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Information required for Project Work Process Template

If your role is at the forefront of a team within an organisation, then as the point person it is more than likely there is a frequency in receiving incoming project requests. Received via email, instant message threads, or possibly mentioned during a meeting. Sometimes there might not be any real formal request at all. As information is coming in at all angles, time can be wasted in deciphering what is real and what is just noise.

Avoid situations similar to these scenarios by creating a process that can be replicated over and over. The best approach is to create an intake process template that can be used to streamline work requests and set the team up for success. 

The benefits of creating an intake process template

Standardizing the work intake process flow will require some work up front, but the numerous benefits make it well worth it. Below are just a few of the many reasons that project leaders should consider creating a project intake process template. 

It improves consistency

Without a defined process in place, it’s far too easy for things to get lost in the shuffle. Project requesters have little understanding of what’s required of them when outlining a project. If there is no established way forward, it can cause confusion and delays.

A well-defined project intake process eliminates that confusion by giving everyone a prescriptive set of steps that must be followed in order to request work from a team. 

That streamlined process makes it easy for everyone to know what needs to happen, as well as what will happen next. 

Only the needed information is received

It can be a struggle to get ready for a project, ensuring all the required information is received. Then once commenced, there is a vital piece of information missing. Then time is wasted tracking down those important details. The template is used to gather information; the best way to obtain the information needed is via a questionnaire or creative brief that requesters need to fill out. The form should have mandatory fields so the team has all of the information needed from the beginning. 

Automation of Information

There is a great possibility that the current project management intake process involves many repetitive tasks, such as project setup, assigning owners and establishing deadlines. Using a template makes it easier to spot repetitive or mundane pieces of the workflow that can easily be automated. 

With the centralisation of information and following a template there is a solid grasp of all projects a team is currently working on. A better understanding of workload provides an insight on deadlines and resources and avoids a team being spread thin.

Receiving information via this mechanism is a time saver; this is one of the biggest benefits of using a template to gather information. , Once in place the wheel is not being reinvented each time a new request is received.

The following are the questions a project intake form should include; remember the questions can vary depending on the team setup and the type of project being worked on.

1. Who is the main contact of the project?

Understanding who owns the project is important, so they can be approached for information should clarity or direction be needed. 

2. The type of project?

The intake form should ask, what type of project is being requested. It should provide the detail that is needed from the start, so the context of the project is understood. A project management software tool can assist by being used to make it easy to tailor the rest of the questionnaire based on this initial response. Depending on the answer, the subsequent questions will only relate to that type of project, and won’t need to answer any irrelevant questions. 

3. The main objective of the project?

The question relating to the overarching objective of the project is important and needs to be understood. That’s something that requesters should be able to clearly articulate when completing the intake form. It should also indicate a key metric for monitoring purposes, so the same information about how success will be defined is understood.

4. The project audience

Every project has a specific audience, and that’s an important perspective to be keeping in mind when working on the requested assignment. Within the intake form, requesters must indicate who the intended audience is, as it could be from an internal team, board of directors, clients or customers or a specific subset of those.

5. The project financials?

The financials or budget is a very important component, it needs to be understood how much can be invested in the project before any commitment of resources is made. The intake form requester should indicate any budgetary constraints, or provide a range that the project needs to fall within.

6. Preferred project completion date

Teams deal with multiple projects at a time, constantly handling these requests from various departments or clients can be challenging. In order to effectively prioritize those, it has to be understood when each project needs to be completed.

Requester should indicate their desired completion date for the project when submitting the initial request. Although not a guarantee, there should be an indication when the project is to be completed. As a project manager best efforts would be made to deliver upon the requested time frame, but it also depends on how much work is being done at the same time. Being able to prioritize is a must here. A note on the form should specify how much notice is needed to complete a typical project.

The following are some other potential questions which an intake form can ask

  • Who approved this request?
  • Are there any existing files or assets which can be used?
  • What call to action should this project include?
  • What else should be known about the project?

Remember the process intake form is only the start, as it is best to use templates for the entire project kick off process. So once that form is completed and submitted, then there are other steps to be taken for the request to be placed into the system and it then becomes a project.

