While all project managers recognize the necessity of a general set of checkpoints to manage projects we often fail to utilize a set of checkpoints for projects we have been involved with and simply "walk the park," but not on a ride. As on a PRINCE2 manchester training qualification.
The first order of business is project scope definition. How many times have you started a project, done it and then started to get away from it? Perhaps you might recall a time when you started a project, had a project charter approved and then stopped when things did not pan out.
Your project charter sets out the general parameters of what is to be accomplished (or not accomplished, for example). If you have a project charter there is no need to list several of the details of what needs to be done. When you do come back to the program you will find it difficult to remember the exact details - that is why we have project charter sheets of paper (which are often buried under piles of papers). When your charter is approved you will want to review the charter at the outset of the project. If you find items that are on the list of what needs to be done you need to give them to your project sponsor for review.
If the details of the project have been left on the table because project charter was never formally approved, you must ask the sponsor to let you know if the scope of the project has been changed. A modification is authorized by the charter when one of the pieces of work warrants the effort to change the work to fit the definition of scope as determined by the charter.
It is very normal for individuals to "walk the park" on a project and change the scope continuously during the duration of the project, so that when it is all completed a discussion will need to be undertaken to determine whether any new components are needed. The revision to the scope must be accompanied by the change in the budget and schedule.
When the charter has been incorporated into a project and the actual scope of work has changed every time the sponsor is asked to review the document there now seems to be another step missing: identifying the risk elements that might affect the project.
The risk identified is either accepted or rejected by what it is intended to be accepted. In the context of the charter, that means all of the risks identified must be accepted. However, when you are involved in developing a work plan this process has its own set of criteria to determine its acceptance or rejection. If a risk is accepted and accepted by means of the scope the document is considered to be a plan and the prospect of it being approved as the case is thrown out. If the risk is not accepted - that is the case in many ways - a return to the sponsor will be required, or criteria to update the scope will be worked through and the scope reviewed.
When all of the project phases are over the project does not have to be over, so long as all products of the phase have been resulted in - documented.
Project plans, which may be weekly kits, are normally not seen as work on the schedule. In a short review of the schedule, it does not even appear on an effort report for the project manager. A typical freeze invalidates the free-time charts you used at the beginning before it wastes even more time. There is no change order yet at approval time. The project manager must make sure there is implementation on the site - that is, "what got built first goes first."
Continuing this pattern for the duration of the project if often repeated. You must effectively monitor all activities and negotiate the terms of the appointments. A monthly project plan always needs revision, since the plan is never completed, since the activities have been completed outside of the schedule. When the budget is updated, it is based on an assumption the vacations and a few variances do not apply. Further, funding and contract claims that do not result in project completion are an additional complicating factor.
There will be many things the sponsor worries at the end of the project:
1. Our level of expertise over other vendors is expanding.
2. We have "outgrown our way" to do this, but questions will have to be asked.
3. There may not be enough work internally, or that it takes too many staff to complete the job.
4. Other vendors may have done similar work. Also it is hard if the first reasons for termination did not exist.