Analyzing Project Deliverable Performance

Posted by Brad Egeland

Analyzing the deliverables of the project – in particular, whether they will meet functionality and quality targets – can be difficult. In many cases, deliverables cannot be fully evaluated until they’ve been created. From the standpoint of project control, your mission is primarily to keep deliverable performance from being degraded. It’s important to note that deliverable performance can fall short for two reasons.

Failure to Perform as Expected

It’s very possible to create deliverables “according to design or specification” that do not turn out as expected. Perhaps they do not perform as we’d hoped or cannot accomplish their intended purpose. This kind of outcome is not uncommon in situations where you’re creating something new, where significant research and development is required. In this situation, risk management and communication can be two useful strategies. Make sure that the customer of the deliverables is fully aware that performance problems are a possibility.

To defend against last-minute disappointment or rework, you might conduct periodic checks of deliverables against design specifications, create mockups or sample products, perform random tests, sample representative deliverables, and conduct specially designed performance tests. Be sure to build these period checks into your project schedule using a tool like Seavus’ Project Viewer.  Without building these checkpoints into the project schedule, you might find yourself running over budget and over schedule.

Performance Standards Are Altered During the Project

Sometimes a decision is made during the project to lower the standards of performance of project deliverables. This situation can occur if it’s determined that what was thought to be achievable is simply not. In other cases, standards are lowered to compensate for cost or schedule problems.

From a management standpoint, the difference between these two situations is huge. An inability to meet performance standards because of technological challenges is often understandable. If handled properly, that is with the understanding and cooperation of the customer, this situation should not become a reflection on your management ability. However, if you or a member of your team “trade off” deliverable performance as a way to save time or money – without the express permission of the client – you’re asking for trouble. Make sure that you review with your customer any potential modifications to performance standards. And make sure that team members understand that this is never their decision to make alone.

Information for this article was derived, in part, from Gary Heerkens’ book entitled, “Project Management.”

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