Can You Answer These 5 Critical Project Management Questions

Glen Allman writes a great Blog. He is based in the United States and writes extensively about project management.

In a recent blog called he describes 3 elements that need to be present in projects. You will not be surprised to see these are:

• people
• processes
• technology

He expands on each element and went on to ask some questions. These questions are so important for you and your colleagues that I repeat them in full below. I will leave you to think through the answers for your own projects.

Can these or any people, process, or technology approach answer the following?

1. Can we state clearly and concisely what “done” looks like? Can we state the intermediate versions of “done?” Can we state this in some units of measure meaningful to all the stakeholders?

2. Do we know what it will cost to get to “done” or any smaller version of “done” along the way? This cost is usually measured in money. But people and other resources are part of the answer as well.

3. Do we know the date of when we’ll see “done” or any part of “done?” What the variance on this date? If we don’t know the date of the final “done,” how about a “date for the date?”

4. Do we know how we will measure progress along the way? How will we have confidence that progress is actually being made? What are the unit of measure for this progress?

5. Can we see what is going to impede our progress toward “done?” Do we have any way to remove these impediments so we can get to “done?”

Great questions? Worth answering!

Glen’s Blog is called Herding Cats and you can see the full article here


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5 Responses to Can You Answer These 5 Critical Project Management Questions

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  2. LaurieAnn says:

    Very nicely stated. An ex-EDS’er that recognizes Herding Cats as the memorable Superbowl reference. Cheers! This really made my day. I am pasting the questions into my documents for future reference. Thank you.

  3. Meenakshi Patil says:

    We cannot measure DONE on a mesuring scale.However we can brief a particular activity as done. Extreme case it can be 100% as it is subjective term of that activity.

    Yes. Because for any activity requires cost.

    The done should be as per the plan date or it can be on the date the activity is completed. Planned versus actual can be the variance. IF we do not know the final done, we should decide a date based on the activity completion.

    The progress can be measured on performance reports, the actual cost vs. the budgeted cost and the earned cost.

    Our efforts and progress to complete the activity and task can lead us to Done. We have to measure our progress timely. review the variance and do the corrective and preventive measures to get the done.

  4. Meenakshi,

    I’d conjecture that you can always measure done in some definitive unit if you work at it a bit.

    Done is NEVER per the plan date. Done is measured in tangible evidence of a deliverables state. Here’s a simple example.

    The Plan is the produce the design for our house addition. There are many steps along the way to the design being “done.” One of those steps is to have the structural drawings completed.

    “Done” for the structural drawings is they are approved by the Boulder County Building Inspectors (we live in Boulder Colorado, USA).

    Now we need to ask what is the planned date to have the plans approved by the county. If you define that date before you define “done” your plan is of little use, because you cannot recognize “done” when it happens.

    The notion of “done” has been developed over many years in the US Defense side of our business and now is moving to our commercial (enterprise IT) side of our business.

    Several phrases are used when we speak about “done”

    1. Never confuse efforts with results.
    2. The passage of time and the consumption of money never means progress.
    3. “Done” must be described in units of measure meaningful to the customer as well as the provider.
    4. Only measure Outcomes, never measure Output. It is only the Outcomes that the customer bought – the Deliverables.

    You mention some words that sound a bit like Earned Value. EV is a useful measure of progress, but only if you have a clear and concise description of what “done” looks like for each work package that you’re applying EV to.

    But remember in EV comparing ACWP (actual) to BCWS (budget) costs is interesting only to the cost analyst. The schedule analyst needs the physical percent complete measured by the evidence of “done.”

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