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BEST PRACTICES
FOR PROJECT
EXECUTION AND
DELIVERY
Clive Minchin, 2024
Clive Minchin 1
Intent
• All entities whether social, government or commercial execute projects
• Many projects run to completion but fail to deliver the intended results
• We are all aware of projects that exceeded costs, timeframes, or simply failed to
produce the desired outcomes
• This slide pack outlines a non-exhaustive set of best practices of project execution for
medium to large scale projects
Clive Minchin 2
Best Practices 1
• Do we have a clearly defined, precise-enough scope, and are we clear on what is out of scope?
• This prevents scope interpretation, defining scope on the fly, starting a project without knowing a crisp, precise
definition of what is in or out of scope.
• Do we have a defined, executable plan to achieve the scope, that is defined at a per-week level
and will produce the expected deliverables?
• The absence of a detailed plan is a recipe for running off the rails and likely leads to scope reduction, or a
massive overload of work for the project team in order to meet the timeframes, or a cost blow out.
• Ensure the deliverables are precisely defined including the expected level of detail. One sentence descriptions for
deliverables means your scope is unlikely act as guard rails, and the expected outcomes are unlikely to be
realised.
• Do we have a clearly defined, measurable, executable project management methodology?
• Project management is not just status reports and stand ups. There should be a clearly defined method that the
project is applying, that conformance to can be measured against.
Clive Minchin 3
Best Practices 2
• Have we defined a reasonable, practical approach for delivering the expected result, that is then
reflected in the project plan’s structure and deliverables?
• Often, there is little though on the method by which a project will go from a defined scope to realised outcomes.
How will the specific problem be decomposed into its parts and each component part turned into the desired
outcome? What is the method of achieving the project’s goals. This is not about adopting agile or SDLC or
waterfall.
• What does ‘done’ represent and are we certain the plan, budget and scope will achieve this?
• Defining scope is not the same as defining ‘done’ but ‘done’ should be traceable back to scope.
• Define in precise terms what the deliverables and planned outcomes are. Don’t leave it open-ended.
• Do all stakeholders understand and agree on the scope, plan, approach and what success looks
like?
• Don’t assume that a Steerco understands what the project is about or how to achieve it. Educate them to the
point they are empowered to be effective at governance.
Clive Minchin 4
Best Practices 3
• Are we measuring the project team’s sentiment on a weekly basis?
• Actively consult all project team members about their work and their feelings about the project on a weekly
basis. Utilise anonymous data collection methods.
• Are we aware of the risks and issues, and is the team explicitly working to mitigate
them?
• Risks can derail the project. Use a clearly defined risk management framework to ensure risks are well defined
and managed. Ensure issues are dealt with and not ignored.
• Are we measuring earned value from as early as possible?
• Earned value equates to tangible outcomes that remain useful if the project is shut down or completes.
• Structure deliverables so that earned value is realised continuously rather than at the end.
Clive Minchin 5
Best Practices 4
• Are we bringing options and decisions to the table for open and transparent decision making to
occur, and are decisions reported and accessible by all?
• Everyone should understand why a particular decision was made; what was the reasoning. This creates buy-in. Ensure decision
making follows a consistent structure and approach.
• How are we adhering to the scope? Is it an ever-present north star from the project
management to the lowest level worker?
• Ensure ongoing practical alignment to the scope. Many people like to vary scope purely to satisfy their own
creativity.
• Avoid defining scope such that it is interpretable and that almost anything could be considered as in-scope.
• Do we have the required competencies?
• Ensure that the project team has the right competencies. Explicitly select the people to make the decisions based
on the required competencies.
Clive Minchin 6
Best Practices 5
• Where detailed business requirements are to be collected, ensure they are linked back
to the scope, and that they are precise and detailed enough to make decisions against.
• Business requirements are how a shared understanding of what is to be delivered by the project is captured.
• Ensure project outcomes and deliverables can be traced back to requirements,
decisions and scope.
• The scope is defined in business requirements which are realised in deliverables.
• Slippage is when weekly outcomes for any week are not realised.
• Projects often report green though they have slipped against plan. Make sure the plan is detailed enough for
leadership to detect slippage. Be very clear about what constitutes slippage and use an algorithm to calculate
project status to avoid subjectivity.
