Kick start the year with a project health check

Welcome back from a well-deserved break. You are ready to jump back into the ups and downs of project management. If you are one of the unfortunate project teams that didn’t get to take time off because of a major system upgrade, make sure you book time out in the coming months.

Kick start the year with a project health check!

Most of your project stakeholders will still be on leave or slowly getting back into the routine of business operations. January is a great month to assess the health of your project – what does and does not need attention. Have you ever noticed a flashing light or dial not moving on your car dashboard, taken no action and a few kilometres later you are calling roadside assistance? Project dashboards are no different, there is information and behaviours telling you how the project is performing and most times is disregarded until it is too late.

Throughout the life of a project there are many warning signs your project is not on the road to delivery success: stakeholders are disengaged; the team is stressed; the budget is being stretched; time is getting away from you; escalations to management is not taken seriously. If your project is experiencing one or more of these symptoms it’s time to take action and get your project health back.

A project health check is a methodical assessment normally carried out by independent project professionals for one of two reasons:

  • A project has gotten into trouble and you need to find what went wrong, why and recommend decisions with actions to either recover or stop.
  • Regular checks are planned to identify issues before they become a problem.

Don’t wait for trouble to find you, take responsibility as a project leader and perform a health self-assessment. Here are a few items to help you get started.

Budget & Timeline

  • Open purchase commitments are included in forecast estimate to complete
  • Control gates are visible in the schedule
  • Phase contingencies are being reported to relevant governance groups

Risks & Issues

  • All high rating risks have mitigation plans with resources assigned and activities linked to the delivery milestone
  • All issues have assigned owners and due dates
  • Number of closed issues is staying ahead of the number of new/open issues

Project Team & Resources

  • All team members have agreed to their list of deliverables and responsibilities for reporting progress
  • Vendors are participating in planning and issue resolution
  • Subject matter experts from operational roles have been backfilled and available 100% of the time

Project Sponsor & Governance

  • Status reports are used as an effective communication tool with stakeholders
  • Meetings with governance groups are recorded with decisions and actions logged
  • Your Project Sponsor is promoting the benefits of the project

Engagement & Collaboration

  • There is visual evidence of thinking and planning with cross functional teams
  • Fun news stories are being shared in organisation messages
  • Business users are taking responsibility for requirements and issue resolution

How did you go?

Do you need to take a step back and re-plan because you are heading for a problem or all you need to do is adjust a few things?

All projects at various times have health symptoms that need to be addressed. Include in your project plan several project health check assessment points and highlight the results in your governance report. It builds confidence with key stakeholders that you and your team are in control and everyone is heading in the same direction to celebrate project success!

To find out about a more comprehensive project health assessment or workshops to learn how to stay in control of your project health, contact Jeanette on M: 0419 021 008 or E:

Written by Jeanette Cremor
Independent Project Consultant

Image source: Unsplash
Photographer: Daniela Cuevas