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How to Run a Successful Project

When building a house, when building a bridge, when building a car, when building a space station: the world thinks in projects. But how to run a successful project?

When there is something to be done:

  • Make a Wish List
  • Hire a Contractor
  • Make Some More Lists With The Contractor
  • Spend Some Money
  • Monitor Situation and Hope For The Best; Go Back One Step Until Complete

One-off physical goods get built this way. The only difference between successful projects and unsuccessful ones is the amount of time spent on the last two steps. That time is directly affected by the amount of attention paid to the first three steps.

The same applies with software projects. The big difference is that with software project there’s a lot that is unseen.

Your Development Partner can’t always show you what they’ve been doing. So how do you get a feel for what is on track and what is slipping? When you can’t physically see any progress, should you worry?

Tracking Progress

Project Management methodologies, such as Prince2 and Scrum, have become popular in software projects because of the trust gap. We can’t see it, how can we trust it’s there? These are command and control procedures for things that we can’t easily see as clients. They attempt to provide visibility for the invisible – or not yet visible.

But the project management processes themselves can very often detract from the facts. The language used can be confusing and heavy with terminology.

If you’re confused, stick to the basic facts and ask direct questions:

  • How much longer will it take?
  • How much more is this going to cost?
  • When can our customers expect this to be ready?

If you don’t get direct answers, or the answers keep changing, then keep pushing your development partner until you get a commitment or until they are honest with you and themselves.

Be it a physical project or software project, the same rules apply. Keep in control, keep asking the questions, keep listening to the answers.