‘You don’t need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows’, but give the same source data to a number of different weather forecasters and nine days out of ten – you’ll end up with differing predictions (unless, perhaps, you’re living in the Sahara).
Assuming the above is true, then how can we rationally and safely know when a complex project is ready for go-live, especially if the decision to go or not to go, can have a major impact upon the business? As my MBA students know, at the beginning of any project I ask myself three questions:
1. What is the problem we are solving?
2. How will we know when it is solved?
3. How will we measure it?
This is basically a dramatic over simplification of a business case – but they are the three questions that are most overlooked. Hence, early on, I build a slide deck that I will use at the very end of the project at go-live decision making time and again at the end of the evaluation phase.
The answer to the question is that the PM should not make a decision because he, or she, alone does not know exactly when to go live. Instead he guides his Project Board into making a unanimous decision, based upon very specific sign off criteria.
The format of the decision making process should be displayed in a slide deck with one or two slides per measuring point, with a summary slide that covers the whole topic at the end or beginning. An important part of this exercise is that the sign off criteria has to be formulated and agreed way in advance by each member of the Project Board, based upon specialist advice from the experts below each and every one of them.
No one member of the project board is exempt from taking on the ownership of ensuring the well being of the business. This has nothing to do with apportioning blame but everything to do with collective responsibility, involvement and personal commitment.
So when is your project ready for go-live? What criteria do you use – it’s worth thinking about, long before your next crunch time comes!
Have a good week,

Harley