Project Management Articles
5 Elements of a Project Charter Document 1
The Number 1 Critical thing you need for your Project – Scope of Work. 2
Why a Project Charter should be part of Your Checklist 2
10 things to have on your Project Management checklist 4
How do you Eat an Elephant? The Project Phase Approach.. 5
5 things you can do to Run a Successful Software Project 6
What is Project Planning and Scope. 6
Project Management 101. 8
Since a project can span several months and involve a variety of resources and skills, the Project Manager is expected to outline the project framework and establish the fundamental components of the work effort. Everyone involved within the project, as well as the stakeholders, need a document that helps to define the rules and structure of the project. Once defined and signed off, the charter will serve as the reference guide that will keep the team and all work efforts focused on the overall goals established by the project champion or executive sponsor.
The charter is a roadmap that helps to keep the project on track and focus all activities toward the goal of the effort. In addition, the charter will establish the overarching rules and hierarchy needed to address issue and risk management throughout the project schedule.
The guiding principles within this document will provide the fundamental structure the Project team needs to keep moving in the right direction and within budget. The executive team or steering committee will be identified as the governing entity to drive policy and make executive level decisions when necessary.
Some of the elements of a Project Charter might include:
2. Project Scope
3. Project Structure, Roles and Responsibilities
5. Standards and Procedures
In summary, the project charter helps to keep all groups and team members in line with intended goals and objectives. Additional areas may also need to be defined depending upon the type of project being started and managed, and it is up to the steering committee or project champion to sing on the bottom line to show buy in from the executive level.
A Project can be very complex and difficult animal to manage and cost out given the amount of resources that may be needed. Properly defining the project objectives and goals is crucial to meeting expectations.
Before beginning any project being large or small, it is imperative you develop a concise scope of work to ensure that you and the customer are on the same page with regard to the end deliverable.
Since a project can span several months and involve a variety of resources and skill sets, your role as a PM is to outline the project deliverables based on customer requirements. To breakdown a simple scope of work you might include:
1. Customer Summary - Overview of the customer or business entity
2. Current state/issue - The current issue or reason why the customer is seeking to have the work completed
3. Customer Requirements - The specific requirements needed to be addressed to resolve the issue
4. Proposed Solution - The proposed work effort and schedule to address the needs of the customer based on discovery and analysis
5. Approval/Sign off - Signature lines from both the customer and the provider to signify the document properly outlines the issues and solutions the project will address.
In summary, a few simple paragraphs can make all the difference in the world when it comes to meeting customer expectations. With a scope document, the project champion and PM are now aligned together to kickoff and begin the project with a one common goal.
If the project begins to veer off track due to new requirements or direction, the PM can go back and adjust the schedule and or work effort as a change to the initial scope and possible deliverable.
Having the right tools and methodology behind you can go a long way towards a successful project. The mission or charter is a way to help communicate the vision from kickoff and throughout the project.
The executive leadership team or project champion owns the project and is therefore responsible for helping the rest of the organization to understand the vision and the reasoning behind the effort. The charter is the tool that can help bring a consistent message to the team and all the stakeholders that may be impacted.
The PM is the one that needs to assist the executive or champion in defining the charter to help get the message out. Many members of the team may often feel overwhelmed and out of touch as to why change is necessary. The project charter can help them understand and get past the “why” and move on to “how” the plan will positively affect the organization. This, in turn will help them to stay focused on the tasks that need to be accomplished in order for the project to be successful.
The charter or mission statement can be one of the tools a PM can use to help get the vision entrenched into the project mindset and help keep things moving forward. The charter document will help solidify the roadmap for the organization and initiate the framework needed to get the project started the right way and running smoothly.
Some standard language that may be used in a project charter might look like:
1. This project is necessary to meet the needs of the business and the changing marketplace we serve
2. This project is needed to help the organization move into the 21st century
3. This effort will enable our company to become more competitive and stronger in the market
In summary, each project manager should recommend the champion create a project charter to help instill a common reason as to why the work and effort is needed in supporting the project. A common objective handed down from the executive will show leadership and a consistent message for everyone to share throughout the project.
A Project can be a tough animal to tame depending on how you structure it. Having the right tools and methodology behind you to define and run a project can go a long way towards a successful deployment or development effort.
Since a project can span several months and involve a variety of resources and skill sets, your role as a PM is to define the rules and manner in which the team will work under so the entire project does not falter.
Most team members often feel overwhelmed with the prospect of having to worry about timelines and tasks they need to accomplish over the duration of the project. Helping them to stay focused and organized is a key skill that a PM must bring to the table when running a project.
One of the tools you can use to get things structured and organized is the “Project Checklist”. This checklist is a roadmap to setup and put a framework around the project before it gets started.
Each PM has their own style and set of tools, but if you are working on building your own toolbox, the project checklist is an important item to have when defining the project itself.
Some of the standard project checklist items can include:
- Project Charter Template
- Roles and Responsibility Chart
- Project Definition document
- Project Rules and management structure
- Project review definition and schedule
- Project planning and reporting tools
- Executive briefing schedule
- Communication plan
- Phase Definition document
- Project Schedule document
In summary, each project manager can develop their own project checklist to help them define the rules and framework for each project they manage. Building the checklist and tools that support the methodology will help keep the project organized and easier to manage.
