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The Project Survival Test
By Barry Shore, Ph.D.

As the economy continues to suffer, the concern that a project may be terminated and not survive the recession is on nearly every project manager’s mind.

The Project Survival Test, shown below, separately assesses the influences of organizational, project, and individual factors to help you determine the vulnerability of your project. It then pulls all these assessments together into one number called the Project Vulnerability Quotient.

You may find it useful to have all members of the project team take the test and then use the average of the scores to arrive at an even better estimate.

Circle the appropriate number next to your choice. Scoring instructions and how to interpret the results follow the test.

  • Which of the following best describes the level of interest shown by top management in this project?
    1. No interest at all
    2. Below average interest
    3. About average
    4. Above average interest
    5. Very Interested and involved with our progress.
  • Which of the following best describes how this project is tracking its budget goals?

    1. Significantly above budget
    2. Somewhat above budget
    3. On budget
    4. Somewhat below budget
    5. Significantly below budget
  • Which of the following best describes how the project is tracking its time schedule?

    1. Significantly behind schedule
    2. Somewhat behind schedule
    3. On schedule
    4. Somewhat ahead of schedule
    5. Significantly ahead of schedule
  • Which of the following best describes how long it will be before this project will contribute to the bottom line profits of the organization?

    1. It is unlikely that the project will ever contribute to the bottom line profits of the organization
    2. Bottom line results are several years away
    3. Bottom line results will probably start to accrue in six months to a year
    4. Bottom line results will start to accrue in three to six months
    5. Bottom line results will start to accrue in less than three months
  • Which of the following statements best describes the clarity of the project’s goals in terms of its business objectives and its contribution to the bottom line of the organization?

    1. Not clear at all how this project will contribute to the bottom line
    2. Somewhat clear
    3. Neutral
    4. Reasonably clear
    5. Very clear connection between the project and how it will contribute to the bottom line

Scoring The Test

To score the test, sum the numbers circled to the left of each of your five choices. For example, if you had checked off number three for each of the five questions then your total score would be 15. This is your Project Vulnerability Quotient. To evaluate this total score see the following table.

Interpreting the Results

Scoring 5 points suggests that you may want to have a talk with top management about the possibility of cutting the project. It appears to be nearly dead already, so a frank discussion can only help your role as project manager or team member.

Scoring 6 to 10 points suggests that the project is in real trouble and is not meeting expectations. At this point it would be appropriate to meet with top management to discuss remedial action that could be taken. It might also be useful to talk about the conditions under which this project should be halted. Ignoring the problems at this stage will not help anyone.

Scoring 11 to 15 points suggests that it may be beneficial to talk with top management and discuss how the project could improve its chances to contribute to the bottom line. Under the current economic situation this project is vulnerable.

Scoring 16 to 21 points suggests the project is holding its own but could be eliminated if more cuts need to be made. You need to determine how this project can be more central to the recession-driven strategy of the firm.

If you scored between 22 and 24 your project should be reasonably secure.

If you scored a perfect 25, the project should be in excellent shape.

Global Project Strategy

© 2010 Barry Shore. Not to be used without written permission of the author.

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