Thursday, January 25, 2007

January 25, 2007 – Managing the Thing: Project Definition Part 1

The first key piece to successfully delivering The Thing is defining the project. PMI identifies three major documents that are used to do this:
1. The Project Charter grants formal authority for the project.
2. The Project Scope Statement documents what work is to be accomplished and the deliverables that need to be produced.
3. The Project Management Plan documents how the work will be performed.

If you think that the Project Management Plan is the same as the project schedule you would fail the PMP exam. A full Plan includes sections or even separate documents that lay out how you will manage the Scope, Schedule, Cost, Quality, Staffing, Communications, Risks and Procurement.

If you work for a company that doesn’t have this level of maturity yet, I would suggest creating a condensed version and calling it the Project Definition Document (PDD). Think of your project as a big sandbox where everyone is trying to build a castle. You need to know the rules of the sandbox and what you are building. That is the purpose of the PDD. By agreeing up front what you want to accomplish and how you are going to accomplish it, the complete team (Sponsor down to the coders and testers) can shovel sand in the same direction. Once completed the PDD should be reviewed and approved by the key project stakeholders (i.e. Sponsor, Project Manager(s), Business Manager, etc.).

I worked at a company where defining the project in writing and getting it approved was not encouraged. The reason became apparent as additional items were added to the scope. Project managers struggling to create detailed PowerPoint presentations for the overall project status. It had to cover aspects of the project they had no control over and little visibility to. The PM was stuck doing it because there was no documented understanding of the division of responsibilities and no authority to delegate it.

Tomorrow we will begin to look at the six areas that should be included in the Project Definition Document: Background, Scope, Approach, Roles and Responsibilities, Milestones and Budget, and Management Approach.

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