What is a "Murder Board"?
When a project management function wants to subject a project to intense scrutiny, it convenes a group of experts to try to find faults in the scope, sequence or content of the project plan. This can be applied to a project plan, a summary of findings or recommendation for implementation. The "murder board" is a term often used for the team convened to see if they can push hard on a project plan to see where it will break. This process goes by other names, depending on the subject of the scrutiny and type of firm in which it is employed. For a hard review of a proposal, it is usually called a "red team." Some consulting firms call final briefing reviews "gauntlet drills."
The process is presumed to have gotten its start in the middle ages where the Church appointed a "devil's advocate" in proceedings to determine if an individual was worthy of sainthood. It was this person's job to find any and all fault with the candidate, legitimate or not, to defeat canonization. This set a high standard and required an irrefutable case to proceed. Presumably, by this logic, if one can't find anything bad, then the subject of an inquiry must be good.Tip:
The complexity and severity of a rigorous review process should correspond to the consequences and risks of the plan or product being reviewed. For a simple, short-term project with minimal risks, the reviews can be cursory. For a complex engagement plan for a major multi-year project, you may want to convene a team made up of members of your own practice as well as representatives from other practices in your firm or specialists from outside the firm. Regardless, you would do well to craft a protocol for the criteria and process for your own project or product reviews. Build a book of these over time to handle each type of project plan, client briefing, or implementation plan you provide to clients. © 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA