Viewing Posts by David Davis
Rethinking the Charter
Calculating Project Value,
Education and Training,
Nontraditional Project Management,
PM Think About It,
Reflections on the PM Life,
Categories: Agile, Benefits Realization, Calculating Project Value, Change Management, Communication, Complexity, Documentation, Education and Training, Facilitation, Human Resources, Innovation, Leadership, Lessons Learned, Metrics, Nontraditional Project Management, PM Think About It, PMOs, Portfolio Management, Program Management, Project Delivery, Project Failure, Project Planning, Project Requirements, Reflections on the PM Life, Risk Management, Roundtable, Scheduling, Stakeholder, Strategy, Tools, Translations
Since I retired after 26 years in one company, I have had assignments in various PMOs in different industries. I’ve been in the energy sector, the insurance sector, credit card services, industrial/manufacturing, and now healthcare. Every industry has struggled with the project charter. What does baselining it mean? Does it ever get updated? Who should issue it? And the list goes on. And while PMOs in all these industries try to invent the perfect process – we are ignoring one important aspect.
The project charter, as defined by PMI, does not meet the needs of today’s business!
Before you call me a heretic and an incompetent – hear me out. The problem I have with the charter is it becomes a reformatting of existing information, bloated, and redundant – and it doesn’t provide the project team with the most important information it needs. Shouldn’t the charter give the team a definition of what success looks like?
I propose the charter should be extremely streamlined. After all, how many people, let along executives, will read a 14 page charter? Many charter templates contain information that is already in one artifact and will no doubt be included in another. I propose we throw away the bloated all-inclusive charter of today and replace it with a simple charter.
Project Organizational Wrapper
You need to have the organizational wrapper of project control structures. If the project pipeline has a defined Demand Process and there is a demand id, it should be in the charter. This should also be aligned to the business case information – what went into the approval, and other justifications. No need to repeat them in the charter – they already exist in a corporate database of record. If information is in two places – that doubles the risk of inconsistency, confusion, and delay.
If you have an integrated project management system (IPMS) that tracks project work in process – then that project id should be there. Projects assume titles and identify from the ideation phase through project initiation. That title, or name, should be included in the charter because that’s the lingo that has defined the initiative.
Should be results focused
Once the project is ready to kick off, the work initiative needs to be focused on the results. If your organization is mature enough to be doing Benefits Management Realization, the charter should map directly to the benefit register. The next section of the charter should be:
What does success look like?
Quite simply – what is the vision in reality? Knowing what success is far outweighs the value of several scope bullet points. The definition of success can be expressed in several ways including:
Critical success factors
The essential areas of activity that must be performed well if you are to achieve the mission, objectives or goals for your business or project.
What can we do in the future that we can’t do now?
How do we measure success?
Not calling for specific key performance indicators here, but should have an idea of how we will measure success. It also provides requirements for the product and what are the critical success factors.
If you are driven by a legal requirement or an industry standard (HIPPA or an ISO requirement comes to mind) than that should be identified. The charter must identify conformation to external factors.
What benefits are being realized?
Again, if you have a mature benefits realization process, then the entire benefits quantification/qualification should be in place and your project is delivering outcomes and capabilities to realize the defined benefits.
The charter must be able to identify all the organizations that are impacted by the initiative. After all, how did you get high level estimates for the business case if you didn’t have a means of identifying organizations involved? This RACI should then be driven to know which groups need to receive and approve the charter.
What time frame is expected for the organization to start to realize benefits? Let’s avoid the charade of bottom up estimates and defining the schedule after you have all requirements defined etc. We are driven by budget cycles and funding is only approved to last so long. This isn’t to say those things can’t and shouldn’t happen, but at a Charter level – the approval has a defined end time. This also helps define the scope.
