A few months ago, we started working with a project management coach.

The aim was to try to improve the way we do things. We already have lots of quite tight processes for our technical work, but didnt have any around managing all the different things that our project managers do.

Each week, we’ve been working through a different area. One that came up was benchmarking – trying to work out a way of measuring how well we’re going. We came up with the concept of the perfect dive – each project being like a diver diving off a board. There are different types of dives, but there are a few things you can practice doing right each time.

Here is a (slightly) shortened version of the way we defined the perfect project. We’ve started tracking each of these at the end of each project.

The perfect project:

  • The budget is estimated and agreed. We’re on the same page with the client on requirements and brief. No surprises.
  • Allocation – the right people get involved, no one is stolen from another project. Everyone is able to give input early on.
  • Setup – all our tools like Jira, Harvest and the Wiki are set up with schedules, briefs and issues
  • Wiki – is comprehensive and kept up to date
  • Everyone is happy – all the team understands the project well, any client questions or requests get responded to quickly. Our Client feels totally informed, thinks we’re in control and trusts us
  • WIPs – There are regular team WIPs and standups during the project
  • Go live issues considered before launch – like server load and all the various setup tasks. Nothing got forgotten. PM go-live tests and checklists are all green.
  • Tools like Analytics, New Relic and Pingdom are set up. Ongoing activity reporting set up and PM knows what to keep an eye on.
  • We get paid: The invoice is sent, client is happy with costs as they were as budgeted. Total hours were accurate to our estimate.
  • Close out report sent.
  • We get more projects from this client
  • No one cried

We’ve created a set of survey questions, which gets sent to a project manager at the end of a project. Hopefully we can start gathering some useful information and benchmark our project management efforts.

image credit: Travis