Wednesday, February 28, 2007

PM Process - Make sure it's done right.

In any project, there are varying levels of these broad-stroke activities, including Initiation, Controlled Implementation, Closure and Maintenance. I have arrived at this definition which we use at my company eSolia, by combining the PMI and Critical Chain methods, and massaging them based on a lot of experiences during projects over the last 14 years. One of the most important points is to do all the activities - don't skimp or flinch.

Initiation: The objective of the Initiation process is to assemble an organization's ideas and intentions to solve a certain problem, and organize them into a formal, planned, resourced and funded project. Initiation involves defining project terms of reference such as organization, objectives and scope, creating a workable and realistic schedule for the overall project and each stage, and establishing a business case to get commitment from project sponsors. A successful Initiation will ensure the project is set up to be successful, and increase the probability that high-quality product is delivered on-time and within budget.

1. Agree - rough project definition, agreement and contracting for Initiation.
2. Kickoff Project - arrange sponsor, high-level definition, team brief and kickoff.
3. Define - detailed requirements, objectives, scope, deliverables, solution outline, business case outline, training requirements, organization, administrative methods for change and QC, success criteria.
4. Planning / Scheduling - create project network from deliverables, identifying dependencies and special needs, task resource requirements and constraints, hand-offs, initial schedule, completion criteria, and task and iteration variabilities. With network, create realistic time schedule, with buffers, links and clearly identified critical path.
5. Close - update all documentation, update business case, present, assess stage, review next steps.

Controlled Implementation: The objective of the Controlled Implementation process is to manage work being performed during a stage, and to prepare for the next stage. Controlled Implementation involves synchronizing introduction of work, and then controlling and managing progress, quality, change, integration, issue management, reporting, team commitment, client expectations and provision of information for decision-making. When the process is successful, it can be expected that the stage can reach a successful conclusion and the project will progress to the next stage.

1. Kickoff Phase - review of phase details, kickoff.
2. Synchronize - Introduction of work carefully considering resource constraints.
3. Execute - perform tasks, controlling project buffers and handling project administration.
4. Close Phase - reporting and preparation for next phase.

Closure: The objective of Closure is to formally close the project. Closure involves tying down any loose ends, evaluating the final products of the project, establishing product improvement mechanisms, reviewing estimation and project process, and formally presenting and closing the project with signoff. A successful close ensures project value is communicated and understood, and allows project resources to be re-deployed.

1. Task Completion - complete any loose ends.
2. Evaluation - perform a post-mortem on project, evaluating performance and products.
3. Process Improvement - check process and make improvements as needed.
4. Project Close - formal document presentation and signoff.

Maintenance: Once a project is Closed, the maintenance of the situation or products which were implemented can be defined, planned and performed. Skillful maintenance ensures the benefits of the project are enjoyed in an ongoing manner.

1. Define - define maintenance objectives, budget, scope.
2. Plan - plan and schedule.
3. Execute - perform maintenance.
4. Review - periodic review.

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