Project Management

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Topics: Organizational Culture
Muddled project path
I need suggestions for how to structure a project approval process. We have a single finance officer who has to approve all funding, but there is no clear path to approval. The leadership team sort of falls into loose consensus, then wallows. Or one of them comes to me and pressures me to execute a project without any clear approval or funding. We have a chance to create something strong since the previous process and culture died with the shutdown.
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Kathleen -

You'd likely want to involve more control partners than just Finance. For example, groups like Compliance, Privacy, Security and others might wish to weigh in on project proposals.

There are a whole slew of decisions which need to be taken including:

- What defines a project from all other work? In most cases, this will be a combination of quantitative attributes.
- What criteria will be used to evaluate projects?
- Will there be a "fast track" for time sensitive or low complexity/cost/scale projects?
- Who will be part of a governance committee making approval decisions?

The biggest part of the change will be gaining the commitment of ALL leaders to abide by the new intake and approval processes.

In the case of the company where I am working today it belongs to governance process. We have four approvals defining in our projects and its one is tied to a SOX control. It was not easy to convince people to implement that but it was a work based on risk the company face if those approvals are not in place.
I'm most of the way through implementing a process whereby all change requests are submitted via a simple form that I review and determine where the request represents a simple enhancement or if it should be treated as a project.

If it is a project, I work with the requestor to get more information, including specific criteria that we'll be using to rank projects against each other, including whether the project supports our company's strategic objectives.

Once I have the project profiled, I review it with specific company leaders and we determine where it should fall on the project backlog.

I expect this to evolve and scale, over time; we need something "simple" to get things started.
Do you have any sort of documentation that covers delegation of authority?

Large companies for example will often have some kind of top level governance charter that defines the basic OBS, the roles of the top executives, and how they delegate decision authority down through the chain of command. Who must approve typically boils down to the level of manager who has authority over all the impacted sections of the OBS.

Since Finance is impacted by virtually anything at some level, rather than the CFO approving every change, other program directors are allocated their own budgets and have authority to spend them as they see fit up until a certain amount. Finance may sign indicating that the cost estimates are valid, but they operate more like a bank manager. They manage how the idle money is invested, ensure there will be adequate cash flow to cover the commitments, but they don't tell the account owners how to spend their own money.

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