I am sure having fun thinking about things in lists of ten… it’s always nice to be able to count what you need to consider on your fingers. Here is a quick reference list of things to think about when starting up your project. I use this PRINCE2-based list alongside almost any project methodology where planning is a major driver for the work that needs to be done. I think of these ten items as my essential checklist to make certain my project is locked, loaded and ready to begin.
1. Got a viable business case? Successful projects are begun for a justifiable reason that remains valid throughout the life of the project. Document this justification in your business case and let it drive your decision-making. This ensures that your project stays on track and aligned to the organization’s business objectives and benefits.
2. Decided upon your decision-making architecture? It sure helps things downstream if you decide the levels of decision-making on your project up-front. Consider setting tolerances for time, cost, quality, scope, risk and benefits to define accountability, escalation and decision-making at all levels of management. PRINCE2 calls this concept “management by exception” and it really works.
3. Are the customer’s quality expectations known and documented? Whatever your project is producing, be sure you know what the customer expects when all the work is done. The customer’s quality expectations for the final product of your project provides you with the framework for project scope, features and quality across the project life cycle.
4. Established all those registers and logs? Set up your risk, issue and quality registers right up-front in your project. The risk register tracks all identified project risks and their status, the issue register is a key component of change requests and other project issues, and the quality register summarizes all quality activities for the project. Consider an informal daily log for the project manager and a lessons log, too.
5. Strategic risks documented and reviewed? Nothing manages unrealistic expectations like a round of strategic risk management, either as part of your business case or as a standalone effort at the beginning of your pre-project activities. Oh, and don’t forget to document your strategic risk findings in your brand new risk register.
6. Next phase of the project planned out and approved? Successful projects tend to be planned in stages or phases that create control points throughout the project. At the end of each stage/phase, the project is reviewed to see if it will still deliver its business case. Use a ‘rolling wave’ approach to planning for best results downstream, planning each phase in detail just before it begins.
7. Thought about those roles and responsibilities? Don’t forget to formally define and establish your project roles and responsibilities. Be sure that you clearly address the three project interests: business, user and supplier. Additionally, be sure to look at all levels of management in the project: corporate or program management, the project board, the project manager and the team managers.
8. Decided on your project approach? This is kind of like your project road map, where you decide and describe the way project work will be approached. After all, there are lots of ways to do projects: in-house, outsourced, purchasing and customizing an existing product and so on. The way you choose to go about getting the work done impacts the project downstream and dictates your future activities.
9. Defined and documented all those strategies? There are four strategies that need to be defined early on: risk management, configuration management, quality management and communications management. You know the drill. Define how things will be done in each area so everyone follows the rules and everything gets done as and when it should be done.
10. Obtained authorization to proceed? Then you are good to go! Best of luck…