You have been hired by “Queen University” to manage a strategy formulation project.
As per the Ministry of Higher Education, every university must formulate a strategic plan covering the next 3-5 years. This strategy should be fully aligned with the national higher education strategy, as well as the whole country’s vision called “the 2020 vision”.
The Project Initiation Phase is the first phase in the Project Management Life Cycle. You have to start a new project by defining its objectives, high level scope, purpose and deliverables to be produced.
In this practical course, based on a case study and scenarios, you will learn how to initiate a project properly to secure the needed authority for you, to start using the organizational resources for your project.
As a Project Manager, you should be able to answer the following questions in the initiation phase of the project:
The course contents are fully aligned with the PMBOK 5, and useful for Project Managers and PMP Certification seekers.
Note: The course has beeb narrated by a professional voice-over talent.
Queen University a renowned place for higher education. The Ministry of Higher Education has devised a new vision which sees that higher education plays a key role in achieving the country’s vision. Accordingly the Ministry of Higher Education has a ‘national higher education strategy’. Queen university like every University has to formulate a strategic plan for 3-5 years. It now has a ‘strategy formulation project’ and you have been hired to manage this project. As a Project Manager let's see how you can initiate this important project.
Meeting with Dr. Ammar, President of Queen University
After meeting with Dr. Ammar, President of Queen University, here is what you know so far.
A project produces a unique outcome. This outcome could be a product, service or result. A project has a definite start & end. The desired end of a project is a successful outcome. However it may not be the case always. Some projects fail or get terminated as they no longer serve the purpose.
A project is temporary in nature because it has a definite end.
The primary purpose of a project is to meet certain goals of the organization.
For instance, an organization having a goal to cut costs by 20% in 2 years can be a project.
Operations are different from projects in every way. They are the ongoing activities. They are repetitive in nature which means each time they produce sae or similar result.
These activities are essential for the regular functioning of any organization.
For instance, a daily lecture in a university is an operational activity.
Another example, the house keeping units cleaning floors every morning is an operational activity.
But why are we discussing operations when the topic is project management? Here is the answer – Every project at its end culminates into either new or existing operations. This makes the owner of operational departments and activities as your stakeholders too.
For instance, a project for a new product design after closure would lead to regular manufacturing batches which are operational in nature.
In the case of Queen university, the strategy would be the outcome. However after its closure the concerned departments carrying out relevant operational activities will have to align themselves to the new strategy
‘Project management’ Though a popularly used term only few have managed to master the skill. Project management involves applying knowledge, skills, the tools and techniques throughout the project life cycle to accomplish the project’s objective.
Project Management Framework
The Project Management framework identifies 5 major process groups required namely; Project Initiation, Project Planning, Project Execution, Project Monitoring & Controlling and Project Closing.
Of these 5 process groups ‘Project Initiation’ is the first to be performed. It defines a new project or a new phase of an existing project by obtaining authorization to start the project or the project phase.
Project Management Knowledge Areas
Another dimension to the project management framework are is the knowledge areas. The knowledge areas are the areas of expertise & form key aspects of project management.
There are 10 knowledge areas namely;
Project Scope management – It is concerned with defining all the work of the project and only the work needed to successfully produce the project goals. They define and control what is and what is not part of the project.
Project Time management – It is concerned with estimating the duration of the project activities, devising a project schedule, and monitoring and controlling deviations from the schedule.
Project Cost management – The focus is to establish cost estimates for resources, establish budgets, and keep watch over those costs to ensure that the project stays within the approved budget
Project Quality management – This assures that the project meets the requirements that it was undertaken to produce. It focuses on product quality as well as on the quality of the project management processes used during the project.
Project Human Resources management – An existence of a project implies you will have a team to manage. Project Human Resource Management involves all aspects of people management and personal interaction, including leading, coaching, dealing with conflict, conducting performance appraisals, and more. These processes ensure that the human resources assigned to the project are used in the most effective way possible.
Project Communication management - Communication skills are considered interpersonal skills that the project manager utilizes on a daily basis. The processes in the Project Communications Management Knowledge Area seek to ensure that all project information—including plans, risk assessments, meeting notes, and more—is collected, organized, stored, and distributed to stakeholders, management, and project members at the proper time.
Project Risk management - Risks include both threats to and opportunities to the project. The processes in this Knowledge Area are concerned with identifying, analyzing, and planning for potential risks, both positive and negative, that might impact the project. These processes are also used to identify the positive consequences of risks and exploit them to improve project objectives or discover efficiencies that might improve project performance.
Project Procurement management – This knowledge Area includes the processes involved with purchasing goods or services from vendors, contractors, suppliers, and others outside the project team. As such, these processes involve negotiating and managing contracts and other procurement vehicles, and managing changes to the contract or work order.
