Clear for Project Takeoff? The Importance of a Check List

Like a Pilot before a flight, it’s critical a Project Manager have a check list before any data infrastructure project begins

project check list blog header 1200Over my 10 years as a Project Manager, one of the most important documents to have ready before we do the kick-off meeting with the customer is the check list. The list that I’m referring to is the pre-installation check list. In the technology world, whether I’m deploying a storage upgrade, networking upgrade or data migration project, there is a check list of items that must be in place before the installation crew travels to the site.

I have a friend who is a pilot for a large commercial airline and he tells me that before every flight he runs through a check list with the co-pilot. The check list is a spectrum from very basic checks to very important items crucial to the flight’s integrity. Same list for the same type of plane every time. One check list exists and must be reviewed for landing as well.

Similarly for project management, lessons learned and experiences earned provides us with the information to generate our own check lists for specific projects. It is our job to make sure that we review the check list with the stakeholders to assure integrity (on time, on budget and on scope) of the project. This basic exercise has saved me many times from having engineers travel internationally and not having the site ready (power, space, cabling etc.)—something, obviously, I want to avoid!

Another similarity to airline pilots is the constant communication the pilots maintain with the control tower. This is to check that the flight is on course per the determined destination. Similarly, we as PMs must have constant communication (status meetings, minutes, personal calls etc.) with the stakeholders to make sure we’re on course (scope and time).

<blockquote>It has been my experience that when basic project management steps are overlooked or not consider, the consequences down the road are very painful.</blockquote>

It is well known what the consequences are of a plane off course, the worst of which being a crash. Our project’s consequences are not nearly as drastic, thankfully, but we could end up with unsatisfied customers, projects delivered late, over budget and with poor quality.

It has been my experience that when basic project management steps are overlooked or not consider, the consequences down the road are very painful. Thus, check lists, along with constant communication, are necessary elements to increase the chances of delivering our projects on time, on budget and per scope.

Photo credit: atomicshark via Flickr