This has been the most popular blog post I have ever done. Thank you !!
The checklist of 120 items have been added to a simple and easy to use tool that any project manager or delivery manager can use to check on the health of their project at any stage of the project lifecycle. Simple to use and very very effective.....make you look like a boss !
You can get it here for the price of a cup of coffee.
The following is a project checklist, which can be used by project managers, program managers, delivery managers, pre sales consultants and anyone who is focused on ensuring that all areas of a project are being managed to ensure successful delivery. It is organised around the lifecycle of a project from initiation through delivery and close out.
It is part of a series of longer articles on projects. You can read the others in the series here and here.
Project management plan development
1. Is there an up-to-date Project Management Plan (PMP) in place? The PMP is the project manager’s playbook describing how the project will be delivered.
2. Was an appropriate Project Management methodology used for project planning? There are different types of project methodologies including waterfall or agile. Different methods are appropriate for different types of projects, depending on the project, the team and the client.
3. Have all the external dependencies and constraints been documented in the Project Management Plan? This is the opportunity to call out where a project will need external input to be for successful. For example in a digital project to build a website, the project team may need content and copy from an external copywriter in order to deliver the completed website. Unless the copy arrives on time the project cannot be delivered on time.
4. Was the Project Management Plan, Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Schedule developed appropriately? For example it is good to start with a suitable template. The PMP is the project playbook that describes how the project will be run. The next level of detail describes the work breakdown structure and the tasks required to deliver that work package. For example the work package might be a design document but to get that delivered you need to organize a series of workshops to seek input, you need to publish the document in draft format and you need to seek 1st and final review comments, those are the tasks. Allowing enough time for the tasks including review cycles is important to correctly forecast how long a project will take to deliver.
5. Do the subcontractors have adequate project management plans (integrated or separate)? It is important to check what level of due diligence and effort any 3rd party sub contractors have put into defining their work. This is very important when you can carry the risk of their under estimation of the effort or cost…..it is always underestimated !
Project Management plan execution
6. Is the project being delivered according to the Project Management Plan? A simple statement but having put together the PMP it is important for the project team to refer back to their playbook.
7. Is the project team familiar with the plan and using it to manage the project?
8. Have weekly core team meetings been set up to review the plan, update status? A good project manager will set up a regular core team with the project team; on larger project they might be the stream leaders rather than every single project team member. This is the chance and forum for project team members to update on progress, raise any risks and issues and make an action plan to address. A good project manger should encourage the team to come prepared to the core team meeting and ready to take action on issues and risks raised. In agile projects the core team could be the daily scrum, however it could be useful to have a formal meeting once a week to prepare the status report etc.
9. Is there a forum for the project team to raise issues and risks?
10. Are the risks and issue being tracked in a suitable tracker ? Are assigning actions closing them? Are the actions being followed up? A good project manager will assign actions to a named individual rather than a team, which will drive accountability and closure of the actions in a timely manner.
11. Is the Project Management Plan updated as change requests are made? Change requests are inevitable within a project and should be clearly documented so that all stakeholders can understand the impact on the scope, time and cost of delivery.
12. Is each subcontractor also complying with the above items? A good project manager should check how the sub contractor is organizing themselves to deliver into the project and what processes and methods they are following.
13. Are customer requirements documented?
14. Are customer requirements mapped to business need appropriately?
15. Were requirements and deliverables reviewed with customer?
16. Did customer sign off the requirements document? The risk of not getting the requirements signed off or approved is that the scope is not defined and can expand which will lead to cost and schedule delays.
17. Was the relevant pre sales documentation provided to the project team, for example the signed Statement of Work (SOW) andy commercial models and templates and any signed 3rd party contracts?
18. Are all deliverables clearly identified?
19. Are deliverables descriptions documented?
20. Are subcontractor deliverables identified and described?
Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
21. Is there a current, documented WBS?
22. Is the WBS deliverables based? For example are the deliverables defined so that the customer can accept them? Acceptance of deliverables is very important and the statement of work should define for each deliverable what will be the acceptance criteria. For example detailed design might be accepted by signing off the detailed design document after 2 review cycles. Testing might be accepted after the test report is produced showing that there are no outstanding severity 1 or 2 test defects.
23. Is the granularity of the WBS appropriate? This is important so that the project manager can deliver against the schedule. If there is not enough detail of the task to be completed for each stage of the project there is a risk that extra tasks will need to be included and this leads to scope creep and potentially extra costs, which may not have been planned for.
24. Will the WBS enable the Project manager to plan and control the project? The work breakdown structure also allows a good point for creating the weekly status report. The project manager can review what tasks were planned for the current week and report progress against those tasks, they can also call out or highlight what tasks did not completed and what is the corrective action plan. In addition the PM can report on what tasks are scheduled for the week ahead so that people and resources can be ready.
25. Is there a formal Scope Statement?
26. Are assumptions/exclusions documented?
27. Are dependencies documented?
28. Is there a comprehensive acceptance test plan?
29. Has the process for acceptance been established for each deliverable?
30. If there are migrations of data or applications, have they been planned?
31. Are the subcontractor deliverables acceptance criteria established?
32. Is the project schedule current?
33. Do all activities relate back to the WBS?
34. Is the level of detail of the schedule appropriate?
35. Are relevant customer deliverables or activities on the schedule?
36. Are external dependencies and milestones accounted for?
37. Are subcontractor activities integrated?
38. Have schedule checks been run and resolved?
39. Is the critical path identified in the schedule and have all the activities been linked so that it is clear what is the critical path. There should be no hanging tasks.
