I Am So DONE with 2009

Here we are at the end of another year and I’ve been reflecting on how fast time goes by and the finality of December 31st.  Once the clock hits midnight on Thursday evening, 2009 is DONE! It’s 100% complete, finished, over, never to be revisited again. It is DONE.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have the same definition of DONE apply to deliverables for our projects? Sometimes the people that work on our projects may have a slightly different view of the word ‘done’. Below are some translations of what people may actually mean when they say something is done:

  • It’s almost done, just another 5% to go
  • It will be done as soon as I get around to finishing it
  • My part is done, but I have no idea if it will work

Not having a clear definition of ‘done’ can wreak havoc on a project schedule. Below are two suggestions for instilling the importance of 100% complete into your team members:

  • Accountable Handoffs – Most projects are worked on by resources who are experts in their areas. These experts finish their task and then hand it off to the next group of experts to work on until the project is complete. From time to time, one group may finish their part of the project and then throw it over the fence to the next group. The next group may then find that the deliverable is in actuality 95% complete and more work needs to be done. Or, the deliverable may not have had the proper quality checks conducted and is not working as expected. This causes rework and time delays which can result in finger pointing and aggravation.Rather than just throw something over the fence…have a representative from the team walk (literally or figuratively) the deliverable over to the next department and explain to them why they feel it is 100% complete and ready for them to start working with. This interaction instills accountability on the delivering side and serves to enhance the relationship on the receiving end.  
  • Play the Role of the End User – Ask your team members to always play the role of the end user of whatever it is they are delivering. The end user could be the consumer of the product or service, or it could be the next group that has to perform quality assurance or provide documentation. Everyone on each team has to ask themselves if what they are delivering is working as designed with no inside knowledge necessary or workarounds needed.

The hectic pace at which we work is many times the culprit for things not being 100% complete. However, saying that something is done when it really is not only makes things exponentially worse in the long run.  We all know what it means when a movie is done, a cake is done, or even when the year is done. By using the same definition of 100% completion, we can keep our project schedules intact.

So, what has your experience been when it comes to deliverables not being 100% complete? How do you define when something is done, and how have you been able to instill the importance of absolute completion within your project teams?

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