When evaluating the effectiveness of project management procedures, a project health assessment performs an objective, one-time, or monthly review and evaluation. Its purpose is to:
- Identification of non-optimized key processes (assessment).
- Look for flaws in the method or the implementation (finding).
- Suggestions for remedial action should be made in order to repair and improve the situation (recommendation).
- During a project health evaluation, it is common to find procedures that have never been executed.
- Educate and train the project manager on how to apply the required remedial actions (mentoring).
Project health assessments must include a mentorship component, which is critical to their success. These assessments aren’t like a financial audit when the auditor makes their conclusions and leaves. As a proactive measure, a project’s health evaluation has one goal: success!
Assessors need to be accessible to coach and instruct and supervise the execution of remedial measures wherever possible. As a result of this, project managers and organizations must follow the guidelines (or not).
Perhaps one is having difficulty delivering the promised advantages, a critical project phase date has been missed, or expenses are rising and jeopardizing the project’s business case. Sometimes you can handle these issues as part of your project’s regular activities, but other times you can’t.
Consider the following scenario: you’re in charge of a project to implement a new IT system. You’ve finished the design phase and received approval for your design. However, during the development and testing phase, you discover that critical stakeholders believe you should be doing something else. You’ve talked to some essential business stakeholders about it, and the issue is complicated.
What are your options for dealing with it? A project health check provides you with a complete picture of the project’s development and allows you to validate how various stakeholders evaluate its success. Then you may decide how to continue.
Six Steps to conduct Project Healthcheck
A six-step procedure for doing a health check is as follows:
- Make an appointment for the Healthcheck.
- Obtain and review important documents (Vision Statement, Project Charter, Scope, etc.).
- Inquire about important issues.
- Fill out the checklist (or survey).
- Keep track of the outcomes.
- Make a strategy for moving forward (if needed).
How often Project Healthcheck should be conducted?
Healthchecks should be scheduled at the following times:
- Healthchecks should be done on a regular basis. For difficult or long-term tasks, schedule them more often.
- Healthchecks should be done on an as-needed basis. Even if the time is unexpected, they should be expected as “normal operating procedure.” Expect to be shocked from time to time if you’re the project manager.
- Allow your management, customers, or any other critical stakeholder to request Healthchecks.
- Schedule and conduct the Healthcheck as soon as possible if requested.
Purpose and objectives of Health Checks in Project Management
The goal of a project/program health check is to get an impartial assessment of how well a project or program is operating in line with its objectives and adhering to the methodology’s best practices at any time during the project/program life cycle.
A successful health check will give the project/program manager and sponsor instant access to results that they may use to plan and execute the project/program. It allows you to build on what’s working well and enhance where necessary, boosting your chances of success through earlier detection of problems and optimization possibilities.
How do you know if a project is at risk?
There are a variety of approaches for identifying project risks, including the following:
- The Things I’ve Learned
- Experts in their fields
- Examine the documentation
- SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities) Analysis
- The Delphi Method
- Analysis of Assumptions
- Diagrams of Influence
This is where you should begin. A list of frequent hazards to your business or kind of project should be kept on hand. If not, it might be time to create one, even if it’s just for yourself. The checklist will help you rapidly identify which risks are the most critical and under what conditions they apply.
2) The Things I’ve Learned
I’ve only come across one organization that keeps a lessons learned database, but it’s a fantastic tool for them. It’s a public record of issues faced, mistakes made, and what the project manager should do differently in future projects. How can your project go wrong if you spend a few minutes reading it when you’re starting a new project?
3) Experts in their fields
There is no replacement for having subject-matter specialists advise you on the dangers associated with the task. They are often in separate areas, but their opinion is invaluable. You must utilize a subject matter expert if you have one available. If you have subject matter experts on hand but are located far away from you, you must obtain their feedback as soon as possible.
4) Examine the Documentation
Many project hazards may be discovered by looking through the project’s technical specifics, the project team’s backgrounds, and other information. This may entail looking at previous projects, similar projects, or even those undertaken by other companies.
For example, if you were attempting to land a rocket on a landing pad, it may be beneficial to research the results of previous attempts. This can bring up some big hazards that weren’t addressed before, especially when the project has uncommon and/or unique elements.
5) SWOT Analysis
A SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis will aid in identifying the project’s hazards. The SWOT analysis is a four-quadrant box that allows you to examine the project from the perspective of other industry participants in the competitive environment. The “Weaknesses” and “Threats” quadrants, in particular, can help you focus on the weak connections where possible project derailments are waiting to happen.
The focus of brainstorming is on quantity rather than quality. You jot down everything and then go back to filter down the list later. There are no incorrect responses; only things of low priority are checked off afterwards. The generation of ideas and the analysis are separated with this method. When attempting to integrate these two stages, you’d be amazed at how many are overlooked.
7) The Delphi Method
The Delphi Technique is a method for reaching an agreement among competent individuals. It entails anonymously polling the group and then anonymously publishing all of the responses with the whole group. They are free to alter their original ideas after seeing the opinions of others. A consensus should develop after numerous rounds.
8) Analysis of Assumption
Every project has underlying assumptions that are used to build its business case. The process of identifying and assessing these assumptions might lead to the discovery of new hazards.
9) Diagrams of Influence
Creating a primary decision network for the project’s significant turning points may identify the key risks.
What are the common risks in a project?
The following are some of the most often encountered project risks:
- Technology is a danger
- The danger of miscommunication
- Consider the possibility of creep
- There is a cost risk
- Operational danger
- Risk to one’s health and safety
- The availability of skills resources is in danger
- Risk of poor performance
- There is market risk
- External dangers pose a threat
Timing of Health Checks
Health checks, in theory, are a technique that may be used to keep a project/program from failing. To accomplish this, health checks should be planned at the end of project planning or program definition, as well as during project execution or program benefits delivery. With the size and complexity of the project/program, the number of health checks planned during execution should grow.
Projects or programs experiencing difficulties should arrange a health check with the PMO as soon as feasible to help identify possible modifications to support the project recover.