Project Healthcheck & Recovery
A project healthcheck can take anything from a day to a couple of weeks (for more complex programmes).
The objective is to give an independent, objective and expert opinion on the original scope and structure of the project or programme, its current status and the outlook for its successful delivery.
A healthcheck should be initiated by the project or programme sponsor, perhaps at the suggestion of, or via, the Programme Board. Healthchecks are sometimes requested just to give some more assurance to the sponsor that the project really is going as well as is being reporting. Sometimes an independent review is prompted by an unsettling but undefinable feeling that some aspect of the project or programme “isn’t quite right”, and a second opinion is required. Somtimes a missed milestone or issue-that-won’t-go-away is the reason for the healthcheck.
The approach to conducting the healthcheck will vary. It can take the form of a desk-based review of project documentation, or a series of interviews with key stakeholders. Generally, it is a combination of those (and other) approaches - we certainly prefer to work with the project/programme manager and sponsor in undertaking a healthcheck.
We provide a detailed report of our findings, recommendations and alternatives and usually spend some time discussing the report with the sponsor and/or Programme Board.
One possible outcome of a healthcheck is a recovery exercise.
Initiating a healthcheck with the expectation that a recovery exercise will follow is akin to a doctor prescribing medicine before even seeing the patient. It would be very wrong! Recovery might follow healthcheck, but healthcheck should always precede recovery!
A healthcheck could lead to;
- Assurance that the project is on-track to deliver successfully, will no unmanaged risks, and with adequate resource.
- A recommendation to close the project down - it may be so fatally flawed that delivery is impossible. Note that this is just as likely to arise from changing business conditions and priorities as it is from a “failed” project manager!
- Something between these extremes - a recovery. The project may need to adjust scope or resource, may need more effective risk/issue management, better engagement with stakeholders (etc). The appropriate response can only be proposed once the healthcheck has been completed and the cause of any problems agreed.
A project recovery is likely to involve a brief pause in the work of the project, a period of re-planning and re-focusing, which can be a difficult “sell” to a sponsor or Board who want the problems fixed immediately.