Project Success – How to get projects finished ahead of schedule

Project Success
Project Success

Project Success

How do you judge project success? Well, if it finishes on schedule, to budget and does what the customer wants, that’s a good start.

The immediate customers must decide the Achievement (and Reward) categories.

When I first go into an organisation I work out the supply chain. It works like this.

The developers create a product for the analyst / team leaders.

Then the analysts create a sub-system product for Systems / Link Testing.

The Systems Testers produce a product for User Acceptance Testing.

User Acceptance Testers

The User Acceptance Testers create a product for the end customer (including Production).

You should ask the customer at each leg of the Supply Chain should be asked what they want from the product and project.

They usually say that it should be Fit for Purpose, free from Defects, Timely, with good Operability, and with a good level of Documentation.

You should then make these into categories. They should then give weighting factors to each of these categories. That’s because they are not all of equal importance to them and may vary by project.

Project Success – Create a Benchmark from Previous Products

This is also a good opportunity to ask them to give an average mark for previous products they have received. This then sets a benchmark against which you can show improvement in Customer Satisfaction.

In my experience, the higher Weighting Factors tend to be for Fitness for Purpose and for being Defect Free. A typical organisation would give a Weighting Factor of 4 for Fitness for Purpose, 3 for Defect Free, 2 for Timeliness, and 1 for Operability and for Documentation.

Swapping Quality Pressure for Time Pressure

As well as allowing the supplier to know what the customer wants, how important it is to them, and how they are doing, there is another side effect of great advantage in doing this.

It enables the project to put other pressures on the project other than time pressures. The only pressure that is usually on project members, when they are actually creating the product, is time pressure. Organisations which concentrate on time pressure get defect-ridden products which are not fit-for-purpose or easily operable. These are late anyway because they have to rectify these problems.

Changing the Behaviour at an Organisation

If they only allowed me to implement only one mechanism at an organisation it would be this one. It changes people‘s behaviour immediately in several ways. They tend to resist the project manager’s pressure to hand over work before they are competely happy that it is defect free. They know that the greater Weighting Factors are for Fitness for Purpose and for Defect Free.

Getting a succession of Quality products will save the project time at later stages. Also instead of resisting quality measures, they welcome them. They enable them to get higher marks. They even ask one of their peers to ‘give the programme a bash’ to see if they can break it before handing it over.

Project Success – Ahead of Schedule

When giving marks for Timeliness, you shouldn’t allocate a mark of 10 for finishing on time. I would recommend 7 for finishing on time, 8 for 10% under, 9 for 30 % under and 10 for 50 % under.

Now there’s ‘something in it’ for the developer to finish ahead of schedule. Higher marks lead to a greater sense of achievement and also to higher rewards.

The Supply Chain can be put in place easily without having prior metrics except for the Customer Satisfaction metrics which are easy to take. The impact is both great and instant in terms of changing people’s behaviours.

For more great advice on running projects successfully click on Project Management.

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