Also available: Estimating a Software Project
What These Checklists Do and Don't DoFirst, a few disclaimers. These checklists:
- do not give you magic formulas to fix problems.
- do not guarantee your project's success.
- do not provide day to day guidance.
- do not cover every situation that will confront you as a project manager.
- do act as a guide to the majority of the software development life cycle.
- do provide a framework to review project activities.
- do help you avoid many of the common causes of project failure.
How To Use The Checklists
These checklists are a tool for helping you focus attention on the critical aspects of your project at the different stages of its lifecycle. Since they are your tools, feel free to use them in any way that you find helpful. Here are some suggestions:
- When you do a checklist, find somewhere quiet where you can reflect
carefully on each point - close your office door or go sit in a coffee shop for
half an hour.
- Most checklists you will want to do more than once. The Start of Project
list, for instance, is a large one and can be used several times during the
project start up phase to check your progress.
- Print out the summary (plain) checklist and scribble on it as you think
about each item. If you are not happy with your project's progress on an item,
write down what you are going to do about it. When finished, write the date on
the top and drop it in your personal project folder for future reference.
- Open a browser window showing the full checklist (the one with
commentary) while filling out the checklist.
- Think about each item on the checklist, and give it a tick if the item
describes your project as it currently is. If you aren't sure try this: stand
up, put your hand on your heart and say "This project really has ..." and the
checklist item. If that felt good, sit down and give yourself a tick.
Otherwise, sit down and work out what you are going to do about it. Either way,
it's best not to actually stand up if you went to the coffee shop instead of
shutting your office door.
- Not every item is applicable to every stage of every project. Think
carefully about how each item applies to your project at this time. If the item
is not appropriate, just skip it.
- For every item that you haven't ticked, but think is appropriate for your
project, work out a plan to fix the situation.
- These checklists are to help you to work out how the project is doing, and what needs to be done. Don't feel like you need to show them to your manager, unless that would be helpful.
Your comments and suggestions are both welcomed and invited. Mail me at feedback at this domain to have your input incorporated. (Mind you, these lists have been on the net for almost five years, and I've yet to receive a single suggestion. But there could be a first time, you never know.)
Happy project managing!