Project Initiation is the first step in successful project management. It is incredibly important to start any project off on the right foot, as it statistically will go much smoother. Every project requires a strong foundation, and establishing project initiation ensures you are laying that down from inception. If projects are not initiated correctly, you risk setting up your team for failure.
Last week, Brian DeVault and Mike Cromwell discussed The 8 Tenets Of Project Management at a very high level. This week, we will discuss the first tenet in more detail.
Mike CromwellSo, Brian, let's talk about what project management can be applied too. I think it's important for folks to understand when you're going from, client has just executed the agreement, Netrio is taken on outsource, manage IT, to your deploying SD-WAN solution to deploying contact center as a service. Walk us through what project, what you apply project management to and to what magnitude you apply it to.
Brian DeVaultSo when you're talking about something like a managed IT services agreement, we've got a thirty five step project management plan that walks you through from start to finish.
Brian DeVaultBut then when you think about maybe a smaller implementation of SD-WAN, maybe a firewall installation, something like that, that's going to be a much shorter project plan. You kind of establish the same components to it. There just aren't as many involved steps. In our case we use templates that we can apply to almost every project. Now, that's not to say that that doesn't get modified slightly based on the clients engagement criteria and the requirements that are built into it.
Brian DeVaultAll right, so the first tenet of good project management is project initiation. There are several steps involved underneath project initiation. We want to establish what our overall goals are, goals and objectives. We've got a document. We've got to understand everything that we're trying to achieve.
Mike CromwellAnd is that client driven or is that Netrio's goals and objectives?
Brian DeVaultIt's going to be both, so it's a combination or a hybrid. So the next piece of it we're going to want to to establish is the scope of the project, what all is included in this project from start to finish. So if we think about in some cases, these are assets, in some cases this is technology in general. In some cases it might be subscriptions to Internet service provider circuits.
Brian DeVaultOne of the other items that we're going to include deliverables. So sometimes these can be considered like outcomes. Say I'm merging two enterprise networks into one. My deliverable will be a single functional network that was previously, you know, two separate or segregated networks. But you're describing it well enough that it's going to summarize the outcome.
Mike CromwellIs a deliverable, something that's tangible, something that you have in your hand, something that's a finished product.
Brian DeVaultSo I would say typically not tangible. The deliverable is maybe, you may use the term A document. It is the concept in general. It's the complete and thorough management of all of these assets. So the next item we'll talk about is roles and responsibilities. So you may not know every role and responsibility up front. You may not have named people you can put on those.
Brian DeVaultYou just know you need a resource to do X or Y as long as you're allocating for that resource to be available at some point during the project, you can name them later.
Mike CromwellAnd that's going to be both for the resources you're going to deploy. But also does that speak to the roles and responsibilities on the client side?
Mike CromwellTo make sure that certain roles are defined that are going to be success factors in the execution of the plan.
Brian DeVaultSo the next thing we're going to want to define is and notice we're going to use the term here, initial project schedule and we can call this timeline.
Brian DeVaultAnd essentially what you're doing here is you're putting some kind of loose start and end dates around it. But based on the complexity of the project, based on the client's preparedness for the transition, based on the amount of documentation available, based on the condition of the environment, all those things are going to have some impact. But that impact is only going to expand our scope by a couple of weeks. So the next thing we want to talk about is the project charter. So what a charter does is defines why, it's about summarizing what the why.
Mike CromwellAnd is that for the benefit of the folks on the operations side?
Brian DeVaultThis is really the formalization of all of those discussions that we've had throughout the course of the project thus far. And to get them memorialized in a document that's recorded as a centralized location that everyone can reference if needed.
Mike CromwellDo you find that there's more skin in the game for the people involved when they know the goals and objectives in the charter for the project?
Brian DeVaultSo by restating all these overall goals and objectives and the scope of the project, it gives everybody that has a role in the project the opportunity to read through that and see, OK, this is what this project is for and we are going to cover these types of things. Or on the Converse side, we're not going to cover those things.
Brian DeVaultRight. Sometimes a project charter in the scope can be just as important and say what we are doing versus what we're not doing. If there's any gray area, then you want to use that as an opportunity to use this project charter in this initiation process as an opportunity to define that. So last piece of the project initiation component is a financial analysis so that everybody that's involved in the project understands what it looks like from a financial perspective.
Mike CromwellAnd is that analogous to what goes into the initial scope of work for the financial analysis as part of the proposal? Or is this more addressing the underlying cost to execute this plan?
Brian DeVaultIt could be both. In most cases, it's inclusive of the first thing, the first item, which is the proposal that was signed that started this.
Mike CromwellThat's important too, to make sure what you deliver is delivered within what you quoted.
Brian DeVaultIt is consistent within here.
Mike CromwellHow soon from the time the client signs to the start and finish of this phase?
Brian DeVaultSo it's two to four days either way, because even on the complex side projects or the projects that have some increased complexity, you have already had a lot of these discussions and outlined a lot of this that's contained inside of this project plan.
At NETRIO, each project is different, however, we have a foolproof system that allows us to utilize the same components of project initiation regardless of the project size or timeline.
The Steps Involved in Project Initiation
During project initiation, there are many steps to take to identify how the project will operate. While there are several bullet points to complete in this first step, each is incredibly important in the overall success of the project.
Define Goals and Objectives
NETRIO and the client will work together to establish goals and objectives. This portion is meant to be very collaborative and define in detail goals and objectives. In this step, it is important for both parties to understand what the end-goal or achievement is. Once that is defined, goals and objectives can be built around that.
Establish the Scope of the Project
Summarize the project well enough for everyone to understand what it is they are aiming to achieve. The deliverable here may not be tangible, but it is the complete and thorough management of all of the assets.
Establish The Timeline
In this step, we are adding loose start and end dates. The timeline will be based on the complexity of the project, the client’s preparedness for the transition, and the amount of documentation available.
This is the formalization of all of the discussions that we’ve had throughout the course of the project thus far. This step is to get them memorialized in a document that’s recorded as a centralized location that everyone can reference if needed.
Complete a Financial Analysis
This is the last step of project initiation. This step ensures everyone involved in the project understands the financial perspective. The financial analysis should mirror and stay in line with the original proposal.
The timeline of project initiation is 2-4 days. In some cases, this can be done more efficiently, while other projects may extend past 4 days. Regardless of the timeline, do not rush this step.
This blog post is part of NETRIO’s weekly White Board Wednesday series. Follow along on Linkedin and YouTube each week as Brian and Mike discuss use cases, new technology, and trends. The goal is to provide insights for enterprise customers and channel partners, trying to solve complex problems using technology.