Guaranteeing our Work as Project Professionals

A daunting concept has been rattling in my mind recently…and it has been rattling loud enough for me to restart this Intelligent Disobedience blog. I look forward to sharing and hearing your thoughts on these entries that I intend to post on a regular basis!

We fully expect a guarantee for the work we receive from a plumber, electrician, or our automobile mechanic. However, guaranteeing our work as project professionals is not something we hear about – nor even contemplate – very often.

On the one hand, my brain is screaming out – but the circumstances are different! We have minimal control of the environment in which we work to deliver projects. In contrast, a plumber has very few variables out of his control, and can quickly and easily test his results and adjust things as required.

But, my mind keeps ticking over…on the other hand, what if we DID have control of the project environment variables or we could pose a set of conditions that – if they were established and remained in place – would inspire us as project professionals to guarantee successful project delivery? What would those conditions look like?

Well, here is my first pass at what the conditions would have to be to consider this “unconsiderable” risk:

  • A sponsor with a stake in the game, the authority to bring and keep resources on the project, the funding to sustain the project appropriately and the time to provide regular support and guidance;
  • A project schedule in line with the priority of other projects in the portfolio and the BAU support needs of the organization;
  • An “all cards on the table” truth environment where project issues and risks could be discussed openly without hidden agendas clouding the situation;
  • Documented and agreed upon project outcome priorities and success criteria, clearly summarized in 100 words or less (rather than embedded throughout an 85 page project charter). These would have to be signed off by all major stakeholders including senior managers, customers and representative end users of the project outcomes;
  • Skills in the project team, with experience in the business or technology area required to produce the project’s product(s);
  • Enthusiastic “change champions”, at a 15:1 ratio to those affected by the changes brought about by the project;
  • The ability to produce project products every 90 days to ensure the project requirements and results do not become “stale or outdated” over time;
  • Adequate time and funding allowed for project management – 15-18% of the overall task time projected to produce the project’s products and lastly;
  • The ability to reassess all of the above conditions every 45-60 days to ensure the “guarantee” would remain in place.

Maybe I am painting a picture of “project management heaven” here…but I can say this: whenever I am asked to deliver a project, I usually work on establishing these criteria before I reach for the computer and open up my project scheduling tool, or start working on any other project artifacts. And when I can get a reasonable picture of these criteria– the project results are consistently good.

And if your project doesn’t meet all of the above criteria, you can have a meaningful conversation with your sponsor about the risks your project will bear – and you just might get a few more things to get your project closer to a “work guarantee” situation.

So what conditions have I missed that prevent us from issuing a “work guarantee”? I look forward to your thoughts!

Mindavation provides workshops, coaching and consulting with a focus on courageous leadership. We can help you and your teams establish and drive projects in a more ideal set of conditions. For further information, email us at You can learn about all of the Mindavation offerings at <> or <> .