Project stakeholder management - Knowledge Area is concerned with identifying all of the stakeholders associated with the project, both internal and external to the organization. These processes also assess stakeholder needs, expectations, and involvement on the project and seek to keep the lines of communication with stakeholders open and clear, and...
Project Integration Management – It is concerned with coordinating all aspects of the project management plan and is highly interactive. It involves combining, unifying, and integrating the appropriate processes.
The first process group is ‘Project Initiation’ that comprises of 2 processes namely; Developing a Project Charter from the knowledge area entitled ‘Project Integration Management’ and Identifying Stakeholders from the knowledge area entitled ‘Project Stakeholder Management’
Project managers are generalists with many skills. They are also problem solvers who wear many hats. Project managers might indeed possess technical skills, but technical skills are not a prerequisite for sound project management skills. Your project team should include a few technical experts, and these are the people on whom the project manager will rely for technical details. Understanding and applying good project management techniques, along with a solid understanding of general management and interpersonal skills, are career builders for all aspiring project managers.
General management skills include every area of management, from accounting to strategic planning, supervision, personnel administration, and more. Interpersonal skills are often called soft skills and include communications, leadership, decision making, and more.
A project is considered successful if it has met it goals and served the purpose for its existence. In the process it also needs to satisfy the expectations of its stakeholders. To be considered a complete success, it should do this within the time, cost, and quality in addition to other constraints.
It is the project manager’s responsibility to ensure the project and its activities are serving its purpose. As requirements and scope keep changing the project should be constantly evaluated for its relevance to the objectives.
If Projects no longer serve the purpose of its existence they can be put on hold or can be terminated
A Project Charter (PC) is a document that formally authorizes the existence of a project and provides the project manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to project activities.
The purpose of the Project Charter is to define the focus, scope, direction, and motivation for a team. The project sponsor typically creates the preliminary Project Charter with the project manager, who reviews the draft and provides input for the final approval of the project sponsor.
PMI PMBOK 5 recommends using a Project Charter as the project initiation document.
The project charter is developed in the early phases of the project life cycle, often as part of the initiating phase. Creating a project charter is a mutually beneficial process that obtains commitment from all affected groups and individuals within a specific project. The purpose of chartering a project is to document the business need, project justification, customer requirements, the result that is intended, and at a high level, what is considered in scope and out of scope for the project.
A project charter announces that a new project has started and ensures your project gets off to the right start, with management support and aligned with organisational objectives. The multiple purposes of a project charter include:
What should the Project Charter include?
The Project Charter establishes a partnership between the performing and requesting organizations. In the case of external projects, a formal contract is typically the preferred way to establish an agreement.
The Project Charter document helps the project manager to communicate his authority and explain to project participants and stakeholders why the project is needed.
The initial project charter describes the project at a specific point in time. Every component of the project charter describes characteristics that may change during the life of the project. As the project environment changes updates in the form of appended change requests, or updates to supporting documentation such as the project management plan, should reflect these changes.
The project charter summarizes the key aspects of the project and project’s scope and identifies the project manager’s responsibility and authority to apply organizational resources to project activities.
At a higher level, the Project Charter documents the following aspects:
Once created, the Project Charter document is rarely (if ever) amended. Hence at the time of creation it needs to be broad in perspective.
Inputs to Develop Project Charter Process
Project Statement of Work (SOW) contains description of all the work that is expected to be performed. According to PMP PMBOK 5th edition, Statement of Work is an input to the Develop Project Charter process.
Business Case describes the reasons for initiating a project. It also describes the costs and benefit, along with a calculation of the financial case. According to PMP PMBOK 5th edition, Business Case is an input to the Develop Project Charter process.
Agreements define scope, timeline, deliverables, deadlines and payment terms to avoid any ambiguity and prevent disputes by setting clear expectations. According to PMP PMBOK 5th edition, agreements are among the inputs to the Develop Project Charter process.
Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF) are the ‘conditions’ that are not under direct control of the project team. These conditions may be influential for constraining or directing the project. Enterprise Environmental Factorsmight be external such as government regulations, market conditions, and political conditions; or internal like organizational culture, type of organizational structure, and available resources. According to PMP PMBOK 5th edition, Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF) are among the inputs to the Develop Project Charter process.
Organizational Process Assets (OPA) are the Plans, processes, policies, procedures, and knowledge bases that are utilized by the organization, including standard templates, operating procedures, general guidelines, historical information on previous projects and lessons learned from previous project. According to PMP PMBOK 5th edition, Organizational Process Assets (OPA) are inputs to the Develop Project Charter process.
Tools and Techniques for the process "Develop Project Charter" according to PMI PMBOK 5.