By creating and streamlining the intake process by using a template makes the task of deciphering information easier. There are numerous benefits on offer, including improved consistency and plenty of saved time. A process intake form structure should include:

  • Receive a completed work request form
  • Automatically create tasks and projects
  • Automatically assign tasks
  • Review the request and relevant tasks
  • Confirm request receipt and project timeline
  • Host a kick off meeting

By doing this for each and every project request, less time will be spent managing the process and more time focusing on what matters, such as completing the project.

Leadership in an Agile environment and its Foundations.

Leadership in an Agile Environment

Project Management in an Agile environment engages stakeholders with interaction between developers and customers. This occurs to deliver a satisfactory outcome for the customer and the organisations requirements.

Taking on and making an Agile approach in this instance successful. Effective leadership over multiple levels, that is from executive, functional and project/program management, and team is required.  In its core the Agile approach challenges those who are anchored in hierarchies and a command and control management approach.  As a greater number of executives realize that agile leadership can overcome the job dissatisfaction caused by authority based, non-caring management, agile leadership is being recognized as an effective leadership style for any project or process.

The Agile Leader

Agile leaders use principles of the agile approach to go beyond outdated traditional leadership approaches.  It values delivering useful outcomes with individuals and interactions working together in healthy relationships, and responsiveness to change.  Processes, tools, plans, documentation and contracts are recognized as valuable though not as valuable as relationships and adaptability founded on the goal of satisfying the customer. 

Agile leaders are known as facilitators and servant leaders who provide an environment in which people can learn, grow and perform.  They buffer the team from disruptions and distractions, promoting continuous improvement by establishing a safe environment, providing performance reflection. Defines and makes sure everyone understands the goal and is doing what needs to be done to achieve it.

The Foundation

The foundation for effective leadership is made up of mindfulness, intelligence and a sense of servant leadership. Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose without judgement.  It is stepping back to observe whatever is happening within and around oneself.  Mindfulness enables resiliency, non-reactive behavior and an experiential understanding of the interconnection among people and systems.  

Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply skills and knowledge.  The kind of intelligence required is not just cognitive intelligence as measured by IQ.  It includes social, emotional and spiritual intelligence – the foundations for building and sustaining effective relationships.

Servant leadership is a leadership approach based on the idea that the leader is dedicated to making sure that those being served build upon their skills to grow as people, to become optimally effective, healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, and more likely to become servant leaders. 

Foundation Building

The leader of an agile team is charged with enabling the team to deliver useful product to satisfy the requirements of clients and product users by making the team self-managing and protecting it from disruptions and distractions.

For example, the agile leader will use formal processes to enable and at the same time moderate the effects of change.   In a project using an Agile methodology, the project manager and team of developers and customers get together to review a backlog of requirements and agree upon the requirements for the next iteration of development.  The customers agree to minimize change within the iteration and any changes in scope are documented and justified.  The intention is to enable change while recognizing that changes, particularly those that take place while work is going on in iteration, are expensive and disruptive.

Mindfulness and intelligence come into play when it becomes clear that powerful customers may attempt to make excessive changes in requirements during iteration.  Perhaps these customers do not spend enough quality time thinking through the requirements or do not care about completing the iteration in a timely way. Maybe, they believe that the developers can just adapt and deliver on time anyway. 

Mindfulness ‘sees’ what is happening, objectively.  The mindful person observes the behaviour and observes his/her and the team members’ feelings of frustration and fear.

Emotional intelligence is founded on being mindful of the arising of emotions. It comes into play when the fear of confronting the customer begins to get in the way of protecting the team from the disruption of uncontrolled change.  It also influences the way the leader responds and communicates with the team to moderate behavior and, if the disturbing behavior continues, to handle it in a practical way. The ability to recognize and soothe the team’s concerns is an expression of social intelligence.

Conceptual intelligence comes into play as the leader finds the right way to state the problem and come up with a viable solution for the current situation. 

Servant leadership and spiritual intelligence kick in to ensure that the team is protected from unnecessary stress brought on by irrational beliefs and behavior that violates basic agreements among the team members. It also influences the desire to promote learning and personal growth by holding performance reviews and addressing issues candidly.

