4 Killer Questions That Every Project Roadmap Should AnswerBy Harvey Kandola, 03 Apr 2013
Project planning is great – everyone agrees up front what we need to get done and then people get started.
Yet some projects and teams suffer from “noise” around tracking progress and providing status updates to stakeholders. Managers want to know “what’s going on” and as the deadline draws nearer we have all seen the intense focus that can surface and impact on the people that really matter - the folks delivering the project.
Usually it comes down to a lack of regular visibility into project progress.
The more you share the more likely it is you will avoid nasty surprises down the line. In many respects, the more you communicate the better – you never hear about projects failing due to over-communication!
Having a living project roadmap that is frequently maintained and shared can really help to keep projects on track.
Yet you would be surprised how many times a project roadmap cannot answer the four key questions.
What Are We Working On?
Not having a complete and comprehensive list of the things the team needs to get done is nothing short of disastrous.
Nail the hit list up front and keep it front-and-center where every change to the agreed plan must be immediately visible to everyone.
A simple trick is to actually pencil in resources against every item for a couple of good reasons:
- ensures that everyone is actually comprehending the list of things they are on the hook to deliver
- helps to identify missing skills or key resources at an early stage
- gives team members the opportunity to see the complete picture before work commences (how many times have you been left in the dark?)
Scope-creep is common-place for most of us but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t track and share changes.
Who is Doing What?
Does your roadmap tell stakeholders who is doing what? Can they see and feel the amount of people it takes to actually get stuff done?
Nothing takes no time and publishing a roadmap where team members are clearly assigned to tasks helps in a number of ways:
- the entire project team can see who is allocated which piece of work
- team members may spot mis-alignment of resources to tasks
- demonstrate sensible resource utilization levels (everyone has work to do)
Don’t assume people know who is doing what – show them.
When Are They Doing It?
Naturally, you need to let people know when things are supposed to get done. Yet some project roadmaps tend to suffer around realistic scheduling.
Clearly defining the sequence of work can help in a number of ways:
- dependencies will surface that you didn’t know about
- resource availability conflicts may materialize
- incorrect or unrealistic work estimates may surface
Timing is a critical piece of effective project planning and tracking so take the time to understand when things are meant to get done.
How Are We Progressing?
A common cause of project failures is not spotting and communicating slippage early enough.
Sure, daily meetings can help to identify issues around hitting delivery dates. But the real problem is what happens after you have identified a threat to delivering the project on time.
Getting into the habit of publishing daily progress updates helps to establish a culture where delays and blocking issues are identified and shared with everyone concerned. A problem shared is a problem halved so don’t hold back on “bad news”.Grab your projects' roadmap and address the above 4 quesitons. What do you see?