My Projects

April 14, 2008 2534 comments so far

Checklists for the Controlling-Cycle ("Inspired" by David Allen)

The not so good thing: I am currently in bed, because I caught the flu. The good thing about this: I managed to finish David Allen's "Getting Things Done" which reminded me about the value of checklists in project controlling...

To be honest with you, I am typically quite skeptical regarding books about personal task management. Most of these books are either meaningless or do not make much sense at all. However, I was very positively surprised by Allen's book "Getting Things Done". I discovered that I already did a lot of things the way Allen proposed to do them, but there are a lot of additional, useful "tricks" I found in the book that really make sense and have a lot of practical value.

Beside his general rules (where some of them make great sense for project management - I will definitely cover these in a future post), one section about the usefulness of checklists reminded me about how these tools can be quite helpful in executing your project controlling-cycle. Let me briefly explain my thoughts about checklists for the project-controlling cycle before we move on to project cost controlling in the next post.

Allen describes checklists as "recipes or potential ingredients for projects, events, and areas of value, interest, and responsibility". I like this approach, since it sets them apart from action lists and project plans. In fact, it positions checklists at least one level "above" active projects. In practice, it means that checklists have two (not always easily distinguished) applications:

  1. As a "blueprint" for a simple process that should either always be executed in the same order or just just to make sure that no action on the checklist is forgotten
  2. As a "reminder" about values or responsibilities within a certain area of interest, e.g., the project-controlling cycle

Analogously, I see two areas of applications in the context of project controlling: A checklist for the project controlling-cycle can serve as a blueprint on how the project controlling meeting should be executed and/or it can be valuable for reminding ourselves about all the "softer" project dimensions that we also constantly need to evaluate, monitor and to control, for instance:

  • Communication
  • Current issues
  • Team morale
  • Workload
  • ...

I believe that such a "cheat sheet" is especially useful when you are not (yet) the master of project controlling. What do you think?

BTW, I also intend to add some recommended books to my blog, but I still have to figure out how to do this in a good way, so stay tuned... ;-)