Assess the process scope

The first four steps of the focus phase provide a 'strategic' framework that serves to guide detailed planning of the RMP, completing the scope the process specific task. Assess the process scope is the next specific task, providing a convenient place to pause and consider project uncertainty as it is perceived at this point.

Stopping the project may be a possibility if the previous steps raise serious questions about the project's viability. However, answering such questions usually becomes central to the objectives of the RMP, requiring further development of the RMP strategy and operational plans. At its simplest, these assessments may identify a single potential 'show-stopper', and the scope and plan the process tasks may then address how best to assess the extent to which this showstopper can be revised, removed, resolved, or dissolved. This specific assess task as a whole may reduce to deciding whether it is worth undertaking an RMP or whether it is better to bring the whole project to a stop without further work.

When a project is in doubt, a different kind of RMP is required to one based on the assumption the project will proceed. What is particularly critical is an understanding, on the part of the whole project team, that the whole purpose of project planning changes if the viability of a project is seriously called into question. If a project that was assumed to be 'a goer' suddenly looks like 'a maybe', project planning and risk management need to address the question 'is the project worth doing?', considering how to do the project only in so far as it is necessary to do so to address this question to avoid excessive delay. Developing details of how to undertake the project will be a complete waste of time should the project be stopped, and resources should be allocated with this potential nugatory expenditure effect clearly in mind.

In principle, this issue should be addressed via an appropriate RMP much earlier in the PLC than the end of the plan stage, as discussed in Chapter 14. Otherwise, obtaining unbiased estimates of performance from the project team may be difficult, particularly if the project team are threatened by the possibility of the project stopping and if cancellation threatens their livelihood.

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