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This chapter is from the book

Proper Assessment of a Task or Project

The assessment starts the minute you are aware that something needs to be accomplished. The best project team in the company will not be able to complete a task if information about the task or project is missing or incorrect. To develop an accurate task or project plan, two areas need to be well defined and clearly understood:

  1. The scope—Boundaries as to only what needs to be accomplished.
  2. The goal or deliverable—What is the product, service, or desired output the task or project is assigned to produce.

In some cases the goal might be defined, but not understanding the boundaries or scope allows for tasks to expand or migrate beyond what was originally intended, making it harder or making it take longer to complete. Without a clearly defined scope, resources can get misdirected or distracted, leading them down a path that is unnecessary, wasting time and effort.

Part of why completion might be difficult is that unrealistic goals might be set. If an overly optimistic completion time was set in a management meeting, a task can fail if that time frame is not attainable. If all the components of a task or project were not originally accounted for, an unrealistic time frame might have been set. In understanding the time requirements of task items, the manager must know how that information was obtained. Were the time frames simply your best guess or did you seek expert advice in getting accurate time assessments? One of the biggest problems with managing a task or project is holding to the schedule. If the schedule was built with inaccurate time information, holding to the schedule will be difficult, and you will feel you have no power in completing the task or project.

Another area to consider is the skill set of the team. If the skill set of the team is inadequate to address the scope of the task, the task has a much higher probability of failure. Acquiring the appropriate skill sets within the team can have a very big impact on the success of the task. Some resources might overstate their abilities just to get on the team for notoriety. Other resources might be assigned to task teams by their manager even though they lack in their skill sets, but they might be the only resources available.

Another part of proper assessment involves gathering information needed about the task or project. The power in completion actually goes back to the beginning, to having a clear scope of the goal and accurate cost and schedule data. Reporting on the status of a task might be accurate as to what is happening at that time but might appear over budget or behind schedule with reference to your original data set at the start of the task. If you had more accurate information at the beginning, reporting on the task will appear better if you are actually staying on course. So be careful about who is at fault here—if the team is doing their job, the numbers are only off because of inaccurate baseline data that you set at the beginning.

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