“Will my project succeed?” is a question for life, not just the kick-off!

Kick-off meeting, inception – call it what you will, it’s the key stage in the life cycle of a project when several things happen: – the scope and objectives are reviewed – the estimates of time and resources are reviewed – the alignment of the project with business goals is confirmed – planning the execution of the project begins in detail It’s a significant milestone, marking the transition from a proposal to an actual, in-flight project. However, it often marks a change in the culture surrounding a project from forward-looking planning and analysis to backward-looking measures of spend, time, completion and all the other factors required to manage on a day-to-day basis. The delivery team grows rapidly, often brining new individuals or groups on board from both inside and outside the organisation. Communication becomes more challenging. Issues arise with ever increasing frequency and begin to compete for the attention of the project and programme management team. In many cases this goes well, and a project delivers to scope, time, cost and quality. Sometimes it doesn’t go according to plan, and the project begins to veer off track. Often, this will result in a crisis group forming to examine the project in detail and propose corrective action to bring it back on track. Rather than reacting to a crisis, one way to keep focus on the big picture is to ask the same simple question on a regular basis: Will my project succeed? Truthful answers to the question – usually in the form “it might not succeed because ……” – can often highlight areas of concern early enough to take action, and before the project has deviated from the planned outcomes to an extent that requires major correction.

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