Defining your projects

by Robert Buttrick

Successful projects need to lead to successful business outcomes and unless a project is adequately defined, it is unlikely to achieve anything, except perhaps a hole in your budget. Take any project that you are associated with and check that it is satisfactorily defined.

If you don’t know:

  • why you are doing the project, consider terminating it;

  • what you are delivering, regard your costs and timescales as unstable and your risk high;

  • when it will be done, carry out more investigations until you do know;

  • how you will approach the project, regard risk as high and investigate further.

Use this checklist to review any projects currently in progress.

  • Has the definition documentation been written, reviewed by the stakeholders and approved by the project sponsor?

  • Do the scope and objectives of the project meet the needs of the business?

  • Have the benefits been fully assessed and quantified wherever possible?

  • Do the benefits match the needs?

  • Have all significant risks been identified, categorised and taken into account in the plan and business case?

  • Has a comprehensive and satisfactory work breakdown been developed?

  • Does the work breakdown reflect the deliverables to be produced?

  • Are all key logical relationships between projects and activities clear?

  • Has the plan been developed to minimise or offset the risks?

The only way a project can be delivered is through its deliverables. For each deliverable check:

  • Are the deliverables relevant and feasible both to produce and use?

  • Have quality criteria been established?

  • Is it clear who is accountable for preparing each deliverable?

  • Is it clear who will review the deliverable prior to acceptance?

  • Is it clear who will approve each deliverable?

  • Has sufficient time been allowed for reviewing/amending each deliverable?


© Robert Buttrick


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