The initial situation of a project is clarified during the assessment period (see 'Checklist assessment'). A thorough analysis of the initial situation is the basis for setting objectives and deciding strategies and measures.
A re-assessment may be needed if the situation changes in the course of the project. Questions such as the following need to be asked: Is it useful to continue with the intervention? Under the changed circumstances, are the initially decided objectives, strategies and measures still adequate or should they be adapted?
In 1991, when the Femidom (the first female condom) was first put on the market, a study was planned in order to assess its use and the users' experiences with this new product. By the end of the assessment period and after questionnaires had been designed and distributed, it became clear that (in Switzerland) the product was not selling successfully (only 14/1500 questionnaires distributed by pharmacies were returned!). Strategies and measures thus had to be adapted to the new realities. Instead of a users' survey, the project team decided to undertake an in-depth international literature review.
Any changes to the project need to be very well explained. Changes of the project objectives usually need to be approved by the client.
Why you would disregard these aspects
- A re-assessment means additional work that you have not budgeted for.
- You worry that taking the new situation into account might jeopardize the whole project.
- You would like to finish your project quickly and in the way originally planned, not least because you have a follow-up project in mind already.
What you have to gain
When you are faced with a new situation and you re-consider and maybe adapt your objectives, strategies and measures, you avoid investing money and energy into measures that are unlikely to yield the desired results.
What you can actually do
- During 'milestone' meetings, check that the basic conditions are still the same.
- Check, as the case may be, if anything has changed and in what way and adapt your proceedings accordingly.
- Seek advice from colleagues if you are not sure how to proceed.
- Where necessary, discuss changes in the project objectives with your client.
Questions for critical reflection
- Have you taken account of possible changes in the basic situation and, if need be, have you adapted the objectives, strategies and measures accordingly?