Methods and Procedures
What is the typical content of a method based on the project lifecycle?
Start up and Initiation
During this part of the life-cycle the method will cover the establishment of the business case and project definition, and the organisation structure of the project. This will lead to the production of the project management plan.
This ensures that all concerned in the project understand what it is to deliver, why it is required, when it will all happen, how it will be done, where the team will be located and the work take place, who is involved and what their responsibilities will be, how much it will all cost and what if something goes wrong (or right) – this risks associated with the projects.
Quality must also be considered at this time to make sure that the acceptance criteria and success criteria of the project are fully understood.
As the project progresses and the work is undertaken the method should cover:
- Allocation of work to the teams
- Monitoring progress, updating the schedule
- Managing the risks
- Managing issues should they occur
- Taking controlling action
- Managing change requests
- Reporting to the sponsor and steering group
- Escalation of issues and other matters to the sponsor and steering group.
These activities ensure that the project is kept under control and that the business case in kept under review.
This should cover handover to the customer and operational support team. Archival of the project records is covered and processes for completing unfinished business should be included.
There should also be a process relating to the post project review and the distribution of lessons learned.
Finally, and not commonly covered the method should consider how the benefits are to be realized and managed throughout the project’s implementation. This should cover definition of the benefits, benchmarking and the realization plan.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a structured method?
A structured method brings rigour and discipline to the management of projects within an organisation and provides a common language for project management terms. If the method is adopted across the organisation then all members of the organisation will understand the responsibilities associated with their role in the project.
The method will establish common documentation formats and all parties will know where to find the relevant information, e.g. some organisations have a Project Definition Document that clearly describes the project and its objectives and includes many elements normally included within the project management plan.
In some organisations the method can be implemented with too much rigour and instead of being a means to and end the method becomes a means in itself. This is particularly apparent on smaller projects were the need for rigour and discipline is much less when compared to a larger project but the same methods and processes are applied which makes the project process heavy.
Staff are not adequately trained in the method and its use. For a method to be effective requires all staff to understand how it must be applied. This is often not the case, particularly at senior management level. This can lead to people being unsure of their responsibilities, confusion arises and failure ensues.
Training in the method does not necessarily mean that people understand the techniques of project management such as scheduling, resourcing, risk management for example.
As these basic points are missed projects continue to fail, the method is blamed and ceases to be used.