In Part I we introduced you to the concept of Project Assurance, the specialized discipline and practice involving independent and objective oversight, specialized experience, and audit skill to assess risk, finance, accounting, compliance, safety, and performance for any major capital expenditure (Source: Wikipedia), that is designed to minimize the risk of projet overruns and failure.
Project Assurance is a comprehensive, proactive, and preventative methodology that attempts to go beyond simply addressing tactical issues brought up in methodologies like Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) to address strategic issues in a proactive manner so that potential issues are identified, and mitigated, before they become problems. In Project Assurance, the organization, under the guidance of the outside Project Assurance expert, a projet health assessment is conducted at a critical point of each project phase to make sure the project is on track, the project team is aligned, and the project is still likely to complete on time and on budget.
So when are these health assessments conducted and what is looked for?
- Strategy Pre-Presentation
before the business case is presented for funding and approval, a health assessment is conducted to insure that expectations and requirements are aligned with top management’s commitment; the key stakeholders are interviewed to determine their goals and reasons for approving the project, the cross-functional team is interviewed to gauge their take on the project, and the business case and project understanding is reviewed and compared to the stakeholder intent. Discrepancies are brought up so they can be addressed before they grow into full-blown issues.
- Acquisition Pre-Vendor Selection
before vendors are selected and negotiations begin, a review of software and services options is conducted to determine if there are any gaps between the proposed software and services and the business case and core requirements identified in the first phase. In addition to a review of proposals against project requirements is a review of proposed resolution procedures to make sure anything that is missed can be addressed and any issue identified can be resolved.
- Planning Pre-Design
after the initial drafts of the detailed project plan and change management plan have been developed to insure there is a strong methodology in place, that resources are adequate, and that time line and scope are realistic. All documents are cross-reviewed and research is conducted to identify potential issues that could arise in the project and to make sure that the plans address them or have mechanisms to address them should they arrive.
- Design Pre-Acceptance
after the initial drafts of the System Design documentation to ensure there are minimal gaps between the software and business requirements, the organization understands the impact of the coming change, and there are adequate resources allocated. All documents are reviewed and cross-validated and suppliers are interviewed in addition to the implementation team to make sure the core understanding of the software and service requirements is consistent and the design document addresses everyone’s concern.
- Development Pre-Testing
near the end of the phase to ensure project management methodology is (still) well in place, the impact of the coming change is being addressed, and the proposed education and training plans will meet user requirements and adequately cover the technology utilization requirements. The implementation is compared to the design, the training plans to the implementation, and the change management plan to the breadth of the impact. Project team members are interviewed for potential concerns and the current state is compared to the plan.
- Testing & Training Pre-Acceptance
near the end of the phase to ensure top management is committed to the cut-over, there are adequate resources in place for the go-live, and the education and training provided has sufficiently prepared the users for the new system. Problems explode into disruptions if a project goes-live before they are resolved.
So now that we know when project health assessments are conducted and what these assessments entail, how do they help you? Come back for Part III.