Tips for doing the project right


Delivery/Development


Use an appropriate methodology (e.g. PRINCE2) consistently, so everyone knows how things should work


Phase the implementation if possible; it reduces the risk and is a lot cheaper than a failed "big bang"


Design a solution that's simple to understand, even if the detail is complex - people who don’t understand will struggle to build and use it


Focus on quality. Plan for quality i.e. getting it right and on time, not just on time, and plan for testing right from the start


Don't focus on budget too early - get the solution right first - a failed project is sunk cost


Don't focus on schedule too early - get the solution right first - avoid rework delays, hitting deadlines is good only if it’s right


Focus on successful delivery:  outcomes not process


Set up change control on everything!


Document the requirements thoroughly and track any changes rigorously - avoid scope creep.  Prioritise business requirements applying: Customer focus, Analytical techniques, "What if?" Scenarios.


Manage risks proactively with regular risk meetings, and allocate business owners for risks. Make the project culture “Prevent things going wrong that we can, contingency plans for those we can't.”


Maintain the plan - update weekly or monthly


Task SMART - track progress SMART (no % complete!)


Manage stakeholder engagement and expectations as project develops - flex the project to achieve success. Escalate as soon as the project success looks at risk -  everyone needs to pitch in when success is still possible!


Design business readiness preparations and plan for them


Final Delivery/Handover


Don't guess or assume it will work - test, test, test


  • End-to-end testing of processes
  • “Monkey testing” - doing the unexpected to see if it can be broken e.g. safety interlocks removed during upgrade


Release Management - plan meticulously for go-live


  • Plan acceptance testing for before and after go-live
  • Prepare and test back-out plans and criteria
  • Step up communications to all stakeholders about the preparations for go-live and what to expect


Test that all testing hooks, stubs, blocks etc are removed before go-live and the solution is completely operational - another Heathrow T5 lesson


Go live with style! If  you are really ready to go live, it’s worth being ready to make a fuss about its success, and the huge achievement. Have a big celebration when go-live is successful


Fully capture lesson learned and publish them to everyone that might benefit (especially the  "Phase 2" team)


Check and recheck that the solution is operating as expected immediately after go-live


Complete the hand-over to the operational support staff carefully - don’t rush; they are responsible for the long-term success


Close down the project cleanly - make sure all useful documentation is filed and that lessons learned and risks managed are published to everyone who might benefit



Post Project/Benefits Realization


Having planned for the benefits delivery, track they are on plan and fix it if not

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From Chaos to Control