Whatever your role is in your company, you carry out “projects“, don’t you…?
…”working on a project” sounds cool, so everything is a project, for example writing a report, sorting a stack of contracts, booking a flight…
Even when projects are for real, do you “treat them fairly”?
Can you improve your R.O.P., that is, the Return On Projects?
For instance, do you value project planning?
Sadly the planning phase is not as vital as implementation, isn’t it…?
Why waste time with a Gantt, when there is so much code to write?!
Nothing out of the ordinary… …but of course I strongly don’t agree – as I say all the time, an ounce of planning (…and written requirements, specifications, a Work Breakdown Structure and so on…) will save a pound of trouble later on.
But what puzzles me more, is…
…is that (almost) no project team compares the results of a project (the “Post”) with the initial expectations (the “Pre”).
Why am I puzzled? Because this strange behavior doesn’t apply to other business activities – it is bizarrely specific of projects.
Talk to your CFO, for example: for more than a century in Finance the comparison of the “Post” and the “Pre” has been customary. You know what I mean: “Balance sheet vs. Budget”.
So this is my humble suggestion: if your religion doesn’t explicitly prevent it, please invest some time and regularly arrange a “Pre” project meeting and a “Post” project meeting every time you start and end a project.
You will get amazing insights, trust me!
The “Pre” project meeting
During the “Pre” project meeting I essentially ask: “What are the expected results?”; the accurate and full answer to this question is the only purpose of this get-together, attended by all the people that potentially may contribute – for example those who in the past were involved in similar projects, worked with the same client, etc.
I don’t forget to write down the outcome of this meeting, it’ll be useful later, in the “Post” project meeting.
The “Post” project meeting
After the end of the project, I don’t wait too long and arrange the “Post” project meeting – attended by the whole project team.
The question to answer here may seem trivial, but (…trust me…) is not: “How did the project go (compared to the expected results)?”.
…it’s not trivial because generally there are different opinions and alternative interpretations regarding facts and conclusions, so the purpose of this meeting is basically to agree on what actually happened.
Of course I definitely use the written record of the expected results – remember the “Pre” project meeting?
If you didn’t achieve 100% of the expected results (…be honest…), you need to understand what went wrong… …and decide what to do to avoid the same problems in the future.
That’s the most valuable benefit you’ll get from all this “Post”/”Pre” comparison activity.
What do you think?
Andy Cavallini – Business Analyst & Project Manager