The managerial information outlined earlier in this book is often termed a business case, project charter , or terms of reference.
The contents of the business case would typically include the following:
Project overview: A brief description of the project and background or business context;
Project scope/objectives: A detailed model of the corporate, business, project, and system-level objectives;
Added value analysis and benefits realization plan: A detailed analysis of the expected benefits of the project and a plan for realization of the benefits;
Quality agreement: A statement of the required quality of the product;
Stakeholders and related projects: Key individuals, groups, organizations, and projects outside the project manager's direct control on which the project is\animtext4 dependent;
Project costs: The costs of the project (people, time, equipment, etc.) estimated over the development and support/operational cycle;
Project development strategy: The overall partitioning of the project into major deliverables, subprojects , and releases;
Project risk assessment/risk management plan: A formal assessment of potential risks associated with the project and plans for risk management;
Relevant legislation and policy: A description of government legislation and organizational policies impacting the project;
Change management: The impact of the project on jobs, workflow, interpersonal dynamic and organizational structure;
Project staffing agreements: The assumptions regarding skills and experience of the project team;
Assumptions and constraints: Assumptions or constraints such as deadlines, budget, and technology; and
Project execution plan: The schedule and interrelationships of tasks .
This set of information is developed during the project planning process and is the basis for all project tracking, review, change control, and postimplementation reviews. As discussed in more detail in later chapters, the business case is a contract between the project manager, project owner, team, and stakeholders.
Most important, the business case is developed for the team, first and foremost. As we discussed earlier, the management of project teams is the management of creativity and, as a project manager, you must have the team build a share in and ownership of the project vision.
The Only Stable Thing Is Change
As we discussed earlier, the average period of stability in contemporary organizations is no more than three months. Your project's business case will change as scope, objectives, risk, team members , stakeholders, and so on shift to reflect the broader changes in the project's business environment.
The process of planning and replanning is continuous in eXtreme project management.
A rough guide is that the higher the risk of your project, the more unstable the business case will be. We look at this issue in more detail later.
The P Files Episode 2: The Big Cheese Says So Syndrome
At almost every one of our clients , there is a person who is so powerful (a bit like the Cigarette Smoking Man in The X Files ) that anything he or she wants happens. Time after time we have discovered really stupid projects that have no benefits, huge costs, and high priority. One great example was a major bank that spent millions on a project to put into their branch offices a suggestion box that could be used while the bank's clients were waiting to be served . Of course over 90% of the suggestions were complaints about the length of the wait. When we asked, "Whose stupid idea was that?" the answer was "G.S.S." "G" was the CEO and "S.S" stood for "said so."
The P Files Team Comment
The fact that a very senior executive wants a project is no excuse to abandon all professional project management. In fact, it is a compelling reason for you to plan the project properly. After all, if it turns out to be a bad idea, you could get thanked for saving everyone's reputations.
Case Study ”Introduction
Edwina Smuthe owns a small realty group that has offices in four cities. Her team specializes in assisting busy business executives in relocating. By delivering superior service, Edwina has managed to secure an ongoing contract with two major organ izations ”Big Bucks Bank and Watchout Insurance.
Given the security that these contracts offer her, Edwina has decided to undertake a major upgrade of her office systems. The current business systems are mainly paper-based with some stand-alone PCs. Initially she wants the focus of the projects to be on proof of concept. In a series of interviews with her clients, Edwina has identified an immediate need. Executives at Big Bucks want to be able to visit a Smuthe Shifts Web site and directly communicate with a Smuthe consultant about their requirements for accommodation and so on.
Your consulting company has been hired by Edwina to help her manage this project, which she is calling Project Connext. In effect, Project Connext will comprise a number of smaller projects and your task is to manage and deliver the first of these projects as a pilot project ”a Web site for Smuthe consultants to communicate with Big Bucks Bank and with other Smuthe consultants in different cities.
Your consulting group will provide the project management and project integration, but you will subcontract all the technical work to an IT group you have worked with before ”No Object, Inc. No Object has a proven track record in e-projects and realtor systems. Their President is Uri Case and their technical guru that you'll be working with is Kim Lee.
Edwina has promised to free up one of her best people ”Joan Jette from Edwina's head office in City 1 ”to work with you on the pilot project. An organization chart is shown on the previous page.