A project is a unique set of co-ordinated activities, with definite starting and finishing points, undertaken by an individual or team to meet specific objectives within defined time, cost and performance parameters as specified in the business case. It should have the following characteristics: • a finite and defined lifespan • defined and measurable business products (that is, deliverables and/or outcomes to meet specific business objectives) • a corresponding set of activities to achieve the business products • a defined amount of resources • an organisation structure, with defined responsibilities, to manage the project.
Projects should contribute to business objectives; typically their funding is identified as part of business planning. They may be part of an overall programme of business change. 2. What is project management? Project management is much more than the tasks carried out by a Project Manager. Project management is a combination of the roles and responsibilities of individuals assigned to the project, the organisational structure that sets out clear reporting arrangements and the set of processes to deliver the required outcome. It ensures that everyone involved knows what is expected of them and helps to keep cost, time and risk under control.
3. Why use project management? Experience has shown that projects are inherently at risk – through overrunning on time and cost and/or failing to deliver a successful outcome. Such failures are almost invariably caused by: • poor project definition by the project’s owner, perhaps because of insufficient consultation with stakeholders or their failure to be specific about requirements and desired outcomes • lack of ownership and personal accountability by senior management • inadequately skilled and experienced project personnel
• inadequate reporting arrangements and decision-making • inconsistent understanding of required project activities, roles and responsibilities. Project management helps to reduce and manage risk. It puts in place an organisation where lines of accountability are short and the responsibilities of individuals are clearly defined. Its processes are clearly documented and repeatable, so that those involved in the project can learn from the experiences of others.
The principles of project management are equally valuable for smaller and/or less complex projects. The nature of your project will determine the project management approach you need, which should be adapted as required – see Define Project. 4. Critical success factors Successful projects have: • a well-defined scope and agreed understanding of intended outcome • active management of risks, issues and timely decision-making supported by clear and short lines of reporting • ongoing commitment and support from senior management
• a senior individual with personal accountability and overall responsibility for the successful outcome of the project • an appropriately trained and experienced project team and in particular a Project Manager whose capabilities match the complexity of the project • defined and visibly managed processes that are appropriate or the scale and complexity of the project. For cross-cutting projects, there may be nominated senior owners from each organisation involved in the project and its delivery. Where this is the case, there must be a single owner who is responsible for the whole project.
All projects will follow key stages and the following outlines the control steps that must be taken in each stage: RIBA Stages A – B (Project Appraisal) The Project Appraisal stage enables the client department to identify the need for a project, its objectives, business case and possible constraints on development. It assesses various options and their feasibility to enable the client to decide whether to proceed. The following identifies the key steps to be taken within the stage. Statement of Need The Statement of Need defines and documents client objectives in consultation and will establish how their achievement will be measured.
The aim is to uncover the underlying need that may be initially expressed by stakeholders in the form of a solution. In order not to rule out alternatives and to objectively evaluate solutions, the statement sets out the “What” rather than the “How”. The information contained is used in tandem with the Project Mandate to trigger starting up a Project. It will be produced by the Client Department and issued with the Project Mandate to the Departmental Management Team (DMT) to enable the Department to consider the scheme and it’s fit with the Department’s and Council’s strategic requirements.
No external fees and only minimal officer time is to be spent on the scheme until such a time as the Initial Project Proposal (IPP) has been approved and funding to develop the scheme identified and approved by the Capital Programme Board and/or Cabinet – see Statement of Need. Initial Project Appraisal The Client SRO may wish to assure themselves that the ideas for the project are feasible in broad/property/construction terms before advancing any further into the appraisal stage. In such a situation the Client SRO can request a Portfolio Manager to provide an Initial Project Appraisal by making a request to the Project Services Manager.
It will enable the Client SRO to advance into the initial stage of the project with more confidence – see Initial Project Appraisal. Project Mandate The information in the mandate is used to trigger starting up a Project. It should contain sufficient information to identify at least the objectives of the project. The Project Mandate will be produced by the Client Department and issued to the Client Departmental Management Team (DMT) to enable the Department to consider the scheme and it’s fit with the Department’s and Council’s strategic requirements.
Upon receipt of DMT approval the Project Mandate is forwarded to the Project Services Manager who will assign a Portfolio Manager to develop the mandate and produce a Project Brief in consultation with the Senior Responsible Officer (SRO). No external fees and only minimal officer time is to be spent on the scheme until such a time as the Initial Project Proposal has been approved and funding to develop the scheme identified and approved by the Capital Programme Board and/or Cabinet – see Project Mandate. Define Project (Major/Minor) This step determines which Project Procedures shall be adopted and the approach to risk identification.