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A Project is a unique set of strategically aligned activities, sponsored by management, undertaken by a team, coordinated by a Project Manager, with specific objectives, progressively elaborated, and constrained in time, cost, staffing, and other key resources.

Project Charter Interview

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This interview takes place in the context of a project management life cycle that includes these processes:

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

This is a systematic process for managing projects, not for doing the actual work of the project.

In the Initiating process, we try to get everyone off on the same foot, with the same level of understanding of the problem and project definitions. The result of the Initiating process is an approved charter, which will guide the rest of the project.

Title

What is the name of the project? How should people refer to this project in conversation?


Problem Statement

What problem will this project solve? Why is the organization undertaking this project? If you find yourself wanting to explain what you are going to do, you are answering the wrong question. What is the organizational context of this project? Is this project part of a larger program or related to other parallel efforts? If so, what are they. Reference other documentation rather than repeating detail here, if possible.


Project Description

How will this project solve this problem? Again, we're not looking for the implementation here. What is a high-level description of what the project? The emphasis is on high-level. If you cannot fit it into a tweet, you are trying too hard. Sometimes augmenting the project name to form a complete sentence is enough.


Sponsor

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The Sponsor is the person who authorizes the project, provides the funding, supports the project, and promotes the project’s value throughout the management team as well as across the institution.

Who is the Sponsor?


Project Manager

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The Project Manager is responsible for the ongoing project activities and uses project management to manage the project.

Who is the Project Manager?


PM Authority

What authority does the Project Manager have in the name of the project? Can he or she determine, manage, and approve changes to the budget, schedule, staffing, and so on?


Pre-assigned Resources

Has the organization already assigned any resources (material or human) to this project? If so, what or who are they?


Stakeholders

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Stakeholders are people and organizations involved in, affected by, or who can positively or negatively affect the project.

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A stakeholders level of influence is the degree to which they can positively or negatively affect the course of a project.

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A Key Stakeholder is a person whose support is critical to the project — if the support of a key stakeholder were to be withdrawn, the project would fail.

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Stakeholders may include:

  • Sponsor This person authorizes the project, provides the funding, supports the project, and promotes the project's value throughout the management team as well as across departments and divisions.
  • Management This category includes any company management other than the sponsor or functional managers.
  • Project Management Office This is a centralized group whose roles within the organization may include providing policies, methodologies, and templates for projects, providing support and guidance to others, and/or providing and overseeing project managers.
  • Project Manager The project manager is responsible for the ongoing project activities and uses project management to manage the project.
  • Functional Managers These individuals manage departments within the performing organization.
  • Team Team members are responsible for executing the project management plan. IT project teams are generally made up of a cross section of the technology group.
  • Customers The people inside the organization that have requested the project are its customers. The customers provide scope and approve scope changes. Customers pay for products. Customers are authorized to negotiate regarding the project. Customers should represent the users.
  • End Users Those people who will use the product are its end users. End users can be the entire organization, as in a project involving changing e-mail applications, or can be a subgroup, as in a project where a new application is being added to the customer relationship management (CRM) suite for sales and contact center personnel. Users employ products to achieve some result.
  • Public The term includes anyone who may be affected by the project. Public stakeholders can be political, environmental, or the community in which the company is located.
  • Funding Sources Funding sources can include banks, governmental, or outside agencies. Any firm that provides substantial financial resources to a company is a stakeholder in the project associated with the funds. Most projects are funded internally, but there are opportunities to obtain outside funding, which increases the organization's and the project's visibility.

Does the sponsor think there are key stakeholders? If so, who are they?


Project Requirements

What requirements do you already know? Alternatively, what requirements did the discovery phase use to justify the project in the first place? These are requirements for the project, not the product. It is okay to include some functional or technical requirements if they are a primary cause of the project, but this is not intended to be an exhaustive list of product specifications. Hint: Think more about what will make each known stakeholder satisfied than about speeds and feeds.


Deliverables

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A deliverable is a measurable, tangible, verifiable output that is required to complete the project.

What product(s) or deliverable(s) is the sponsor expecting as the outcome of this project? When are they needed?


Strategic Alignment

Remembering that a project is a unique set of strategically aligned activities, which of the institution’s strategic goals does this project support? Hint: Citing a goal or strategy from a strategic plan is enough.


Approval Requirements

Who needs to approve the start of and accept the completion of this project?


Known Risks

What high-level threats or opportunities have been identified for this project? Hint: Think more about seat belts and bath mats than earthquakes and terrorists. If you are completely stuck, here are some Risk Categories to get you thinking.


Prioritized Constraints

Place these criteria in priority order for success of this project (1 is highest, 7 is lowest):

  1. Schedule
  2. Cost
  3. Quality
  4. Risk
  5. Customer Satisfaction
  6. Resources
  7. Scope

1 Comment

  1. Hey Mark - this is fabulous!!  Thanks for sharing and for opportunities for input!!   I agree with Rich on the "level-setting" aspect, where the addition of a simple process diagram may be helpful in showing people where this interview falls on the continuum.

    And - love the risk categories as well - a great starting point to get people thinking about possible challenges as this project forms.

    -Cheryl-