January 29, 2012 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Management Best Practices
“A Project Success Plan can be a platform for ensuring all project stakeholders start off, and continue on, the right footing.”
Setting up projects to succeed in the view of the customer/stakeholder is a critical part of the Project Manager’s role. We suggest that, as part of project planning activities in the early stages of your project, you should hold a Project Success Plan (PSP) meeting with all key team members to agree on the project’s goals, and to discuss the emotional success factors that will ensure the team gels successfully to deliver the required outcomes.
A Project Success Plan (PSP) is different to a Project Management Plan (PMP), sometimes referred to as a Project Execution Plan (or PEP). A PMP is a typically produced by the Project Manager to describe how the project will be managed and controlled in its delivery/execution phase, whereas the PSP is a documented meeting convened by the Project Manager to discuss and agree “what success means” to all key stakeholders. The PSP (like a PMP/PEP) should draw from project artifacts such as the Project Charter and the Customer Brief.
Our Main Points
Point 1: Project Success Plans can help the team to “gel”
Have you ever managed or been involved in a project where, at one point or another, you felt that you were not on the “same page” as other team members? Ensuring everyone on a project team is continually pulling in the same direction can be a challenge. A Project Success Plan can help you to set a solid foundation for stakeholder interactions throughout the project, and to ensure you can detect and rectify any occurrences where stakeholder views and actions start to deviate off plan. In order to ensure everyone starts off “on the right foot”, it is important to kick off your project communications strategy properly. By this, we mean ensuring that everyone’s interpretation of success and their assumptions about the project are aired and discussed in an open group forum, which can be documented and evaluated in a Pareto-type chart format to indicate importance. This is the essence of the Project Success Plan.
The Project Success Plan (PSP) is a communications planning tool in the Project Manager’s toolkit to get all key project stakeholders “on the same page”, and understanding each other’s prerogatives and drivers for success. This is not always an easy task, since there are likely to be a range of drivers and interpretations of project success amongst your stakeholders. For example, team members who are recipients of the end solution/product may have very different views and expectations of what project success means to those who are focused on delivering the product. It is also likely that some (or maybe all) team members in your project will be working together to achieve a specific objective for the first time. Indeed, the number of stakeholders who have worked together on projects before is an interesting statistic for the Project Manager to take note of at a project’s start. A Project Success Plan meeting should aim to achieve the following outcomes:
- serve as an “ice breaker” for team members to get to know a little about each other
- discuss and agree the basis for setting the criteria for achieving success;
- team members agree and commit to their roles and responsibilities for the project;
- everyone should understand each other’s personality and modus operandi;
- everyone’s assumptions about the project and their drivers should be aired, discussed and documented;
- a win/win philosophy and a collaborative approach throughout the project needs to be fostered, and;
- the team should discuss their collective lessons learned from previous projects/experiences.
The points above are all about communications and common understanding. By understanding how to handle your key/extended teams’ communications with each other, stakeholders can avoid accidental and sometimes costly mistakes in communicating information and decisions during the project’s life. For example, ensuring that people discuss how meetings, reports and controls should be conducted will help set reporting expectations (e.g. if one person thinks project status reports are “a waste of time”, find out why and talk it through).
Because of the “emotional” focus of a Project Success Plan (PSP) meeting, it should be held face-to-face whenever possible, however this may not be possible for smaller projects – particularly those that involve geographically disperse stakeholders. In such situations, a virtual conference meeting may be the most practical option. This requires special emphasis from the Project Manager in facilitating the meeting to validate everyone’s opinions frequently, ensure good feedback, and level set expectations for the project, since the important signs of body language will be missing.
Point 2: The timing of a PSP
A Project Success Plan should be completed early in the project’s life, as soon as all key members of the project team are in place. “Key members” are those with a material interest and/or delivery focus in the project. The timing for holding a Project Success Plan meeting can typically be after initial set-up works are complete and the project reaches the start of its detailed planning phase. If stakeholders change during the course of the project, the Project Manager should include reviewing and updating the PSP with the new stakeholders as part of the Resource Planning.
A Project Success Plan can also be a tool the Project Manager uses to keep the team focused and engaged. When stakeholders are suffering from project fatigue, the Project Manager can refer back to the PSP and use it to motivate the team by reviewing the reasons for the project and what success means to each person.
Point 3: How should a Project Success Plan be structured, and do all projects need one?
All projects will benefit from a Project Success Plan meeting, because it is a mechanism to ensure the following aspects are agreed:
- Do we all agree on the core reasons for the project’s existence?
Are we all on the same page? Can we agree how to work together (including our roles and responsibilities, team meeting and communications protocols, team member working styles, governance processes and expectations)?
Are our assumptions about the technical aspects of the project (such as the design, scope, build methodology, work breakdown structure, schedule, budget and method of managing change) clear?
Large, complex projects have many different stakeholders, often spread across many geographic locations. A Project Success Plan for a large project may benefit from being led by a skilled facilitator, and it may need to last several days. Small projects with less complexity will typically not require the same level of detail.
The structure of a PSP meeting should ensure the emotional success factors are fully aired. It needs to bear relevance to the core deliverables of the project regarding scope, budget, schedule and quality. An example of a PSP meeting agenda is shown below (the nature of your project’s PSP agenda will be tailored to the project):
- Project Introductions and Executive Summary
- What is the definition of “project success”?
