From the moment you acquire the new project you're likely thinking in terms of what you've managed like this before and what can be reused or used as a starting point to help get the project off on the right foot. But nothing should get in the way of proper planning, testing and attention to detail, so I'd like to present here my thoughts on what important points to consider when starting a tech project.
You can't do test cases and test scenarios for the customer. That would just be wrong... and a huge conflict of interest. You can, however, help them throughout and count on doing just that. The customer is often ill-prepared to take the time to properly test the solution and I mean that from both a time availability standpoint and from a technical expertise and understanding perspective.
Ensure user acceptance testing (UAT) is covered... well. The real end game before the end game is user acceptance testing. Yes, you'll want a final sign off on any technical solution as it's being handed off to the customer. But UAT sign off serves as that preliminary OK stamp that the system is tested – by the customer – and approved – by the customer and meets their performance and output and requirements expectations. Make sure UAT runs without hitches, doesn't leave any post-UAT opened gaps or unanswered questions, and has a full sign off from the customer.
Is automated test reporting important for your project or client or team? What about automated test reporting? Is it important? Automated test reporting is becoming more and more important to project managers and certain project stakeholders. It is important for project managers to ensure this sort of reporting is available for their projects and it can help project managers manage tasks better and deliver a project on time with costs under control.
Are you starting out with all of the right skill sets? On any project, it's extremely important that the project manager assesses the statement of work, assumptions, any discussions he or she has had with the project customer and considerations on the likely solution path before coming up with a resource plan on staffing the project with the right skill set. This is especially true on complex technical projects – but it's still true of any project of any size and in any industry. Ensuring you start out with the right skill sets on the project from the start means no wasted time and budget on learning curves, extra and unforeseen training, and re-work that may likely be necessary when proper resource planning doesn't happen upfront prior to actually requesting and acquiring the specific resources for moving forward on the engagement.
What you did before may not be enough anymore. Often your past project experiences on somewhat similar projects is your best gauge for planning, staffing, budgeting and testing the next similar project and solution. However, never phone this part of the project in because what looks like the same type of project may not actually be that way. Besides, depending on how long it has been and how much the technology may have changed or progressed, it may not be practical to assume that what you did before or planned before on a similar project will be the proper way to start this engagement. As project managers, we always first look to past experiences to draw on when starting new engagements – that goes for project schedule templates, resource planning and budgeting usually first and foremost. But be careful because they may not always be the same animal and you could be going down the wrong path that could lead to significant re-work and lost budget / time. Be careful and plan properly, not sloppy.
Cybersecurity is real. Have you considered all the risks? Cybersecurity is real. It is a risk – always to be considered within your risk management parameters. This is especially true if you are handling any sensitive data of any kind. In general, hackers are one step ahead of us at all times. Be prepared. It's nearly impossible to avoid hacking – ask Tesla founder Elon Musk. But you can mitigate the effects through proper planning.
Summary / call for input
Planning – it's not the fun, sexy part of the project. But it is critical. And aside from pure dumb luck it is likely the only way you'll get the project started on the right path to success and test it well and thoroughly before handing off an end solution to the project customer.
Readers – what's your take on this list and the thoughts raised here? What would you add or change as concerns to ensuring the project begins and stays on the right path? I think most of us would agree that planning, testing, budgeting and resource staffing are all at the very core of a successful tech project, but feel free to present your own thoughts and experiences.