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Information Broker

Tool: Project lifecycle

Typical use (type of issue/project)

A shared approach...

Ease of use rating

Used by

Yourself and your team.

Tips for effective use

When managing a project intervention ensure to manage the project lifecycle from set up through to implementation in an orderly fashion.

Signals of successful use

Having a disciplined and structured approach to executing a project initiative.

Signals of unsuccessful use

Failing to gain buy-in and commitment on your project as you jumped in to analysis without properly setting up the project and collecting enough data.

Links to other tools

Prioritising tasks and initiatives, Connecting initiatives to business outcomes, and SWOT.

 

Project lifecycle

There are five major steps of a project’s lifecycle:

  1. Set up
  2. Data collection
  3. Analysis
  4. Present
  5. Implementation

1. Set up

Set up requires that you communicate with:

  • Direct participants – for example project team members, interviewees
  • People directly affected – for example people likely to be affected by the project or its outcomes
  • Other stakeholders – for example customers and senior managers

The objective of the set up stage is to create a widely shared understanding of the mandate of the project. It is during set up where you seek to spread awareness of the project while at the same time gaining commitment to the project. To do so, you must:

  1. Gain the commitment to the project of
  • direct participants
  • management
  • all those who have inputs to the project
  1. Build project plan and make refinements as needed with support from
  • direct participants
  • management
  1. Communicate the agreed goals and plan to
  • direct participants
  • people affected
  • other stakeholders

Risks associated with set up:

  • Not acknowledging who the project supporters are to exploit their positivism
  • Failing to identify the project sceptics
  • Not doing proper set up (for example detailing the charter, signing off the plan and so on) severely hindering implementation

2. Data collection

As there are a variety of different data collection methods – it is necessary to select the methods which:

  • Will provide the data needed
  • Are practical within the project constraints of time, cost and scope
  • Generally help the exercise – for example interviews can help solve issues as well as collect data whereas surveys may engender hostility and disrupt operations

This stage is about collecting facts and understanding perceptions. Methods available for collecting data include:

Technique: Purpose: Key feature:

Interviews

  • Obtain basic factual data about the project
  • Solicit subjective/ qualitative opinions
  • Build trusting relationships
  • Both qualitative and quantitative
  • Tailored in style to the specific purpose of the interview

Focus groups

  • Meeting with a representative sample of employees where attitudes/ opinions can be sought
  • Gain commitment to the output
  • Encourage people to express and exchange their views
  • Quick cross section of views can be obtained

Questionnaires

  • Designed to elicit data from individuals for analytical and diagnostic purposes in the form of responses to a structured set of questions
  • Should be straight forward and easy to understand
  • Simple and brief whilst still achieving the objective
  • Clearly organised and presented

Attitude surveys

  • Specific form of questionnaire which can provide data on the beliefs and opinions of employees which can be used to focus attention on policy issues which need attention
  • Seek to measure perception rather than collect factual data
  • Indicators of the future trouble spots
  • Useful for comparison of between functions/ guides

Risks associated with data collection:

  • Choosing a technique that does not provide the necessary data
  • Choosing a technique that is not practical within the project contract (time, cost, scope)
  • Collecting insufficient/wrong data, making the project deliverable unacceptable

3. Analysis

The analysis must answer the question:

What is the issue and how will success be achieved?

As large volumes of data (be they interview comments, questionnaire returns and so on) need to be analysed before sensible conclusions can be reached. There are a number of ways to structure points in a logical fashion. The top three approaches are:

  1. Bottom up thinking: if you have lots of facts or ideas that you need sorting
  • State the facts or ideas
  • Group those that are alike or related
  • Put them in logical order
  • Summarise each group to a conclusion at the next level
  1. Top down thinking: if you know the main thought or conclusion
  • Ask the question the main conclusion raises
  • List the facts or ideas that answer the question
  • Ensure those facts form a logical grouping
  • Continue down the hierarchy until appropriate level of detail is provided
  1. Logical argument: grouping facts or ideas to support a logical argument
  • The group currently appeals to neither the business user nor the premier user
  • The location facilities and capabilities are not sufficient to attract premium business
  • Therefore the group should refocus on business trade

Risks associated with analysis:

  • Responding to power politics and telling the client group what they want to hear (not what the data shows)
  • Establishing too many priorities
  • Consultants using their own intuition not what they found

4. Presentation

Presentation can be:

  • One way
  • Participative
  • A round table discussion
  • A report

The quality of the entire project is often judged upon the final presentation. Top tips to an effective presentation include:

  1. Unity: all of the parts should relate to one another to produce a document or presentation with a single general message
  2. Coherence: thoughts should flow in a natural order
  3. Emphasis: important points should be stressed

The six keys to a good presentation are:

  1. Mastering the subject matter
  2. Meeting the audience’s needs
  3. Thorough preparation
  4. Appropriate visual aids
  5. Showing and gaining interest
  6. Presentation techniques

The pro and cons of the approaches to present back findings are:

Alternative approaches: PRO CON

Participative session

  • generates participation
  • interactive
  • do not prove your merit as a presenter
  • requires strong facilitation which may distract you from sharing your views

Face-to-face one-way presentation

  • establish yourself as an expert and ensure your views are heard
  • appeal to stakeholders with both visual auditory learning styles
  • can be boring
  • expensive alternative to feeding back findings (especially if stakeholders are international)

Slides

  • appealing to people who prefer to learn visually
  • tell a story (when done correctly!)
  • can be too wordy and boring
  • can be distracting
  • may veer off the topic

Report (executive summary)

  • get all your views out in an organised manner
  • show your hard work
  • stand the test of time
  • summarise your complete findings
  • may never be read by the audience

Risks associated with presentation:

  • A lack of preparation on the part of the presenter or the recipients
  • Boring/too long
  • Creating a report/slides that are full of spelling mistakes/grammatical errors

5. Implementation

Implementation is the stage that actually ‘makes it happen’.

Implementation puts the strategies into motion, activity by activity. It converts analysis and planning into action and results. Excellence in the previous four stages has no value without implementation. Contingencies, both in strategies and in the plans, should be kept ready and adjusted if necessary, as the plans unfold.

Usually, the primary elements that need to be tracked can be found in the objective (critical measures) and the situation analysis (root causes).

To ensure success during implementation, you must consider:

  • What needs to be measured?
  • How should each be measured?
  • Who should do it?
  • When or how often?
  • What are the targets/expectations?

Risks associated with implementation:

  • Failing to do proper planning
  • Not managing the project correctly
  • Not applying change management tactics
Note
60 per cent of proposals are not implemented