Clive Minchin 7
Best Practices 6
• Define project roles, accountabilities and decision rights.
• Make sure the people with the relevant role and competencies are making a decision. Have a clear decision-
making approach.
• Are we clear on the expected benefits to be realised at project initiation?
• Expected benefits should be linked to scope and business requirements. The project SteerCo and leadership
should have an objective indicator from very early on, that indicates likelihood of benefits realisation.
• Few project teams are excited about their projects. Competent project management,
that is trustworthy, transparent and objective will create the right culture.
• If a project team is not excited about their project, especially close to go live, you can safely assume it’s not been
well executed.
Clive Minchin 8
Best Practices 7
• If the project involves going to market for products and services, ensure there is effective
probity and clarity of need.
• Many times projects end up selecting a product or service without clear and precise requirements, or objective vendor
selection. This leads to low morale on the team and probably compromises the project’s success.
• Collect data on project activities, outcomes, progress, scope alignment, spend etc and use
this for tracking, and reporting.
• The status of a project in terms of scope, deliverables, timeframes, cost, sentiment should all be calculated using actual
data. None of these measures should be presented based on a subjective assessment by project leadership.
• The more imprecise and subjective the scope, plan, cost and timeframes is, the greater
your chance of exceeding time and cost parameters or simply failing.
• Gut feel project management, practised by ‘seasoned, experienced’ project managers almost always fails by any
reasonable metric.
Clive Minchin 9
Best Practices 8
• Spend the time upfront to be very clear on the scope and vision for the project.
• If necessary, execute a mini project first to define the precise scope to be delivered. Never start a project without
a very clear and defined scope, expected benefits and what ‘done’ will be.
• If the project is a significant undertaking for the organisation use an independent
project auditor to periodically assess the project.
• Project auditors should be independent of the project management and sponsors. Equally they should be
empowered to tell the story warts and all and be protected from pressure to spin the message.
• Change management is not training or newsletters
• Projects always deliver business change. How successfully the business changes to adopt what the project
delivers is a product of the change management applied. Consider organisational structure changes, role
changes, customer impacts, upstream and downstream impacts, regulatory impacts to name a few.
Clive Minchin 10

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Best practices for project execution and delivery

  • 1. BEST PRACTICES FOR PROJECT EXECUTION AND DELIVERY Clive Minchin, 2024 Clive Minchin 1
  • 2. Intent • All entities whether social, government or commercial execute projects • Many projects run to completion but fail to deliver the intended results • We are all aware of projects that exceeded costs, timeframes, or simply failed to produce the desired outcomes • This slide pack outlines a non-exhaustive set of best practices of project execution for medium to large scale projects Clive Minchin 2
  • 3. Best Practices 1 • Do we have a clearly defined, precise-enough scope, and are we clear on what is out of scope? • This prevents scope interpretation, defining scope on the fly, starting a project without knowing a crisp, precise definition of what is in or out of scope. • Do we have a defined, executable plan to achieve the scope, that is defined at a per-week level and will produce the expected deliverables? • The absence of a detailed plan is a recipe for running off the rails and likely leads to scope reduction, or a massive overload of work for the project team in order to meet the timeframes, or a cost blow out. • Ensure the deliverables are precisely defined including the expected level of detail. One sentence descriptions for deliverables means your scope is unlikely act as guard rails, and the expected outcomes are unlikely to be realised. • Do we have a clearly defined, measurable, executable project management methodology? • Project management is not just status reports and stand ups. There should be a clearly defined method that the project is applying, that conformance to can be measured against. Clive Minchin 3
  • 4. Best Practices 2 • Have we defined a reasonable, practical approach for delivering the expected result, that is then reflected in the project plan’s structure and deliverables? • Often, there is little though on the method by which a project will go from a defined scope to realised outcomes. How will the specific problem be decomposed into its parts and each component part turned into the desired outcome? What is the method of achieving the project’s goals. This is not about adopting agile or SDLC or waterfall. • What does ‘done’ represent and are we certain the plan, budget and scope will achieve this? • Defining scope is not the same as defining ‘done’ but ‘done’ should be traceable back to scope. • Define in precise terms what the deliverables and planned outcomes are. Don’t leave it open-ended. • Do all stakeholders understand and agree on the scope, plan, approach and what success looks like? • Don’t assume that a Steerco understands what the project is about or how to achieve it. Educate them to the point they are empowered to be effective at governance. Clive Minchin 4
