Initiate a project based on the contracted scope. Run a project initiation workshop and publish a project initiation document and related materials.
Project initiation workshop
Projects are serious endeavor undertaken to support the development of a new environment. What makes them different from ‘business as usual’ is the degree of change and the period to reach the desired “to be” state. This forces rigorous defining and planning of what will achieved and the application of formal controls to reach the to-be state in time and within budget.
Project management is the art of defining, planning and coordinating the implementation of a complex project. One of the most crucial factors in successful project work is getting the project off to a good start. This can be more difficult than it sounds. Project team members are often unused to working together, and may be unfamiliar with the disciplines and conventions of project management. Team members may well be seconded, full-time or part-time, from their permanent jobs and still have responsibilities distract them from their work on the project.
Project initiation workshops, also known as on-boarding events, are a tried and tested way to ensure that everyone understands what the project is about, its place in the wider organization, and their own role in concluding it. Successful projects have common attributes including:
- Clear roles and responsibilities
- Formal project initiation
- Clear and agreed project management plan
- Benefits realization linked to the business case
- A proven approval process
- Good risk management
- Realistic project plans
- Effective project monitoring and control
- An effective project board
- Formal change control and issue management
- Project closeout
- Benefits and dis-benefits review, and
- Post project evaluation and lessons learned process.
Just as every project is unique, so every project initiation workshop is careful tailored to the needs of the individual project and the people involved. The workshop organized by the project teams at the earliest stage of developing their project plans. All those with a key role to play in the project should attend the workshop.
A typical workshop might cover:
- The overall purpose of the project; its fit with the organization’s strategy.
- What the project will deliver.
- Who will make use of the deliverables.
- Agreeing the scope and objectives of the project.
- Preparing key deliverables.
- Agreeing a staged gate review process where applicable.
- The senior management perspective; who champions the project.
- The project manager’s authority and the reporting structures.
- Providing an overview of best practice project management.
- Agreeing project controls.
- What each team member will contribute.
- Ensuring that roles and responsibilities are agreed and understood.
- Discover who, what, why, when & how of the project.
- Aiding in the development of a high performance project team.
- How the project will be structured and planned.
- Monitoring and control.
- Project documentation; as little as possible but as much as necessary.
Through participation in the workshop, project team members get to know each other, so short sessions are often included on the dynamics of how teams function.
Define essential project charter
This document authorizes the existence of the project and tells you when the project starts. The project charter sometimes known as a Project Initiation Document (PID).
If the project is feasible, they will take the decision to go with it and call the project manager to lead the project. Then they will create the project charter and give the project manager the authority to lead and complete the project.
According to the PMBOK Guide, the project charter is an official document that formally authorizes a project or a phase and documents the initial requirements that satisfy the stakeholders’ needs and expectations.
A project charter documents the business needs or demands that cause the project existence, as well as its benefits to the organization, and it includes a short description of the output of the project. As the project charter contains high-level information, changes to this document are very rare.
Develop the project charter as soon as possible, because if there is no project charter there will be no project manager, no project title, no budget, and consequently a cost account cannot created to record the cost of the project.
A minimalist project charter should define the project scope, budget, milestones, and technical characteristics. Usually one or two pages are enough for a project charter.
Characteristics of the Project Charter
The following are a few characteristics of the project charter:
- It recognizes the existence of the project
- It appoints the project manager.
- It sets the authority of the project manager to apply resources to the project.
- It defines the project objectives.
- It contains the list of main stakeholders.
- Usually it consists of only one or two pages maximum.
- Sometime created by the project manager.
- Signed by the project sponsor or someone from top management (external to the project).
Although the sponsor or client signs the project charter, they will not be involved in your day-to-day activity. They are only interested in seeing the high-level performance of your project or the milestones set in the project charter.
Content of the Project Charter
A project charter may contain the following information:
- Project title and description.
- Project purpose or justification.
- Measurable project objectives.
- Description of output of the project.
- Assigning the project manager and setting his authority level.
- High-level assumptions and constraints.
- Pre-assigned resources.
- Name of main stakeholders.
- High-level project and product requirements.
- Acceptance criteria.
- Summary of important milestones.
- Estimated budget.
- High-level risks.
- Name of the sponsor.
- Project’s approval criteria.
Benefits of Project Charter
Having a project charter builds a solid foundation for your project and gives a common understanding of the project objectives.
The following are a few benefits of a project charter:
- Gives the project manager authority to complete the project.
- Explains the existence of the project.
- Demonstrates management support for the project.
- Defines the outcome of the project.
- Aligns the project with the organization’s business objective.
- Gives team members a clear reporting system.
- Saves you from scope creep and gold plating.
- Helps you avoid many disputes.
- Establish project management office and establish working facilities.
- Produce initial resource plan, establish a project team, led by the project manager and on-board personnel.
- Organise and run a Project Initiation Workshop.
- Establish working documents for the project such as:
- Project Charter
- Project management plan
- Governance plan
- Change order template
- Escalation plan
- Communications management plan
- Stakeholder management plan
Hints and tips
- During the creation of the business case development assumptions and decisions where developed. Review, validate and invalidate at this time.
- Document the scope, including what is not in scope, carefully.