The Project Management Institute identifies several outputs from the Initiating processes. These are the Project Charter, a Project Stakeholder Register, and a Stakeholder Management Strategy. On small or simple projects I recommend that these all be rolled into one document. On larger more complex projects, I suggest that two deliverables are created during project initiation, a Project Charter and a Stakeholder Register that incorporates the stakeholder strategy decisions. I use a variety of tools and techniques to create these documents, depending upon project complexity and uncertainty. These include: W's, In-Frame/Out-of-Frame, Project Dimensions, Project Requirements Document, Communication Strategy Matrix, and Collaboration Strategy Matrix. The project leader needs to determine which of these tools and techniques are appropriate for their project. Typically only two or three of them are used. The project leader should always follow corporate policies and directives with regards to required tools or techniques. In addition, unique characteristics of the project may require different tools.
A project team uses the charter document to assist in the planning process. The team attempts to develop a project plan that has a strong potential of achieving the project objective while staying within the project schedule and budget boundaries found in the charter. An example of a Project Charter format that I have used on small projects with several clients is shown.
A project leader uses the Stakeholder Register to guide elements of the Project Communication Plan. In addition, project risks, reviews and decision meetings are often structured based upon the strategies documented in the Stakeholder Register. Further, the project attributes associated with the stakeholder's "Wins" will inevitably become linked to entries on the Risk Register.
The "W's" are one of the simplest methods for identifying the boundary conditions for a project. This technique is often used with small projects. It consists of discussing with the sponsor the answers to several questions that have a "W" in them. These questions can be asked in any order.
"What?" What is the project intended to do or deliver?
"Who?" Who is the primary customer and are there any other key stakeholders?
"When?" When does the project need to end? When does it need to start?
"Where?" Where will the project activity be conducted?
"Why?" Why is this project needed? Is it related to a specific business strategy or goal?
"How?" How should this project be accomplished? Are there any constraints on the approach, any procedures or regulatory guidance that must be followed, or any financial or resource constraints? (The "w" was on the end of "How")
The "In-Frame/Out-of-Frame" analysis assists the project team in setting a clear definition of scope. Often there are several possible interpretations of a project requirement. This analysis clarifies the interpretation. This analysis minimizes the likelihood of scope creep because it forces the stakeholder to clarify the boundary of acceptable performance. Many instances of scope creep are due to stakeholders asking for "just one more thing." This analysis defines the limits of what can be done with the available time and money in the project. If at the time of project initiation the "In the Frame" list is more extensive than the desired end date or budget can reasonably be expected to deliver, the discussion with the stakeholder occurs at that time to either limit the project scope or increase time and/or money.
Project Requirements Document
A Requirements Document is a formal document that describes all of the requirements for a project. It is most commonly used in government contracting or large commercial construction projects and programs. This document is prepared by the buying organization in order for sellers to fully understand all requirements of a project when they prepare to bid on the project or portions of the project. When a government agency determines that it will source a major project effort, the agency develops the requirements document. The document contains all of the technical and managerial requirements appropriate for the government agency and the type of project work. The document can easily be hundreds of pages in length.
Communication Strategy Matrix
Each stakeholder is considered individually. The stakeholder is placed in one of the four quadrants of the matrix. Based upon the quadrant, the communication strategy for that stakeholder is set. One caution with this technique, a stakeholder's oversight or interest may change as the project moves from one phase to another or as business conditions change. Therefore, the stakeholder's position within the matrix should be periodically reviewed and updated.
Collaboration Strategy Matrix
Each stakeholder is considered individually. The stakeholder is placed in one of the four quadrants of the matrix. Based upon the quadrant, the collaboration strategy for that stakeholder is determined. The selected strategy indicates the level of involvement by that stakeholder in decision-making, both during planning and execution phases of the project. The more stakeholders involved, the more project management effort required to manage the relationships and interactions with stakeholders.