Many projects go through difficult times. An occasional health check or project review can prevent such projects turning nasty and requiring a full blown rescue plan. A small investment in a health check conducted by a Solidus “Critical Friend” will often save money over the life of a project.
It is an exercise that Solidus is well placed to inform as it has extensive experience of projects of all sizes and complexity. Even on large projects a health check is usually less than a week’s work with informal recommendations being made at the end of the first day. The Solidus approach majors on deliverability of the project rather than simple compliance with a project recording and reporting methodology; Solidus will however comment on the use of standards.
There are several points at which a project should be routinely reviewed and other times when an ad hoc, or even emergency, health check is appropriate.
A project has a lifecycle with clear transitions between stages. For example both construction and IT projects will go through design, build and handover stages with other stages in between. Ideally there should be a review at the end of each stage as there will often be a change in the funding commitment at that point, especially between design and build. A review helps avoid throwing good money after bad.
If there are problems that are becoming persistent then there is a need for independent review of the project. The potential causes of such problems are many and an objective analysis by a “Critical Friend” should be helpful to the organisation and the project manager.
A project sponsor may concerns that all is not well or there may be underlying issues that are not being addressed. That is a good time to do a health check which will hopefully allay those fears or if they are well-founded bring them into the open where they can be addressed by the wider project team.
When there is a change of leadership on a project the incoming manager or sponsor would be well advised to undertake a health check or project review to establish a new baseline from which to manage.