| Frequently Asked Questions - Project Related
Question: Can you describe how you approach or manage projects?
Answer: I tend to look at projects in four dimensions - resources, time, quality, and scope. So I am trying to manage these four sides of a project. For example, I prefer to have a very well-defined scope so as to not impose on the quality, time, and resources. It's also important to assign the right resources and time to the project up-front. So I will be very honest with you as to what it takes. In some cases where sudden budget changes take place, there may be a need to reduce the scope without impairing the quality. There's a lot more that goes into project management - these are just the basic dimensions that I tend to follow.
Question: Do you change how you manage a project as it progresses?
Answer: Yes and No - Yes, I will make certain changes in how I create the deliverables for a client since it takes numerous iterations; i.e. it is a discovery driven type process where you learn and get closer to meeting your needs with each iteration. No - I still have to manage my projects within the fence-line of resources, time, quality, and scope.
So some things are more or less the same, but the actual finished product is evolutionary as the project progresses.
Question: Can you describe how you start a project?
Answer: It usually starts with a kick-off meeting, describing what the project is about, what we are trying to accomplish, who is responsible for what, etc. There are several things that lead up to the kick-off meeting, such as submitting a proposal, preliminary discussions about critical issues, time frames, etc. So before I do a project kick-off, many of the logistics are already worked out so that people can move into action mode after the kick-off meeting. This is part of project planning, such as defining the scope and have a clearly defined Statement of Work.
Question: How do you make sure that you have "quality" deliverables for a client?
Answer: One way is to review each iteration of the deliverable with the client so that resources and time are not wasted. Client sign-offs are part of the process. Also, the scope of the project should clearly describe what the deliverable is about - so our contract should help serve as a baseline. Finally, I super-impose my own set of quality standards - things like completeness, accuracy, easy to understand, delivered in a timely manner, can the client take ownership of this and add value with it, and so forth. So I use my own set of standards in conjunction with your sign-offs and comparison to scope.
Question: Are there things that you look at to assess project risk?
Answer: There are numerous factors that in my opinion can increase project risk. Here are some examples: Customized software is needed, project scope and objectives are not clearly defined, your staff is unavailable to assist with the project, your senior managers do not support the project, time frame for completion is not realistic, your organization is experiencing very rapid change, numerous remote locations will be involved in the project, and several third parties are involved. Some of these variables are outside my control. So it helps when the client understands these risk factors going into a project. I will point the risks out to you and provide recommendations for managing the risks.
Question: It sounds like you need to have things a certain way for project success - can you further explain?
Answer: Well I'm not looking for exact precision, but it does help when a client knows what they want. If you are not sure what you want, then you should be more receptive to scope changes and changes to the project time-frame. So this is something you need to keep in mind. Generally, I would encourage all of my clients to communicate what they are trying to solve and let me translate this into a set of deliverables that you and I both agree to. This will prevent any misunderstandings and go a long way towards project success.