The Yin Yang of Projects: Project kick off

Postado por admin em 06/Mar/2019 - Sem Comentários

Continuing the series of articles on the management of hybrid projects, using the best practices of traditional and agile methods, specifically PMBoK (Yin) and SCRUM (Yang), In this article I will talk about the project charter that is a process that formalizes and authorizes the existence of a project which is also part of the project kick-off. Later I will show how to use it in hybrid project management and some tools that will make this it easier. If you have not read the previous article you can also access it here.

The project charter development process comes from PMBoK, which is defined as being a formal record and the organization’s commitment to the project. This document is the birth certificate of a project, containing the macro and most important informations and characteristics for its kick-off. It is usually produced by the project manager and the sponsor, also the project can only initiate after the approval and signature of the main stakeholders, consuming a lot of time and resources until the project is started. Below is an example of a project charter template that I used to write.

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In the Agile world, this process is generally not used, because according to one of the values from the manifesto, it is more important to have Working Software Over Comprehensive Documentation. This statement is misunderstood by many agilists who feel that nothing should be documented, but the real interpretation is that you should document allways, but only what adds value to the project and does not waste unnecessary time from the team members. Good Scrum Masters and Product Owners involve their team to identify the project’s key objectives, requirements, and risks before starting it, recording everythin in a document, or making it available in a Kanban board. This practice brings great benefits to the project, since the collaboration and involvment of the specialized members will allow a better understanding of the project and greater efficiency in the designation of efforts and resources for the success of the project.

How come not use the balance of the two methods? Could we formalize the kick-off of a project through the involvement of the team, without spending unnecessary resources and time to carry out this process?

The answer is yes we can! The appropriate tool is called Business Model Canvas. Proposed by Alexander Osterwalder, is a model of strategic management and lean startup for the development of existing business models or for documenting new ones. It is also a visual chart with elements that describe the value proposition of a company or product, infrastructure, customers and finances. Everything that we need to define the key features of a project in a quickly and collaboratively manner.

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You can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.

Using the Business Model Canvas as baseline I have adapted the template so it could be used as a Project Charter. I balanced PMBoK (Yin), inserting the most important fields of the project charter, with the Scrum (Yang), encouraging the active collaboration of team members, clients and sponsors to fill the template together. The result of this mix is the Project Charter Canvas.

This activity takes a maximum of 2 hours and can be done on a whiteboard or through online tools. I use the MIRO tool, formerly Real Time Board. This tool is sensational and allows me to adapt the Business Model Canvas to the needs and characteristics of my project.

How to fill in the Project Charter Canvas board?

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The first step is to reserve a room that can fit the entire project team, stakeholders and experts. If you do not have access to a computer to use the MIRO tool, a whiteboard and post-its will do the work (paper and pencil also do a nice job). Draw the template above (Project Charter Canvas) and begin to write field by field all the informations required, in conjunction with the participants. A good practice that I exercise in my sessions, is to ask everyone to write down on post-its their thoughts, ideas and opinions to put them in the field called brainstorming area. After this, everyone decides which post-its make sense and can be applied to each field accordingly. After completing the template, two copies will be printed and signed by the Project Manager and the sponsor.

Here are The fields that I commonly use in my projects, but feel free to add or remove them according to your projects:

Purpose: Describe the goal(s) of the project, explain why you are doing this.

Scope: Which areas should be covered within the project, and which should not?

Success Criteria: List the key metrics of you project, describe what you will consider as ‘success’.

Milestones: Put the start and finish dates here, list the key milestones with their respective dates. It would be great to add some metrics to each milestone.

Requirements: The projects outcome depends on your actions. Which requirements need to be produced in order to reach a certain milestone? Which activities need to be executed to produce a certain deliverable?

Deliverables: Milestones and Requirements give you a deliverable in a specific time. Put your desired outcome here.

Team: List team members involved in the project, describe their roles. It would be great to add contacts here.

Stakeholders: Stakeholders are people and or organizations that can affect or be affected by the actions of the business as a whole. There are several types of stakeholders, the most common are government, employees, customers, suppliers, community, owners, investors. List here the most important for your business.

Users: What is your project’s target audience? Who are those people? What are they doing? Why will they buy from you?

Resources: List here all the resources that you need to realize the project, including time, money, equipment, people, software etc.

Constraints: What limitations or barriers do you have? How can you overcome them?

Risks: Almost 100% of projects have risks, and it’s better to think about those risks and how you treat them before you start.

Brainstorming Area: common area so that all participants can collaborate with ideas, opinions and critics.

With this new approach, I believe there will be no more excuses for not formalizing the project kick-off, which is a critical step in understanding the project’s needs and expectations, and breaking down barriers between the project team and stakeholders.

Make the most of the best and the least of the worst. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

In the next article I’ll talk about the roles and responsibilities of each member of a Hybrid project management.