Project Management
 
Firstly let me put some context on this - if you are involved in a small project, then you could be the project manager and the project sponsor! If the project is a larger undertaking, then there is most probably a Project Sponsor, who is a senior manager and may well not be full time assigned to the project. So what are they accountable and/or responsible for? Good question.

This is likely to be a bit long for some, so I will put a short version upfront and a longer version after(which I am sure you will all read!).

The short version:
At a minimum the project sponsor must: 
  1. Define “Why we are doing the project” in detail.
  2. Develop the Business Case or Justification for the project.
  3. Provide key direction, that is, define and identify key constraint, finances for the project and timeline within which the project team must deliver the benefits.
  4. Define clearly the business benefits which must accrue from the project.
  5. Commit to being accountable for delivery of project business benefits within the constraints of the project.

The longer versions:
The Project Sponsor must answer in detail the following 9 topics - as the post is already long, I will split the discussion on there in two; in this post we will review the first five elements and then my next post will address the remaining elements.
  1. Project Name
  2. Project Objectives
  3. Project Benefits
  4. Project Constraints
  5. Project Milestones
  6. Mandatory Project Reviews
  7. Critical Success Factors
  8. Project Deliverables
  9. Sign Off

Project Name
Not exactly the most important element you might think, but it is important that we give the project an identity so that when everyone talks about it, we can refer to an instantly recognisable activity - no need to get too clever.
Take the example of this website …  it sits beside a number of other activities that I am involved with and I wanted everyone to understand it priority, budget(very low!), timelines and son on. In order to give context to communications , I need to identify them with a particular adventure - hence “Project Coach” - so now we have a diary for Project Coach with screencast due dates, blog due dates, marketing budget, web infrastructure budget and for the same reasons, you need to give your “project” its own "identity" - even if it may still only be at investigation stage.

Next we need to start focusing on the

Project Objectives
This is the heavy lifting part and we need to get as specific as we possibly - Clarity is key - this will translate into the clarity of purpose for the project.

Let take a business project; imagine that you currently produce 3 million bottles water per week on 1 production line with one shift and only one single product. 

Your business is about to launch 5 new products over the next 12 months.

As an objective that is not a bad starting point  …  but it says nothing about dates, volumes, ramp up volumes ...

We need some numbers and dates! So let’s take another go at it.

By Week 26, we need to be producing 3 million bottles of water per week and 500,000 bottles of Cola without any additional capital equipment

By Week 30, we need to be producing 3 million bottles of water per week and 500,000 bottles of Cola and 500,000 bottle of Orangeade without any additional capital equipment

By Week 42  ...
By Week 52  ...

We want throughput to be x million bottles per week and be operating at a yield of y% within 13weeks of final new product introduction. Now we are getting some key objectives  ...

Get visual also - it helps get the message across!

We have used SCAMP (or SMART, I prefer SCAMP)
  • Specific
  • Challenging
  • Attainable  … in the above example we would need to do some in-depth work to prove feasibility and break the objectives down
  • Measureable
  • Personal
Take Personal to mean specific to you, your business, your business performance  …

Project Benefits
This should be a business justification statement such as:
“Improve the capacity of our production line 1 to x million bottles a week, with an average COGS of 10% less than at the start of the year and operating at an OEE of 78% by June 2010. Be focused on KPI for your industry, business, Goals  …  using the health analogy   … blood pressure, resting heart rate and Body Fat %”
Be specific - this is your project justification statement

Project Constraints
Typically constraints will be either BUDGETARY, TIME, QUALITY or RESOURCE related.
From the very start of your considerations, a clear statement on the key rules of engagement are required. By this I mean:
  • “Must be financed from the Operating budget”
  • “Must deliver additional capacity for 4 consecutive weeks by Week 40”
  • “Must not exceed a total capital expenditure of €1.5 million”
Everyone needs to know these basics.

Project Milestone
What are they:
  • Decision to proceeds
  • Engineering Design complete
  • All FATs and PDIs complete
  • Shutdown
  • Start-Up
  • Ramp-Up achieved
Clearly defined moments of broad significance and should be published in a milestone schedule. 

The characteristics of well defined Milestones is that they are:
  • Significant
  • Relevant
  • Visible/Tangible
  • Have their significance is Emphasised
  • aligned with the Work Breakdown Structure (generate a Milestone Sequence Chart)
  • Make them Visible AND Significant
It is important to make the project milestone relevant and visible for everyone to see and work towards.

Hope you enjoyed this installment and do let me know your thoughts. Until next time, take care.
04/18/2010 4:17am

Very good article. In a project like the one you described above, who would be responsible for raising the cash required and who would have control over the budget for the project? Would this be done by the project sponser?

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04/18/2010 12:50pm

Brian,

thanks for the feedback.

Typically if this were a corporate project, then the funding would be sought by the project sponsor in conjunction with the client and key input from the Project Manager.

Once the funding is secured, the project manager should manage it but the sponsor is ultimately accountable for delivery of benefits within time and budget available.

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