The Power of Agility

An Agile approach, applied correctly in the right situations, enhances the ability to satisfy customer expectations while enabling healthy relationships among all project team members. By breaking up the work into small “chunks”, delivering product quickly, and by working in a team that combines customers and developers who reassess the plan frequently and collaboratively, the Agile approach to project management promotes agility – the ability to move quickly and easily, particularly in the face of change or challenge.  The power of agility is to manage interactions among stakeholders to enable fully engaged customers in the effort to deliver products and services that satisfy their needs, even in the face of volatility, uncertainty complexity and ambiguity.

To be successful, an Agile approach needs agile leadership with its collaborative, service-based approach founded on mindfulness and the enhanced intelligence mindfulness enables. Without this kind of leadership it is likely that the Agile approach will be ineffectual – either too rigidly adhering to an impractical set of rules, or not applying the right level of discipline. This will cause team members to be unmotivated and performance will suffer. With agile leadership the team gets the support and direction it needs to grow and to perform optimally.

Marketing Automation for Project Management

There are benefits associated with automation of marketing by streamlining project management. The question can be asked, as to the benefits in using marketing automation over other management strategies. These can be broken down into benefits and how to apply into project management to achieve results.

Real-time Implementation and strategic planning

Data collection can be very time consuming when planning how a project should proceed, and the steps to success. It can take weeks, even months to collate the information. This has been made easier with the introduction of marketing automation, as collection can be made in real time.  

When real-time information is readily available, plans can be made easily and changed to match the result. The outcome, planning and implementation cycles become shorter.

This permits strategic planning based on actual sales instead of customer perception and market estimations. This enables unsuccessful strategies to be modified as early as possible.

Real time information can be beneficial to both small and large business, as it allows adaption of the market and determines the niche where maximum revenue and minimize costs can be achieved. If and when sudden changes in the market place occur, it may not be as disastrous, because information is collected in real-time.

Targeting and Lead Scoring

Tasks can be simplified within the expansion of a business towards new markets. This relates to targeting new markets and using lead scoring which can be aided by marketing automation. Instead of real-time information, the purpose of using automation is to be able to handle different sets of data at once to create an overview of the market’s readiness for the product.

Wider coverage can be easily handled with the use of marketing automation for lead scoring. Automation also collects more accurate data without consuming too much time. Instead of manually collecting data, the available time could now be spent for analysing opportunities and creating marketing campaigns. The use of automation definitely is an upgrade in this case because of how it streamlines the whole process.

It may seem that larger companies are the biggest beneficiary of such technology, smaller businesses can benefit as well. By performing tasks that require a lot of teams to previously complete. By spending for marketing automation, small businesses have acquired a comparative advantage that would usually require paying for a few regular employees glued on the task.

Team Integration

Project management streamlining is an advantage and benefit of market automation. Because it allows different sets of information to be collected and handled automatically, the different teams are freed from menial tasks and are able to collaborate towards planning and implementing strategies and campaigns.

The integration happens through the automation’s capacity to generate reports instantly. Different sets of data can be cross-referenced with each other to produce results that can help departments decide. There is no longer the need to send a long paper trail of documents between and among departments. The automation does the work for everyone.

The system can also be automated to send the generated reports to a list of emails. Updates can be made at any chosen interval, whether it is daily, weekly, or monthly. All that needs to be done is to make sense of the available reports and use the data to come up with clever strategies that can bring in sales and revenue.

The Impact on Smaller Businesses

The beneficiaries are those who belong to a small business, whether it’s a personal online store or a recently-started business. Marketing automation may continue to develop and be able to do all the simple work done by employees in companies. What’s left is for the business owners to do what automation cannot: to create plans and be creative in developing campaigns.

Conclusion

The popularity of marketing automation is expected to remain, because of the efficiency it brings into businesses, regardless of size. Its strength is that it could do the menial tasks all by itself and do it with less time required compared to doing these tasks manually.

Its added value is the ability to bring accessibility and comfort to marketers since the amount of repetitive tasks is reduced. The flexibility that marketing automation provides project management is a definite for companies looking to cut costs and reduce the time spent on different projects.

