Benefits of Reviewing Projects (before they end!)
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Benefits of Reviewing Projects (before they end!)

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Benefits of Reviewing Projects (before they end!)
By Paul Eldridge - Senior Project Manager

WE'VE ALL HEARD plenty about why projects fail. Here's a top ten list of famous last words:

1.   I didn't use a methodology (how hard could it be – we don't have time for all that stuff)..
2.   I wasn't entirely sure about the scope (seemed pretty clear to start with)...
3.   I thought I knew what they wanted...
4.   I hadn't figured on absolutely everything when I made my estimates...
5.   The business promised that all the resources would be available when I needed them...
6.   If I had been a bit closer to the business I may have seen a few more things coming...
7.   I hadn't realized the business wasn't actually ready to handle this change...
8.   I thought the suppliers would have been a bit more co-operative...
9.   Perhaps if I'd had a few more project team meetings things would have been clear to everyone...
10.  Maybe I should have kept that schedule up to date...

Formal reviewing of projects cover two areas – control (the management process) and project outcomes (the deliverables). Here's a few reasons why project reviews are important:
  • Believe it or not they can actually help, especially with identifying risks and issues
  • They can encourage good practices
  • They can assist in Project Manager development
  • They are an early warning system
  • They can save money in the long run
Here's a few of the things that a project review can verify:
  • Project scope
  • Relationship between the project team and the customer
  • Budget vs. actual
  • Expectations
  • Requirements
  • Deliverables
  • Communication planning
  • Project processes
  • Adherence to the schedule ("critical path")

There's a tendency to talk about Quality Assurance in terms of the management of projects but that's where it often ends. There's a raft of reasons ("excuses") as to why these activities don't take place:

  • We lose sight of the need because they are never planned/scheduled
  • We don't have time right now
  • I don't have any budget for reviews
  • Not enough skilled people to conduct reviews

While reviews are often based initially on checklists they are not just a form filling exercise nor are they are search for scapegoats – they are a concentrated interaction between professionals who should have a common aim – successful projects. Project reviews form part of Quality Assurance and need to be an integral of the project plan and its schedule. As such the project governance mechanisms (e.g. steering committee, PMO etc) must ensure that project reviews occur according to the plan. Allow 5-10% of the project budget for Quality Assurance including project reviews – but be reasonable and apply effort in proportion to project size and risk.