1- Expert Judgment
Expert Judgment is often used to assess the inputs used to develop the project charter. Expert judgment is applied to all technical and management details during this process. Such expertise is provided by any group or individual with specialized knowledge or training and is available from many sources, including:
Do you need a project sponsor? Learn how a project sponsor is, what his role is, and why it is important to have him at the highest possible level.
Meeting with your Project Sponsor, Mr. John, VP, Administrative Affairs, Queen University. He is the suggested one to sponsor the project, he will direct you and support you when required. You want also to ask him about the old strategy and get the lessons learned about it.
What have you learnt so far from your meeting with Dr. John?
Answer these questions to gauge your knowledge of the develop project charter process
As stakeholder is an individual, group, entity, community or party that can influence or get impacted by the activities and decisions of the project either positively or negatively is a stakeholder.
Depending on the complexity and scope of a project there may be very few or extremely large numbers of stakeholders. It is important to identify stakeholders. Each & every participant has a role to play in the project either a major or a minor one. Some could be decision makers, decision influencers, deterrents or executors of decisions. Their interest influences the outcome of the project & can influence negatively if not managed proactively or in a satisfactory manner.
Depending on the complexity and scope of a project there may be very few or extremely large numbers of stakeholders.
Stakeholder Management is one of the key factors that determine the success of a project. A project is only successful if the stakeholders consider it successful.
Interviewing Dr. Amal, Finance Director: Finance is vital for any strategy, you want to get to know the perception of the finance people, plus you started analyzing stakeholders.
Stakeholders’ Analysis, where the intelligence begins: What stakeholders analysis is and why it’s important. How to go about it.
Stakeholder analysis generally includes:
The power-interest matrix: how to use it in analyzing your stakeholders.
Power/Interest Grid groups the stakeholders based on their level of authority (“power”) and their level or concern (“interest”) regarding the project outcomes.
There are 4 quadrants, each one of them signifying a different combination of Power-Interest equation.
In order to ensure an exhaustive list of stakeholders, expertise is often sought from subject matter experts that are internal to the organization, senior management, departmental heads or external consultants, professional & technical associations & experts.
Planning other interviews: who might be other stakeholders that you want to interview. Set your meeting agendas.
Other information you might need: Engagement Level and Strategy.
The primary Tools & Techniques for the "Identify Stakeholders" Process according to PMI PMBOK 5 are:
The stakeholder register, why and how: Why is important to keep a stakeholder register and update it regularly. Final formulation of stakeholder register: it also includes main requirements and major expectations.
The stakeholder register identifies your project stakeholders and collates all the information required to understand the needs and expectations of each stakeholder enabling you to define the most appropriate way to manage this relationship.
During the initiation stage of your project, it is key to identify the following aspects about your stakeholders and document them into the Stakeholder Register. Among the details the Stakeholder Register should identify are:
Remember that gathering this information about your stakeholders is essential before carrying out any project work and should be reviewed and updated throughout the project.
Gauge your knowledge of the "identify stakeholders" process based on PMBOK 5.
Project Initiation Document Templates
Eng. Bayhas Al Sawady, PMP, PMI-ACP, PMI-RMP and founder of BRIDGE Consulting Co, an IT and business management consulting firm that spans the MENA region, with successful track records including hundreds of trainees and projects successfully delivered.
Eng. Al Sawady has started his career as an IT professional and was amongst the first Syrians to obtain Microsoft credentials, including MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) and MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) in 1999, while was still a university student. In 2001, he has obtained his B.Sc. from Damascus University in electrical engineering.
His career as a project manager started in 2003 working for Saudi Airlines, then the Royal commission for Jubail and Yanbu and he has obtained his PMP (Project Management Professional) credential while working with Al Hoshan Holding company, where he expanded his experience by interacting with different consulting companies such as E&Y, McKinsey, Deloitte & Touch, Satyam, and others.
He has founded a small consulting firm in 2009 in his homeland, Syria, offering a wide range of IT and management consulting services, dedicated for the Syrian SMEs, and moved the business in 2012 to Egypt for further expansion.
In 2017, Eng. Al Sawady had obtained the prestigious certificates of PMI-ACP (Agile Certified Practitioner) and PMI-RMP (Risk Management Professional), to further achieve new levels of excellence, and expand his consulting services portfolio.
He’s currently working as a senior strategic planner for Kingdom University driving and leading the strategic expansion efforts, as well as directing the growth of his own firm.
Eng. Al Sawady has a total of 16 years practical experience, spanning Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and Bahrain, and speaks English, French, and German as well as his native language, Arabic. He is a Compelling speaker, trainer and professional presenter as well as being a passionate blogger.