Project Management
Just to summarise the first part of this two part post, I said that at a minimum the project sponsor must: 
  • Define “Why we are doing the project” in detail.
  • Develop the Business Case or Justification for the project.
  • 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
  • Define clearly the business benefits which must accrue from the project
  • And lastly, it is a Key Contribution and Commitment from Project Sponsor, Project Manager & the Client.
We identified the main questions to be answered as being addressed by answering the list of 9 topics below:
  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

We answered the first five - so now let us go on and look at the last four
Mandatory Project Reviews
This topic is often given scant regard, so I am going to take it nice and slowly and give it the respect it deserves.

Firstly, why are they important? Well, let us look at the answer to that; simply put, they ensure that we are
  1. Doing the right things (to deliver our business benefits, within time, budget and quality constraints)
  2. Review and ensure that nothing has changed in our business/external environment since our last or since the project started - if it had, this may require us to rework our plans, under the direction of the project sponsor.
  3. Fix any problems early.

That covers why; now come the when? You may have a project process which mandates that you conduct reviews at particular points in the project, for example prior to commencement of construction or taking the example of our bottling plant at the concluding stages of preliminary design. At this point you will know the estimated costs, timelines and you can now confirm whether or not it is feasible to deliver the project benefits within the established constraints. At this point, a conscious decision must be made to proceed or to shut the project down. The Project Sponsor is responsible for ensuring that the project STOPS and conducts these reviews to confirm that it is “on-course” to deliver.

There will no doubt be four or five of these “Gates(Reviews)” as we call them, which stop(pause) you, take a look to confirm that all is okay and are then “opened” for you to proceed - or not if that is what is required.

However, in addition to these, I do believe that the Project Sponsor should conduct regular, scheduled reviews - for example on a quarterly basis - this should be as thorough as the gate reviews but more focused on general management metrics - costs, progress, any risk, opportunities etc..

All is these reviews should be called out in the Project Charter by either
  • Milestone name
  • Calendar Date

(Project) Critical Success Factors
A key consideration and worth capturing explicitly before the project gets going. Think long and hard about this one. For example, will this project be replicated at another site and if so, is one of the project success factors the delivery of a “transfer package” which will allow the project to be replicated at a cost of 10% less and with six months. 
Another example is that it may need to be implemented at the same time as annual/monthly shutdown and cut-over completed within 24 hours.
Make sure you look at the big picture and captures these factors as they are key to the project delivering a successful project.
Project Deliverables
Key, key, key - so obvious that it is often overlooked. Drill down and identify the key deliverables which are involved and call them out in the project charter. A simple list with milestone due dates will suffice. As always, be as specific as possible.

Sign Off
Sign off is so significant - it is saying that given our current state of knowledge, this is what we want to do now. This does not mean that things can’t change, just that we now have an agreed baseline. If we decide to change now for any reason, then it will be from here and we will need to access the meaning of the change, justify it and approve or reject it.

A signed off Project Charter is a significant milestone, assuming you have put in all the hard yards laid out in the two blogposts.

In summary, all of the above does need to be captured into a document, the Project Charter, and made visible to all project stakeholders - these are the terms of engagement and everyone needs to understand and work with them.

On a side note, I posted a tutorial on "Project Charter" here yesterday, so by all means take a look at it - this is my structure for capturing the key decisions in answering the nine topics that we specified as key Project Sponsor deliverables.

As always, would love to hear you comments. 

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