Saturday, July 28, 2012

Project Vision: Getting Into Focus

One of the many comments I have received on my blogs was regarding vision, specifically the “blurriness” that a Project Manager (PM) must contend with when beginning or during a project. One of the things I have learned is that a project must be aligned in some way with the organization’s strategy. No matter how small the project is, it must tie back to the strategic vision of the organization. Now, in a Professional Service Organization (PSO), a project will most likely be revenue generating, implementing a product, or providing consultative services. So in that case, the vision can be explained in that the PSO is delivering a service to other organizations. However, in a Project Management Office (PMO) or an Information Technology (IT) group that has its own Project Management  group, the vision for a project has to be defined in a project for the PM and the project team. So let’s take them separately.

Project Vision in a PSO
As I stated in my opening paragraph, project vision in a PSO should be straightforward. The PM has to keep focus on the scope of the project using the scope statement and statement of work (SOW).  The major issue that confronts a PM and the project team is scope creep. This is especially hard in a consultative environment, considering the users or client in the project team would most likely want to stretch the funding of the project as far as it can go. This is only natural and should be expected by the PM of the project. What I have found effective is to review the SOW and the scope statement at project kickoff, reviewing what is in scope, and stating for the record that everything else is out of scope. During the project, with the Risk and Issues list and the Status Report as tools, the PM must keep the project schedule on track.
Project Vision in a PMO
In a PMO, one must ask:  does this project directly or indirectly tie into to the organization’s strategic vision? The PM and the PMO lead must ask this question before committing to take on a project. If the project does not, then the PM begins the project with the knowledge that this project is not a strategic one and the resources provided may reflect that knowledge. The PM must be responsible and provide a project schedule that reflects the importance of this project.
If the project is strategic, then the PM may be provided the resources that reflect the necessity of implementing this project and ensure that that scope creep (similar to a PSO project) does not rear its ugly head. However, it should be noted that there is a different dynamic with the project team from a PSO project. In a project run by a PSO, the PM should strive to make the client or users in the project team the champions of the project. In a PMO project, or a project that starts from the strategic management of the PM’s Organization, the PM should make the project sponsor the PM’s best friend. This person holds the purse strings and usually has some members of the project team reporting to them. Once a project begins to enter a yellow status, the project sponsor should be one of the first to be notified by the PM.

The scope statement and the SOW should also be used by the PM to ward off any scope creep that other project team members attempt to bring into the project.  These documents should be the PM’s most reliable asset. If the PM must re-emphasize the scope of the project to the project sponsor, there is no better tool than a signed SOW, especially if the SOW has been signed by the project sponsor. I find this is a task that a PM must do continuously in a PMO project.
The PM walks a tight-rope in keeping the vision of a project, whether it is a PSO or a PMO project. The scope statement and the SOW are the PM’s best tools to keep the vision of the project. Remember that the dynamics of the two projects may be different, particularly in the members who make up the project team. Reviewing the SOW at the project kickoff is a good tool and is strongly recommended.
If you would like to comment about this blog, please do so by responding in an email at Benny A. Recine, or if you would like to publicly comment in this blog. I will respond as soon as I can and you may inspire a blog article.
My next blog will be about conflicts in a PSO. Until then, be well.

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