The work stream brief a planning cure all?

In a previous blog Top-down versus bottom-up planning: a false dichotomy we discussed the clear inter-relationship between Program and Project Management Plans and how there is overlap between these plans to establish targets (at the program level) while demonstrating feasibility and commitment to delivery (at the project level).

One of the key deliverables in any project is the charter which outlines in detail, the objectives, scope, key milestones, dependencies, costs, resources and risks. The detail expected in these documents is appropriate when in the process of setting up the project management plans but the effort is significant.

It is also vital to the successful outcome of any project or program to devote sufficient time to planning up front and dealing with “hassles” early in the process (see Putting in more effort during the initial planning stages pays off in the long run) rather than procrastinating and paying a higher price later by risking successful delivery.

In a recent project the client was gearing up for a large program with multiple work streams and projects. We found there to be well defined program management processes but much of the rigor of these processes was being ignored by the teams. There was also little planning co-ordination between these teams.

The project charter included in the process was a formidable document which no one wanted to use because of the sheer effort in completing it.

Working with their teams we devised an abridged “charter” for each work stream, a “charter-lite”, see below, which each could complete quickly but thoroughly and which contained sufficient data to launch the more detailed planning process and get the work started a good deal sooner.

Called the work stream brief, the teams liked the easy to understand format and all were able to get the planning and discovery work started quickly and the results were really encouraging.

Projects which were previously considered difficult or complex were easily analyzed using this tool and the data which was collected was shared with the other work streams enabling better integration with architecture teams and the business and brought a much better understanding of scope dependencies and risk. Previously this information was not shared and the benefits and delivery success was limited.

A simple solution to a complex problem which enabled the work streams and the program to make a leap forward and drive delivery benefits for the business.

In a future blog I will discuss an old favorite, risk and how it impacts confidence in delivery. 

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Comments

  • Carl M. Manello  On June 6, 2011 at 8:48 am

    John,

    Great post! I think providing the ability for PM’s to clearly and easily articulate teir scope is critical. I would add to your form by possibly defining a bit more explictly what is in and out of scope. Take a look at http://blog.slalom.com/2011/02/15/scope-creep/ for another drill down.

    Thanks for helping us all remember that starting with good briefs helps to provide a better project.

    Carl Manello

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