So, how do you actually go about creating this great 1-2 page Project Vision Statement which minimizes the many project scope changes that you may currently be facing? Wouldn’t you like to avoid that scope creep once and for all? It’s really quite straightforward: :
In my previous blog, I provided an example of a 1-2 page Project Vision statement. A Project Vision is a document created by the cross-functional team that captures the assessment and tradeoffs made during the planning process to maximize the project’s chances of success. It’s not a marketing document, or a detailed specification, but provides the team and management enough information to approve and manage the project without everyone getting involved in all the details of a huge specifications document (which is best created iteratively during the planning and early development phases anyway). The team and management then sign the Vision, and so it provides a way to achieve alignment, commitment, accountability, and therefore many fewer changes during the project.
So, here we go:
1. UNDERSTAND THE QUADRUPLE-CONSTRAINT BALANCE, INVESTIGATE ALTERNATIVES, AND INNOVATE INCREMENTALLY.
We utilize a quadruple constraint called PTCR; P (features or scope), T (time or schedule), C (cost of project and product), and R (for risk). These 4 constraints (elevating risk unlike the triple constraint) must be analyzed and traded off. So alternatives are analyzed to make the best trade-offs to optimize benefits for the customers and the company.
2. TAKE EXTREME MEASURES TO UNDERSTAND CUSTOMERS.To achieve a Vision that endures, it’s important to understand the customer’s problems, their use cases, and the benefits a solution will provide. This can involve screen shots, storyboards, mock-ups, prototypes, focus groups, and virtually anything which illuminates a better understanding of the customer’s explicit and implicit needs.
3. GET THE ENTIRE TEAM INVOLVED IN THE VISION CREATION PROCESS.
An initial session could utilize a brainstorming session with the project leader, core cross-functional team (including business and marketing stakeholders), sponsor, and a good sampling of management. Since they are all going to sign the final Vision, they should participate and contribute as owners. In that way they become committed and accountable. The project leader is the editor of the vision, but the owner is the entire team.
4. USE AN EARLY METHOD OF SCOPING TO EFFICIENTLY HOME IN ON THE FINAL VISION.
The early Vision brainstorming results in many Vision elements, ideas, and issues. The team also refines its architectural definition. These lead to alternatives and tradeoffs, subsequent Vision iterations, and the final Vision begins to take form. The high-level components, including features, architecture, schedule, cost, risks, and business, become increasingly well defined and complete.
5. INVOLVE THE ENTIRE TEAM IN COST-BENEFIT AND TRADE-OFF DECISIONS.
The cost-benefit and trade-off decisions will not be made to ‘favor’ any particular group, but will represent optimizing the ROI for the company. However, since everyone is involved, and all inputs are considered, everyone sees how the Vision is being created to satisfy the customer needs and the company’s strategic and financial goals.
6. HAVE THE WHOLE TEAM AND TOP MANAGEMENT SIGN OFF THE VISION (THEN CELEBRATE!).
This is one of the most important steps. The Vision signing process insures that all stakeholders commit (including the company executives) to the Vision, because without commitment there can be no accountability. This company-wide commitment is then celebrated.
7. READ THE VISION AND AVOID CHANGING IT.
One reason the Vision is short is to make it easy to use and remember it in managing the project on a weekly basis. This way the project team will never lose sight of the goals and all the tradeoffs so carefully considered.
Niles Audio, in the audio equipment market and client of ours, is an example of effectively using a Vision. They had to develop an IR keypad that controlled audio components in a building, and have it ready for a trade show in 7 months. Previous products had taken 18 months. Given that the schedule was the #1 priority in the Vision process, they ended up eliminating 3 out of 4 new features in order to meet the tight deadline. The project completed on schedule, and the product won the “hottest technology of the year” award. It continued to sell well for more than a decade, even though they only expected a 3-year life. Without this Vision process, Niles Audio would have never been able to scale back the features as they did and get to the conference in 7 months.
I hope that this helps you win your “gold metal” in your Project Management Olympics, Jeff
©2008 Jeff Schlageter, ©2008 Global Brain