Monthly Archives: April 2012

Identification of Decision Maker

It is so obvious who the decision maker(s) in a project. Why we need to talk about it. It is very true for small scale in-house project that you know the stakeholders very well. If you are a vendor working with the procurement department of your customer, they would act as a proxy for most of the time to work with you on behalf of other stakeholders or even the decision makers. And the problem might arise there.

I can quote an experience of myself. That project was a web development project for a government organization. The IT department is the project sponsors and we work very closely with them to scope the project and define the features and function inside the website. The project went smoothly in the first 3 months and the client has signed off all creative and design. I remember that date, it was 12/12, which was a briefing session of the user acceptance test that the tragedy began …

That day, a strange face showed up in the middle of the briefing session. He had a long face and he kept on saying how the design did not fit his requirements for almost 15 minutes. It was a nightmare for me and I was looking at the project manager in their IT department, speechlessly..As expected, we received tens of pages of change requests at the end of the user acceptance test and have to do a lot of re-work. Finally, it took another 5 months to complete the whole project.

Even though we still get paid for the project, it took extra time to re-work and complete and that was my biggest concern. In the review meeting with the IT department, we tried to understand why that decision maker’s comment and feedback was omitted at an earlier stage. They said that he was kept informed throughout the process and he subordinate, who worked with IT department, has never mentioned any of those comments / feedback before the user acceptance test.

The learning from this project is:

  • We should identify the decision maker(s) as early as possible when a project starts
  • Even though we might not work directly with decision makers at a regular basis, we should get to know them and get introduced to them via personal email to make sure that they have well received all project status and progress update
  • When you get the signoff from your customer, it would be better to get the signoff from decision makers directly;



Scoping of a Project – manage the expectation of stakeholders

Project Scoping of an activity in the Project Initiation stage. Scoping means the defining the boundary of the projects with measurable index.

For a tailor, the project scope would be the number of suit, number of trousers, number of meters of clothes, what class of fabrics can be chosen and so on.

For a web development project, the scope would be number of templates, number of revision, number of page of content, number of stock photo, number of  manday of User Interface Design and Web Developer and any hosting service specifics, if applicable.

The purpose of scoping is to make sure that all stakeholders (project sponsors, decision maker, gatekeeper, information contributors and users) understand clearly under the project objective what will be included, what will be delivered and also the quality of the deliverables.

You might have a question – in the beginning of the project , there are a lot of uncertainty and how we can define a specific scope at that early stage? You are right.Therefore, we would also include ‘change management’ in a project which will will guide the project team how to submit a change request and get approval for a change in project scope.

With the project scope defined and signed off, project manager should well document it and share it with all project team and stakeholder. With a documented project scope, stakeholders and the project team will be able to refer to the document if there are uncertainly if an activity should be included or not in the project. And thus is a very important and effective way to manage the expectation of stakeholders.




PMP and Project Manager

I did not start my career as a project manager in the very beginning. I think nobody did. Usually, it is that you have earned some experiences in an industry and then step up to become a project manager.

As a newly on board project manager, the company might provide some on job training or mentor programme so that the project manager can learn from others experience. But I would highly recommend fellow project manager to get the PMP credential (Project Management Professional).

PMP provides a framework for you to follow at different stages of a project:

  1. Project initiation : how a project is initiated, project team is formed and identify the stakeholders as well as defining the objective, scope and deliverables of a project
  2. Project planning : it is a big portion which consists of work breakdown & sequencing, resource planning, communication planning, risk management planning.
  3. Project Execution:  this is the time when you planned activities / events are implemented.
  4. Control: it is the monitoring the progress of the project and make sure the the deliverables are up to the pre-defined standard.
  5. Closure: upon the end of the project, we should document the outcome and learnings of the project and officially close it.

What’s Project and Project Manager

Project or non-Project

Project managers are staff who manage projects for an organization. Projects can be differentiated with Operation by the nature of those activities involved. Project are a group or groups of non-repetitive activities. Operation, on the contrary, would involve a series of routine and pre-defined processes. However, we can still call ‘designing the operation process’ a project.

Small and Big Project

A project can happen within the same or across different teams / functional units. Small project can be ‘Creating a management sales dashboard’ within the sales team. Big project can be ‘Building a corporate website’ which will involve the input from almost all departments within the organizations.

Project Manager’s Work

Project Manager’s role is to make sure that the project outputs are delivered on time under pre-defined resources and quality.

In order to achieve this goal, a project manager need to identify the stakeholders of the project, form the project team, develop the project plan and then execute accordingly.

Project Manager’s Mentality and Skill Set

  • Credible
  • Detailed and Organized
  • Developed or preferably follow a project management framework for project planning, execution and closure
  • Good at communication and inter-personal skill
  • Know the business or industry