  • 5. Best Practices 3 • Are we measuring the project team’s sentiment on a weekly basis? • Actively consult all project team members about their work and their feelings about the project on a weekly basis. Utilise anonymous data collection methods. • Are we aware of the risks and issues, and is the team explicitly working to mitigate them? • Risks can derail the project. Use a clearly defined risk management framework to ensure risks are well defined and managed. Ensure issues are dealt with and not ignored. • Are we measuring earned value from as early as possible? • Earned value equates to tangible outcomes that remain useful if the project is shut down or completes. • Structure deliverables so that earned value is realised continuously rather than at the end. Clive Minchin 5
  • 6. Best Practices 4 • Are we bringing options and decisions to the table for open and transparent decision making to occur, and are decisions reported and accessible by all? • Everyone should understand why a particular decision was made; what was the reasoning. This creates buy-in. Ensure decision making follows a consistent structure and approach. • How are we adhering to the scope? Is it an ever-present north star from the project management to the lowest level worker? • Ensure ongoing practical alignment to the scope. Many people like to vary scope purely to satisfy their own creativity. • Avoid defining scope such that it is interpretable and that almost anything could be considered as in-scope. • Do we have the required competencies? • Ensure that the project team has the right competencies. Explicitly select the people to make the decisions based on the required competencies. Clive Minchin 6
  • 7. Best Practices 5 • Where detailed business requirements are to be collected, ensure they are linked back to the scope, and that they are precise and detailed enough to make decisions against. • Business requirements are how a shared understanding of what is to be delivered by the project is captured. • Ensure project outcomes and deliverables can be traced back to requirements, decisions and scope. • The scope is defined in business requirements which are realised in deliverables. • Slippage is when weekly outcomes for any week are not realised. • Projects often report green though they have slipped against plan. Make sure the plan is detailed enough for leadership to detect slippage. Be very clear about what constitutes slippage and use an algorithm to calculate project status to avoid subjectivity. Clive Minchin 7
  • 8. Best Practices 6 • Define project roles, accountabilities and decision rights. • Make sure the people with the relevant role and competencies are making a decision. Have a clear decision- making approach. • Are we clear on the expected benefits to be realised at project initiation? • Expected benefits should be linked to scope and business requirements. The project SteerCo and leadership should have an objective indicator from very early on, that indicates likelihood of benefits realisation. • Few project teams are excited about their projects. Competent project management, that is trustworthy, transparent and objective will create the right culture. • If a project team is not excited about their project, especially close to go live, you can safely assume it’s not been well executed. Clive Minchin 8
  • 9. Best Practices 7 • If the project involves going to market for products and services, ensure there is effective probity and clarity of need. • Many times projects end up selecting a product or service without clear and precise requirements, or objective vendor selection. This leads to low morale on the team and probably compromises the project’s success. • Collect data on project activities, outcomes, progress, scope alignment, spend etc and use this for tracking, and reporting. • The status of a project in terms of scope, deliverables, timeframes, cost, sentiment should all be calculated using actual data. None of these measures should be presented based on a subjective assessment by project leadership. • The more imprecise and subjective the scope, plan, cost and timeframes is, the greater your chance of exceeding time and cost parameters or simply failing. • Gut feel project management, practised by ‘seasoned, experienced’ project managers almost always fails by any reasonable metric. Clive Minchin 9
  • 10. Best Practices 8 • Spend the time upfront to be very clear on the scope and vision for the project. • If necessary, execute a mini project first to define the precise scope to be delivered. Never start a project without a very clear and defined scope, expected benefits and what ‘done’ will be. • If the project is a significant undertaking for the organisation use an independent project auditor to periodically assess the project. • Project auditors should be independent of the project management and sponsors. Equally they should be empowered to tell the story warts and all and be protected from pressure to spin the message. • Change management is not training or newsletters • Projects always deliver business change. How successfully the business changes to adopt what the project delivers is a product of the change management applied. Consider organisational structure changes, role changes, customer impacts, upstream and downstream impacts, regulatory impacts to name a few. Clive Minchin 10