What is the right schedule for measuring project success?

street name sign that says success

We have now covered the benefits of benchmarking – why you should do it & how you should do it.

We have covered what some key metrics are to measure.

But now I want to look at when we should measure project success?

A 2005 study by hrb.org that Boston Consulting Group published way back in 1994, documented that, in over 1,000 change management initiatives worldwide, the 4 factors that best predicted successful transformations are:

  • Duration- the time between project reviews
  • Integrity– Capabilities of the project teams
  • Commitment– Of executive leadership and employees the change will most significantly impact
  • Effort– the employees must make to cope with the change

Their study showed that:

 “Contrary to popular perception, a long project that is reviewed frequently is more likely to succeed than a short project that isn’t reviewed as frequently. Thus, the time between reviews is more critical for success than the project’s life span.”

This lead me to think about project governance and what the correct frequency is for meetings. In my full formal governance training workshop we talk about who to invite to these meetings and what the appropriate in puts and outputs should be but I wanted to take a minute in this blog to just talk about the frequency we have found to be most successful!

At a minimum companies should review any project or change initiative bi-monthly. More than 8 weeks and the project is bound to get off track. 

Typically for smaller projects the duration is shorter and there are fewer people on the project team so we tend to meet weekly simply due to the short duration.

However in larger projects we break it up by what the purpose of the meeting is:

At the highest level you have the Executive Management Update (EMU) meeting– this is a once a quarter update reporting the status of a project- red, green, or yellow- based on scope, schedule and budget. This meeting is where you report if the business objectives the change initiative was intended to drive is meeting expectations. These meetings usually do not need to start till about 1/3 of the way through the project- once the team has a clearly defined project plan and they can inform execs if things are working or not! In this meeting is where additional resources are requested if needed or decisions such as should we pull the plug on the project are made.

The next level down are the Steering Committee meetings (SCM). These should happen monthly. These also report project status based on scope, schedule, and budget but these tend to be more for letting the departments know what is needed from a communication standpoint to be disseminated across the organization. This is where human resource and personnel and performance issues often get discussed.

The next level down is the full Project Team Lead (PTL) meetings. These should happen weekly. This is where updates are given on dependent tasks and project decisions are made.

The last level is the Delivery Team (DT or SCRUM) meetings. These are stand up meetings with a project manager and other functional (or technical) resources. These are the people that have to work together and need to know what their dependencies are from other team members. In this meeting we often discuss challenges or roadblocks and what needs to be done to remove them. These meetings are help 2-3 times per week except in the case of large teams (more than 6-8 people with inter-dependent deliverables) where they are held daily. If it is a daily meeting it should be limited to 15 minutes.

You now know, how to measure KPI’s, when to measure project success, the next topic- “When to measure user adoption?”

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To read about how to make the most of your time and to have productive meetings, check out A Giant Waste Of Time Part 1 and A Giant Waste Of Time Part 2.