So what’s in a name – the criticality of project naming can’t be minimized!

Juliet might have said “That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” but I beg to differ when we are coming up with project names.

Here are a few of the ways in which good project names can make a difference:

– Motivating and unifying a cross-functional project team that hasn’t worked together in the past and is not 100% dedicated to your project.  Ensuring that your project name is uplifting and somehow captures the essence of what benefits the organization and the team members will reap can help focus team efforts.

– Engaging stakeholders and sponsors.  It might be easy as a stakeholder to ignore pleas from the project manager of the “implement ABC system version 1.2” but you’d think twice of doing this if the name was “reduce patient mortality due to transcription errors”…

– Supporting that “outside in”, business-focused view of projects – this is especially true for technology projects.  IT is forever blamed as being disconnected from the business and purely technology-focused and picking technology-centric project names does not help your CIO foster credibility with his or her peers at the executive level.

So what are the hallmarks of a good project name?  Here are a few suggestions:

1. It should reflect the expected benefits or business outcomes of the project.

2. It should be short – short enough that you could give the project name & a brief description in the stereotypical 30 second elevator pitch.

3. It should be positive (e.g. reduce operating costs is not as positive as increase profitability)

The acid test is to visualize yourself at a conference presenting a case study about the success of your project upon its completion – would you be proud to state its name, or would you cringe and mutter it under your breath?

Categories: IT Governance, Project Portfolio Management | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “So what’s in a name – the criticality of project naming can’t be minimized!

  1. itorganization2017

    Great points, Kiron! I also recall some wisdom from the incredible Gerry Weinberg (Secrets of Consulting et al) that usually a project has a life even before it’s declared a project! Unfortunately, this sometimes works against your wisdom – i.e., the name sort of ’emerged’ as if from the ether, without it being given too much thought and by the time it’s really declared a project, the original name is seen as case in stone!


    • kbondale

      Thanks for the feedback Vaughan!

      I also believe that the spontaneous generation of project names is the most fitting approach (it aligns with the “When the student is ready, the master appears” concept!) but this happens so rarely (especially in these frenetic days when projects spawn like roaches) that some structure guidance can act as the next best thing.


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