Many projects have detours, delays, and failures baked right into the initial plan.

Sounds like a bold statement, I know. But in my experience, it’s true.

The reason is that project goals and criteria are usually built atop a tower of unstated assumptions, beliefs, and desires.

At every stage of the project — from inception to planning to execution — stakeholders and project managers make decisions based on beliefs and assumptions that they may not even be aware of.

On top of that, unidentified stakeholders can further compromise the project’s chances. After all, if a stakeholder hasn’t weighed in, then there will necessarily be missing perspectives and gaps in requirements.

The result is a project plan riddled with blind spots.  

And many clients don’t realize until it’s too late that their plan has too many blind spots to be successful. 

Cue the Current State Assessment

The Current State Assessment is a technique for uncovering blind spots before they can compromise your project.

Ideally, you would conduct your Current State Assessment early in the planning process, so you can easily make adjustments to ensure project success. 
But no matter when you conduct the assessment, there’s no downside to having a clear picture of the project’s liabilities. Knowing your project’s blind spots allows you to seek out important information, plan more effectively and sidestep the pitfalls that await you.

So how does a Current State Assessment work?

It can be as easy as sitting down with your team and stakeholders to explore the areas where you might not have sufficient visibility.

Gather everyone together and ask these questions:

  • Is there a solution currently in place already?  (Be sure to include manual processes and ad hoc solutions here.)
  • Do we have sufficient knowledge about what is or is not working currently?
  • Who is involved in or performs this task currently?
  • What are the core problems that this project is trying to solve? 

Exploring these questions will give you a clear understanding of who and what is involved in executing your current processes — which in turn provides you with the insight and tools you need to identify any missing information, untested assumptions, or absent stakeholders.

The Current State Assessment doesn’t need to be a tedious, time-consuming process.

For example, it may be enough to whiteboard your current process with your team and stakeholders.  You can use sticky notes to capture key elements of the process, and document the results by taking a photo.  Even a simple exercise like this can highlight important gaps in the project plan.

And with the insight produced by a Current State Assessment, you’ll be able to fill those gaps and ensure that success is baked right into your project plan.

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