turn an estimated one-year delay into
a three-month delay by allowing her
to prioritize and resolve key issues the
project was facing, he says.
MAKE MEETINGS AND
At Conifer Health Solutions, a healthcare consultancy in Frisco, Texas, USA,
vice president and CIO Chris Tyler
makes sure there are frequent measurable
milestones—every six weeks, at most.
“In my experience, projects end up
in these troublesome positions because
of a lack of succinctly defined success
criteria, or because of lengthy timelines
that do not quickly deliver measurable
results,” he says.
Even with the best project management and delivery team in place,
projects that span more than six weeks
without measurable results can easily
find themselves in trouble, Mr. Tyler
As an executive with little time to
stay in tune with the day-to-day activi-
ties of a project, he says the most effec-
tive approach is to ensure the project
has a work breakdown structure that
facilitates meaningful status updates:
“Factoring shorter milestones into the
plan will likely increase costs of the
overall project. But it will better allow
for the agility needed to sustain accurate
direction of the project, and alignment
with the more fluid corporate strategies
that are required to successfully run
most companies today.”
Ask the project manager probing
questions that drive the necessary dis-
cussions to get at the root of any prob-
lems. Choose these questions wisely,
though; the most common mistake
senior executives make is not asking the
right ones, Mr. Walton says.
A TRUE OPEN-DOOR CULTURE
Although regular meetings are important, the ultimate goal is to have a project team that shares challenges as soon
as they arise. You don’t want them just
waiting for a monthly update or steering committee meeting.
“Work with your team to create
an escalation plan for executives when
key issues arise, so you can be aware of
trouble areas more quickly,” Ms. Bever
says. “To let a week expire without
Getting at the real truth behind
project status is no easy task.
Critical-path method scheduling
will provide important indicators
of a project’s health, but those
indicators can be manipulated.