Consulting Clinics

A way of keeping your projects healthy, designed and executed by James and Suzanne Robertson.

Project Clinics. What’s the payoff?

A project clinic is a way of keeping your project healthy. A healthy project is one in which the effective use of the tools and techniques assist the project team to build the system. It is also a healthy sign if the same tools and techniques are helping the project manager to estimate the work and manage the project.

Hospitals are where people go when they are sick, and need to be cured. On the other hand, clinics exist to keep people healthy. When a person attends a clinic, they are taking preventive measures to make sure that they stay healthy, and are kept aware of developments in health-care techniques.

Project clinics do the same thing for software projects. The clinic is designed to make sure that the project stays healthy by identifying and solving problem areas, and ensuring that the project continues to make satisfactory progress.

What happens at a clinic?

Each clinic is tailored to the requirements of your project. Prior to the clinic, the clinic consultant contacts the project leader to discuss the project. They identify any problem areas, and agree the objectives for the clinic. Prior to the clinic, the consultant assembles the relevant lecture material, papers and books. Examples from previous projects which are germane to the project may also be provided.

The clinic is a mixture of formal lectures, informal discussions and work sessions. During the clinic, the clinician will identify project problems with the team members. He or she will demonstrate how to solve the problems, and how to avoid creating new ones. The clinician will answer questions from the team members, and explain the best ways for the project to proceed. The clinic is a hands-on workshop using material from the real project.

Previous clinics have been used to:

  • Get the project started
  • Verify the context of the system
  • Explain how to model an event response
  • Show how interact with customers using analysis models
  • Review the estimates for the project
  • Plan best use of a CASE tool
  • Implement quality reviews
  • Define the interfaces between projects
  • Review the systems architecture map
  • Design and implement sample transactions
  • Hold a tutoring session on interface design
  • Plan the best way to identify reusable design components
  • Plan a management presentation using the projects’ models
  • Inform managers about measurable deliverables
  • Build design templates for an object-oriented environment

Clinics normally run from one to three days in length.

After the clinic, the consultant will send the project manager a summary of what has taken place, and identify any remedial actions to be taken.

When is a clinic useful?

There are two situations that benefit from a project clinic. When you suspect that something is wrong and you want identify the problem before any serious damage is done. And when you are about to start a new activity and want to take a checkpoint on the projects’ health before progressing.

Clients have requested clinics:

CAt the beginning of a project

  • During the definition of the essential requirements
  • At the transition from analysis to design
  • During software and organisational design
  • During implementation
  • As an end-of-project review

Who should attend a clinic?

Attendees at a project clinic are those people directly involved with the project. Typically, clinics are made up of the project leader, the systems analysts/designers, and involved users.

Why use a clinic consultant?

As outside consultants, we can bring you several benefits. Our experience gained by working on a large number of projects means that we are able to provide hands-on experience to augment your project team. Our project experience means that we can probably identify problems before they arise. As outsiders, our fresh viewpoint means that we look at your project in a different way from the project team who are caught up in the day to day pressure of system development.

Over the last twenty years we have used a variety of software engineering techniques, including structured analysis, object-oriented analysis, domain analysis, structured design, object-oriented design on hundreds of projects. Most importantly, these projects have been in a wide variety of environments. By bringing this experience to your clinic, we can increase the effectiveness of your team.

How Do I Arrange a Clinic?

Send us mail. We will be back in touch to discuss your particular situation, and to suggest the best ways to run a clinic. Clinics are arranged for individual circumstances, so we need to know yours before we proceed. You can also contact one of our agents in your country.