First step: Requirements detail level prior to project charter release.

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gr8morhg
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Hi Everybody,

Sometimes I am in trouble with the above question.

Before preparing a project charter, how much detailed shall be the requirement in my hands?

With poor detailed requirement I feel I am risking to state wrong boundaries (scope, money, time).

So, how do you suggest to proceed in the phase from project birth to project charter release?

Thanks a lot,

Matteo
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dhaughey
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The Charter document outlines the project details including the vision, objectives, scope, proposed approach, key deliverables, benefits, budget estimate, risks and dependencies. It should have input from different expertise teams and subject matter experts.

You will not have all the detail when you write your Charter, this comes later in the detailed Contract or Project Initiation Document. The Charter is a less detailed document and essentially a way to get work started.

The Charter should answer the question, "what are we trying to do?" It doesn't go into the full detail that you need in the Contract, so it's alright if you don't know all the answers at this stage. The work you do to get to Contract is where you will work out the detail, including the scope, budget and time.

I've seen some small projects delivered on the basis of a Charter alone, but usually it's not enough.

Project stages are:
  • Ideas - this is where you need the Charter to move to the next stage. A small feasibility budget is agreed at this stage;
  • Feasibility - this is where you do the work to provide detail for the Contract or Project Initiation Document;
  • Build - once approved, this is where you do the bulk of the work to deliver the product or service;
  • Launch - go-live of the product or service;
  • Close - disbanding the project team and wrapping up.
Hope this helps.

Duncan
gr8morhg
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Dear Duncan,

Thanks a lot for your very detailed reply. Now in my mind it is absolutely clear the real meaning of the project charter. Always related to this topic another question comes to my head. What's the right moment to plan an official kick off? After project charter or after the feasibility stage is over.

In the first case, it can be a very good chance to do "team buy-in" with something absolutely new and really attractive, but there is still the risk the project is blocked after the feasibilty step.

Under the second option, it seems to me less exciting but safer (the steering wheel of the project won't be so oscillating).

Thanks again and have a nice day.

Matteo
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dhaughey
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Hi Matteo,

I use the project kick-off to tell everyone involved in the project, including the customer that the project has started. As the project manager, you need to get everyone on the same page. They need to understand the project goals and objectives. It's an opportunity for you to answer questions people have and discuss the project approach. You can take this chance to agree roles and responsibilities. Personally, I like to hold the 'official' kick-off meeting before the feasibility phase.

It's possible the kick-off meeting might reveal valuable input for the feasibility phase, and if not, at least people will understand the approach you are taking. The more you involve your stakeholders the less likely you are to get nasty surprises later in the project, when you realise there's a mismatch in expectations.

Duncan
gr8morhg
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Hi Duncan,

Thanks a lot for your feedback. I was not considering all the advantages you mentioned in holding the kick off meeting earlier.

It's always better to avoid surprises (that are very seldom positive when happen). So you suggest to plan the kick off in two sessions: in the first one the PM aims to engage the stakeholders by launching the visions for the project and while in the second one he (the PM) moderates a sort of brainstorming with the "hot" impressions of all the people involved. Is my interpretation correct?

Thanks again,

Matteo
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dhaughey
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Hi Matteo,

Yes, you can do that. Why not have a stage kick off meeting before feasibility, before the build and again before roll out? This way you can engage everyone and get their input before the stage starts.

The most common problem I see in projects is poor communication. Often, there is an illusion communication has happened. A couple of brief emails is not communicating. Email is useful for confirming decisions and actions, but not for making decisions. There should be regular progress update meetings, status reports and where possible face-to-face communication.

Keep working and keep communicating, that's the way to deliver a successful project.

Duncan
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