Managing the TBT project
off to the right start
PROPORTION of the problems experienced with TBT projects are caused by rushing, or
avoiding altogether, the project definition stage. Without a clear understanding of
exactly what the client wants and what youre prepared to deliver, theres far
too much room for disagreement later. You know how clients always seem so nice at the
start of a project? In the rosy glow of optimism, it hardly seems necessary to pin down
the details, to dot the is and cross the ts - after all, theres plenty
of time to work that out as you go along. For now, a statement of general intent will do.
Oh no it wont.
The project definition
makes it absolutely clear what the project is setting out to achieve. And as the saying
goes, if you dont know where youre going
youll end up somewhere
else. Heres what you need to sort out at this stage:
Problem or need
A concise statement of why the project is required at the current time.
These describe what has to be achieved if the project is to satisfy the
underlying need or solve the underlying problem. To be of use, objectives need to be
specific, achievable and measurable.
Scope defines the magnitude of the project in terms of variables such as
content, audiences, geographic regions and learning objectives.
Most projects operate under some constraints, which limit your flexibility
to some extent. These might include budget limits, critical delivery dates, maximum
training times, established style guides, delivery platforms, limitations on recruiting
and so on.
Deliverables are the outputs of the project, not only in terms of the end
product, but also what is to be delivered at each key milestone (prototypes, documents,
etc.). Be careful to avoid subjective statements of quality for deliverables - quality
guidelines need to be specific and measurable. And remember that quality does not
necessarily mean high production values - what is important is that the end product is
fit for purpose.
The project definition is the result of a negotiation between
customer and supplier, one in which both sides win. It pays to remember that it is the
client who is paying the bills and that, in return, they acquire a number of rights
Customers bill of rights
|I have the right
- to set objectives for the project and have them followed
- to know how long the project will take and how much it will cost
- to decide which features are in and which features are out
- to make reasonable changes to the requirements throughout the course of the project and
to know the cost of making those changes
- to know the projects status clearly and confidently
- to be appraised regularly of risks that could affect cost, schedule or quality and to be
provided with options for addressing potential problems
- to have ready access to project deliverables throughout the project
From the Software Project Survival Guide by Steve McConnell 1