Friday, February 05, 2016

Why are we actually doing this project?

In a number of projects I have been part of, one of the most important questions is asked not at all or far to late. Why are we actually doing this project?

The given answer to this question was often incomplete or even incorrect. The latter sometimes even knowingly incorrect, i.e. an organizational/political/personal lie. I admit my experience is biased because I typically join projects at a point of time the project allready has some serious issues and my role is helping to solve these issues. But even in happy projects the question of why we are doing this project seems rather difficult to answer.

That is why I use a set of 11 questions that together will help you answer the big one. My list is based on the list of the 10 questions from the Silicon Valley Product Group when assessing product opportunities. I then adapted them to a project environment and added one question.

1. Exactly what problem will this project solve? (value proposition)
2. For whom do we solve that problem? (target market or target users)
3. How big is the opportunity? (market size or potential savings)
4. What alternatives are out there? (competitive landscape or alternative solutions/products/suppliers)
5. Why are we best suited to pursue this? (our differentiator as a company or project team)
6. Why now? (market window and urgency)
7. How will we get this project go live? (implementation strategy)
8. How will we measure success/make money from this product? (metrics/revenue strategy)
9. What factors are critical to success? (solution requirements, skill requirements, budget)
10. What are the main cost drivers? (people, licences, hardware)
11. Given the above, what’s the recommendation? (go or no-go, continue or stop)

When I join a project I will try to get answers to these questions. They will guide the project, give the team focus and will help with feature discussions and selling your vision. When things change you will have to rethink your answers. And sometimes you will just have to stop the project. Do not fall in the sunk cost trap.
Posted on Friday, February 05, 2016 by Henrico Dolfing

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