Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Starting Projects on the Right Foot

~ By Kenneth Darter

Close up of sprinters yellow spikes on a running track

Preparation is a key part of project management. If the project is not started correctly, it will end up with problems such as rework, scope creep, schedule delays, etc. While some might be tempted to jump in with both feet and start writing code or tearing down walls, the project manager needs to help provide a solid starting point for the project. It is this starting point that will help determine whether the project will eventually be successful or not. This starting point is the jumping off point for the project and the team, and it is worth the time and effort to make sure that there is a good foundation for the project in the long run instead of jumping blindly into something that is not fully understood by the project team. Here are a few key points to keep in mind when beginning a new project.

Scope

Scope management is a key component of project management. Many projects start out with the vision of a small waterfall and the stakeholders end up wanting something like Niagara Falls. While scope management will be a part of project management throughout the project lifecycle, there are a few steps the project manager can take at the beginning to minimise the issues of scope creep. The first step is to define the scope for the project; this definition does not have to be detailed, but it should be understood by everyone involved. The second step (and much more difficult) is to get sign off on the scope. This sign off might be a legal binding document or it might be an agreement between the project sponsor and the project manager. In either case it is important to stress that if the scope is changed; there will be changes to the project. The scope statement must be clearly understood before the project work starts or there will inevitably be trouble down the line.

Baseline

After the scope is defined and agreed to, then a draft baseline plan can be developed. This does not have to include every small task that will be done by the project team, but it should include the key milestones and the outline of how the project work will be executed. This initial baseline will be the first step in the full project schedule that will be developed and updated throughout the project. Just like the scope, this preliminary baseline draft should be understood and agreed to by the stakeholders and project sponsors before the project work starts. As this initial baseline is developed, the project manager should also address how status updates will be provided to the project sponsors while the project is being executed.

Teamwork

One last point that should be covered with the project team that will be working on the project is to establish how the team will function together. Let all of the resources know who is on the team and what their roles are on the team. It is important to communicate who will be responsible for what and how they will be accountable to the project manager. Being open and honest about the project work and how the project will be managed is the best way to get a project team to start collaborating immediately. Getting the team to work together from the beginning can help the project start on the right foot and avoid the awkward period where team members are getting to know each other and trying to figure out what to do.


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
What is the sum of 2 + 2 + 4?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

10 Principles of Good Project Management

A project management workflow diagram written on yellow sticky notes

This article details ten solid principles of project management that are crucial to achieving your goals.

Coming to Terms With the Finish Date

Colourful calendar pages

Every project has a finish date. This article looks at how the finish date for a project is derived and how a project team comes to terms with that date.

What is PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 logo

PRINCE2 is one of the most widely used project management methodologies available. If you're looking to run successful projects, then PRINCE2 is an excellent choice.

10 Steps to Setting SMART Objectives

Measuring tape showing number 10

Setting SMART objectives to guide your team is important for a leader to get right. Badly formulated objectives will steer a team in the wrong direction.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Pani Tararo commented on…
SMART Goals
- Sat 22 April 12:58am

Cheryl commented on…
The Role of the Project Manager
- Thu 20 April 2:36pm

Dr. Nishikant Bohra commented on…
Who is the Project Manager?
- Thu 20 April 8:00am

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Using Milestones to Make Projects More Manageable https://t.co/NLJlBoL8x3 #projectsmart #pmot about 11 hours ago

General Project Management • 60 Second PM: 5 Tips for Improving as a Project Manager https://t.co/Ek7OiZU47P #projectsmart #pmot about 12 hours ago

General Project Management • Manage Your Projects in Just 60 Minutes a Day https://t.co/dvJK18DzBw #projectsmart #pmot about 12 hours ago