Planning is such a crucial element of project management but is often taken for granted as a fundamental step. Planning is the basis on which projects are organised, supervised and Approved: without effort it will not happen. As on a PRINCE2 Weekend London course training.
If the planning process is not thorough and effective you will not be thinking properly about what you are telling your team to do. Planning is all about:
- Making core objectives
- Getting commitment to these core objectives
- Answering the ‘what if’ questions
- Setting timelines
- Setting the budget
- Choosing and maintaining support
- Choosing and maintaining communications
- Development and team support
- Providing the team with information
- Comprehending training
- Ascribing the team
Projects don’t have a life of their own until they are formally approved and implemented by the board or stakeholders. This entails ultimate authority being given to management and not ownership by the project, its individual team members or user group. This involves ensuring that individuals and the project team and, the project, are properly trained and steeped in the project’s purpose, goals and objectives.
Planning begins with the creation of a project charter, often with a time-line and other parameters. Within this charter is the timeframe in which the project is to be implemented. At the kick-off of the project, the charter will evolve into the Business Case for the project and investment case. In addition to the Business Case, the Project Sponsor and/or Management Steering Team will contribute to the Business Case and, thereafter, the Project Sponsor will start to market and sell the project. It is the responsibility of the Project Sponsor to ensure the team are sufficiently qualified and have the resources to have a serious impact on the business.
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To make the 12 step charter work for the project the Project Sponsor must make sure that the charter is documented and managed by the Project Sponsor. The Business Case, the Project Sponsor’s contribution to the Business Case and the sponsorship to the strategic outcomes must have the line devaluation of the project.
The typical process of completion of a project with no evaluation of the results is to stop the project, do a cost-benefit analysis (which is essentially a time-far to-time evaluation of impacts to the business) and, if there are no changes requested by the user group or user, start new.
The Project Stakeholder
Since stakeholders are defined as anyone who is impacted by the project and who can influence the outcome, they may differ from users in certain fundamental characteristics.
A stakeholder sees value in the project to the extent of their sales and support of the project. In addition they are easily understood and their feedback is welcomed. Note that not all stakeholders will be in full agreement individually with the project new ideas. For example, the technical group will need to support the business and the users and users need to endorse the technical believer. There may be valuable differences of opinion between the members of both groups over price, schedule and even the choice of tools. Any possibly inevitable conflicts should be anticipated within the project framework.
Project Stakeholders are often fully expressed in their needs and are affected by change in the project. These stakeholders should be appraised as early in the project as possible. Although the Business Case is lays out the entire buck line at the start of the project, it is just as important to indicate the impact on the requirements of the stakeholders and the Business Case as the ultimate end point. Failure to communicate these changes could make stakeholders feel less empowered and, unfortunately, worse still, may lead to Project Stakeholders becoming project de-starters and walking out of the project. It is therefore crucial that the Project Sponsor and project stakeholders acknowledge these changes in the Business Case up front and ensure they agree to implement them that much earlier.
It is a wise career management practice to ensure that this approach is then followed right through the project. ALL parts of the project will have change requests from stakeholders and these need to be taken as early as possible and managed as part of the process.
Project evaluations are a complicated process and, although well defined, are often very subjective. Project evaluations are supposed to be objective and highly labour intensive. This is because every evaluation process should be evaluated on its ability to provide real cost and effectiveness benefits – no part of the project should be considered to be being out of scope or unsuitable for evaluation. It is important to remember that benefit is not measured by the same metric. There are measurable costs involved and there is an investment. Hence, project evaluation should report investment in the purchase, development and ongoing operations of the project.
Project Evaluation should measure both tangible and intangible benefits. Senior management may agree the scope of the project is under and the business case makes it seem justification is unaddressed.