Once your business plan is written and business analysis complete you can implement your strategy within your own company or you can have us manage the project/s for you as external consultants.
Initiate | Plan | Execute | Close
Business Analysis | Project Management
The “Initiate” process group relates to activities which define and authorize a new project. Before a project starts, we make sure these following activities are done as they are critically important start-up items.
Define preliminary project schedule, estimate cost and risk
We define the preliminary project schedule. Then estimate the cost of doing the project and any risk factors we foresee.
Statement of work contract, high-level timeframes, scope and cost. We work out an initial schedule, cost estimate and risk factors. This gives us a solid view of what “what success looks like” for the project.
Develop project charter
Definition: A project charter is a “high-level project map”, a statement of a project’s objectives, scope, stakeholders and their roles and responsibilities.
It is a critically important document that will give continuity to a project’s overall vision and purpose.
Project resources are very important for project delivery. Part of the “Initiate” process group is to get the resource plan ready. We find out who can do the specific tasks in the project. Based upon the required attitude, experience and capability. We communicate early to the managers of those resources when and for how long they will be involved in your project. We give them a good heads up on what they’re expected to do and what they can stand to gain if they participate.
This process group refers to activities which define and develop the project plan and establishes the project baseline.
A project plan is fundamental to any project. It defines what activities are required to complete the project and when each task is expected to be done and by whom. It spells out dependencies between tasks and other projects and lets everyone see the “project path” at any time.
Define detailed project schedule, estimate cost and risk
Once we’ve worked out a high-level initial schedule, cost estimate and risk factors. It is the time to bring these into a deeper level of detail and flesh out the components. We develop a detailed project plan. Work out the precise cost figures. There can be a LOT of costs in a project (resources, hardware, software, expenses, transportation, accommodation, meals, IT expenses, etc.). We also deal with project profitability and resource utilization.
Develop project management plan (PMP)
We work out your detailed Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) and assign tasks their duration, dependencies and project resources.
The PMP comprises of the following in totality:
- Project management approach
- Project Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
- Activity List
- Stakeholder register
- RAID – risk, assumptions, issues and dependencies
- Project estimates
- A Milestone List
- A Project Schedule (usually a simplified version of the overall project plan)
- Project roles and responsibilities
- Project budget
- Project resource plan
- Project communications plan
- Project work products or deliverables
We’ve talked about pre-empting project resources and letting them (and their bosses) know they’re going to join the project. At this stage, we actually “onboard” them into the project, brief them in-person on what they’re required to do. We listen to them and hear their concerns, sign on resource procurement forms and do the administrative tasks of transferring them into our project team.
With the “Plan” phase over, the next process group, “Execute” is where we integrate resources to deliver against the project plan.
We need a system, clear methodologies for making sure EVERY step of our project plan is run according to schedule. If anything is about to slip, we want to know about it early and mitigate the risk.
The “Execute” process group requires that we the project manager do the following activities:
Once we’ve done project planning and secured resources, we conduct a “project kick-off” when the project start date arrives. A project kick-off is an important opportunity for project sponsors (and the project manager) to brief everyone on what the project is about.
More importantly, we get a chance to educate everyone on how the project can deliver its outcomes successfully and what each project participant’s roles and responsibilities are.
Perform project work
At a broad level, when we talk about performing a particular project work activity, here’s what’s involved:
- The project team member reviews the work product(s) that he or she has to produce and any assigned activities in the project.
- The project team member performs the tasks in support of the assigned activities.
- The project team member reports to the project manager on progress against work assignments (hours worked this week, remaining hours to complete tasks). He or she communicates any issues and requests for change.
- Conduct a quality review of the project work product. If it is not approved, the project team re-works the work product. If it is approved, the project manager officially gets a sign-off on the project work product.
As you can imagine, there are usually tens, hundreds or thousands of tasks that will be performed over the course of a project. So the above “execution” steps are monitored closely by the project manager at all times. Which is the topic of the next section …
Monitor and Control
While a project is being executed, we, the all-seeing project manager, close monitor and control all work activities.
The “Monitor and Control” process group requires that we the project manager do the following activities:
Users and stakeholders change their minds over time. This causes project requirements to change over time. This is called “scope creep” in the industry. If there is an increase of scope and we have the same amount of time and resources, our chances of successful delivery decreases. Therefore we manage scope very judiciously during a project.
We make sure the project team sticks to those deadlines. At times, you may have team members who slip on timelines and don’t complete their work on time. It is our responsibility as project manager to get them back on track. In fact,we like to catch them before they have slipped so that we can install mitigation steps to recover.
We watch over project costs very carefully. The time that the project team members spend on the project are “clocked” to the project’s “job code”. If the project overruns, we will need more time than budgeted to be clocked into the project so as to finish the job. This represents a “loss” to the project and it’s something we need to avoid at all costs.
We, the all-seeing PM, look out to the “horizon”. We watch for any upcoming obstacles or potential problems, and make sure we put in plans to mitigate risk.
All projects have issues. We stay on top of them. Not all issues will be resolved by the end of the project – and that’s ok. The important thing is to secure “buy-in” and make sure every stakeholder agrees that the issue is addressed or not addressed.
Project issues are managed in a central repository (e.g. a project database). As a project manager, we make sure these templates or project tools are ready for use before the project starts.
Manage stakeholders and project team
Our job as a PM involves managing stakeholders and the project team. It’s about managing peoples’ expectations. We communicate to stakeholders and team members. Keeping them updated and make sure they know what’s going on.
There are a few other “Monitor and Control” activities, e.g. reporting project performance, perform project change control and conducting “project phase gate”.
When all project activities are complete and our work products or deliverables have been signed off, it’s time to celebrate! But before we do there are some project “close” activities that we perform.
Perform administrative closure
There are lots of “admin” type of work related to project closure. The most important administrative activities are:
- Perform an analysis of actual project progress against the agreed PMP and project baseline.
- Prepare a project closure document (e.g. handover instructions).
- Prepare, review and approve a “lessons learnt” log.
- Close out the project charge codes or project IDs.
Release project resources
The last step for a project is to release the project resources. Letting managers know they have completed the project, giving them appropriate feedback on their performance.