Project Planning | By Howard Vaughan | Read time minutes
Among all the tools at our disposal for managing projects, checklists are perhaps the simplest and most productive means of building consistency in work practices. Checklists are useful in almost every field of human endeavour, and in particular where repeatability and systematic action drive performance. Yet they are still much underused in the planning and managing of projects.
Here is a high level twelve-point checklist for use during project planning:
- Have the needs and concerns of all key stakeholders been considered and resolved?
- Does the project have an overall approved mission statement defining the scope, schedule and resources/budget?
- Has the relative flexibility among scope, schedule, resources and budget been determined?
- Have all project deliverables been identified and described in detail with unambiguous completion criteria?
- Are roles and responsibilities defined and agreed upon for all project team members?
- Has an appropriately detailed Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) been created with input from key team members?
- Has a credible schedule with identifiable critical path and late schedule been developed from the WBS and optimised within the project constraints?
- Have milestones been included in the schedule to track major events, completed phases and/or deliverables and external dependencies?
- Have workload commitments been identified for each week of the project and agreed to by team members and their managers?
- Have response plans been developed for the most significant threats to project success?
- Has a change management process been defined and agreed to by all key stakeholders?
- Has the governance structure for the project been established with an agreed sponsorship role and expectations set for review frequency and format?
One of the features of checklists is that they can be designed to extend hierarchically, such that a sub-checklist could be developed to facilitate any or all of the checks above (e.g. a stakeholder analysis checklist or a risk management checklist). The PMI, training firms and PMOs would do well to promote checklists more strongly - project managers like to use checklists; not many want to read through an overweight methodology. And managers like checklists because they improve quality and instil consistency.
Howard Vaughan is an accomplished project management consultant, trainer, coach and speaker. He has created and delivered high impact solutions for dozens of companies seeking excellence in project planning and execution worldwide.
Recommended read: Project Planning a Step by Step Guide, by Duncan Haughey.