40. Are the relevant customer produced deliverables and activities linked?
41. Is documentation available to substantiate the estimates and the dependencies between work components?
42. Were estimates created by team members who will implement?
43. Was there a peer review of estimates?
44. Was reference made to any previous similar projects
45. Was the schedule baselined?
46. If the schedule is re-baselined, was it done with approved changes?
47. Is the project management tool and method being used to maintain schedule appropriate?
48. Are schedule changes traceable to the WBS?
49. Is the schedule regularly updated? How often?
50. Is the project on schedule?
51. Is there a response plan for tasks that are delayed or will be delayed and are on Critical Path?
52. Is the subcontractor delivering in accordance with the plan?
53. Is staff recording actual hours worked against the project?
54. Is there an adequate Resource Plan?
55. Does the Resource Plan link back to the WBS and schedule adequately?
56. Do all schedule tasks have resources allocated?
57. Are all subcontractor costs identified in the cost model? Often project managers can be asked to deliver a project which has been under baked in terms of costs required to deliver to the customer expected outcome. The cost and associated sell price might have been reduced in order to win the business. The project manager should validate the estimates as part of the hand over from the pre sales team.
58. Are all other inputs costs identified in the cost model? This can include hardware, software, any 3rd party licenses, support, training, travel etc.
59. Do travel estimates match the Project Management Plans?
60. Are travel costs included and are they recoverable?
61. Did current PM approve final project cost figures?
62. Was the WBS used to help cost estimating appropriately?
63. Was the then current version of E3T used?
64. Were risk and management reserves included in the cost estimates?
65. Are all required facilities, equipment and material costs identified?
66. Is there a positive cash flow throughout the project life? This may only be relevant for a supplier or vendor who has payment milestones linked to project deliveries but may be required to pay project resources and 3rd parties along the way before meeting a project milestones. The payment milestones should be aligned to ensure that cash flow remains positive and does not require debt financing.
67. Were appropriate approvals received for the project baseline?
68. Did the customer approve the defined payment schedule?
For a useful commercial model for pricing a project, you can check out a tool we have used and recommend here.
69. Is a Test plan in place and agreed with the customer
70. Are test specifications and test cases documented?
71. Will testing verify that all deliverables meet acceptance criteria?
72. Are the roles and responsibilities of project and the customer regarding acceptance testing clearly defined and agreed?
73. Is there a RACI documented which defines Responsibilities (R) Accountability (A) Contribution (C) and who is to be Informed (I)?
74. Is there a current Project Organisation Chart with all interfaces, including customer and third-parties?
75. Is a steering committee in place?
76. Is the Resource Plan aligned with the project schedule, defining ramp-up / ramp-down of resources?
77. Does the Resource Plan and associated costs include continuity and post implementation support?
78. Are plans in place to deal with key resource turnover?
79. Is there a documented overtime compensation policy in place?
80. Is the technical skill set of the team appropriate deliver the project?
81. Are there sufficient and appropriate resources to meet requirements?
82. Is the team familiar with the roles and responsibilities for the project?
83. Does an effective Communication Plan exist?
84. Did the customer approve the Communication Plan?
85. Was an internal kick-off meeting conducted?
86. Was a customer kick-off meeting conducted?
87. Is project status communicated to team?
88. Are remote teams kept up to date if they are not co located with the project team.
89. Are there regular meetings with the team?
90. Are there management and steering committee review meetings?
91. Is written communication provided where appropriate?
92. Are meeting minutes kept for customer meetings?
93. Are there regular review meetings with the customer?
94. Are minutes published after customer meetings?
95. Are written status reports provided to the customer?
96. Are regular management reports issued?
97. Has any schedule variance been reflected in the schedule status in the project monthly report?
Issue and Action Management
A good project manager will use an issue log to create actions that close issues that the team brings to the project manager. The project manager should always be driving for closure and ensuring that the issues and actions assigned help deliver the project, where there is extra work as result of any new issues raised then these should be captured and tracked in a change request.
98. Is an action and issue management process and log in place?
99. Is the action and issue log reviewed at appropriate intervals?
100. Are owners and completion dates assigned to actions?
101. Is follow-up done on late items?
102. Are customer actions and issues included as appropriate?
There will always be escalations within a project but as long as the path and the players involved are clearly defined then the project team can manage and close issues that require escalations. The risk of not having the project escalation path defined at the beginning of the project is that when issues are escalated they could be escalated to stakeholders who are not prepared for their responsibility which can lead to confusion and delay.
103. Is a documented escalation process in place?
104. Is the escalation process being used?
105. Is the escalation process effective?
106. Is a signed customer contract in place?
107. Was that customer contract reviewed by the legal team?
108. Was the customer contract signed before the project started? This is more relevant when the project is being managed by a supplier rather than being delivered by an internal project team as part of a large organization.
109. Are signed customer purchase orders in place?
110. Are there signed customer purchase orders in place for customer change requests?
111. Is the customer meeting their obligations?
In any project there are always several stakeholders or customer that have to be kept satisfied. There needs to a process for capturing that satisfaction or not through a structured process and feedback loop.
112. Is there a formal channel for customer satisfaction feedback?
113. Have any project reviews involved the customer?
114. Is the customer satisfied with the schedule?
115. Is customer satisfied with the quality of deliverables?
116. Is customer satisfied with project communications?
117. Is customer satisfied with the technical ability of team?
118. Is customer satisfied with the overall project?
119. Is there consistency in the customer view of the project team?
120. Did the project deliver ?