A project lifecycle is very similar to the seasons of the year.
Initiation (Winter): The greatest degree of uncertainty, heavy administrative effort (snow removal or setting up a project – both are equally time consuming!), facilitating the Forming and Storming phases of team building, and meeting and establishing relationships with hostile stakeholders.
Planning (Spring): Uncertainties reduce, our teams are into the Norming phase as we look forward with anticipation and plan for the Summer (execution) but occasional cold spells are similar to the conflicts and negotiation that invariably arise as schedule, cost, scope & quality baselines are defined.
Execution (Summer): A lot of constructive, positive activity and we are in the Performing phase of the team lifecycle. Periodic thunderstorms are analogous to the “churn” created by project changes.
Closeout (Fall): Project shutdown maintenance and administration combined with supporting your team through the Adjourning/Mourning phase – “impending Winter blues” are very similar to the emotions felt by all as a project ends.
However, we know that as one project ends, a new project will commence, and the seasonal cycle resumes!
In the same fashion as we prepare for each season by performing routine maintenance tasks, your project also requires regular care & feeding.
During the execution phase, it becomes too easy to succumb to the tunnel-vision focus on schedule, scope, cost, issues and team productivity or morale.
Having a checklist to consult can ensure you don’t neglect other important questions such as:
- Is your sponsor engaged & positive about the project?
- Is the project still going to deliver benefits to your organization?
- Have you met with your stakeholders recently and are they aware of what is going on with the project?
- When’s the last time you reviewed your risk register/portfolio with your team & stakeholders?
- How are relations with your vendors?
- Have you received signoff on completed deliverables?
If you only focus on the triple constraint during those halcyon days of execution, you may suffer the same fate as the grasshopper who sang away the days of summer.