Project Management
 
Firstly apologies for not delivering the second part of this series last week. Having reviewed the feedback from the survey, it is clear to me that the preference with respect to posts and tutorials is:

Posts once a week and make them in-depth but yet easy to consume.

Tutorials - pick key topics and keep the tutorial to between five and ten minutes maximum.

So, based on this feedback, I will now be posting once a week and adding a 5-10 minute tutorial once a week. I have already made some of the tutorials and they are longer, so I will not re-edit these as that is a substantial amount of work. I will however make sure that as of today, written posts are once a week and in-depth.

After all of that, we can now continue on the project planning checklist. In the last post, we covered:
  1. Resources
  2. Key Objectives
  3. People and
  4. Finances
In today's post we will discuss:
  1. Schedule
  2. Quality
  3. Politics
  4. Space, Equipment and Facilities


Schedule

Let's set the scene again. You have just recently arrived on the project and taken overall responsibility - what is your checklist of items to run through - schedule of course, but what are the key considerations upfront. Well, we first need to establish if there are any hard deadlines which we are mandated to work towards. 


Let's take the example of a project which is going to extend a school building to allow an additional 100 students by academic year 2011. The first question is, what does that mean? Let's take it to mean that by September 2010, everything required to allow teachers and student to use the facility must be complete - this is a hard deadline, a key project milestone that we need to establish upfront as it defines the magnitude of the undertaking. Sidenote: We would also want to get a very clear definition of what ready to occupy by teachers and students means so that we know exactly what has to be achieved by this milestone.

Along with this milestone, we may have other key schedule constraints with respect to planning timelines, funding and so on - we need to map all of these out and confirm that we have a plan to meet the objectives - this needs to be one of the key areas of focus from the outset.

Another key consideration is identifying any items which may have a major impact on your schedule - for example, public procurement process may dictate a 3 month process from Request for Tender to Contract Award.  There may be specialist equipment which has a lead time of 6 months and needs to be ordered by a critical date. Capture all of these on your early project schedule.

In the above example, the project benefits are clearly "time specific" - make sure you get a clear understanding of all "time dependent" benefits upfront.

As early as possible, you should be drafting a work breakdown structure and building a milestone sequence chart and proving out the feasibility of the delivery schedule. In doing this, you will make certain assumptions - capture these explicitly and verify them as soon as you can. For example, can you place order straight away or do you need to go through formal capital approval process. Will you need to put a lot of overtime and weekend work into the project plan and if so, do you have the funds for this? And so on - you are building a picture of you execution plan here and removing as many ambiguities as possible.

In summary, get your key dates in terms of needs date established, then looked at what needs to be TRUE to meet these - anything that is not is a RISK - you need to decide how big and what to do about it!


Quality

Results! What's acceptable and what is not - how do we establish the appropriate standard and who is the ultimate arbiter?

These are fundamental questions which will have a major impact on your schedule and cost - establishing the rules of engagement and the referee upfront are key. In establishing this, you will need to answer the following:
  1. Who established and contributes to the rules?
  2. Are there external regulations I need to abide by?
  3. What are the key measures?
  4. How and when do I capture them?
  5. How to I make everyone abide by the one set of rules?
All tough questions, each of which would deserve a post on their own.


Politics

Surprised to see this I am sure. Perhaps it is not the right heading, or perhaps it is. I believe it is as the standard definition of politics is the a process by which people make collective decisions - a fundamental of any projects.

Where to start - well I would suggest establishing whose buy-in you need to deliver the project. Establish a list of key stakeholders and look at how you are going to work with them. Do they all have an understanding of the key objectives of the project? If not, how are you going to establish this?

As with all undertaking where you are seeking agreement, start with drafts, build relationships and work towards establishing the agreements and working principles that you need to establish as early as you possibly can.

The Sponsor and your client play a key role here is working with you to develop clear expectations and a productive decision making environment.

As with the last post, you should pause after each of these points and reflect on how you can put these in action for you project(s). And finally for this post.


Space, Facilities & Equipment

This is basic stuff but needs to be established early, otherwise it begins to take up too much of your time and distract from the important work.

You will need to get a rough estimate of office space and equipment requirements - also key here is where they are best located for your projects benefit! What key IT infrastructure do you need - phones, broadband, printer, computers etc...

Once this is established, how to go about securing these and what are they going to cost? If they are too expensive, what are the alternatives and what would a compromise mean?

That covers it for today - remember that this is the list of items you should be rapidly getting through during the first week(s) on the project - this is intended to be rapid fire and allow you to establish a basis for progress at the earliest possible time.

As always, please chime in with any of your comments.

Thanks, William
05/28/2010 5:51am

Hi William,
It's an excellent resource you're building here. Would be good though to see a sucinct summary of what you've said at the bottom of each post
EPM

Reply
William
05/29/2010 2:47am

Thanks for that, will see how I can take this on board.

- William

Reply
06/10/2010 7:13pm

I enjoyed reading your post.

In some project kick off activities, I ask the team to establish their own working norms and agreements. Have you done anything similar as a way to build a team's culture?

Thanks!

Andy
http://www.tacticalprojectmanagement.com

Reply
William
06/21/2010 5:59am

Thanks Andy.

The answer is yes, I normally have a session with the team where we define Core Principles that will apply to how we do our business - the key is that they are the TEAMS principles - i.e. our project culture - this is highly important - thanks for mentioning that.

William

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