Do you have a project, or perhaps even a list of projects that you want to get done?
What is stopping you from starting? no enough time? not enough money? How do you really know?
Have you scoped out what really needs to be done and looked at how you could make it happen?
Or perhaps you have too many ideas and not enough detail?
A myriad of obstacles between you and getting started!
Your first step should be to develop a list of all projects that you have in your horizon. They may be active, dormant, stalled, not yet started or one of many other states. You should always keep a list of all projects.
I would suggest that you classify them as either pre-sanction or sanction. It may also be beneficial to note where the project is in it’s lifecycle (concept, selection, define and plan, execute and manage or close-out), the capital value of the project and the project lead or manager. For every project on your list, if it is sanctioned, then you should have a project brief developed. If it is not yet sanctioned, then the first step should be to develop a project brief.
Don’t forget to step back and look at the list and ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I/We have too much on?
- Is anyone of the team overloaded?
- Are we clear on why we are doing all the projects?
Secondly, for the pre-sanctioned projects, it is well worthwhile doing a scuttlebutt. The concept of a scuttlebutt in the context of a project is a process where you ask some basic question and establish:
- Do we have a clear goal?
- Is the timeline associated with the proposed project clear?
- Is there strong backing among key decision makers for the concept?
- Is this worth doing?
- Do we have the capacity to do it?
- Is now the right time?
- What are the risks associated with doing it?
- What is we either don’t do it or defer it – will it impact us greatly?
Based on the answers, you may have a good idea of whether it is worth pursuing the project at all or perhaps you should assign your best people straight away and fast tracking the project.
Assuming that the scuttlebutt got you to a point where you are still convinced that you should proceed, the next step is to write a project brief/charter.
Develop a Project Charter/Brief
All projects start out as simple concepts.
Drawings on the back of a napkin.
To move them forward, writing a project brief is a useful first step. In order to do this, follow the process outlined below to arrive at a project brief which will allow you to decide how much time, money and resources (people, office space and so on) you want to put behind delivering the benefits. Or perhaps it will highlight that perhaps now is not the right time to go after this particular project.
A project brief is a short document that defines the key information about a proposed project. Projects are often ratified through the approval of the Project Brief. Whether your project is small or large, the investment of time in creating a project brief will repay itself many times. It makes you ask and answer the important questions on your project at the outset.
Your project brief should address:
- A name for your project. Give your project an identity so that when people speak about it, everyone recognizes it.
- The goal of the project. What is the purpose of your project? The WHY!
- A list of deliverables which are expected from the project if it is sanctioned.
- An outline scope of work involved. What needs to be done? Break the project down into smaller chunks that you can work on. Once you have this done, consider the sequence in which you will need to execute them.
- Any assumptions you are making.
- Any know risks associated with the project.
- Some high level milestones. This may just be a set of 4-5 key milestones for smaller projects and perhaps twice that for larger projects.
- WHO is doing WHAT? High level roles and responsibilities.
- Key measure defining success. Here you should identify the key metrics and what will equate to success.
- Approximate costing and an indication of the level of accuracy of the estimates used.
- Any dependency on other projects.
It may seem like a lot of information, but it is well worth doing. If you have in flight projects that do not have a project brief, then develop a 1-2 page brief for each of them now.
For larger projects, the project sponsor, customer and project manager will approve the project brief. For smaller projects, it may be just the customer and project manager. For solo project, it is a form of contract with yourself.
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