At Øredev in Malmö, Sweden, earlier this month Henrik Kniberg spoke about a project he had been involved with which was about giving frontline Swedish police staff the PCs and software they needed to be able to process petty crime on the spot instead of having to wait until they got back to the station.

Henrik gave the audience some tips based on his experience on this project on how to set up a project for success. He had 6 pieces of advice, and here they are.

3 ways to set up a project for success

Henrik started by sharing three general principles for setting up a project for success.



Henrik recommended that successful projects, particularly Agile ones, are those that are co-located. In other words, that’s where the project team members are situated together in the same office. This can be hard to do, especially in large teams, but it does work well and gives you better team communication options than distributed teams. Distributed Agile teams can be very successful, but Henrik’s view was that co-locating this project team contributed to its success.

Incremental delivery

Incremental Delivery

Break down your delivery into the smallest possible chunks, Henrik suggested. This is the best way to get control over a large project. In his project, the team structured the delivery first by limiting it to certain police forces before rolling it out more widely and then by limiting the types of crime that could be processed through the software, eventually extending the scope to include more types of crime.

In your project you could replicate this by delivering via a staged approach or through different phases. Review the project scope and see if you can stagger the implementation to different, discrete user groups, or whether you could add in incremental functionality at a later date.

User involvement

User Involvement

Having users involved was really important and in this project Henrik’s team was supplemented by police officers. They were able to provide real-time feedback on the software and the implementation.

Henrik recommended that having users involved was an essential part of making sure that your project was going to be a success because this way you can check that what you are delivering is actually fit for purpose. He worked in a very customer-centric way. On your projects you could use a customer representative who is seconded to the project team, or get customers and business users involved in requirements elicitation and testing (as a minimum).

3 ways to create a culture of continuous improvement

Henrik went on to offer three further ways that you can improve the chances of success on your project by creating a culture of continuous improvement


Be clear with your project goals and objectives. It is really critical to make sure that everyone on the team has an understanding of the common purpose of the project, and this will provide opportunities for people to comment when they are seeing that some things are going off track. In this way, you’ll be able to keep on top of the feedback and ensure that it is fed back into the project processes in a cycle of continuous improvement.



Having strong communication links between the team members is essential for success, and it helps to have everyone on the same page. Henrik didn’t recommend project planning tools but you could use Seavus Project Viewer or a similar product to ensure that everyone has a collaborative, common view of project progress as this is one way to strengthen communication between team members.

Project managers are generally quite aware of the need for strong communications on projects, but other team members may not be. Your role is to encourage good communication links and to work effectively with everyone on the team to ensure that there are no communication blockages. This can be done through a mixture of structured formal communication such as project reports and also information communication like conference calls or quick catch up meetings.


Henrik recommended having lightweight metrics feeding into the continuous improvement cycle. Without data, you don’t know where you are coming from or what position you have now achieved. Data can also help you prove a point later in the project or make the case for changing a process if you can demonstrate that something about it is causing problems for the team.