Getting a Grip on Your Project

A few years ago, I managed a large, complex program to replace core systems for a property and casualty insurance company. The program involved more than forty projects.

There were more than one hundred people, some working locally and some remotely. The project teams were comprised of employees as well as third party consultants.

When we defined our Risk Management Plan, we discussed ways to regularly assess the health of the individual projects as well as the program in a simple and straight forward manner. One of the tools that we selected was the GRPI (pronounced grip-e) Model.

Gardener's Hands Holding Tool

What is it?

The GRPI Model is a tool that provides program and project managers with feedback on:

  • Goals – How well do the team members understand the project goals? Do they understand why the project is important?
  • Roles – How well do team members understand their roles and responsibilities?
  • Processes – How well do team members understand the project processes?
  • Interpersonal – How healthy are the relationships in the team? Is there a sense of trust? Is the team collaborating and communicating?

Why use it?

Regular assessment of these attributes reduces the risks of issues, rework, and team problems. The process allows everyone to have a voice and increases the effectiveness of teams.

When to use it?

In our insurance company program, we executed the survey every two months. For stand-alone projects, consider monthly.

 How to use it?

  1. Prepare the survey. See sample questions below.
  2. Distribute the survey. Consider using an online survey tool. We used SurveyMonkey.
  3. Review the survey results. Review the results of each project and the program. Within a project, you may see Interpersonal relationship issues. At a program level, you may see a Process problem (e.g., requirements process or testing process) that spans across multiple projects.
  4. Update the risk register. Capture risk information in your risk register.
  5. Review trends.  Repeat the survey periodically. Monitor trends.
  6. Communicate results to team members. Discuss the results of the survey with your team members. At a program level, meet collectively with the project managers and discuss.

Sample GRPI Survey Questions

Select your project below. (If you are in more than one project, complete a separate survey for each project.)

[Drop Down List of Projects]

  1. GOALS: On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high), indicate the level of your understanding of the goals of the project, why the project is important, and when the goals must be accomplished.
  2. ROLES: On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high), indicate the level of your understanding of roles and responsibilities.
  3. PROCESSES: On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high), indicate the level of your understanding of processes and approaches for getting the project work completed.
  4. INTERPERSONAL: On a scale of 1(low) to 5 (high), indicate the level of communication and trust as well as the health of team as perceived by you.

Please describe ways that we can improve the success of the program (or project):

Note: You may also ask survey participants to rate “Other team members” or “Company understanding” of these attributes.

Question: What other tools do you use to proactively monitor the health of your project? Feel free to share other tips in the comments.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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