16 November 2010

Ensure Project Success by Demanding Proposal

I am sure that most of you have been the sponsor of projects that have not reached their objectives in a satisfactory manner. In these situations, you have probably wondered if you as the sponsor could have done something to make the project a success.

In my experience, there is one action that you as a sponsor can take that will greatly increase the success rate of internal projects. This is to demand that the project manager (and team) develop a proposal similar to what you would expect from an external consultant. You will the need to evaluate the proposal in the same way that you would evaluate a proposal from your consultant. This includes concluding whether the proposal from the internal team:

• Shows that the team truly understands the core issues that you need to have dealt with
• Suggests goals and deliverables that will actually help you deal with your core issues
• Presents an approach that makes sense by suggesting a reasonable set of activities, use of time and resources that both meet your deadlines and are reasonable, and presents a set of milestones that show how the project will move forward and gives you the opportunity to easily understand whether the project is on-track

If you are not satisfied with the proposal you then have the option of sending the project team back to the drawing board or to consider other options (including external consultants).

While a well-structured and agreed proposal is a key success factor, it really shows its value when it is used as part of your top-level management of the project. A key component of this process is to insist that the project team sticks to the agreed deadlines and milestones (as is second nature to external consultants).

Follow the links if you are interested in more information on project planning or project management training.