How do you know if your project is healthy? The Project Management Institute states that “healthy projects deliver the outcomes stakeholders expect,” but how can you monitor project health up until the point of delivery? Below are four health check indicators project managers should monitor for risk management along with tangible ways to do so.
The project scope can be defined as the list of project goals, deliverables, tasks, features, functionality, and overall work that needs to be completed within a set timeframe and budget. Once the project scope has been set, it is the role of the Project Manager to manage these objectives and avoid scope creep.
To best manage scope health, the Project Manager should act as a gatekeeper to any requested changes to the project. When assessing scope health, questions such as “have any deliverables been added to the project since kickoff?” or “has leadership mentioned the idea of adding new deliverables or tasks to the project in the future?” should be asked often. If changes have been made to the scope, the changes should be clearly defined, documented, and submitted to the Project Manager and leadership for review and approval.
Project Managers should be experts on the project plan and aware of upcoming deadlines. We recommend that on Friday afternoon or Monday morning Project Managers set aside time to review the project plan. This is a time to review critical project milestones and upcoming due dates to ensure they are on track for success. We also recommend providing weekly project status updates or reports to the team, so that all members are aware of project timelines.
To assess risk to timeline, ask questions such as “are there any missed deadlines?” and “if there are delays, are they threatening our ability to complete the project on time?” If there is a risk of falling behind on certain tasks, we recommend proactively partnering with the task owners to create a plan for catching up. If tasks cannot be caught up, we recommend escalating the known risk to timeline to the right level of leadership so there are no surprises if timelines are missed.
As a Project Manager, knowing and understanding the project budget is key to managing it effectively. In order to stay on budget, we recommend regularly monitoring your costs against the budget by creating a baseline and forecasting known costs against the baseline to ensure you stay on track. If there is a risk of exceeding the allocated budget, work with the project team to identify cost-savings measures. If no cost savings measures exist, it is critical to make the appropriate leaders aware of the risk of exceeding budget.
It is important for Project Managers to stay informed about the quality of the deliverables on their projects to help ensure deliverables meet stakeholder expectations and to mitigate any quality risks before they become a bigger issue. As the Project Manager, it is important to reflect back on the project and ask questions such as “have any of the stakeholders or members of the project team voiced concerns with quality?” or “has anyone refused to sign off on the deliverables thus far?” Asking these questions of yourself and the project team can help ensure you are aware of any issues related to quality.
Regularly assessing the above four indicators of project health can go a long way in ensuring successful project outcomes. For more helpful project management tips and advice specifically for project managers, subscribe to our monthly project management newsletter here. In the meantime, register for the upcoming Elire Strategy Summit for further project management learning.