Getting Started Foundation

A concise planning foundation for getting a project organized and started on a solid path:

Part One: Project Scope Statement “What are we planning to accomplish and why?”

  • Project Scope DescriptionAcceptance Criteria (Process and Criteria, performance parameters)
  •  Deliverables (SOW if applicable; Desired outcome and  impact when implemented)
  • Exclusions
  • Constraints (Budget, time, critical milestones, contract provisions)
  • Assumptions (resources required)

Creating a Project Scope Statement requires review and consideration of project objectives, metrics and measurement, identification of stakeholders, historical information, and consideration of existing systems, policies, and procedures. It also requires a discussion of how planning will be done, the approach, depth, and organizational expectations for the Project Design process.

Historical Information:

When starting a project it is vitally important to conduct a thorough research of historical organizational and project information. An initial list to consider:

  • Project artifacts
  • Lessons learned
  • Standard or current policies and procedures
  • Specific project management processes and other material processes
  • Standardized documents, templates, forms and associated approval and storage processes
  • Estimating techniques and results baseline
  • Process improvement techniques in use
  • Quality program and metrics
  • Criteria lists
  • Organizational interdepartmental dependencies and interrelationships
  • Operating expense structure
  • Tolerance parameters
  • IT tools, applications, systems
  • Institutional knowledge or key employees

The scope of this work must be expanded if the project context includes a client, partner, or other external organizations to include their:

  • Tools
  • Documentation and forms
  • Governance and regulation requirements
  • System architecture
  • Security requirements

A full program to manage Organizational Process Assets for the project and beyond should be developed, communicated, and agreed to by the team.

  • Curation
  • Library or data base structure
  • Resulting checklists

Mission Statement:

Depending on the nature of a project, developing a clear mission statement may be time well spent. The Project Scope Statement includes the Product Scope Description, which describes the characteristics of the project output, and references the associated Project Charter that should describe the project purpose.

A mission statement goes further to address project aspirations and vision, and alignment with organization strategy and goals. It creates a consistent reference to guide the entire team throughout the project lifecycle. A thorough understanding of wants, needs, and intent of the sponsor or owner is required. It forms the foundation for communication by the project manager and sponsor to stakeholders, customers, partners, clients, users, etc. It serves as a framework for expectations for both the project team and project.

Project Playbook: Expanding on the Mission Statement

A common narrative crafted by the immediate team and sponsor that can be shared internally, with suppliers, and other partners. It can be a simple wrapper around a project scope statement or more robust with additional background information and detail on how the project will unfold.

The purpose of a Project Playbook is to raise broad awareness and understanding of the project. It may include the executive vision, team roster, priority, expected impact, and what is needed from everyone for success. A playbook will often include a concise summary of alignment with organization strategy and how it is designed to contribute to competitive position, business goals, or is part of a larger sequence of initiatives that support a long term campaign. This document gives the audience material to assimilate the intent, how they fit as individuals, and promote opportunities for initiative and support of the project.

There is enormous value in nurturing a shared understanding based on clear reasoning that illustrates the benefits to all stakeholders’ employees, partners, and volunteers.

Part Two: Summary of work required, core resources, and essential project analysis

  • Further development of requirements collection process (leveraging Design Thinking as appropriate)Document (as needed) existing business and IT processes (internal & external) supporting the organization today (for IT related projects)
    • Expand Requirements Traceability Matrix
  •  Establish major milestones and timing (This is an essential part of keeping a team on track to achieve the desired outcome.) 
  • Elaborate structure of WBS, sequence, resource requirements, and costs
  • Create baseline schedule
  • Consider Stage Gate Reviews at critical milestones to ensure all stakeholders are in agreement on project status.
  • Roles and responsibilities (RACI) (may include organizational change and change management)
    • Document resource availability and sponsor commitment
  • High level risk analysis (focus on the hardest problems first)Change Management Plan
    • Engage stakeholder community in this process
    • Feasibility review: test against prudent standards for risk, strategy, and expected return
  • Procurement Plan
  • Initial outline of strategy and critical components
  • Investigate supplier capability and test to be certain commitments can be met
  • Communication PlanDefine Project Information Management Strategy (document repository, communication standards, etc. including graphics, images, text, video, email, presentations, everything.)
    • Define single communication channel and point of contact (cross organizational/external entity communication)
    • Create milestone documentation packet(s)
    • Consider automatic email message with checklist/reminder
    • Develop project branding and identity management, and use pervasively in all published, presentation, poster, and other media.
      • Associate with purpose and business drivers

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Additional Work Remaining (beyond the scope of this foundation package) may include but not limited to:

  • Execution and Monitoring Strategy: Waterfall, Agile, etc.
  • Complete detailed WBS breakdown (may include process re-design)
  • Complete Project Scope Baseline (Scope statement, WBS, WBS Dictionary)
  • Estimate Activity Resources and Durations and complete project schedule planning
  • Establish project performance management baseline
  • Cost Management
  • Quality management
  • Risk Management Plan (Qualitative and Quantitative)

Full Life Cycle Planning:

  • Implementation  or Transition Plan
  • Training Plan
  • Operational Plan
  • Support Plan
  • Maintenance Plan