Projects can be very complex and span several months and involve various resources. Most team members often feel overwhelmed with the prospect of having to worry about timelines and tasks they need to accomplish. One of the major roles of a project manager is to create a plan that has specific points or milestones along the way to measure progress keep the project moving along in an efficient manner.
Slicing up a project into phases allows the project to be chunked out and managed more effectively and allows the entire team to focus on the tasks and activities needed to complete each phase with the overall project goals in mind.
When defining the project, the PM needs to envision the overall goals and objectives and then parse out the plan to meet those goals. This needs to be done in a manner that can help the team see the project phases in a logical order so they can realize the same vision when the project is underway.
We simply ask the question: How do you Eat an Elephant?
The answer: 1 Bite at a time…
Chunking out a project can help you focus on certain areas to be completed and organize the tasks and activities into workgroups. These workgroups or phases can be a more effective approach in managing the entire project. Some of the standard project phases can include:
- Scope definition
- Unit Testing
- QA Testing
- User Testing
- Migration to Production
In summary, the phases listed above represent standard project phases that can be used for different implementations. The list can be expanded or broken down even further, depending on the type of project and the type of project you are managing. Slicing up a project into phases is a sound approach that keeps the overall project running smoothly.
Software development is the concept of developing specific functionality within an application that is meant to meet customer requirements. Software projects are especially vulnerable to scope creep and other variables that could end up changing the design and miss the mark when it comes to meeting the customer’s requirements.
Software development is a balance between meeting the customer needs and delivering a tool that still utilizes the framework and fundamental components of your architecture. Applications that have been designed with customer input is usually more successful and aligned with your target market.
All projects have a beginning and end, which can be several months in duration. Because of this, it is important to have a project methodology that allows the customer to provide their input during various points of the development and QA cycle. Once a project has been completed, the need to have the customer sign off is a way to confirm that it has met the customer’s expectations and that everything is working properly based on their initial set of functional requirements.
It is therefore important to have the following:
- A concise Statement of work that outlines exactly what the software enhancement will do and when it will be available
- Ongoing communication throughout the project to inform the customer on progress
- A proper issue management and tracking process. As issues develop, it is important to be able to monitor and resolve them within a timely manner.
- Mockup designs on how the software enhancement may look and function
In summary, to be able to successfully deliver a software enhancement, the customer needs to be involved in the beginning and at the end when they are able to test the functionality. After significant user testing the project signoff document is their approval that the deliverable meets or exceeds their expectations. The project signoff is the final document used to complete the effort and transition it into the live environment.
Project management is the concept of guiding team members to perform all the needed tasks and activities to meet a common goal. The Project team needs to work within a specific set of parameters to keep from straying from the initial objectives.
Planning a project and communicating the plan and scope effectively will help keep the team focused on their initial tasks to make sure their contributions are within the boundaries of the plan. Before executing a project, the scope or parameters the team will work in needs to defined and communicated in the beginning and throughout the project.
Within the guidelines of the project, the executive team needs to ensure the following:
1. The mission of the project is clear and concise
2. The team understands the objective of the effort throughout the project
3. The overall timelines and schedules are established as part of the goals.
A seasoned project manager will help keep the team focused in meeting their tasks and activities, but the scope must not expand too far in order for the project teams to stay on task. Expanding the scope of the project increases the need for more resources with different skills and could derail the entire effort.
Here are some sample project objectives that could define a project scope:
- Deliver a software enhancement that addresses AB and C in our market
- Develop a new program to support the business strategy of XY and Z
- Create a new XYZ that performs in extreme temperatures with less than a 5% failure rate
In summary, project plans and the parameters they work under should be established in the beginning and managed to those goals. Once the project begins to shift away from the initial objectives, timelines will increase and costs will soar. This in turn will set the project to run over budget and be considered a failure as it did not meet the original objectives.
Project management is the concept of guiding a team of individuals to perform all the necessary activities to meet a common objective or goal. Within the guidelines of the project, the project manager leads the team to ensure the following:
4. There is effective communication to and from the executive team
5. All activities are on schedule and within budget
6. Team members are managed properly and that issues are called out, assigned and resolved in a timely manner
7. Detailed project documentation is created and distributed appropriately
Projects can range from software development to building a skyscraper and everything in between. A project can be extremely complex with various resources having specific roles and responsibilities.
In order for the team to be successful, the “3 legged stool concept” incorporates People, Process and Tools to keep the project within scope and successfully within the allocated budget”
- People – The human assets allocated to the project and have the necessary skills to complete certain functions and activities within the project. Project teams are established to define and execute the plan and must be managed in concert with each other to perform the needed work the project requires.
- Process – Structure is key to keeping the project teams on task. Having defined processes in place help to keep the teams working in the unison. Process and structure ensure your resources are working effectively and that the management team is able to receive and address issues as they bubble up.
- Tools – Project tools are in place to keep track of all the different tasks and resources tied together to identify dependencies, and critical paths within the project structure. These tools can range from communication documents to Gant charts and help the project teams to stay organized and effectively working together on the right tasks at the right time.
In summary, a project needs to be managed properly using defined methods and tools to keep everyone working together to meet the objectives and goals of the effort. There can be many moving parts within the project and the project manager is assigned to keep the project on task and within the budget.