The step-by-step guide: Step 5 Completing Your Project

The step-by-step guide:
Step 5 Completing Your Project

Step 5.1 Test the deliverables

If you are responsible for a project, it is right for your customer to expect you to manage it to produce deliverables that work, and which meet all the requirements agreed. To do this you may need to test the deliverables. There are many ways to do this, and the testing required depends entirely on the type of deliverable. How you test a new car is completely different from how you test computer software, or from how you would test a new building you had just built. However, each deliverable should be tested before you are completely confident they meet your expectations.

Whilst the actual tests vary between deliverables, there are some generic questions you need to ask to test any set of deliverables:

  • Is the set of deliverables complete?

  • Does each deliverable work?

  • Does each deliverable work exactly as you intended and with all the features you expected to be in it?

  • Have the deliverables been made / built / created to the level of quality that was required?

  • Are there any specific acceptance criteria or processes that the customer has defined and have the deliverables met these criteria?

Considering the office example used in Chapters 3 and 4, the test might be to check that:

  • There are 100 desks, chairs, PCs and telephones installed.

  • Each combination of desk, chair, PC and telephone is arranged in such a way, and with enough space, that a member of staff can use them comfortably and effectively.

  • Each desk has adequate lighting and power points.

  • Each PC can be switched on, it boots up correctly and offers the correct range of computer software.

  • Each telephone has dial tone when it is picked up and can be called on the number it is expected to be on.

There is some more detailed information on testing in the Appendix.

Step 5.2 Implement deliverables

Now that your deliverables work properly, you must implement them. For some deliverables, implementing is just about giving them to a customer, but for others they need to be made to work with existing items. (For example, loading new software onto a customer's computer system the software needs to work with any software already on the computer.) Also, how the deliverable works or can be used needs to be shown to the customer.

There are many ways to implement deliverables, and it does depend on the type of deliverable. Typically the questions you need to ask to implement any deliverable are:

  • Are your customers ready for the deliverables? For example, if you are going to install a new set of furniture in an office, is the office available or is it full of people busily doing their normal work who cannot be currently disturbed?

  • Are the deliverables something completely new or do they replace something the customer already has? If the latter, how are you going to help them make the transition from what they currently have to what you have developed? Consider the situation in which the deliverable from the project is a new sales manual for a company's sales force that describes a new way to sell a new product you have developed. How are you going to ensure that the sales force get hold of the new manual, understand it, and follow it instead of the existing sales manual?

  • Do the deliverables need to be integrated or made to work with anything else? Who is responsible for doing this and how will it be done? Imagine the situation that you are delivering a new machine into a factory. If this machine works alone, then you simply need to find space and a power supply for it. But what if the machine has to work with another existing machine: who is going to fit the two machines together and check that they work properly together?

  • Do the deliverables need any specific actions to implement? What are these and who will do them? Some deliverables can only be implemented in a special way. If your deliverable is some new computer software, how is it to be installed onto everyone's computers? Who will do this?

  • Does your customer need to be trained? If so, how is this training going to be provided? Consider a project in which you are delivering a new set of work instructions for staff in a call centre. The project has developed the instructions, but now the staff, who must follow the instructions, need to have the instructions explained to them, and someone must make sure the staff understand the instructions fully.

There is some more information on implementation in the Appendix.

Step 5.3 Provide support to your customers

The deliverables are now being used by the customers. However, the customers still may not understand every feature of them. Also customers can come across problems that only appear when the deliverables are in daily use. This means you may need to provide support to your customers for a short period after completing the project. Ask yourself:

  • Are the customers likely to have any problems with your deliverables once you have handed them over?

  • How will you resolve these issues?

  • How will you know when this period of support is complete?

Supporting your customer after you finish a project is good practice, but you can risk a situation in which your project never ends. To avoid the trap of never being able to finish a project, agree up front with your customer how long you will provide support for. This period of time should be built into the Project Plan.

In the example of the office move in Chapters 3 and 4, you may decide you need to provide support for the first few days after everyone moves into the new office. In providing support you may want to ensure:

  • Each member of staff knows which is his or her desk.

  • There is help for anyone who needs to raise or lower their chairs, or configure them in any way for themselves.

  • Everyone knows their new phone number and PC password and just in case anyone forgets, that someone is available for them to ask.

  • Everyone knows how to use the new PCs and telephones and if they have any problems, that there is someone available to show them and help them overcome any initial problems.

Step 5.4 Release resources

As people complete the tasks on the Project Plan you required them to do, you can release them from the project team. However, do not do this prematurely. People should only be released from the team when:

  1. You are sure that they have completed all the tasks required. This is not simply that they have worked until a certain date specified in the plan has passed. It is not only a date that needs to have passed, but that all the work they were meant to do has been completed.

  2. You have confidence you will not need them to help you test and implement the deliverables, or provide any further support to the customer.

The other resource you may have left is money. Hopefully you have not spent more than your original budget (including contingency). Assuming there is some money left, you need to give this back to your customer, or at least alert the company accountant that all that is going to be spent has been spent.

Key drivers for success 8: Remain closely involved in the work

Project management is a hands-on task. To be able to manage a project well you have to have an up-to-date view of the status. You need to know accurately how the project is progressing, what problems have occurred today and whether they can easily be resolved or not. You should keep a feeling for how the team are doing: are they enjoying the work and finding it easy, or are they struggling and in need of motivation?

The only way you can achieve this is to remain closely involved in the work. Some project managers take a very hands-off approach and spend their time in the office poring over the Project Plan or thinking about what needs to happen next. Yes, you need to make sure you have a good plan, and yes, you need time to think but in the end successful project management is about action. Any action is most effective when it is taken at the appropriate time and usually this is as early as possible. To be able to do this on a project you need to be deeply involved in the project and aware of what is going on.

Step 5.5 Review for next time

Is this the only project you will ever run? Is this the only project that will ever be run in your business? Normally the answer to both of these questions is no. If that is so, it is worth reviewing the project very soon after it is complete to make sure you have learnt any valuable lessons. Don't leave a long period before doing this review as you need the memory of the project to be fresh in your mind.

The main questions to answer in performing a review are:

  • What will you continue to do? What went well and what will you do again on your next project?

  • What will you stop doing? What went badly and will you do differently on your next project?

  • What will you start doing? What didn't you do on this project that in hindsight would have been good to do?

  • Is there anything else you have learnt that is worth remembering for next time?

This review should involve the project team and if you can, the project customer as well.

Step 5.6 Celebrate!

Finishing a project successfully should be something you are proud of. If you have followed the steps in this book, you will now understand that the principles of project management are really not that complex and in some ways are just common sense applied in a structured way. Yet managing projects well is something many people struggle with and often fail at. If you have completed your project successfully, you and the project team deserve a celebration.

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Project Management Step by Step. The Proven, Practical Guide to Running a Successful Project, Every Time
Project Management Step by Step: The Proven, Practical Guide to Running a Successful Project, Every Time
ISBN: 0273707884
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 43
Authors: Richard Newton
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