Marketing automation should always be a serious consideration. These are just some of the ways on how marketing automation is currently being used. Over time, other tasks will soon incorporate this technology to create productivity and efficiency.

Managing a Team’s Workload

It can be a balancing act as a project manager when reviewing a team’s to-do list and also ensuring that the workload is equally shared. A critical component of this is getting the balance right. Project teams look towards the leader for clarification on what task to perform and when. Remember, no one works well when a project manager is hovering over their shoulder as tasks a being completed.

There are 5 steps which should be considered to ensure a team remains focused on the task at hand, and also make it easier for the project manager to manage the workload, without the team being micro managed.

Current Workload Review

If commencing from scratch, then a review of what is currently happening is required. This could have been initiated by a resource suggesting they are doing too many tasks, or from another team manager who has contacted the project manager stating that team resources have missed a deadline.

The project Manager must be mindful that they can only manage on what is known. Within a matrix environment, some of the resources are only available to work on project tasks for a portion of the week, so clarity is required.

A mechanism to find out the answer is to use resource management reports from a project management system which identifies who is working on which tasks.

Pinpoint over allocated resources

Look for people on the team who are over allocated. That just means resources have been given more work than they can actually do in the time available. A good rule is that people should be allocated to specific tasks only 80% of their time. The remaining 20% will be for answering phone calls, attending team meetings, dealing with the customer who calls with an urgent problem and so on.

The 20% should be spread out across the week; it’s better to fill people’s time for, say 6 hours per day, than give them every Friday with nothing to do apart from catch up on the things they weren’t able to finish earlier in the week.

Identifying under allocated resources

Constant review of resource reports and dashboards should identify resources that don’t have enough work to do. Keep the team motivated by ensuring they have meaningful tasks to fill the day.

In reality, team members will always make themselves look busy. They will find things to work on, perhaps taking on tasks of their own accord or helping out one of their colleagues. The time management system will help you understand if they are working on tasks that are deemed to be priority.

Clues to resource allocation in respect to over or under allocation can be extracted from them directly. Resources may ask for more work or point out that they can’t take on another assignment. This is where professional judgement is activated, meaning are they genuinely too busy or just working on the wrong tasks? Or possibly being unproductive? The better their strengths and work patterns are understood, the easier it will be to interpret what the time sheet system is indicating.

Skill sets and absences

A team’s workload can be better managed if it is known when resources will be available. Speak with them regarding upcoming leave, which should be included in any planning so work is not assigned to a resource that won’t be available.

Checking in on the team from time to time and discuss if their skills are up-to-date. This could eventuate in a resource being able to work on more projects than was originally anticipated, especially if they have developed new skills.

Adjusting Assignments

The fine line of balancing workloads is a skill, commence with the people who have too much work assigned to them. Split up the big tasks into smaller chunks and assign someone else to help them out. Or make the task stretch over a longer period so they have fewer hours to work on it each day. Consider moving some of their work to another member of the team who doesn’t have enough to do. Boost someone’s workload by asking them to take on another project, develop their skills or involve them in planning for next year.

Considering a change of assignment within the resource planning system, remember to speak with the resource involved first. That’s one of the key ways to ensure the team is content.  This can be achieved by shifting resource requirements around to balance out the work and that it is not a reflection on their performance. In fact, as a result of workload planning the resources may end up with even better assignments.

The Active Project

The Active Project

In a previous post, it covered the birth of a project; this article covers the project life cycle from activation to completion. This is known as the maturation process of an active project.

Project Active

Once funding has been approved, and the finances released then the selected project is active. It is at this stage the project manager is open to commence recruitment and assigning team members. This is a good time to also commence the work schedule and other activities associated with launching the project.

When delivering a complex project, management would need to maintain control while still being flexible and adaptive at the same time. The following should be considered;

An understanding of the deliverable schedule and possibly exception reports, this can include.

  • The plan is being followed and going well.
  • Minor variances from the original plan which includes steps “back to” compliance within the next reporting period, and details attached for reference.
  • Major variances from plan are required and assistance is needed to complete a corrective action plan. Details of which are attached for action.
  • The prospect of the project failing and not having the authority or knowledge to restore the project to plan. The details are attached for intervention.

