Project Management

Gain project approvals from the right stakeholders


Before your project starts execution, you should have created a Project Charter, project schedule, and the Project Management Procedures. These are the three documents that will guide the subsequent execution of the project. Of course, these three documents are not developed in isolation. They need to be created with, and approved by, the appropriate stakeholder groups. Let's look at each one and see who needs to be involved.

Project Charter

The Charter represents an agreement between the project manager and the project sponsor about what the project will achieve, the deliverables to be built, the cost and duration of the project, etc. Therefore it makes sense that the sponsor should definitely approve this document. If possible, this approval should be in writing on the physical Charter document.

In addition, there are a number of other stakeholders that may need to approve the Charter, and these people vary, depending on the policies of your organization. This stakeholder group could include:

  • Finance. You may need the Finance Manager to signify approval to validate the funding for the project is in place.
  • Procurement. If your project is going to use a substantial amount of external resources (labor, supplies, equipment, etc.) you may need the Procurement Manager to signify approval that contracts are in place or that the Procurement Department is engaged to solicit the resources.
  • Staffing. In many organizations, staffing mangers coordinate the availability of resources on projects. If your organization has this type of role, the Staffing Manager should approve the Charter to signify that the resources you need (according to the schedule) will be available.

In addition, there may be other managers who are project stakeholders. They may have resources that will need to work on the project or they may be impacted by the results of the project. These managers should also receive a copy of the final Charter, although you would not normally ask them to approve the document. They'll receive a copy so that they're kept informed about what is going on.

Schedule

The schedule represents the activities needed to complete the project. This is an internal document and typically the project manager is the only one who needs to approve. However, if there's project team member involved in the project up-front, that person should also have a chance to review the schedule and provide input, since he or she is going to be the one actually performing the work.

Project Management Procedures

These procedures describe how the project will be managed. Most people consider this an internal document as well, but it's not. Almost all the procedures involve the client and the sponsor as well. If you want to enforce scope change management, for instance, it's important that the client understand and buy into the procedure that you're using for scope change management. Therefore, the project manager should create the procedures with input from the sponsor and project team. The sponsor and major clients should then approve this document. If the clients and sponsors approve this document in advance, it will be much easier to manage the project using these procedures once the project starts.

Summary

Perhaps this seems like a lot of work. It's actually not so hard to make sure that you're communicating with the right people, gathering input from the right people, and getting the right people to approve your key documents. The time that it does take to gather these approvals will more than be made up for in time and hassle savings throughout the project.

7 comments
anandans
anandans

Most important person who influences and who get influenced by the project is the client followed by all his / her end-users. A client approved and signed document which has a comprehensive list of these sponsors from the client-side, a well defined detailed statement of their expectations and how those expectations will be tested and validated is one of the key documents required for eventual success of a project

sam.fielding
sam.fielding

Good idea about including procurement! They are often left out of the process and need to be considered up front. Their involvement can be adhoc.

geoff.baxter
geoff.baxter

Procurement people are often overlooked so that's a good point ("you need a new server in a week!!!"). A good way to identify stakeholders is to identify those who can/may impact the project (eg delay, speed up), those who are/may be impacted by the project, and those who may have an interest in the project. Membership may move between these groups as the project moves forward. These stakehlders then drive your Communication Plan (which is a lot more than the usual weekly reporting and can include regular & informal chats/coffees, knowledge bases, intranets, blogs and press releases).

btiedt
btiedt

I was actually hoping this article would address how to ensure the right people are approving the charter. We just had a major snafu where the project was developed based on the requirements and during user acceptance testing a director personally did some testing and was very unhappy with the product. Why wasn't this director named then as a sponsor or why wasn't the main user contact on the project told he needed her approval? This was 2 days before go-live and gave IT an undeserved black eye.

ntale.lukama
ntale.lukama

I thought that the charter simply initiate the project and that the preliminary project scope statement described a high level definition of the schedule, duration, deliverables, cost,etc...

fjames
fjames

Seems as though "procedures" is another word for a project plan in this article. The project plan has a multitude of sub-plans which contain many processes all of which may or may not be used in the project. The term "procedures" doesn't adequately capture the detail possible a project plan.

tom.mochal
tom.mochal

I prefer the simpler document containing the Project Management Procedures. You are correct that the Project Management Plan is the much broader document covering everything that the project manager might need. The Project Management Plan contains the Project Management Procedures, as well as the schedule, Charter, Scope Definition, and all of the project management auxillary plans (Commnications Plan, Risk Plan, Scope Change Plan, etc.) Nothing wrong with the full Project Management Plan. I think the Project Management Procedures are the minimum.

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