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An Ounce of Prevention - Keeping Your Project Healthy

As I wallow in my own self-pity, miserable from a head cold that hit me like a freight train over the weekend, I thought about how grateful I should be when I am feeling healthy. There’s nothing like waking up in the morning after a good night’s sleep, full of energy, ready to try and call another day a victory. Feeling healthy is a wonderful thing, and as the need for over the counter medication begins to fade and the fog begins to lift from within my head, I began to relate this experience to software implementations.

A project’s health is equally valuable in my eyes. It’s a project manager’s dream to be able to see clearly all the way down to the go-live without a single sneeze throughout the implementation. How wonderful would it be to work a project where the team is in sync, tasks are completed on time, and everything is running smoothly! Unfortunately, that’s not reality. Every project is going to catch a cold at one point; the fog is destined to roll in. I would even venture to say that if a project is going too smoothly, you’re missing something.  

So how do you tell if your project has a minor head cold before it progresses to something worse, like pneumonia? You certainly don’t want to wait until the project sponsor is drowning in snot before you get the right prescription filled! One of the ways to gauge the health of your project is by assigning point values to the scope, which is something we do here at ArcherPoint at the project launch. Depending on the size of your project, we will schedule a scope sizing activity with the team either remotely over the phone for a few hours or onsite over several days. Either way, the purpose of these sessions is to go through the scope of the project and break the work down into manageable tasks, or user stories. As a group, we will determine a baseline user story and size/measure all user stories against it for consistency. As an output you will have a point value assigned to the entire project scope. These points can now be used to measure your earned value; it will help us determine how healthy your project is at the end of each phase, or 3 week sprint cycle. We are then able to report back with solid earned value and actual costs metrics.

Since corrective action is extremely difficult the further you are into the project life cycle, we formally report your earned value and actual costs back to you at the end of every sprint. Project scope sizing, earned value and actual costs reporting are all part of the agile project management methodology we use at ArcherPoint. This allows us to see the symptoms of an unhealthy project early on in the project and take appropriate action to get better, and fast.

Nobody likes feeling sick, but it’s even worse when your project performance is under the weather. So whether you’re knee deep in Kleenex or just starting to feel the sniffles, ArcherPoint has the right prescription for you. Our business analysts can diagnose the symptoms and our project managers will help clear away the fog and move forward with a happy, healthy implementation.

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