May 20, 2009

Brief tip 7: Choose your checkpoints

In my current job at PA, we have checkpoints, forms and procedures to ensure quality and avoid taking too much risk. That is all very fine if you have the machinery to handle that, as is the case with PA. But what if you don’t? I think you still need some sort of checkpoints (often commercially focused), even when you operate using agile methods.

I’d like to share with you what we ended up with when selecting some checkpoints for our projects at Inspera and hope you will find it useful. These are, more or less, the mandatory checkpoints we ended up with:
  • Starting work on a proposal
  • Delivering a proposal
  • Project initiation/kick-off
  • Periodical reporting of progress and budgets (here it was monthly, YMMV)
  • Project sign-off, with a simple client satisfaction survey and handover to maintenance
What if you are not ready even for this level of formalism? If I should keep just two checkpoints, I think I’d go for proposal delivery (Who approves this in your company? Rules of thumbs for estimate breakdowns? Have cross-project coordination of resources been taken into account?) and of course sign-off. This would probably be in a very small environment where surveillance of risk and project status would be done rather hands on by the general manager anyway.

I guess one wording of this tip could be:

Establish checkpoints that you follow in each of your projects, even if operating in an agile way

“Even in an agile way” might sound strange, but while the almost automatic checkpoint built into many agile processes (such as the sprint review) can be combined with commercial ones, that does not happen automatically.

That was my tip #7, written at Bremen airport in Germany - traveling to Belgium this weekend with my wife who currently works in the Netherlands. If you don’t agree or have something to add, please leave a comment.


  1. If you plan on a long term career as a project manager, then yes, even with your level of experience, I would suggest getting your PMP. You can prepare yourself for the exam in one of the PMP trainingproviders like You can do minimal prep-work to get 40 PMI® Contact Hours and apply to PMI for PMP Exam before the class begins.