Once a project is selected, a project manager is assigned to execute and deliver the business value. The project manager may or may not be involved in the project selection process like in the case of a service provider organization, the the project manager may not have been involved in the sales cycle of getting the project. There are many risk items which can be overlooked at this phase which can lead to a project failure. Assigning a project manager who doesn’t have the skills required for the project is a major one.
There should be a thorough evaluation of the skills required to manage the project and a suitable candidate with the required skills must be assigned to execute. Not doing this will set the project manager and the project for failure from the start. There can be situations where a project manager who doesn’t have all the required skills need to be assigned to the project to help grow in his/her career path. In such situations, enough support should be provided to the project manager for e.g. setting up a steering committee of experienced project managers to help guide during the course of the project to mitigate the risk.
Once assigned, the project manager needs to review the project to understand the macro risks of the project before delving further into the execution. This will again help reducing the risk of project failure. The following are some of the key areas which the project manager need to look at
Understand the business value of the project and how the project deliverables will meet them. Evaluate whether the values expected are reasonable and if not set the expectations to the stakeholders accordingly.
Organizational capabilities to execute the and deliver the project. If any shortcomings are found this will help identify the mitigation plan. This may be something not looked at during the project selection phase and can impact the expected value of the project depending on the mitigation plan. For e.g. bringing in a vendor to mitigate the shortcoming may increase the cost of project.
Understand and identify other macro constraints like time, cost, competition, market pressures etc and assess whether they can be met. This will help negotiate the project deliverables and set the expectations correctly before the start of the project. Also this will help in identifying and planning for potential risks during the project execution.
Identify all the stakeholders of the projects and understand their expectations and risk profile. Not knowing the stakeholders of the project will lead to unmet expectations which results in a project being deemed as a failure. Being in sync or managing the expectations of the stakeholders from the start is vital to project success.
As always, I would like to hear other items which project managers should be looking at immediately after getting assigned to a project.