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Project Health Check
Christopher William Young

While the Project Health Check is one of our most popular services, I am still often asked what a “health check” is for and why an organisation might want to undertake one. I thought I would outline the main objectives and benefits of undertaking a health check as I find them extremely valuable as a tool for ensuring project success.

The key objectives of a Project Health Check include:

– To determine the current state of the project and detect problems early enough so that the project team has the capacity to deal with them.

– To identify factors that will enable or disable the potential of delivering the anticipated outcome and benefits of the project. Key areas under review include the following:

  • Completion and clarity of Business Case / Benefits Realisation Plan
    • Sufficiency of analysis and translation to definition of project outcomes
  • Adequacy of Stakeholder Commitment & Support
  • Adequacy of Project Initiation Process
  • Adequacy of Scope Definition & Verification
  • Adequacy of Requirements Definition & Verification
  • Appropriateness of Project Approach
  • Appropriateness of Project Organisation Structure & team
    • Skills, knowledge and experience of Project Manager / Team Leaders
    • Demonstrated competency of Project Manager / Team Leaders
    • Skills, knowledge and experience of project team
  • Adequate and timely risk identification, analysis , management and control
  • Realism & Executablility of Project Plan (schedule) taking into account:
    • Completeness of Project Plan
    • Appropriate level of work decomposition
    • Appropriate work steps such as:
      • Project Initiation / Problem Definition
      • Requirements Definition
      • Analysis /Design (System Performance, System Capacity, IT infrastructure)
      • System Development/Testing (Conversion, Application Security, Interfaces, Testing Co-ordination, Functional Testing, Business Acceptance Test Planning, Regression Test Processes, Integration Test Planning)
      • Process Development/Testing (internal controls in process design)
      • Change Management (Organisational Impacts, Communication and Training)
      • Implementation Planning including Support Planning
    • Reference to appropriate IT standards, processes and methods
    • Sequencing of tasks in a logical sequence to deliver desired outcomes instead of silos of work by functional area
    • Dependency definition ( doing the right tasks at the right time)
    • Appropriate sizing of work into manageable packets of work
    • Accuracy of work effort and duration estimation
    • Adequacy of resourcing levels and appropriateness of types of resources applied
    • Sufficiency of contingency planning
    • Inclusion of checkpoints linked to appropriate implementation of deliverable (document) review sign off and management
    • Appropriateness of wording in plan to enable its use as a communication document and management document
    • Ability to baseline project plan and manage variance to plan
  • Communication Planning
    • Thoroughness of Stakeholder needs assessment
    • Appropriateness of Information distribution
  • Adequacy of Project Monitoring and Control
    • Accuracy, adequacy and timeliness of performance reporting, replanning and change management
    • Implementation of appropriate inclusive project status and team meetings
    • Implementation of appropriate Steering Committee
    • Adequacy of Issue Management and appropriate scope change control
  • Adequacy of resource procurement process vendor and contract management
  • Adequacy of Financial Management including:
    • Development of project budget and expenditure forecasts
    • Implementation of adequate, accurate and timely processes to manage and report project cost

– To analyse findings and present detailed recommendations addressing each of the issues identified.

Overall, this helps to ensure a shared understanding and commitment between the project team & the ultimate business stakeholders to a realistic and executable strategy to resolve issues as agreed.

Christopher William Young is the founder of White Water Consulting and is a senior consultant with a broad knowledge and experience in financial services, project management, change management and information technology. His areas of focus include delivering business-aligned IT strategy and implementing best practices in process improvement, project management and software development process. White Water Consulting (http://www.whitewater.com.au) specializes in the successful delivery business critical projects and provides practical solutions to designing and implementing information technology strategy.

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