PM Questions – How will we know when we’re finished ?

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Questions project managers should ask.

The next in the series is:

How will we know when we’re finished ?

Asked at many a project review meeting in the context of tasks and deliverables. Its about knowing what you’re actually delivering and should be asked from the very moment you start the project, if not before.
Many times I’ve sat round a table of very capable people and asked this question to be able to hear a pin drop.

The answer I’m generally looking for is what’s commonly linked to ‘acceptance criteria’ and specifically within the field I work, known as test results. Though the principle can be applied to pretty much any area. I’m looking for some concrete acceptance criteria that are matched to the original task or project requirements.

If we’re making a blue square, we’d be finished when we have something that is blue, and that is a square.

The solution sounds obvious, and somewhat belittling to those with half an ounce of common sense. However, technology and process can gain an inordinate amount of complexity, and when you add in multiple stakeholders and a bit of office politics, the details can sometimes become lost. Communication by e-mail and failing to update the original specifications fall short of best practice configuration management as Prince II describes.

How will you know when you’re finished ?


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