It might appear that getting a group of stakeholders together in a room is a high-risk scenario and that the meeting could degenerate into a talkfest, at best, and a rabble, at worst.
Over many years of experience, we have developed a structured process that guides the RAP session and enables the participants to focus on specific project planning issues one at a time. As we'll explain in the rest of this component, we have also developed and refined a series of tools that are used during the RAP session.
Figure 6.2 outlines the basic RAP structure, and we'll go into further detail in the later chapters.
Figure 6.2. The RAP structure
In effect, the RAP process is the project planning process shown in Figure 5.2 broken into a series of subprocesses. As you will see, the RAP follows a particular order; for example, you must get your scope and objectives resolved before you examine benefits.
This is the easy part. After experimenting with groupware, PCs, and various technologies designed to facilitate team meetings, we came to a fairly obvious conclusion: Technology generally gets in the way of the group process.
We have found that electronic whiteboards and good old-fashioned paper are the best way to capture the various outputs from the RAP session. After the RAP session, the project manager and team can clean up the material using the various tools we show you here. The resultant draft business case is then distributed to the RAP participants for review, discussion, and sign-off. A follow-up RAP may be required to include any major revisions to the business case.
How Long Should a RAP Take?
As a rule of thumb, we suggest that you allow between one to five days for a RAP session. For smaller projects (up to three elapsed months), a RAP should take no more than a day. Larger projects can take up to five days to RAP. We once planned a $100,000,000 project in five days of intensive planning.
Another rule of thumb is that the first four steps (success sliders, scope and objectives, added value analysis and quality requirements) take about 50% of the RAP.