While aggressive deadlines put pressure on the project manager to start a project as soon as possible, up-front planning to ensure that all involved understand and agree upon both the goals and the work to be done will save time in the long run. Time spent planning is certainly not wasted time or “overhead” time; it is essential that the project manager spends this time making sure that the project team and the customer have common expectations of what the project is going to deliver, when it will be complete, what it will cost, who will do the work, and how the work will be accomplished.
To make this task easier, TechRepublic contributor and project management expert Tom Mochal has provided his project definition template. Download the template to guide you through the planning process—from defining customer expectations to naming deliverables.
Project definition template guides you through the planning process
Mochal said the project definition template provides value in a number of ways, including:
- Creating a project definition ensures that all the planning information is sufficiently organized and documented. It is the main deliverable from the planning process and contains a description of the project’s objectives, deliverables, scope, risk, estimated budget, and estimated schedule.
- It is the base document used to validate that the project manager, project sponsor, and major stakeholders have the same understanding and level of expectation for the project. All appropriate customers and stakeholders signify their formal approval of the document by including their signatures. The project definition and approved business requirements are used as the foundation for enforcing scope-change management throughout the project.
- It serves as a communication vehicle throughout the project. Team members and others should be able to review the project definition to gain an understanding about the project and why it is being undertaken.
Mochal said the project definition should be scaled to appropriately define the effort. For instance, if the work to be done is very minimal, a one-page document might suffice. On some projects, certain sections from the project definition template may not be applicable, or on very large projects, you may want to add additional sections to more adequately describe the project and the work. Detailed documentation, project justification, and other related documents could also be added to the project definition as attachments.
Since business customers and stakeholders are the main audience for the project definition, Mochal suggests keeping the document as concise and readable as possible.
Download Tom Mochal’s project definition template to guide you when defining expectations for your next project.