Monday, March 22, 2010

Those Who Help Themselves

Hindu culture pays particular importance to the beginning of anything; whether it is a new life, a new TV brought into the house, a wedding or the start of a new job. In each case, Lord Ganesh (the infamous “Elephant God” to westerners) is invoked and prayed to first so that he may grant a long, smooth and trouble free life for the person or item that is starting out. But what about projects, products and services? It is valuable to apply the same importance that Hindus do to beginnings but in a more scientific and less mystical fashion.

The methodologies and techniques to handle project or service beginnings exist. However, it is typically the usual combination of ignorance and laziness that causes these methodologies to go largely unused. A project is typically started out of a knee-jerk emotional reason or having been a brainchild or dream of one individual. The same is typically true of a service. The result of a improperly planned initiation is that there are numerous difficulties encountered all through the life of the project. While ROI is generally thought of nowadays and some semblance of financial planning is performed, other important questions are rarely asked such as: Who are the key stakeholders and are they all on board for the duration of the project? What resources will be needed and will they be made available to the extent that will be required? What is the end vision for the project and will it really benefit the organization?

Some suggestions on initiating a project correctly are as follows:

  • Create a Business Case for the Project and obtain the relevant approvals.

  • Perform a feasibility study which would include, risks associated with the project and alternative solutions.

  • Create a Project Charter and obtain the appropriate approvals.

  • Set up a Project team and obtain the required resources from key stakeholders.

  • Interface with the PMO office and align with the correct processes, procedures, systems and tools.

  • Perform an initiation phase review to ensure that all initiation activities were performed and the required outputs of the Initiation phase were obtained and the initiation goals achieved.

With these steps performed, a lot of problems that might have occurred are proactively prevented from occurring in the first place. Project initiation is really about analyzing the project to find potential problems and address them right at the beginning. It is best not to simply pray to Ganesh for a smooth project. After all, God helps those who help themselves.

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