Evaluation Phase

Consists of determining which portfolio or portfolios the project is most closely aligned with. Three outcomes are possible from this evaluation:

  • The project is not aligned and is rejected out of hand.
  • The project is not aligned but revision and re-submission recommended.
  • The project is aligned.

Once it is determined that the project is aligned, proposing parties should begin preparing a detailed plan. Information such as, time, cost, and resource requirements will help the portfolio manager make a final determination regarding the project support that will be needed from the portfolio.

Alignment can be a complex task, in respect to defining the process, which metric will be used, quantitative or qualitative? The next decision is aligning the specific portfolio with several portfolios, one or more strategic objectives.

Prioritised Project

All proposed projects for the portfolio will be ranked along with other proposed projects within the same portfolio. This is the final stage before the project is selected for the portfolio. Once ranked and priority provided, it will be funded and included in the portfolio.

Forcing one measurement on all project proposals might be too restrictive and force invalid conversions of success measures to a single metric, like bottom line dollars. So allowing any one of the three metrics defined in IRACIS to be used, the problem reduces to comparing projects across all three measures of business value.

The rules for the qualitative measures a stated below;
M = must do
S = should do
C = could do
W = will not do now

Variations of A, B, and C or 1, 2, and 3 are also common. This is just a metric which can be used, there are others, and use one that is best understood to get the desired results.

Selected Project

This is a temporary classification and assuming approval of the portfolio, this project will be supported. That support may come in the form of less time, money, and resources than were requested. In such cases a revised project plan and expected business value will be prepared.

As a portfolio manager there are some traps to avoid. A PM can be forced into a no-win situation by maintaining the originally proposed deliverables but in less time, for less money or with fewer resources. Many PMs prefer their projects supported and will often agree to compromises that cannot be realistically attained. The Project manager should not be force into such positions. Once the level of support has been awarded require the PM to finalize the project plan and deliverables in line with the support provided and then negotiate from that position to a realistic closure. Now the project team can be held accountable for the results they agreed to deliver.

The Death of a Project

There are three ways that the project can move through the death process. It can be postponed, cancelled or completed.

Postponed Project

An active project is postponed if its staff resources have been temporarily removed. Such projects must return to the pool of prioritized projects and be selected and its staff resources restored. The resources allocated to a postponed project are returned to the staffing category from which they originated to be reallocated to the next project in the queue of that project category.

Postponed indefinitely

The problem situation or business opportunity is no longer what it was when the project was first proposed.

Paused

A project can be paused for some number of cycles due to a temporary condition and then resumed when the condition is no longer in play. These conditions include:

  • Higher priority projects require team resources for a few cycles for completion.
  • There is a temporary loss of resources to the portfolio.

Project Cancelled

An active project is cancelled if it has failed to demonstrate planned progress toward its successful completion. Depending on the stage in which the project was cancelled, there may be unspent resources. If so, they are returned to the resource pool from which they originated. Those resources then become available for the next project in the prioritized queue of projects being held pending funding for that portfolio.

Project Completed

A project is completed if it has met all of its objectives and delivered acceptable business value. Even if it hasn’t met all of its objectives the decision may be to call the current solution acceptable and hence the project complete. Recall that the complex project environment is one where the completed solution is not known at project launch and the solution attained may compromise some of the deliverables and hence delivered business value may be less than planned business value but yet acceptable.

Piecing it together

Every organisation needs to define its own version of this birth and death process. Once done that the organisation can track the number of projects in each category. This is especially important in establishing the contents of each portfolio. Of specific interest will be the Project Prioritisation category and the staffing of selected projects. Prioritisation includes new projects, continuing projects, and postponed projects. Defining the rules for prioritisation is not as easy as might be perceived. The three categories of projects are to be prioritised in a single list and they are very different types of projects.

The Project Cycle

How a project is initiated, what is the first step in delivering a project from its conception all the way to the end? Just like all things in life, there is a birth, the life and then death, a life cycle as it is better known. This article will look at the processes which should be taken to get a project “off the ground” how to ensure the project has the legs to survive the life cycle. To understand this, it is best to start at the beginning.

