• Bill Holmes

Project Management Basics – Chapter 4 – Product Metrics

How can you have a project if you can't describe why you are doing it?

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts” Albert Einstein

“What gets measured, gets managed.” Peter Drucker

Last week I asked the question “Can I have a well-run project that delivers an unwanted product?” Sadly, the answer is “yes”. It happens all the time because organizations either don’t know project management basics or because management intentionally rejects good practices.

Project should be initiated because someone has identified a tactical solution to address a strategic issue.

In a perfect world, the organization completes a strategic plan and in doing so identifies strategic priorities. An analysis is conducted to determine the desired “to be” state, and a needs assessment identifies specific actions that will move the organization to that future state.

Projects are initiated out of the needs assessment. Since the needs assessment describes exactly what capabilities are needed and how those capabilities support a strategic priority, it is relatively simple for the project manager to develop a Benefits Management Plan to ensure the functionality or product features are delivered. The Benefits Management Plan is also a great tool to ensure the project plan remains strategically aligned.

When I teach project management classes, I emphasize the importance of building a shared vision of the purpose of the project. The team needs to develop a 30 second “elevator speech” the describes why the project is being done and the business benefits that will be achieved. Everyone on the team should be familiar with and understand this “speech”, and in doing so the project manager ensures everyone understands the shared vision.

Unfortunately, many organizations don’t initiate projects like this.

Projects are initiated because an executive wants a project. There is seldom discussion about strategic alignment, desired outcomes, or quantitative metrics to determine of the value of the project. None of that is even considered.

An executive wants it, so we do it.

That is a terrible reason to initiate a project! How can you possibly devote resources if you can't describe the projects strategic alignment, business benefits or metrics?

And yet it occurs every day. That is why 75% of executives expect software projects to fail and 80% of executives don't know how their projects align with the business strategy! (capterra.com)

Cultural changes usually start at the top. What a great place to start!

Next, I’ll discuss the Benefits Management Plan.


Several weeks ago, I completed my series on “cancel culture”. Over the course of several months I described how I was canceled, the techniques that were used and lessons learned. An increasing number of public figures are speaking out against cancel culture and it appears people are fighting back. If they read my lessons learned, they would be much more effective. You must fight back! As Winston Churchill famously said “Appeasement is feeding the alligator and hoping he eats you last.”

#project #program #portfolio #leadership

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