If someone assigns me as the project manager of a project, the first document I will refer to understand the overall details of the project is the project charter, which is one of the key outputs of the project initiation process. If it is not available, I will work along with the sponsor (senior management representative who is in charge of the project) to define one and get his approval.
A typical project charter contains;
- High level scope of the project
- Business case of the project
- Key milestones with dates
- Major risks
- Major assumptions and dependencies including the flexibility matrix
- Key stakeholders names, roles and responsibilities towards the project
- Project managers name, roles and responsibilities
The project charter is approved by the sponsor. This is the formal document which appoints the project manager to the project officially. Project charter gives authority to the project manager. Any changes to the project charter must be re-approved by the sponsor.
Project charter brings in lot of clarity into the project, and is a good basis for planning the project.
Projects fail at the beginning. Two of the main reasons for project failures are inaccurate estimates and scope creep / deficit. Of these two major causes, Scope creep is easy to manage, as most of the clients are willing to pay for extra scope than planned, where as scope deficit results in not meeting the customer’s must have feature list, and will result in customer dissatisfaction.
The best remedy is to;
- Spend enough time on requirements collection
- Proper scope definition
- Scope decomposition into a work breakdown structure
- 8-80 rule for work package sizing
- Estimating the effort of the work packages using;
- Expert judgment
- Delphi technique
- Three point estimates
- Analogous estimation
- Parametric estimation
- Following the change management procedure for scope updation
The following video of mine explains most of the concepts discussed so far in this blog post.
Very often people use the terms agile and scrum interchangeably and that can be quite confusing for those who are new to the agile world. Agile is the umbrella under which there are several frameworks like;
As we can see from the above list, agile is the common terminology used for the iterative and incremental models. Of these, scrum is the easiest to understand, hence it is the right starting point to bring in the agile culture to the organization, and then to be open to the good practices of all the available frameworks to solve the specific issues challenging agility or to simply enhance your agility.
I have come across many project managers (with PMP credential) and scrum masters (with CSM) with absolutely no passion for their work, hence ending up like glorified secretaries who ends up doing just what other stakeholders ask them to do. All they have is the basic knowledge of
the jargons and practice tests. Most probably, they have not taken any initiative to further their knowledge post certification. Like many, they also thought that certification is the end goal. In the process they suffer, their project suffers, project team suffers and the customer suffers, because the project manager, scrum master roles are leadership roles.
The general characteristics of this category of project managers are;
- Their main focus is on firefighting than proactive problem prevention.
- They are in the business of pleasing their bosses alone.
- They always put the blame on to others.
- They are not passionate about the area of their certification, hence not confident.
- They negotiate only with those report to them, they are scared to negotiate with other stakeholders.
- They always follow , never lead.
- They do not evangelize professionalism.
- They consider most of the good practices as theory and not practical.
- They use the words ‘but’ and ‘they’ frequently.
- They actively seek empathy from others.
One can improve to some extent and at the same time it is very difficult to achieve excellence without a career path correction , if you are in the wrong career.
I must also appreciate the fact that a good percentage of the project managers and scrum masters are passionate and knowledgeable about their work irrespective of the certifications they hold or do not hold. That is just passion about their work. That is the hope.
This post partially answers the question ‘After certification what is next?’