Project Management
Put yourself in the position where you are at the start of a project. You may be either joining a project which has started or you may be part of kicking the project off. Where do you start? There is myriad of areas where you need to find answers - so what framework is available. Well, let’s take a look at a “Project Planning Checklist” which lays these out. I am writing this article primarily with the Project Manager in mind, but it is good for anyone who wants to make an oversized contribution to their project. 

There is a lot in this series of posts and if you are at the start of your project, then take this one topic at a time and work through it before you proceed onto the next topic. I will spread this topic across a three posts, two this week.
From the outset of your involvement in a project, you need to start thinking about resources - questions such as 
- Whose input is essential?
- Whose input would be useful?
- Has a project like this been done before? If so, by whom?
- What mistakes can I learn from? How do I get the details?
Perhaps even more important,
- What successes can we learn from? How do we get these details?
- What resources are available to the project now, today? Think beyond just people, think computers/servers, offices and so on.
- What resources are we likely to need?

Now that you have worked through the first topic, take a moment to look at what actions you are going to need to take and make sure that you capture these tasks and start on them today. So then, on to the next topic.

Key Objectives
We spoke about the role of the Project Sponsor in earlier posts, and if you have the good fortune of having a good Project Sponsor who had documented a project charter or similar document with key information such as objectives, benefits, constraints, milestones and critical success factors, then you are truly fortunate; study it in detail and then move on to the next topic.

However, if you are not so fortunate, then you will need to start addressing the key objectives of the project.
- How does this project relate to the clients business objectives/strategy?
- Has this been documented? If so, how do I get a copy of it?
- How high a priority is this project to the business? What other projects are high priority for the business?
- How specifically will this project deliver benefit to the business? Is it dependent on any other projects completing?
- Have the key objectives been correlated to an agreed set of acceptance criteria?

Now that you have worked through the key objectives, take a moment to look at what actions you are going to need to take and make sure that you capture these tasks and start on them today. This leads us naturally on the next topic. People! You will now need to build out a broader picture if you are to answer the topics above.

The best way to start this is by at the top!
- Who are the people accountable for this project? Are you one of them?
- What skill are required given your current knowledge of the scope? Who is on the project and what skills have they?
- Who are likely key early hires? How am I going recruit these people? What vendors, consultants, sub-contractors will the project likely require? Is there any limitations I need to be aware of - e.g. poor performance of a vendor on previous projects may preclude them being considered for a given project! How am I going to contract the various parties?
- How am I going to get the involvement of senior key people? Remember, their time is scarce and valuable and you need to respect this - they likely have many demands for their time!
- Who needs to know how to do what and what level of training is likely to be required?
- What line of communications are required? Think internal and external here - also consider any regulatory, legal, environmental, planning communication requirements .. and so on. Think this out in detail, as when issues arise during the project, this will likely be a team of people that you need to consult with to resolve them.
- Who needs to be kept informed as the project progresses?
- Are there any policies or procedures which we need to be aware of governing communications and/or reporting?
- What level and details of ongoing reporting is required?
- How am I going to make this project fun and motivate people?

People are going to make the project a fantastic success or a miserable failure - so give it the attention that it deserves. Get up from your desk and go and start building a relationship with your client, key stakeholders, sponsor, technical leads, external suppliers  .. if you cant do it face to face, then set up a conference calls. At the earliest possible point you want to make sure that you share a common sense of purpose with respect to the project and that you build good relationships and establish an efficient means of communicating. So, look through your actions from this review and start actioning what you can now and record the rest for near immediate action.

And so on to the last topic for this post.

- How much is this going to cost? What is the breakdown of those costs? How was this estimate calculated?
- If the costs have not been established, then how am I going to establish them? Is there a maximum budget? Do I need key skills to develop a budget? If so, how do I get them? Do I need some early funds released?
- How do I get project funds approved? Who are the key players? How long will it take to get funds approved and available?
- What might adversely affect costs? What level of contingency do we need/have? What level of allowance for unforeseen items do we have? Are these numbers in line with appropriate benchmarks?
- How do I control costs and payments? What level of control do I want?

Money is key to the success of your project. Get it right from the start, otherwise you will be overwhelmed at some stage and your schedule,quality and your motivation will also suffer. 

That’s it for now - I could go on and on, so please make any relevant comments and I will respond.

Thanks, William.

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