- Our Project Methodology
- Project Fundamentals, Principles & Key Drivers
- Project Assumptions by us all, and how we all work
- Project Scope, WBS, Schedule, Quality and Budget
- Project meeting, governance and review strategy
- Project Organization and Role Definitions
- Communications Management strategy
- Tracking Benefits after Go Live
A (PSP) Project Success Plan is a mechanism to achieve the following positive outcomes for your project:
- Ensure all assumptions about the project, and the meaning of success, are aired and discussed, and any misunderstandings and/or disagreements are resolved early in the project’s lifecycle.
Ensure project team members get to know how to work with each other so that communications throughout the project are efficient and productive
Assist the Project Manager in keeping the team focused and engaged, especially on projects of long durations.
Done well, a Project Success Plan meeting can help Project Managers and the entire team understand how to work together successfully, communicate well with each other, and be a tool to keep the team focused and engaged for the duration of the project.
Gareth Byatt, Gary Hamilton, and Jeff Hodgkinson are experienced PMO, program, and project managers who developed a mutual friendship by realising they shared a common passion to help others and share knowledge about PMO, portfolio, program and project management (collectively termed PM below). In February 2010 they decided to collaborate on a three (3) year goal to write 50 PM subject articles for publication in any/all PM subject websites, newsletters, and professional magazines / journals. So far 29 have been written, published, and translated into Arabic, Czechoslovakian, French, German, Indonesia, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian and published on websites in 25 countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, India, Jamaica, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Trinidad, Turkey, UK, Ukraine and the USA. Their mission is to help expand good program and project management practices by promoting the PM profession, to be a positive influence to the PM Community, be known as eminent influencers of PM practices, and in earnest hope readers can gain benefit from the advice of their 60+ years of combined experience and expertise and include the expertise of co-authors who write with them on certain articles and subjects. Along with writing articles, each also champions a role in the overall writing program collaboration process:
- Gareth manages all requests for additional guest author collaborations
- Gary manages the article development tracking and readership metrics
- Jeff manages the article distribution and new readership demographics
Each can be contacted for advice, coaching, collaboration, and speaking individually as noted in their bios or as a team at: Contactus@pmoracles.com
Gareth Byatt has 15+ years of experience in project, program and PMO management in IT and construction for Lend Lease. Gareth has worked in several countries and lives in Sydney, Australia. He can be contacted through LinkedIn.
Gareth holds numerous degrees, certifications, and credentials in program and project management as follows: an MBA from one of the world’s leading education establishments, a 1st-class undergraduate management degree, and the PMP®, PgMP®, PMI-RMP®, PMI-SP® & PRINCE2 professional certifications. Gareth is currently a Director of the PMI Sydney Chapter, he is the APAC Region Director for the PMI’s PMO Community of Practice and he chairs several peer networking groups.
He has presented on PMOs, portfolio and program and project management at international conferences in the UK, Australia, & Asia including PMI APAC in 2010. Email Gareth: Email Gareth: email@example.com
Gary Hamilton has 16+ years of project and program management experience in IT, finance, and human resources and volunteers as the VP of Professional Development for the PMI East Tennessee chapter. Gary is a 2009 & 2010 Presidents’ Volunteer Award recipient for his charitable work with local fire services and professional groups. He has won several internal awards for results achieved from projects and programs he managed as well as being named one of the Business Journal’s Top 40 Professionals in 2007. Gary was the first person globally to obtain the five credentials PgMP®, PMP®, PMI-RMP®, PMI-SP® , CAPM® . In addition to these, Gary holds numerous other degrees and certifications in IT, management, and project management and they include: an advanced MBA degree in finance, Project+, PRINCE2, ITIL-F, MCTS (Sharepoint), MCITP (Project), and Six Sigma GB professional certifications. Email Gary: Gary@PMOracles.com or contact him through LinkedIn.
Jeff Hodgkinson is a 32 year veteran of Intel Corporation, where he continues on a progressive career as a program/project manager. Jeff is an IT@Intel Expert and blogs on Intel’s Community for IT Professionals for Program/Project Management subjects and interests. He is also the Intel IT PMO PMI Credential Mentor supporting colleagues in pursuit of a new credential.
Jeff received the 2010 PMI (Project Management Institute) Distinguished Contribution Award for his support of the Project Management profession from the Project Management Institute. Jeff was the 2nd place finalist for the 2011 Kerzner Award and was also the 2nd place finalist for the 2009 Kerzner International Project Manager of the Year Award™. He lives in Mesa, Arizona, USA and is a member of Phoenix PMI Chapter. Because of his contributions to helping people achieve their goals, he is the third (3rd) most recommended person on LinkedIn with 580+ recommendations, and is ranked 55th most networked LinkedIn person. He gladly accepts all connection invite requests from PM practitioners at: www.linkedin.com/in/jeffhodgkinson.
Jeff holds numerous certifications and credentials in program and project management, which are as follows: CAPM®, CCS, CDT, CPC™, CIPM™, CPPM–Level 10, CDRP, CSM™, CSQE, GPM™, IPMA-B®, ITIL-F, MPM™, PME™, PMOC, PMP®, PgMP®, PMI-RMP®, PMI-SP®, PMW, and SSGB. Jeff is an expert at program and project management principles and best practices. He enjoys sharing his experiences with audiences around the globe as a keynote speaker at various PM events.
Email Jeff: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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