Birth of a Project

The project birth process begins with an idea and ends when the idea becomes an approved and funded project attached to the appropriate portfolio.

Project Proposed

For a project to begin there must be an issue which requires addressing, or there is an existing problem which needs resolution. Once identified, it is the responsibility of the person making the proposal or their staff to provide business validation or a concept that the project makes good business sense.

Normally the proposed project is documented with a one page concept statement. Once composed it is then submitted to the appropriate portfolio to be evaluated regarding its alignment to the portfolio strategy and its suitability for support. There are five parts to this document that contains;

Problem or Opportunity Statement

The concept document gives the initiator, a way to relate the idea to a known problem and to offer a full or partial solution. If the problem is serious enough and if the proposed solution is feasible, further action will be taken. In this case, senior managers will request a more detailed solution plan from the requestor.

Regardless of the reason for the problem or opportunity statement, it must be written in a business language as it will be read by executives. It should not contain technical references unless the people reading the document have a technical background, it is best at this instance, to understand the audience.

Project Goal

Elaborate within the first section of the document on the goal of the project, that is what is the project intending to address. The purpose of the goal or executive statement is to get management to value the idea enough to read on.

A project has one goal, that is the purpose and direction of the project. At a very high level, it defines the final deliverable or outcome of the project in clear terms so that everyone understands what is to be accomplished. The goal statement will be used as a continual point of reference for any questions that arise regarding the project’s scope or purpose.

Just like the problem or opportunity statement, the goal statement is short and to the point. The goal statement does not include any information that might commit the project to dates or deliverables that are not practical, as there is not much detail about the project at this stage.

Project Objectives

The third section describes the project objectives, elaborating on the goal statement. The purpose of objective statements is to clarify the exact boundaries of the goal statement and define the boundaries or the scope of the project. In fact, the objective statements cover a specific goal statement, and are nothing more than a decomposition of the goal statement into a set of necessary and sufficient objective statements. That is, every objective must be accomplished in order to reach the goal, and no objective is superfluous.

The Success Criteria

The fourth section of the concept statement should answer the necessity of the project. It provides the measurable business value that will result from doing this project. This is essentially selling the project to management.

The document should cover the business outcomes used to measure success. It is also a statement of the business value to be achieved; therefore, it provides a basis for senior management to authorize the Project Manager and the client to detail planning. It is essential that the criteria be quantifiable and measurable, and, if possible, expressed in terms of business value.

No matter how the success criteria are defined, they all reduced to one of the following three types:

Increase revenue— as part of the success criteria, the increase should be measured in hard dollars or as a percentage of a specific revenue number.

Avoid costs— this criterion can be stated as a hard-dollar amount or a percentage of some specific cost. Caution should be taken here as often a cost reduction means staff reductions. Staff reductions do not mean the shifting of resources to other places in the organization. Moving staff from one area to another is not a cost reduction.

Improve service— this is a difficult metric to define, as it’s usually some percentage of improvement in client satisfaction or a reduction in the frequency or type of client complaints.

The best choice for success criteria is to state clearly the bottom-line impact of the project. This is expressed in terms such as increased margins, higher net revenues, reduced turnaround time, improved productivity, a reduced cost of manufacturing or sales, and so on. This is the criteria on which management will approve the project for further consideration and funding.

Management should look at the project’s success criteria and assign business value to the project. In the absence of other criteria, this will be the basis for the decision about whether to commit resources to complete the detailed plan or not.

Assumptions, Risks, and Obstacles

The fifth and final section of the concept document identifies any factors that can affect the outcome of the project. These factors can affect deliverables, the realization of the success criteria, the ability of the project team to complete the project as planned, and any other environmental or organizational conditions that are relevant to the project. The requestor wants to share anything that can go wrong and that management might be able to favorably impact.

The project manager uses the assumptions, risks, and obstacles section to alert management  to any factors that may interfere with the project work or compromise the contribution that the project can make to the organization. Management may be able to neutralize the impact of these factors. Conversely, the project manager should include in the project plan whatever contingencies can help reduce the probable impact and its effect on project success.

