Adding an Approved Project to the Pipeline

A structured approach toward project initiation is critical to managing a successful portfolio of projects. Here are some critical first steps.

Issue a Project Charter

Although often omitted from the project process, there should be a formal project authorization practice. This is best instituted by means of a project charter document that contains much of the early description of project content, objectives, and budget. It is both a starting point for the project initiation process and the basis for guidance and measurement during execution. It specifies the project sponsor, the intended benefits and benefactors, and the source of funding. The project charter serves as the spending authorization. Time or expenses should not be charged to a project until such charges are authorized. The authorization document should specify who may charge and to what accounts the charges can go. Spending authorizations may be granted by phases. The project team should set up the Stage-Gate® criteria for the specific project, based on the established life cycle standard.1 These are used to evaluate project progress before proceeding to the next major phase. (We introduce Stage-Gates in Chapter 2.2. Stage-Gate developer Robert Cooper describes the process in even greater detail in Chapter 7.1.)

Establish Critical Parameters

This includes targets, limits, and thresholds. The basis for these parameters is the values that were used to evaluate the project during the selection phase. For instance, what is the target delivery date? What amount of time extension can be tolerated? When do projected delays dictate that continuation of the effort be evaluated? Milestone dates may also be important and can help to identify out-of-tolerance conditions earlier in the project. Target and limit values should also be established for cost items, technology accomplishments, window-of-opportunity issues, and any area where performance is critical to supporting the criteria associated with the original goals. This process is crucial to prevent wishful-thinking projects from sapping the resources of the firm.

Determine What Is to Be Measured and by Whom

What gets measured to monitor the targets, limits, and thresholds? What is the mechanism for making the measurements? Who makes the measurements, who evaluates them against the measurement parameters, and who reports out-of-tolerance situations?

In Chapter 2.2, we'll look at the fundamentals of managing the pipeline with respect to maintaining the optimal portfolio.

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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