There are obvious ways to tell if your project is running smoothly.  The no-brainers like everything is on schedule, the budget is still in alignment, you have the resources you need and everyone is being utilized.  But that’s no fun…let’s look at less obvious ways to tell that your project is running smoothly. 

The CEO says ‘hi’ to you in the hallway

This is a good one.  When your project is highly visible and it’s not going well, you’re having customer calls in the CEO’s office and going onsite to fix things…even if it is the customer’s fault.  But when it’s going very well, the CEO says ‘hi’ to you in the hallway.  Seems like he should be taking you out to lunch, doesn’t it?

You still have the same delivery team resources that you started the project with

It’s always nice when your resources aren’t getting pulled for other projects.  And even nicer when they aren’t getting replaced due to poor performance, customer request and customer complaints.  I’ve had all of the above on my projects and while I don’t like resources getting pulled from me, it’s better than having a it forced by a customer complaint.

You’re still on the project

And the same goes with the PM.  It’s always nice to finish what you start.  When the customer asks for the PM to be replaced, it’s never a good thing.  Being pulled from a stable project to help fix a problem project is an ego boost thought still frustrating.  But being pulled from a project because the customer requests it or because the project is doing poorly can’t be good for the ego or the career path.

Working on a project

The customer is actually requesting change orders

When the customer is requesting new work beyond the SOW from the delivery team that is almost always a good thing – especially if they are paying for it in a timely fashion.  You don’t ask a building contractor to do additional work at your house if he sucked on the first work he did.  More work is good – as long as you can work out the budget and timeframe with your customer and as long as your resources remain available to you for this new additional timeframe.

You don’t wake up in the middle of the night wondering what you’ve missed

I don’t know about you, but when I have a lot of issues going on for a project, I have trouble sleeping.  I wake in the middle of the night and shoot off emails checking status so my remote team has them first thing in the morning and can get back to me quickly.  Stress sets in.  It’s just not fun at that point.  When things are going well and the project is running smoothly, I sleep better and I’m able to rest assured that the normal project tracking of status reporting, project planning, budget tracking and issue tracking is taking care of what needs to be handled on the project.  I like a good adrenaline rush from tackling issues, but I hate it when projects have gotten out of hand enough to cause this kind of distress.