It should not be assumed that everyone knows what the risks and perils to the project will be. Planning is a process of discovery about the project itself as well as any hidden perils that may cause embarrassment for the team, they should be documented.

Attachments

Although a concept document should be enough, some business processes call for a longer document. As part of their initial approval of the resources to do detailed project planning, management may want some measure of the economic value of the proposed project. They recognize that many of the estimates are little more than an order-of-magnitude guess, but they will nevertheless ask for this information. In which case the following two types of analyses requested frequently:

  • Risk analysis
  • Financial analysis

The following sections briefly discuss these analysis types.

Risk Analysis

The risk analysis is normally the most frequently used attachment to the concept document. Many business-decision models depend on quantifying risks, the expected loss if the risk materializes, and the probability that the risk will occur. All of these are quantified, and the resulting analysis guides management in its project-approval decisions.

Financial Analyses

Some organizations require a preliminary financial analysis of the project before granting approval to perform the detailed planning. Although such analyses are very rough because not enough information is known about the project at this time, they will offer a tripwire for project-planning approval. In some instances, they also offer criteria for prioritizing all of the concept documents that senior management will be reviewing. Following are brief descriptions of the types of financial analyses which may be requested.

Feasibility Studies

The methodology to conduct a feasibility study is remarkably similar to the problem-solving method. It involves the following steps:

  1. Clearly define the problem.
  2. Describe the boundary of the problem—that is, what is in the problem scope and what is outside the problem scope.
  3. Define the features and functions of a good solution.
  4. Identify alternative solutions.
  5. Rank alternative solutions.
  6. State the recommendations along with the rationale for the choice.
  7. Provide a rough estimate of the timetable and expected costs.

The Project Manager will be asked to provide the feasibility study when senior management want to review the thinking that led to the proposed solution. A thoroughly researched solution can help build your credibility as the project manager.

Cost and Benefit Analyses

These analyses are always difficult to do because intangible benefits should be included in the decision process. As mentioned earlier, things such as improved client satisfaction cannot be easily quantified. It could be argued that improved client satisfaction reduces client turnover, which in turn increases revenues, but how is a number put on that? In many cases, senior management will take these inferences into account, but they still want to see hard-dollar comparisons. Opt for the direct and measurable benefits to compare against the cost of doing the project and the cost of operating the new process. If the benefits outweigh the costs over the expected life of the project deliverables, senior management may be willing to support the project.

Breakeven Analysis

This is a timeline that shows the cumulative cost of the project against the cumulative revenue or savings from the project. At each point where the cumulative revenue or savings line crosses the cumulative cost line, the project will recoup its costs. Usually senior management looks for an elapsed time less than some threshold number. If the project meets that deadline date, it may be worthy of support. Targeted breakeven dates are getting shorter because of more frequent changes in the business and its markets.

Return on Investment

The ROI analyses the total costs as compared with the increased revenue that will accrue over the life of the project deliverables. Here senior management finds a common basis for comparing one project against another. They look for the high ROI projects or the projects that at least meet some minimum ROI.

A project that does not meet the alignment criteria may be either rejected out of hand or returned to the proposing party for revision and re- submission. Projects that are returned for revision generally need minor revision and following the suggested revisions should meet the alignment criteria.

These four financial analyses are common. Their purpose is to help the financial analysts determine the risk versus reward for the proposed project.

Management has the power to accept or reject a proposal. All projects start from an idea, a concept which in turn need management acceptance to proceed any further. The more succinct and “Matter of Fact” the concept paper can be which identifies the need for the project and how it can assist the organization then the more chance of it being approved. If the idea is valid from an expected business value perspective, sell it on its own merits.

The Art of Project Management, a discipline for initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve a specific goal. A project is a temporary endeavour designed to produce a unique product, service or outcome. The end to end delivery of the project, known as the project lifecycle is affected by resource, time management and a fixed budget. The purpose of project management is to enhance a particular situation through the avenue of delivery and change. The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all the project goals within the given constraints, normally defined in a user or project manual, created at the beginning of the development process. The primary constraints are scope, time, quality and budget. The secondary and more ambitious challenge is to optimize the allocation of necessary inputs and integrate them to meet a pre-defined objective.