Principles of PM: The Concept Phase


My summary of the module 2 of the course "Principles of Project Management".

The Project Manager Role

PMs are NOT the project owner that is the person or organisation paying for the project. Carrying out the day-to-day management of the project is what the PM is responsible for.

3 essential characteristics of a Project Manager:

  • knowledge
  • performance
  • personal traits

successful Project Manager traits

Project Stakeholders

PMBoK defines as “persons or organisations (e.g. customers, sponsors, performing organisation, the public) who are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by the performance or completion of the project.” PMBOK ,Ed 4.(2008)

Work out - as early as possible - who your stakeholders are and assess exactly what their stake in the project is.

  • Make sure the right people have input to the planning
  • Identify project champions who will help you to promote and implement the project
  • Be aware of stakeholders that may cause problems

Project Concept life-cycle phase

  • Identification of the goal
  • Evaluation of the goal
    • SMART analysis, or
    • Analysing the SoW, or
    • Writing a Business Case
  • Investigate the project's feasability
    • Study --> Report
  • Consider the suitability of the project for the organization
  • Prepare formal doc to authorize the project's start: Project Charter
    • Integration knowledge area
  • Identification of stakeholders
    • Communication knowledge area
  • Move to development phase

Setting your goal(s) and justifying them

  • Perform SMART analysis
  • Build a Business Case
    • background & objective
    • need/problem to be solved
    • cost benefit analysis
    • preliminary requirements & estimates
    • analyze options, make recommendations

If necessary, investigate project goal feasibility via Feasibility Study and Report. The Study traditionally assesses:

  • Technological feasibility
  • Operational feasibility
  • Legal feasibility
  • Schedule feasibility
  • Financial feasibility aka Cost Benefit Analysis
  • Market potential

Writing the Project Charter

Inputs: Statement of work, business case, any contracts / tenders used and should also consider enterprise environmental factors and any organisational process assets (information the organisation holds from the past).

Tool and techniques: "expert judgement".

Output: Project charter, which may consist of:

  • project title
  • description of project purpose (from business case)
  • high-level project/product description
  • summary schedule (start/end/milestone dates)
  • summary project budget
  • measurable objectives related to success criteria
  • summary of the planned approach, i.e. high-level requirements
  • roles and responsibilities including who authorises the Charter and who signs off on the project deliverables
  • assigned project manager w/ contact details

Purposes of writing the charter include:

  • Getting buy-in and authorization
  • Defines project and goal posts for planning
  • Helps ensure project has been properly assessed
  • Establishes line of authority
  • Delegates responsibility for planning to PM
  • Promotes good PM practices from start
  • Primary verification tool to assist eventual handover
  • Great initial communication tool for all

Identifying success criteria & measurable outcomes

  • The success criteria identify (in high-level) at the project start-up how the project will be measured to be successful at the project finish.
  • To measure success criteria, you need to have measurable project objectives (assessed with SMART)
  • Time, budget, scope, and quality - along with their estimates - are common success criteria
  • Success criteria may include project criteria as well as product criteria
  • Ask client/sponsor to understand the criteria better:
    • how will you know the project complete?
    • how will you identify success?
    • how will measure it?
  • 2 ways to measure the criteria:
    • Discrete success criteria: deliverable ‘x’ is supplied on ‘date’
    • Continuous success criteria: achieve a 25% rise in customer satisfaction ratings

Project assumptions, constraints and risks, plus roles & responsibilities

To identify high-level assumptions, list anything that can be considered reasonable for the planning purposes, but that if they don’t come true will have a major impact on the project.

Assumption examples:

  • There is an assumption that PMO - which is being considered for closure - will provide support throughout the project.
  • If there is something related to legal consequences, an assumption may be that we'll have an access to legal advice to be provided on sensitive issues.

Constraints (or limitations). Besides already mentioned scope, costs, time, quality, risks, and resources, there might be own unique constraints. E.g. limited access to remote project's client.

Risks are directly linked to assumptions and constraints. If you assume a particular resource will be available for project purposes, you're also identifying a potential risk that has an impact on the timeline and scope.

In Roles and Responsibilities, provide a table/matrix with people who will have authority over the project running. Contact details to be recorded, too.

Identifying stakeholders

This is a second initialization process and a part of Communication management area.

Inputs:

  • The Project Charter
  • Procurement documents such as contracts, suppliers
  • Enterprise environmental factors such as Government regulations, standards, company culture and structure
  • Organizational process assets such as stakeholder register templates or stakeholder information from previous projects.

Tools and Techniques:

  • Expert judgement
  • Stakeholder analysis:
    1. identify all potential stakeholders and info about them
    2. classify their influence and interest - low to how
    3. consider how to influence them to either build their support or reduce their negativity.

Outputs:

  • Stakeholder register
  • Stakeholder management strategy

Appoint the team and kick off the project

Project kick-off should help you:

  • Introduce the Project Manager (and possibly sponsor) to the team
  • Get the team to start building a team ethos
  • Make sure everyone understands what the project is about
  • Discuss the key points for the project’s success identified from the business case, SOW, Project Charter including thinking about assumptions, constraints and risks to the project
  • Outline how the team will communicate and
  • Establish primary roles and responsibilities from the start.

Another meeting can be held to kick-off execution phase and explain the assembled team where to access the Project Plan, its key elements, and overview of the project.

Key point: as a PM, don't plan without having a team to help you with technical consultation and guidance.