? Are definitions of what the system must do to support the delivery of the solution clearly specified? Are system interfaces clearly specified and, of appropriate, prototyped? Is the selection of the capabilities’ architecture traceable to the organization operational characteristics? Are descriptions of the organizations environment and relationships of the capabilities to the business unit functional processes clearly specified? Are specific new capabilities explicitly defined? Are specific acceptance and delivery requirements explicitly defined? Are user requirements agreed to by joint teams of provider and users at both corporate and business unit tiers? Are system requirements traceable through the capabilities design? 5/11
  6. 6. Can we list the current top ten project risks? Has a Risk Management role been assigned to your project? Are risks determined through established processes for risk identification, assessment, and mitigation? Is there a “database” that includes all non–negligible risks in terms of probability, earliest expected visible symptom, estimated and actual schedule, and cost effects? Are all project personnel encouraged to become risk identifiers? Are correction plans written, followed up, and reported? Is the “database” of top–ten risk list updated regularly? Are transfers of all deliverables to operational status controlled? Are user requirements reasonably stable? Do you know the risks that are changing over time? 6/11
  7. 7. Do we know the percentage of schedule compression for each capability? Has the schedule been constructed bottom up from quantitative estimates and not by predetermined dates? Has the schedule been modified when major modifications in the proposed capabilities have taken place? Have staff and contractors received training in the principle domain area and applications? Have detailed task–level and process level design specifications been created for maximum parallel rollout effort? Does the project avoid extreme dependence on specific individuals? Are people working abnormal hours? Do you know the historical schedule compression percentage on similar projects, and the results of those projects? Is any part of the schedule compression based on the use of new technologies? Has the percentage of application functionality been decreased in proportion to the percentage of schedule compression? 7/11
  8. 8. Do we know the estimated cost and effort of the capability deliverables? Has project scope been clearly established? Where measurements from previous projects used as a basis of size estimates? Were complexity measures or functional measures used as a basis for estimates? Are the subject matter experts who do the estimating experienced in the domain area? Were estimates of project size corroborated by an estimate verification tool? Are estimates regularly updated to reflect software development realities? 8/11
  9. 9. Do we know the percentage of services deliverables that are not under our control? Has each external customer for the services deliverables been identified? Have critical dependencies of each external customer’s services deliverables been documented? Has each external services deliverables been ranked based on potential project impact? Have procedures been established to monitor external customer’s services deliverables until the risk is eliminated or substantially reduced? Have agreements with the external customer business units been reached and documented? 9/11
  10. 10. Does our staff have sufficient expertise in the project domains? Do we know what the user needs, wants, and expects? Does the staffing plan include a list of the key expertise areas and estimated number of personnel needed? Do most of the project staff have experience with the specific type of capability being developed? Are the developers able to proceed without undue requests for additional time and cost to help resolve technical problems? Do the developers understand their project role and are they committed to its success? Are the developers knowledgeable in domain engineering – the process of choosing the best model for the project and using it throughout design, code, and test? Is there a domain area expert assigned to each domain? 10/11
  11. 11. Have we identified adequate staff to allocate to the scheduled tasks at the right time? Do we have sufficient staff to support the tasks identified in the activity network? Is the staffing plan based on historical data of level of effort or staff months on similar projects? Do we have adequate staffing for the current tasks and all the tasks scheduled to occur in the next two months? Have alternative staff buildup approaches been planned? Does the staff buildup rate match the rate at which the project leaders identify unsolved problems? Is there sufficient range and coverage of skills in the project? Is there adequate time allocated for staff vacations, sick leave, training, and education? Are staffing plans regularly updated to reflect reality? 11/11

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