Week 1 - Fundamentals of Project Initiation
Why Project Initiation is Important?
A well-planned initiation results in a strong foundation for your project, and sets it up for success.
The initiation phase is a crucial time for
- asking stakeholders the right questions
- performing research
- determining resources
- clearly documenting the key components of a project
Getting on the same page and gaining clarity during the initiation phase can save a lot of time and extra work for everyone throughout the project.
Proper Initiation also helps ensure that the benefits of the project outcomes will outweigh the costs of the project.
To do this, you will do a cost benefit analysis to add up the expected values of a project (the benefits) and compare them to the dollar costs. You can achieve this by working with stakeholders with following questions.
To determine the benefits of a project, you might ask:
- What value will this project create?
- How much money could this project save our organisation?
- How much money will it bring in from existing customers?
- How much time will be saved?
- How will it improve the customer experience?
To determine the costs of a project, consider questions such as:
- How much time will people have to spend on this project?
- What will be the one-time costs?
- Are there any ongoing costs?
- What about long-term costs?
You might also consider questions about intangible benefits. These are gains that are not quantifiable, such as:
- Customer satisfaction. Will the project increase customer retention, causing them to spend more on the company’s products or services?
- Employee satisfaction. Is the project likely to improve employee morale, reducing turnover?
- Employee productivity. Will the project reduce employee’s overtime hours, saving the company money?
- Brand perception. Is the project likely to improve the company’s brand perception and recognition, attracting more customers or providing a competitive advantage?
Calculation Costs and Benefits
In the above formula,
- G represents the financial gains you expected from the project.
- C represents the upfront and ongoing costs of your investment in the project.
For example, your project costs $6000 upfront plus $25 per month for 12 months. You estimate this project will bring in $10000 in revenue over the course of that year. Using the above formula,
$ ROI = (10000 - 6000 - 2512) / (6000 + 2512) = 0.58730159 $
Key Components of Project Initiation
- Goals. the goal is what you’ve been asked to do and what you’re trying to achieve.
- Scope. This process is to define the work that needs to happen to complete the project.
- Deliverables. Deliverables are the products and services that you will create for your customer, client or project sponsor. Deliverable can be anything from product features and functionalities to documentation, processes and more, anything that enables the goal of your project to be achieved.
- Success Criteria. The standards by which you measure how successful a project was in reaching its goals.
- Stakeholders. Stakeholders are the people who both have an interest in and are affected by the completion and success of a project. PM needs to ensure to understands the needs of the project stakeholders early on, and ensure all stakeholders are n agreement on the goals and overall mission of the project before moving on to the next phase.
- Resources. Resources generally refer to the budget, people, materials, and other items that you will have at your disposal.
A project charter is a document that contains all the details of the project.
- Project charters clearly define the project and its goals and outline what is needed to accomplish them.
- A project charter allows you to get organised, set up a framework for what needs to be done and communicate these details to others.
Week 2 - Defining Project Goals, Scope and Success Criteria
Determine Project Goals adn Deliverables
To setup a project for success, and to make your job easier, you need to define exactly what your goals and deliverables are, so that you’ll be able to tell your team members what to do.
The Project Goal is the desired outcome of the project, it’s what you’ve been asked to do and what you’re trying to achieve.
One of the biggest differences between what makes a good goal and a not-so-good goal is how well it’s defined, i.e. how clear and specific is the goal. Well-defined goals are both specific and measurable.
When project goals are reached, we can then think about deliverables. Deliverables help us quantify and realise the impact of the project. Just like well-defined goals, you need well-defined deliverables for same reason.
Deliverables are usually decided upfront with the stakeholders or clients involved in the project.
- Specific. The objective has on ambiguity for the project team to misinterpret.
- Measurable. Metrics help the project team determine when the objective is met.
- Having measurable goals allows you to assess the success of your project based on quantifiable or tangible metrics, such as dollar amounts, number of outputs, quantities, etc.
- Measurable goals are important because they leave little room for confusion around expectations from stakeholders.
- Attainable. The project team agrees the objective is realistic.
- Relevant. The goal fits the organisation’s strategic plan and supports the project charter.
- Time-bound. The project team documents a date to achieve the goal.
Determining metrics can be extremely helpful in capturing statuses, successes, delays, and more in a project. As a project manager, identifying meaningful metrics can help move the project toward its goal. Additionally, by defining each element of a project goal to make it SMART, you can determine what success means for that goal and how to achieve it.
Creating OKRs for Your Project
OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. They combine a goal and a metric to determine a measurable outcome.
- Defines what needs to be achieved
- Describe a desired outcome
- The measurable outcomes that objectively define when the objective has been met
As a project manager, OKRs can help you expand upon project goals and further clarify the deliverables you’ll need from the project to accomplish these goals. Project-level OKRs help establish the appropriate scope for your team so that you can say “no” to requests that may get in the way of them meeting their objectives.
Project Objectives should be aspirational, aligned with organisational goals, action-oriented, concrete, and significant. Consider the vision you and your stakeholders have for your project and determine what you want the project to accomplish in 3-6 months.
Strong objectives meet the following criteria,
- Aligned with organisational goals
To help shape each objective, you can ask yourself and your team
- Does the objective help in achieving the project’s overall goals?
- Does the objective align with company and departmental OKRs?
- Is the objective inspiring and motivational?
- Will achieving the objective make a significant impact?
Develop Key Results
Key results should be time-bound (the T in SMART Method ), to indicate the amount of progress to achieve within a shorter period or to define whether you’ve met your objective at the end of the project. They should also challenge you and your team to stretch yourselves to achieve more.
Strong Key Results meet the following criteria:
- Results-oriented - not a task
- Measurable and verifiable
- Specific and time-bound
- Aggressive yet realistic (aka, stretch goals)
To help shape your key results, aks yourself and your team the following:
- What does success mean?
- What metrics would prove that we’ve successfully achieved the objective?
OKR Best Practices
Here are some best practices to keep in mind when writing OKRs
- Think of your objectives as being motivational and inspiring, and your key results as being tactical and specific. The objective describes what you want to do, and the key results describe how you’ll know you did it.
- As a general rule, try to develop around 2-3 key results for each objective.
- Be sure to document your OKRs and link them in your project plan.
Here is a sets of example OKRs from Smartsheet: Smartsheet OKR examples for every department .
Project Scope is an agreed upon understanding as to what is included or excluded from a project.
Scope helps ensure that your project is clearly defined and mapped out. Knowing exactly who the project will be delivered to and who will be using the end result of the project.
Scope also includes the project timeline, budget, and resources.