I have purposely omitted several pieces of what is considered part of a charter. Not that I don’t think they are important, I do, but they belong in defined sections of the project plan. There is no need for budget as that should already be in the business case approval – and I don’t know if it directly contributes to the definition of the outcomes and capabilities. Scope is implied in what success looks like and the Critical Success Factors. If during requirements definition, a question is raised that doesn’t directly support the definition of success, than it is out of scope. Assumptions, risks, issues, and constraints are all important, but they live elsewhere. The charter should identify the future state, not dwell on the challenges of the present state. And the charter should be a onetime document that is not modified or have addendums. It initiates the work – other artifacts ebb and flow during the project life cycle.
In closing – the purpose of the charter is to authorize the project manager to start delivering on the project. It is not to cut and paste from all over to make an all-inclusive summary of all business intelligence that justified the project. I propose to make it a lean document focused on the outcomes and capabilities and the definition of success. Items that have a workflow/life cycle (risks, assumptions, issues, etc.) do not need to be in a charter, they are taken care of elsewhere. A lean, concise, and easy to read charter allows the team to focus on delivering within the success criteria.
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I have been contacted by a colleague who has a friend that is pursuing the SP-PMI certification. Is there anybody out there that has the cert that is willing to answer questions for a perspective candidate. If so, please email me at email@example.com.
I would also ask that you put a brief summary of the test content on here, so I can talk a little more intelligently on the topic. I can talk constraint, critical path, slack, lag, float and other rudimentary terminology, but I cannot get into the level of detail that I would expect to be needed to obtain the credential.
I do know one of the biggest challenges in my group is optimizing multiple schedules across projects. Things such as analyzing change across projects, determining impact to benefits realization when schedule slips, and models are opportunities for my education.
I saw this potshots comic today and liked it, so I'm sharing it.
Why do many people (myself included) find it so hard to communicate? I actually find it pretty easy to broadcast (as you can see from my posts), but true interactive communication is difficult. I'm not sure if it's the risk of exposing my feelings, if its a disconnect of values with the person I'm communicating with, if it's my attitude, or if I just don't add anything of value to the person I'm communicating with. Or is could be I'm just overthinking everything :)
Regardless, I frequently challenge my own ability to communicate. Granted, I thought I was a good communicator until I had children, but I found that what I thought I communicated clearly, was not received clearly.
My path to green for this is to keep on trying, Use active listening and watch for body language signs, paraphrasing back what the person said, and accept that I don't have to respond to everything said to me. I can acknowledge with a smile or the nodding of my head.
Anybody else find communication more difficult that it should be?
Get your most burning project management questions answered in “Ask the Experts” at PMI Global Conference. Sign up for a specific time at: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090c44a9ad23a7fb6-askthe5 or just stop by.
Times Dave is scheduled for:
Saturday October 28: 3:00PM - 4:30 PM
Sunday October 29: 10:00 11:50 AM, 3:00 5:00 PM
Monday October 30: 1:00 – 2:30 PM
David L. Davis PMP, PgMP, PBA
Senior Project Manager OhioHealth
ATA (Ask to Answer) for the Risk expert Mr. Maynard.
I wonder if there is a formal explanation for something I call “Organizational Accepted Risk”. There are many risk items that I personally don’t call out in my risk mitigation strategy because the Organization automatically accepts the Risk and will deal with it when it occurs. I mention it in my governance document, but not in my Risk Plan. Some examples of these risks are listed below:
My question: “is there an accepted best-practice for handling Organization Accepted Risk” and could you direct me to it?
I welcome the where your organization is with "Sustained" Benefits Realization. I have been fortunate to involved in this topic for several years and have implement Benefits Management Practices, developed processes, developed training, succeed and failed. I've also contributed to PMI Knowledge on the topic, delivered presentations, and taught at Seminars World. Let's chat about this topic. I a interested in your Benefits Realization journey including the following:
One of my lessons learned on challenges with Benefits Realization is that Benefits span multiple fiscal years. Most organizations Budget Cycles are not conducive to long term sustainable benefit monitor and control.
Let's learn from each other!
I will be in Chicago at the Global Conference to discuss:
David L. Davis PMP, PgMP, PBA
Senior Project Manager OhioHealth