WHO HAS THE FINAL SAY?
It’s imperative you understand and clear about who has sign-off on major elements of your project. This key factor can definitely bring you unstuck when you’re in the thick of your project if you have not clearly determined this from the outset. In some instances, there is a Project Sponsor as well as a Project Client. Yet sometimes they are the same. It’s important to investigate all lines of command and have this clearly defined before you start.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE PROJECT?
While this seems obvious, it’s important to clearly state “Why” the project is being undertaken. A clear, succinct statement of purpose allows everyone to be clear that they are on the same path working for the same outcome. It sets the foundation and broad parameter for the project. It becomes the “gospel” which you refer back to as you unpack the intricacies of the operational plan.
WHAT ARE THE DELIVERABLES?
The Deliverables are the key areas where you need to produce results or outcomes towards the greater goal. What are the categories or departments that you need to consider? For example, if your project is a major annual conference, the key deliverables might include Venue, Accommodation, Catering, Key Note Speaker, Entertainment and Event Collateral. These are almost sub-projects that need focused management.
WHO ARE THE STAKEHOLDERS?
The stakeholders are all the people you need to consider that have some level of influence on the project. Some stakeholders have a high influence, some stakeholders have high importance, the key, is to find the balance and priority.
WHAT ARE THE INCLUSIONS?
From the onset of preparing a proposal right through to delegation of responsibility, it is important to consider what falls within the boundary of the project. What things are within the sphere of influence that the project can or chooses to have control over? For example, as part of the service provided in managing a major annual conference, the inclusions might include, flights, transfers, accommodation, guest speakers, entertainers, event collateral/promotional materials, photography and video.
WHAT ARE THE EXCLUSIONS?
What falls outside the scope? What is not the responsibility of the project? For example, at a major annual conference, this might include breakfast catering, alcohol, and venue security.
WHAT ARE THE ASSUMPTIONS?
As this suggests, these are the elements you assume are given for the project and must be clearly communicated from the onset. These might be costs that are covered outside of the budget or internal contributions. It might be the availability of resources or people at the time the project is to be undertaken.
WHAT ARE THE CONSTRAINTS?
These are the boundaries by which the project must abide. This would typically include things like budget, delivery dates, contributors or participants.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED IS:
You’ll need to anticipate potential problems as soon as you can, preferably in the planning stages, but while managing the project, you’ll need to head off any problems that may impact or jeopardize your delivery deadlines or budget.
Quite clearly the planning process involves as much organisation as possible, by while delivering and managing the project it will be imperative those that participate in the project, maintain a level of clear focus and prioritize competing responsibilities.
Someone needs to be at the helm, delegating, overseeing, problem-solving and prioritizing. The leader or leaders in the project need to interact with and influence a variety of stakeholders including their project teams and project sponsors. Many people within the team may not report directly to the project manager so it’s important that the project manager is able to motivate the team despite not having direct influence. Project managers also need to maintain the confidence of stakeholders and sponsors, particularly around elements such as budget, quality, and timeline. This is particularly important should there need to be negotiated to shift the parameters in these areas.
Finding the right methods and the right time for communicating key elements is vital to the success of the project. For example, how is information communicated to the team and stakeholders and when? Is it through meetings, emails or status reports?