All projects are unique. Each one has different requirements, a different scope, different deliverables and so on. However, many projects fail to adapt their process and methodology to reflect these differences.
You can’t expect the same methodology to work for every project you manage. It’s like doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Thus, each project needs to be treated like a separate entity and your processes and methodologies customized specifically for the project in question.
For example if the project you are working on were an organizational change program delivering the complete restructure of a department, then obviously there would be no need to complete a detailed functional requirements specification. Or a project that has a budget of only $100,000 is not going to require the same level of governance and controls as one that is running with costs of $10 million.
So you can see that the activities and deliverables required for different types and sizes of projects should cater to the need, but the deliverable itself should also be customized to the project.
You may have an upgrade to a piece of software, which is quite extensive and requires a yearlong project; therefore detailed requirements specifications must be created. However, if it were a software upgrade that had the addition of 2 fields to a screen, I would imagine the specification could be a ‘lite’ version.
A good way to adapt each project to its size and scope is by using a systemized approach.
Good project professionals have clearly defined systems that are comprised of individual tasks that are interchangeable. This means each project can be scaled with the tasks from start to full completion with the click of a few buttons.
Flexibility is key and if the project manager or his assistant is incapable of being flexible then it will put the whole project in danger of failing.
The use of a capable project management software tool, or a combination of systems and tools are imperative. These can be things you have created yourself or used in previous projects as a guide.
I suggest you consider using one or more of the common tools used in project management to define what the tasks and deliverables required are: Fishbone Diagrams, Brainstorming, Gantt Charts or Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagrams for example.
What are Fishbone Diagrams?
Fishbone Diagrams are named after Kaoru Ishikawa (1915-89). Ishikawa was a Japanese professor and a specialist in industrial quality management and engineering. He devised the technique during the 1960s.
Also called “cause and effect” diagrams, fishbone diagrams contain a central spine (much like that of a fish). The spin runs from left to right. Around the spine are a number of factors that help solve the problem or reach the outcome. Each project contains the main bones of the fish spine (these are the contributing factors).
Brainstorming is crucial in project management and planning. Usually it involves a number of things, but generally a number of people come together to discuss things in more detail. The process is as follows:
- The group defines and agrees on the objective.
- The group agrees on a time limit for brainstorming ideas.
- The group uses the information to condense, combine, categorize and refine.
- The project steps are then assessed and analyzed for optimum effect and possible results.
- The project tasks are prioritized.
- The group agrees on a timeframe and takes action.
- The project manager takes over control, monitors the process and follows-up.
Gantt Charts or Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagrams
Both Gantt Charts and Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagrams are specific project management tools used to take a project from start to finish in clearly defined steps (tasks). Everything is detailed with precision, leaving little room for failure. Therefore project managers around the world still actively use these tools today. This may be created as an outcome of your brainstorming session.
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