Understanding How This Applies to Your Next Project

There are as many ways to select and prioritize projects as there are organizations. You might be profit driven, so money will be king. You might have a stakeholder committee that weighs the pros and cons, or you might have an executive director who determines which project is up next. Scoring models and cash flow analysis techniques are useful on the job. Whether you use these methods or others, you'll need an organized, consistent way to select and prioritize projects. I know I could work the next 100 years straight and probably still not get all the projects completed my organization would like to see implemented. What I've found is that the selection method must be fair and reasonable. If you have an arbitrary method—say you like Tara better than Joe, so Tara's projects always end up on the "yes" list—it won't be long before your stakeholders demand that you devise a way to select projects that everyone can understand. Whatever method you're using, stick to it consistently.

If you're like me, when I'm faced with a new project, I want to get right to the heart of the matter and understand the purpose of the project. Projects come about for many reasons. Most of the time, understanding the reason it came about will give you some insight into its purpose. For example, if a new law is passed that requires anyone applying for a driver's license to show two forms of identification but the existing system has the space to record verification of only one document, you immediately have a firm grasp on the purpose of the project—you'll have to update the system to include additional space for recording the second document.

It has been my experience in working with project teams that when the team understands the reason or the need that brought about the project and it understands the goal of the project, the project is more successful. Now I don't have any scientific evidence for this, but when the teams have a clear understanding of what they're working on and why, they tend to stay more focused and fewer unplanned changes make their way into the project. Don't assume everyone on the project team understands the goal of the project. It's good practice to review the project goal early in the project and again once the work of the project is underway. Reminding the team of the goal helps keep the work on track.

I usually write a project charter for all but the smallest of projects. I believe the most important sections of the charter are the objectives of the project, the summary milestone schedule, and the summary budget. If the project is so small that a charter seems like too much, I'll write a statement of work. It's important that the goal or objective of the project is written down, no matter how small the project is, so that the team and the stakeholders know what they're working toward.

Identifying the stakeholders early in the project is imperative to project success. You won't really want to write the charter without their involvement. The two processes described in this chapter are almost performed simultaneously when you're conducting a project. I won't begin writing the charter without stakeholder input first. And it's just as important to understand the role stakeholders will play in the project as well as their influence. If the CFO has ultimate influence over which projects proceed and what they'll include, you'll want the CFO's buy-in as soon as possible. Involvement in writing the charter and developing the future Planning process outputs helps to assure their buy-in. At a minimum, it helps reduce surprises midway through the project.

Always, and I mean always, get approval and signatures on the project charter. You will use this document as your basis for project planning, so you want to make certain the sponsor, key stakeholders, and the project manager understand the goals of the project the same way.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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