Project Initiation : Is your IT Project Management Efficient?
Once every two weeks we will be adding a blog post to this series on the Project Management Lifecycle. The project management life cycle describes the ideal streamlined process that project management teams and their stakeholders go through from start to finish. A project manager and their team have the common goal of completing the project and meeting the stakeholders objectives. Objectives and timelines can be established by the stakeholders and reviewed by project management team during the initiation phase. The project initiation phase is where the process starts. In the coming weeks we will discuss the planning phase, the implementation phase, and finally the closing phase of the project lifecycle.
The Initiation phase is the very beginning. It is the most important phase, because it sets all the objectives up for completion. If the objectives are slightly off and not precisely defined, then the whole project can be ineffective. This is also where the scope of the project is defined, and the team is selected. Scope is the most important part of the initiation phase, for it sets the boundaries for the project, and defines details for the stakeholders to review. When setting an objective, be sure to keep in mind the skills of your team, to make sure your project is realistic and not idealistic. This will help sell your project to upper management or the stakeholders.
The primary objectives, set by stakeholders, are usually the larger issues that need to be solved or an opportunity that can be taken advantage of. Usually a few solutions are laid out, and then each is run through a few tests. These tests include a feasibility test to see which solution most accurately addresses both the objective and fits within the timeline. During this part of the phase lots of questions are asked, like:
Is this the right project for this team?
Can we complete the project?
Do we have the necessary skills?
Does the timeframe realistically reflect hours needed for the project?
As a project manager, make sure the objectives that are set are SMART.
Communication with Stakeholders
Once the upper project management team or project manager decides on one solution, the project manager is appointed to communicate the details of the project to the stakeholders. After a team is selected, the manager will draft up a charter, or proposal for the stakeholders to review.
The stakeholders must clearly be able to understand:
Solutions for the project
Why the project should be executed now
What business problem it solves, or what opportunity it explores.
In more detail, the project charter or proposal should also include:
Deliverables and dates for delivery
Constraints or limitations including cost, resources and time limits
Risks and how they affect the team, process, resources and timeline
Next, stakeholders or the project manager will negotiate different points of the charter until all stakeholders see their objectives being met.
Communication with the Project Team
Managers must effectively communicate the results to their team including the primary objectives, scope and timelines for the different project phases. Openness and transparency are key to effectively producing the project that you plan for. At this point KPI’s are set, as are the major deliverables of each phase. With the stakeholder review, everything becomes more defined.
From here, the team begins work and submits it to the project manager for approval to move onto the planning phase of the project life cycle. The planning phase is where the project solution is developed. Every tiny detail is worked out. With the end goal in mind, all of the work, and resources are clearly defined.
We’ll dive deeper into the planning process in the next post about the project management lifecycle!
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