Session Seven Keys for Success™ Rudi De Backer

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  • Session

  • Seven Keys for Success™

  • Rudi De Backer

 Session Outline

  • History & Objectives

  • The myths around the Seven Keys

  • Seven Keys as health indicator

  • Key by Key

  • Examples of Usage

  • Conclusion

  • Addendum: Information Sources

History & Objective

  • More than ever, project success is directly tied to effective involvement of business executives. The number one reason for project failures - according to Gartner Group, The Project Management Institute, and many other observers of project management performance – is due to issues surrounding executive commitment and sponsorship.

  • How then can we communicate better at the board room level? How can we use that communication to get decisions and actions that will guide our projects toward a successful outcome?

  • After analyzing thousands of projects that differed widely in size, type, complexity, and geographic location, seven key areas have been identified that make the difference between success and failure on any project. These result areas have been incorporated into the Seven Keys to Success™ framework*.

  • The PM must ensure the health of his project by monitoring all Seven Keys to Success ™ and not just Team, Scope, & Schedule, which are often a PM's primary focus.

The myths about the Seven Keys to Success ™

  • The Seven Keys are legacy of PwC and not integrated with IBM Methods The Seven Keys are now integrated in the WWPM Release 1.4 1Q04 and become part of the overall IBM Methodologies.

  • Is this not just an additional report to produce? Yes, if you see reporting as paper-producing. No, if you use the Seven Keys report as a communication instrument to come to actionable results.

  • Seven’s not really a magic number – I can modify the framework and just use 5 or 6 keys if I want to Real-life project experience indicates that all seven keys are important to the success of any project, omitting any of the Seven Keys is not recommended.

  • The Seven Keys are cumbersome to use – besides, my project is small Feedback indicates that both large and small projects can benefit from using the Seven Keys and they are not so difficult to report

  • The Seven Keys are just for BCS client engagement teams   No, since they are integrated within WWPM there are IBM cross-brand. True, BCS is marketing the Seven Keys to Success to clients and the existing training is at this moment limited to BCS, but mainly for license-fee purposes

The Seven Keys to Success™ cover the key factors that impact your project’s health

The Seven Keys to Success™ is checking the health during the project life cycle

Key “Stakeholders are committed”

  • We as project managers aren't the only ones responsible for project outcomes, good or bad

  • Key stakeholders like the project sponsor or his C-level colleagues can act as spectators instead of being committed

  • Questions to consider during Stages of the project:

    • Project Sponsor designated?
    • Is the Stakeholders staff providing the agreed level of participation?
    • Are Steering Committee meetings held regulary?
    • Are the value of the performed services communicated to the Stakeholders?

Key “Business Benefits are realized”

  • Many projects lose their way in terms of business benefits and never get back on track.

  • Show achievement of benefits during the whole life cycle of the project

  • Questions to consider during Stages of the project:

    • Is there a benefits management process been effectively established?
    • Have metrics been established and agreed?
    • How is the Stakeholders organization going to sustain the business benefits?

Key “Work and schedule are predicted”

  • This is the traditional dimension of health. Otherwise known as "On time and on budget.“

  • The trickier challenge is to know early in the project if it is likely to do well or not.

  • There may be unhappy news, but it won't come as a big surprise to anyone.

  • Questions to consider during Stages of the project:

    • Have the work, schedule and project planning processen been effectively established and implemented?
    • Are we effectively tracking actuals versus estimates?

Key “Scope is realistic and managed”

  • Get this one right, and "Work And Schedule Are Predicted" is a lot easier. Get it wrong, and both tend to suffer (cfr Triple Constraint)

  • Sometimes project scope goes out of control, because people hated to say "No.“

  • Questions to consider during Stages of the project:

    • Has a process been defined for managing scope change requests?
    • Are the impacts of scope change requests being assessed and documented?
    • Have we obtained written confirmation of project completion from the Stakeholders?

Key “Team is high performing”

  • This one is often overlooked, and yet can make a huge difference.

  • It's not just about talent and experience. Morale, trust, physical environment, reward and recognition – these are some of the factors that determine sickness or health.

  • Questions to consider during Stages of the project:

    • Was a Project ‘kick-off’ meeting held to communicate goals and roles to all Team members?
    • Does the engagement content, structure or location support staff morale?
    • Have performance evaluations/reviews been completed?

Key “Risks are mitigated”

  • Nobody like to talk about risks, but it is better to show the risk picture upfront instead when the risks occur

  • Mitigate pro-actively for the major risks (high impact, high probability)

  • Questions to consider during Stages of the project:

    • Has the risk and issue management process been effectively established?
    • Is there an issues log and are risks properly monitored and reported?

Key “Delivery organization benefits are realized”

  • Behind every project, there is a delivery organization that puts it on the line for project management performance.

  • If the delivery organization is IBM, this key reflects the win-win relationship

  • Questions to consider during Stages of the project:

    • Are the required delivery organization management processes clear?
    • Do we have a knowledge capture process in place?
    • Have we reconciled and closed project codes?
    • Are the critical lessons learned documented?

Example: Executive Dashboard

Example: Extract of a Project Health Review sheet


  • When you're preparing for an executive level meeting, ask yourself, "What do I want them to know? What do I want them to decide?" This is exactly what The Seven Keys To Success framework provides as your boardroom level communication technique.

  • Successful projects are never in perfect health at all times. But successful projects always address their health issues promptly and effectively.

  • Remember, we are not alone in our management responsibilities – our project sponsors must share the load. And we must learn to do a great job of making that happen.

  • Use The Seven Keys To Success as a built-in agenda for your regular monthly Steering Committee meetings. Get those health issues on the table, and get the commitment to take the necessary actions. Actions that will alter the course of history.

Addendum Information Sources

  • IBM ICM Asset Web

    • Seven Keys to Project Management Success Updated Jan 2004
    • Seven Keys to SuccessTM User Guide
    • Project Summary Reporting based on 7 Keys to Success
  • W3 Business Consulting Services – Professional Edge

  • W3 Global Campus

    • Zentoria II - Introduction to the Seven Keys to Success (BLG0209 – BCS only)
  • W1 Services – Seven Keys


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