Archive for category Management

An All Purpose Checklist for Project Closure

This post is from Kevin Sequeira, Product Manager for Tenrox, the leading workflow-driven  project
management and professional services automation solution.
 

You’ve reached that point in the project where you stand at deployment and you are ready to shake hands with the project customer and move on to your next assignment.  Do you just flip the switch, wave goodbye and ride off into the sunset?  Is your job complete?  How do you know…what is your yardstick for saying, “that’s it, we’re done here!”?

From my project experience there are some key steps and critical things to check on as the project is deploying so as to ensure that the engagement is over and the solution is ready for the project customer.  I’d like I present what I consider to be a reasonable ‘general’ checklist for use at project close out to ensure you’ve dotted the ‘I’s and crossed the ‘T’s before moving on to your next project.
 
Are all deliverables delivered?
Review the project schedule closely. Has your project team successfully delivered on all project deliverables?  And just as importantly, do you have something documenting customer acceptance of each project deliverable?  Is there a formal signoff in your project folder?
 
Are all invoices current?
Most projects either bill time and materials, by deliverable, or monthly. Look through all project invoices. Has everything that should be paid up till now actually paid?  If not, now is the time to check with the customer to see if there are any outstanding invoice issues and work to resolve them quickly.
 
Has a lessons learned session been conducted or at least scheduled?
I’m a fan of conducting one or more lessons learned sessions before the actual point of deployment because it’s hard to pull everyone together after the solution has been turned over to the customer and to support staff. But if you’ve not held a session yet, schedule that now with the client even if it’s just a one or two hour phone call.
 
Have all user acceptance testing (UAT) issues been resolved?
How did UAT go?  Were there any remaining issues to be fixed?  Ensure that those have been acceptably resolved prior to deployment. Make sure that you have a formal UAT signoff in hand as well – a project that does not have a formal testing acceptance from the project client should not be headed for deployment.
 
Are all training issues completed?
Most customer solutions require some level of training to be conducted for the customer’s end user community.  Naturally, this would have been well laid out in the project schedule with specific tasks designed to ensure that this is accomplished.  Review the schedule to ensure that all training tasks are complete – a customer who doesn’t know how to use their newly deployed system will likely not be a satisfied customer who gives good references to other potential project clients.
 
Is a formal project acceptance signoff ready for the customer?
Finally, do you have a formal signoff document ready for the customer to sign upon deployment of the final solution?  It’s important that you’ve been accumulating ‘official’ acceptance signoffs on all deliverables up to this point, but this one is probably the most important of all as it signifies overall acceptance of the deployed solution to the customer.  Any discussion of remaining outstanding invoices will likely begin and end with this signoff, so make sure that it is always part of your project closure
checklist.
 
Summary
This is my practical checklist for closing out a project engagement.  Readers – do you have other things that you would suggest adding to this list?  What other items do you consider critical to every project to cover before considering the engagement closed out?

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What would the world look like if more managers made decisions like children?

It was my son’s tenth birthday. We finally caved in and got him an iPod, in this case the latest iPod Touch. It is an amazingly well designed device; so much you can do with it! It works and looks great. The new version is quite an improvement over its predecessor. My son got hooked on it pretty quickly and literally a few minutes later he was able to navigate and use the device on his own.

This sparked a conversation during the birthday party with a few of the parents who are also in the IT and software industry. We remarked how children follow the crowd and are loyal to a brand but only if the product truly lives up to the hype. If the iPod Touch was hard to use, too slow or ugly looking he would drop it in a minute. If something comes along from vendor XYZ that does more, is faster, looks nicer and easier to use than the iPod Touch they would embrace it pretty quickly, Apple be damned.

Generally, IT and software executives adopt new products with a completely different decision making process. What do you think?  What would change if more managers and executives made decisions like children do?

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Top Professional Services Management Challenges – Part 1

We discussed this topic in a meeting I had with a few senior people from various high tech companies. It was good to exchanges notes and see that many mid-sized high tech/software companies have experienced similar challenges with their service teams.

Please share your experiences with the management of your professional services teams. I will collect your feedback and report back to everyone with some comments and recomemndations in a part 2 of this post.

You can read the entire article at this PSVillage link.

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To Manage Better, Think Like a Terrorist

Great management article that challenges classic defensive thinking.

Not in the business of thwarting terrorist plots? Woolley says her findings, which were later replicated in a laboratory setting, provide crucial tools for managers in less hostile environments. For starters, as you approach a problem, there is merit in merely recognizing that you and your team are likely to be operating under either a defensive or offensive bias. To mitigate the resulting dangers of analysis paralysis on the one hand and overconfidence on the other, divide your team into two groups and ask them to consider the problem from either the defensive or offensive perspective. Instead of simply anticipating the moves of a company that threatens to put yours out of business, you’ll be able to assess the peril by thinking like that company. And if you’re convinced you’ll trounce your opponents, defensive thinking will help you stop and reconsider. They may in fact have other plans.

http://blogs.bnet.com/management/?p=1477&tag=landing-pad;work-life

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