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Assessment Tool for Project Managers

In “Seven Reasons IT Projects Fail,” I outlined why IT projects fail and how to avoid those pitfalls. Here, I provide an assessment tool to help identify project risks. This tool is designed to solicit a yes or no answer. If the answer is no, the project manager should write down the reason and take action to make it a positive answer. This approach is designed to facilitate project managers’ responsibilities to plan, direct, solve problems and communicate.

Project Management

  • Clear project goals? If no, what is not clear?
  • Firm project scope? If no, is change-management being used?
  • Achievable plan? (Note: The scope of this question is feasibility.)
  • Communication plan in place? If no, what is needed to establish regular communication?
  • Problems being shared with management? If no, why are they not being shared?
  • Functional management involved at the right level? If no, what can you do to change this?
  • Senior management participating in executive status? If no, should there be senior-management meetings or communications?
  • Are you skilled enough for the project? If no, what specific skills do you need? Can you develop these needed skills quickly?
  • Proactive management including performance measurement? If no, what performance measures could you add to make the project status more numeric and less subjective?
  • Are you consistently telling the truth when reporting status? If no, make a list of items that are being left out and ask yourself why these are not being discussed openly.
  • Dependencies identified and understood? If no, take a specific action to investigate dependencies and work them into the overall project plan.
  • Requirements known or changing but being managed? If no, what can you do to firm up the requirements or put change management in place?

Joseph Gulla is the general manager and IT leader of Alazar Press, a publisher of award-winning children’s books. Joe is a frequent contributor to IBM Destination z (the community where all things mainframe converge) and writes weekly for the IT Trendz blog where he explores a wide range of topics that interconnect with IBM Z.

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