Published by Infinity Gaming Magazine. June 2021
You developed a well-defined concept for your next big ‘award winning’ project using the business case; you put together the project brief and used it as a firm foundation for project approval, so now what?
Any project starts with your next great idea that will solve your currently most irritating near catastrophic ‘wrench in the works’ type problem. It will save your company untold millions in revenues and it will earn you the respect of your boss and your colleagues while turning the competition green with envy. Equally challenging can be convincing the board of directors to approve the project and turn your concept into reality. You knew it wouldn’t be easy, so you expanded your business case and produced the project brief which defines the project in greater detail and helps push approval over the finishing line. Congratulations! You made it past approval, your project is ready to go, so now what? Welcome to the initiation stage!
The purpose of the initiating a project process is to enable the organization to understand the work that needs to be done to successfully deliver the projects product(s) before committing to any significant financial expenditure. Specifically, all those involved in the project must be clear on what the project intends to accomplish, how the outcomes will be achieved and what each stakeholders responsibilities are. Without this stage the project board risk commitment without fully understanding how it’s objectives will fully be achieved. The main objectives of this stage, which is the first stage of any project, are as follows:
- The reasons for doing the project, the expected benefits and the associated risks
- The scope of what needs to be done and how the project’s products will be delivered and at what cost
- Who is to be involved in the project decision-making
- How baselines will be established and controlled
- Set up of management approaches for risk, quality, change, and communication
- How progress will be monitored and controlled
- How the project will be tailored to suit the customers’ needs
The main activities of the Initiation stage are as follows:
Agree tailoring requirements – this is necessary in order to recognize internal and external factors that can affect the way the project is delivered. The definition of tailoring is, “adapting a method or process to suit the situation in which it will be used,” and can be applied to processes, themes, roles, management products and also terminology. An example of a tailoring requirement might mean adapting the project to comply to governmental regulations.
Prepare the risk management approach – every project, no matter how large or small involves risk and the risk management approach describes the goals of managing that risk, the procedures that will be adopted, the roles and responsibilities of those involved, the timing of when risk activities should take place, the risk tolerances, the reporting requirements and the tools and techniques that will be used to minimize risk and improve the ability of your project to succeed.
Prepare the change control approach – Change is inevitable in any project and the final product rarely ends up as an exact replica of the one you imagined when the project was being initiated. That being said, if change isn’t managed effectively, it could cause unwanted delays and accrue unnecessary costs and that video slot you imagined might end up as a stepper slot that doesn’t add value to you or your customers. The level of change control can vary from project to project based on the level of importance. The complexity and the maximum level of control can be determined by breaking down the projects products so that each one can be independently installed, replaced or modified. Change requires a baseline by which progress can be measured and it also needs configuration item records and product status account reports to help keep track of requests for change and change approvals. If the probability of change is high a change budget will need to be set up to pay for the necessary changes.
Prepare the Quality management approach – A key success factor of any project is that the project delivers the product that the user will find acceptable. This cannot happen unless the quality expectations are established and agreed upon at the beginning of the project. The quality management approach captures and ensures that these agreements are maintained. The definition of quality is,” the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of a product, service, process, person, organization, system or resource fulfills requirements.” The customer quality expectations, standards and acceptance criteria must be defined along with the tools and techniques to be used to ensure quality compliance. The quality needs to be managed, recorded and reported in accordance with the quality approach and the roles and responsibilities for quality need to be specified during the project initiation stage.
Prepare the communications management approach – Without clear internal and external communications your projects risk of failure increases substantially. To minimize this risk the communications management approach contains details of how the project team will send information to, and receive it from, the wider organization(‘s) involved with, or affected by, the project. The communication management approach includes: the communication procedure, tools and techniques, records and reporting, timing of communications activities, the roles and responsibilities for communication, stakeholder analysis and the information needs for each interested party.
Setup of Project controls – The level of control required by the project board after project initiation needs to be agreed and the mechanisms for such controls need to be established as does the level of control required by the project manager and the team managers. Effective controls are a prerequisite for managing by exception and include:
- The frequency and format of communications
- Mechanisms to capture and analyze issues and change
- The number of management stages
- Mechanisms to monitor tolerances and escalate exceptions
- How delegated authority will be monitored
Create the project plan – before committing to major expenditure the timescale and resource requirements must be established. This information is held in the project plan and is needed for the project board to control the project. Planning is not something that the project manager performs in isolation and should include input from both suppliers and end users.
Conclusion – Along with the refined business case and project management team structure, you now have all the documentation necessary to assemble the ‘Project Initiation Documentation’ (PID) which is a focal point at which all information relating to the what, why, who, how, where, when and how much, is gathered on the project. Now ask yourself, would you rather increase the risk of your project failing before it even starts? Or would you rather decrease that risk by taking the extra time to add clarity, direction and to produce a well-planned project that will make you and your company a legendary success?