Every project is comprised of smaller chunks of work that need to be done to complete the whole project. Different companies are using different numbers of phases and each one of them is customizing it according to their needs. The PMI uses 5 stages where we will elaborate on below:
- Project charter
Is the initial document that kicks off our projects. It works as a buy-in document for your stakeholders or sponsors to agree on what you are going to work on. There is no need to include huge details. For example, if we re going to build an analytics dashboard the project charter will have the below details:
- the Business case – Analytics dashboard to understand our market positioning better
- Project objectives – Create an analytics dashboard build on powerBI
- Major Deliverables
- Gather the data requirements
- Deploy them to Hana
- Design the dashboard
- Complete development work
- Deliver the product to the sales teams
- Roles and responsibilities – Scrum team with defined roles and responsibilities
- Stakeholders – sales team, senior leadership team
- Assumptions – when we build the dashboard the sales team will be able to transition from Excel files to the dashboard for their analytic needs.
- Stakeholder identification
Again, this document can be as simple as possible. You start by identifying all of your stakeholders that will be taking part in the project. The major stakeholder here are the project sponsors of course, but these are not the people that will make your project succeed.
Now this stage will be a little bit more complex. We should answer our questions on what we are trying to do and how to do it and the timeline for that which is very important which is naturally related to the definition of Project which is a temporary endeavor and it doesn’t take forever. The project plan, in the end, it should include
- Project requirements – what the stakeholders want to build. What are their needs? This part is a little bit tricky as various stakeholders have various needs, a lot of them are not expressed clearly and some stakeholders’ needs are more costly from the budget that we have defined for our project. We should learn how to balance their needs here.
- Scope – This is for clarifying the goal of the project. For this, you will need the project chart. The scope can become very blurry here and you should be careful as an analytics dashboard maybe it will not be used by the stakeholders that you initially build if your scope is not clear from the beginning. Big risk here is the scope creep when you are extending your projects to other areas that it was not meant to in the beginning.
- Work breakdown structure (WBS) – it is a plan which breaks down the work to smaller manageable pieces. What is the lowest level of work that you can break down to estimate clearly what will be the cost and timeline to finish it? Examples of the work packages here are: how many developers we will need? How much they will cost us and when they can deliver the project? Design the look and feel. A handy tool to use here is a Gantt chart where you can list all of the subtasks
- Schedule – this is very important to the overall success of the project as deadlines are crucial to get the work done. Important terms here are, “fast-tracking” when you perform more work packets in parallel. Another one is “crushing” which is adding more resources in one activity and shorten one phase. Of course, this will have an impact on the resources and budget of the project.
- Budget – here you can do something very similar to what we did at WBS but put a budget in each work budget. In this way you can have a budget breakdown to understand the overall. As we said the purpose of the breakdown is to break it down to smaller pieces and estimate the cost in this way
This step is to start doing what we planed in the previous step. This is a very important step as the role of the Project manager here is to do what was planned in the previous steps and not digress. An example is keeping intact the scope. You should keep it intact as it was defined before to not have scope creep. Different stakeholders will have different needs, but prioritizing their needs, or even saying no to them is crucial at this step.
- Monitoring and controlling
This is all about the logistics of the projects. Making sure that you are inside the budget, that you keep your timelines, and hit your KPI’s. In forecasting, the more information you have the clearer it becomes to forecast, and the monitoring and controlling phase is all about the numbers of the project. This phase is not only about monitoring, but taking corrective action when is needed. If the budget is higher you see the root cause of this and fix it because this will have an impact on the initial plan of your project.