Monday, October 6, 2008

Project Management That Works

Companies translate their business plans into a series of projects. Some of the projects are relatively simple and others quite complex and involve multiple departments, activities and suppliers. But all need to be led and managed. Most companies have project managers to head up these projects. Actually, what is really needed to lead teams and manage projects are project leaders. Leaders who have the responsibility to make the team effective in delivering the objective of the project, solving the problem that has been identified and delivering the results that compensate for the expenditure of human and financial resources. Leaders!!!

The reality is most projects have become administrative nightmares for the project managers and team members. Instead of having a laser sharp focus on the project and what needs to get done, the focus has blurred and is buried in layers of administrivia. Gantt charts, status reports, teleconferences, updates, meetings and forms have become the norm. Some of these are necessary but are they effective? Tracking projects is taking up too much of the leader’s time. Often progress is less than originally expected and costs are higher.

So how do successful companies utilize project management effectively?

We have been working with a colleague who has a great deal of experience in leading projects and with project leaders. Dr. Margery Mayer is part of the 4Views, a consulting group, in which we also are Principals. She created a simple form that forces the thinking up front and keeps the daily focus on the action that needs to take place and not on the massive reports.

Margery created and has used the ONE PAGE Project Charter found below. It is developed by the Project Leader and Sponsor before the project gets started and is used by the leader, the team, the sponsor, the finance organization and anyone else involved up through the executive team, if need be, to drive action and maintain focus. You will note the emphasis on ONE PAGE. This forces crispness of thinking and keeps the team from being led off track by “add ons” or other distractions. It provides a snapshot of what is expected, when it is expected and the progress being made. If the team should fall behind, the appropriate action and effect on the project are clear. The team time is spent in thinking, and taking action for success and not in administrivia of report writing or updating. This does not replace Gantt charts as they have a more granular level of detail. This is a quick snapshot of how the project is progressing.

Feel free to copy the format and use it on your next project. We have seen success with it across a broad range of industries. Let us know how you use it.



Project Charter © Dr Margery Mayer
Project Name ________________ Date____Revision # ____

Project Objective
A concise simple statement of the objective of the project to ensure that everyone is clear and the information is consistent. This object should support the goals and objectives of the company.

The Problem
State EXACTLY is the problem that the project will solve.

The specific revenue, profit, cost savings, efficiency increase etc that will result from this project

What is going to be included? This also may detail what is not included. The more extensive is the scope, the greater the cost and risks.

Completion Criteria
Clearly specify what will be achieved, what is the expected result or outcome.

Deliverables and Major Milestones
# ......When............... What............................. Date complete

This could include among other items:
* What resources will be provided and by whom? Availability of members, etc.
* Changes to scope or resources may incur additional costs
* Turn around time for approvals must be stated
* Escalation process might be identified

Responsibility .....................Name .........................Contact Info
Project Leader
Customer Service

For example
· Revisions – reexamine, alter or correct existing work
· Change orders – substitute one thing for another, add new ideas or concepts, variation on original work or idea.

Scope Changes
Changes bring costs and these are to be documented.
Change Orders
Change Order # ...................Date .....................$

John Maver
Maver Management Group
(925) 648-7561
Maver Management

View John Maver's profile on LinkedIn


PM Hut said...


This is an excellent article. I'm interested in republishing the Project Charter on PM Hut.

In case you're OK with this, then please use the "Contact Us" form on the PM Hut site.

Lewis Green said...


Thanks for sharing. Here's how far I have taken the concept, first when I was in the corporate world and now as a consultant.

I believe words such as manager and management lead to less creativity and innovation as well as a drop in productivity. The message sent is that everyone on the team is to be managed, which inflicts a lack of inspiration and motivation upon every member and says that only the manager is responsible for outcomes.

On the other hand, the word leader or lead calls for a group effort wherein the lead's primary job is to inspire and motivate the team to create great results and everyone is responsible for the outcomes.