While further steps in the project planning aim to be more and more specific the initial goal should be broad enough to encompass the whole project. The vision must state, succinctly, the ultimate goal for the whole project.
The goal or vision should also be inspiring or, appropriately enough, “visionary”.
Goals like : “To deliver the cheapest system, in the shortest time, that just about gets the job done” are unlikely to inspire anyone or motivate a team.
On the other hand a goal like : “Deliver the best sales and marketing system on the market” is more likely to inspire personal commitment from the team and stakeholders.
If you are working on your own, an inspirational vision can restore your flagging enthusiasm. When the client or manager calls you up for the Nth time and says “Where’s that bit of documentation I asked for?” and you say to yourself “Why am I doing this again?” – your answer could be “because I’m writing the best damn
Visions don’t have to be written down or cast in stone. They don’t even have to be formalised in any particular sense. In large organisations they often are, since that’s the kind of the thing large organisations like to do,. The only important thing is that you, your team and your stakeholders know exactly what the vision is and agree on it.
Don’t go overboard. Now is not the time to exercise your commercial-buzzword vocabulary. Select language that is natural and easy for you to use and that sounds sincere. The more you believe the vision and the more you use it, the more that other people, including your team and your customers, will come to believe it too.
One of the most important things you can do is to inspire trust in the people you work with. It is human nature to be sceptical and it is easier for most people to assume that a project will fail rather than assume it will succeed. You don’t have that luxury however!
Everybody from the team to the stakeholders to the man signing the cheque will want reassurance that you know what you are doing. You have to build confidence in yourself and in the project. Pick a vision that inspires! If it inspires you, it will probably inspire them as well.
Often the vision will be delivered into your hands by your executive sponsor or a client that commissions your project. In discussions with them you will notice that they have a singular way of referring to the project such as “we want a sales and marketing system that’s going to save us time and money”. You could do worse than adopt a phrase like that as a vision but consider reworking it to suit your own purposes.
Nick Jenkins is an IT manager with 10 years experience in software development, project management and software testing. He’s worked in various fields of IT development in Australia, Britain and the USA and occasionally he learned something along the way. Now he lives on the banks of the Swan River in Perth, Western Australia, and he publishes the odd guide to help aspiring IT professionals. Nick’s website can be found at www.nickjenkins.net.