- Fit to purpose - describes a Process, Configuration Item, IT Service, etc., that is capable of meeting its business, technical, or operational Objectives or Service Levels. Being Fit for Purpose requires suitable Design, implementation, Control, and maintenance.
- Fit for use - the effectiveness of a design, development method, and support process employed in delivering a good, system, or service that fits a customer's defined purpose, under anticipated or specified operational conditions. In our project and program management world, we can apply these assessment to all elements of the project. The needed capabilities - are they fit of purpose and fit for use. Can each outcome be assessed by its Effectiveness and Performance. Can we validate and verify the resulting products or services?
Each of these assessments can be applied to the 5 Immutable Principles of project success.
- When we reach Done is this Done Fit for Purpose and Fit for Use, is it Effective in accomplishing the mission of fulfilling the business can. Can this be verified and validated?
- If we have a path to reach Done, can this path be verified as one that will actually allow us to reach Done.
So Now the Hard Part
Assessing the Fit for Purpose and Fit for Use can't wait till we're done with the project. It's too late then. We've spent all the money and time. The customer is expecting that we're Done and have meet all the requirements that enable all the capabilities to be Effective (Measures of Effectiveness) at their needed Performance (Measures of Performance).
This is why it is nonsense to not be able to estimate the outcome of any decision on the project before that decision is implemented. Unless of course, you on a co-hacking project (as defined by Guy Strelitz), where the project is...
- Intimate communication
- Shared commitment
So let's look at the answers to the questions possed by the 5 Immutable Principles:
Do we know where you are going by defining “done” at some point in the future. This may be far in the future – months or years from now. Or closer in the future days or weeks from now?
Do we have some kind of plan to get to where you are going. This plan can be simple or it can be complex. The fidelity of the plan depends on the tolerance for risk by the users of the plan. The plan answers the question how long are we willing to wait before we find out we are late?
Do we understand the resources needed to execute the plan. How much time and money is needed to reach the destination. This can be fixed or it can be variable?
Can we identify the impediments to progress along the way to the destination. Have some means of removing, avoiding, or ignoring these impediments?
Do we have some way to measure your planned progress, not just your progress. Progress to Plan must be measured in units of physical percent complete?
So What Does All This Mean?
Assessing the future values for Fit for Purpose and Fit for Use is part of the control systems of successful project management. Without the ability to estimate the cost, schedule, and performance - the fit for use and purpose values - the project has no way of knowing it will be successful. No way of knowing it will reach Done as needed, as well as as planned.
Ignoring this need to know about the future, means the project will be done when it runs out of money and time, or gets canceled by those providing the funding. The notion that features can be delivered every week or every day and the project can stop at any time and provide value to the customer is a wonderful idea - for CoHacking projects.
For other projects, defined in Guy's very nice article, some sense of what Done looks like in terms of cost, schedule, and the probability that the needed capabilities can be delivered for that cost on that schedule, will be needed.