A Project Isn't A Project if it Doesn't Have A Finish Line by Daniel Wright

How to ask one simple question to get a sense of whether a project is under control…

We have all seen examples of projects which drag on for a long time beyond their intended schedule and therefore incur significantly more cost than was budgeted. When I do audits or I bring projects into my portfolio, I ask the PMs one simple question to see if they have a clear grasp of how to effectively complete their projects; “How do you get your project over the finish line?“

This question tends to expose issues in a number of places. Some examples based on the PM’s responses:

1) “I’m not sure what the finish line looks like” - This tends to suggest that there are challenges around the scope of the project, or potentially even more alarmingly the objectives are not clear.

2) “I’m not sure how to get there” - This suggests that the project does not have a clear plan. At best, this means that the project is not following the critical path and so is not as efficient as it could be. More likely, the project is not in control as it does not have a well defined plan, which tends to lead to cost and schedule overrun.

This question is not a silver bullet, but it helps to quickly see if there are any risk areas which should be focussed on.


Daniel Wright founded Monochrome Consultancy, specialising in Digital Transformation, IT Transformation and Project & Programme Delivery.

With his background in IT and InfoSec Dan is a techie at heart.

For more on Dan and/or Monochrome visit: www.monochromeconsultancy.co.uk