Ready, Set, Go! (Part II)

There are a number of ways to effectively guide the team through the project initiation and project planning processes, ensuring all project stakeholders have a shared understanding early in project launch and during team formation.  Conducting Project Initiation and Project Planning workshops is an effective and efficient way of reaching team consensus of what the project is and why the project is being launched.

The Project Initiation Workshop (PIW) is a structured meeting designed to initiate a project.  The benefits of such a workshop include creating a communication device where all key stakeholders agree of what the project will do and why they are doing it.  It includes the opportunity to obtain organizational expertise and experience to further define the project and establishes ownership to plan the project.  The Initiation process typically includes six steps.

  1. Draft the Project Scope:  Solidify the project’s Opportunity and Goal with senior management and other key stakeholders.
  2. Complete PIW Pre-Meeting Activities:  Establish workshop goals and attendees; formalize the workshop agenda, timing of topics and establish roles.
  3. Prepare PIW:  Plot the major Project Scope sections, send meeting notice with applicable handouts, ensure key participant attendance, prepare meeting room accordingly.
  4. Conduct PIW:  Establish the foundation of the project, obtain “buy-in” of the organization, build the project planning team.
  5. Document PIW:  Finalize the Project Scope Document and get sponsor signature, document project planning team members.
  6. Communicate PIW Results:  Communicate “’the project” to all stakeholders.

The PIW is designed to address the following components of the POS (introduced yesterday):

  1. Business Opportunity/Problem Statement
  2. Project Goal
  3. Project Scope
  4. Expected Business Outcomes
  5. Major Project Deliverables
  6. Major Milestones

Again, the Project Opportunity Statement template may be easily adjusted to meet your project and/or business needs.  Feel free to ignore headings if they do not apply or change headings if needed.  The primary objective of the POS is to emphatically state what’s In and What’s Out of scope for the project!

Once the PIW is conducted and key POS elements are defined and documented, the project should immediately transition to the planning phase of the project lifecycle.  The Project Planning Workshop (PPW) is a structured meeting designed to define the activities and the resources that will be necessary to fulfill the deliverables of the project.  Benefits of conducting such a workshop include:

  • Establishing a communication devise where subject matter experts determine the necessary steps to deliver the project
  • Applying organizational expertise and experience to further define the project, and
  • Establishing ownership to the activities/tasks of the project plan

The ultimate goals of the PPW include gathering information necessary to create a project schedule and a project resource plan.  In other words, the key question the team will answer is, “How do we do it?”

The intent of the workshop is to get experts to tell you what activities are required and who is going to do them, and when.  The PIW agenda is designed to engage participants in detailed planning activities and allows you to obtain organizational buy-in to what needs to be done in order to successfully deliver the project. 

The process steps embedded in the PIW can be consistently applied to all projects, regardless of type or size:

  1. Review Deliverables
  2. Define Activities
  3. Sequence Activities
  4. Estimate Activity Durations
  5. Determine Personnel Resources
  6. Create Project Schedule
  7. Create Project Resource Plan

(Repeat Steps 2 through 6 for each key Deliverable)

As with the PIW, the PPW requires preparation; the meeting must be held with a defined agenda, clear meeting goals, review of prior (PIW) documentation, and organized meeting materials. 

In a fast-paced world of changing needs it’s easy to be mesmerized by new-fangled methodologies.  Never be swayed by the next “new” thing when it comes to project planning.  The good, old-fashion way to launch a project still works.

Lisa DiTullio, Principal, Lisa DiTullio & Associates, LLC,  www.lisaditullio.com

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