Keeping Your Project Healthy and Prepping for Success

All the King’s horses and all the king’s men – well you have heard that before. Your project is running on time and under budget now, but is that all it takes for a successful project? Are there indicators you can be watching now to determine if you will cross the finish line in the best possible shape? This webinar will present ways to know how well you’re doing plus 11 key check points to review in your project. It will also offer tips on how to best check in on the project from both a client and implementation partner standpoint.

Learn from RPI experts on the best practices as well as tips, tricks, & techniques to keep your project healthy. It turns out that it really does matter how you get across the finish line!

Transcript

Keith:
I want to thank you for taking the time to join today’s webinar, Keeping Your Project Healthy Using Project Health Checks to Monitor Performance. This is the second in our new series of project management webinars that we’ve been holding this week. And with that, I give you Jackie and Teresa.

Jackie Dudas:
Thank you, Keith.

Theresa Nelson:
Hi, good afternoon? So, we are here today to talk to you about ways that you can assess your project to keep it healthy. One tool that we’ve found here at RPI that works really well is something that we’re calling the project health check. And the goal of that health check is to identify project risks and get a plan in place to address them before they even start to develop. So typically, when we talk about managing a project and you’re looking at monitoring and controlling project progress, you tend to focus on this triple constraint, which is time, cost and scope, balancing those three to get optimum project quality. But we all know working on projects that there’s more to a successful project than just on time, under budget and within the scope. There are other variables like how well your project team works together, do you have good executive sponsorship and support? Is there good communication? Are your various groups committed to the project and doing rigorous testing? Those are some areas that can honestly make or break a project and they’re not necessarily captured by just looking at these three pieces until it’s too late.

So, what we’ve developed is this health assessment that periodically throughout the project looks at those different areas and helps you catch these problems before you’re running over budget or behind schedule. So, with a health assessment, we like to focus on factors that we’ve identified as part of successful implementations, we call these success indicators. And we take those success indicators and compare them to your current project. It looks beyond scope and budget to things that maybe aren’t as easy to track. As I mentioned before, those are things like organizational involvement and communication security considerations. Also like to take a break before each critical milestone in the project and look at these factors because that gives us an opportunity to course correct before they’re impacting your major areas. So, Jackie, do you have anything you want to add?

Jackie Dudas:
Yeah. So, who would be the audience normally for this kind of a presentation?

Theresa Nelson:
Yeah, that’s a great question. So usually the audience for this type of presentation is your steering committee, your executive sponsorship and project team leads. We don’t always share health assessments with the entire project team because like I’ve mentioned, some of the categories can be specific to team relations and those are the places where you need your steering committee and your executive group to know what’s going on and be able to step in and help resolve any issues.

Jackie Dudas:
Yeah, that makes sense. And so does every project need a health assessment or what do you typically do for health assessment?

Theresa Nelson:
Yeah. So, I’m finding that you don’t necessarily need a health assessment with every single small implementation. If you’re doing just some training or a little bit of custom development work, a health assessment might be more effort than is really beneficial. But where they come in very, very helpful is on large scale implementations. Anything where you’re looking at a large-scale organizational change or you have multiple team members involved, multiple parts of the organization affected, that’s where the health assessment can really help the project stay on track.

Jackie Dudas:
Yeah. And last question-

Theresa Nelson:
Sure.

Jackie Dudas:
Some of these critical milestones, what would be a critical milestone, like testing?

Theresa Nelson:
Yeah, so generally a project has at least three testing phases, those are great opportunities to take a pause and look at how the project is performing. Also, we like to go ahead and do them before a go live, especially if you have a multi-phase project, and after a go live in a multi-phase project. That’s a great opportunity to assess how the team handles the stress that comes along with a cutover and prepare for your next phase.

Jackie Dudas:
Makes sense.

Theresa Nelson:
So, what makes a successful project? These are some examples of areas that we feel carry across really any software implementation. When you’re looking at doing a health assessment, the first thing you want to do is say, “What does a successful project look like? What factors am I looking for?” So, these are some examples of categories that you could use but depending on your project, there may be other categories that are also very important.

Jackie Dudas:
Yeah.

Theresa Nelson:
Jackie, you’ve done these with me on several GHR or HCM projects, are there any categories that you’ve found come up again and again?

Jackie Dudas:
Yeah. So, I come from the HCM side so I can identify those kinds of categories. So, some things we’ve talked about in the past are empowering the HR generalist role. So, the HR generalist is a role or a person that Infor Lawson has kind of created within the system that does a lot of the basic administrative tasks. Another one that we have talked about is the job in position competency set up. This was very specific to the project that we were working on at the time, but it was a huge part of the project. So, not only did we want to make sure that the jobs and positions were set up correctly with the right relationship to each other, but competencies, KSAs were all really critical to the project, so we wanted to make sure that that was moving along well and also that it was getting the necessary attention from all areas of the project.

So, just like Theresa said, it really is going to depend on the project. These, however many these are, 10, are going to be really probably translatable across all projects, but you might want to add in a couple more depending on what you actually have going on. So, each one of these laws, the success indicator, or actually two to four success indicators beneath each law, what they do is provide an actual specific explanation that gives a little bit more information about what you’re really looking for. So, when we look at a law, it might be a little bit vague. Like client engagement, whose responsibility is that? Is it the client’s responsibility or is it our responsibility as your partner to engage you? So, the point of the success indicators is really to kind of spell that out. It’s a specific explanation that really gives details that allow you to better target the goal and be able to hit that target.

And then each one of those laws, we put a grade against that, and we keep it really simple so that we don’t spend too much time finding the gray areas between each grade. We have a meets or exceeds expectations, that’s your green check mark that means you’re doing a great job. Area of concern is a yellow circle, this is what we use to just say, “Hey, this kind of needs some attention.” It might be somewhere in between green and yellow, but I think we usually go and round it down to a yellow just to make sure we’re not missing anything that might sneak up. And then the red one, this is where there’s risk or it just needs attention. So, these might crop up and it’s not always a bad thing. Sometimes it’s kind of scary to see this when we’re going over the health assessment but sometimes it’s just saying, “Hey, we really need to pay attention to this, this is coming up, this is a really important part of the project and we haven’t paid a ton of attention to it yet.”

Theresa Nelson:
And it’s important to keep in mind that the purpose of the health assessment is to catch the red before it’s impacting your project. So, seeing the red, it always gives us pause but the good news is that we’re probably catching it before you’re seeing an impact on your budget or your timeline, which is great.

Jackie Dudas:
Yeah.

Theresa Nelson:
So, we thought it would be helpful to go through some of the categories in a project assessment and let you see what we’re finding makes a successful project. So, our first category is client engagement. And with client engagement, we’re looking for participation throughout the organization. And I always tell clients that means horizontal and vertical. You want vertical participation, meaning all levels from your end user all the way up to executive are in support and participating appropriately within the project. But you also on big implementations need to keep in m