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Old 07-20-2011, 01:24 AM
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Creating An Effective Project Board

As with any endeavor, there needs to be appropriate representation of senior management, the trouble is, most senior managers don't know what is needed from them nor how they need to direct and authorize a typical project.

This has been addressed at long last in a publication called "Directing Successful Projects With PRINCE2". It is also a problem that senior managers are too busy running the company to attend training events, again, you will find help on that aspect in this article.

Now don't be concerned if your organization does not use PRINCE2 (although I believe it should!), instead read the following as a solid methology, a bible if you will, to those who either sit on project boards, or those who sit at programme level (the programme manager for example). I use here, the UK spelling for program.

First you need to understand the roles and responsibilities that are needed:

PRINCE2 is based on a customer/supplier environment, and this drives the projectís structure of roles and responsibilities. PRINCE2 does not define jobs allocated to people, but rather, it defines roles, each with a set of responsibilities. Each role may have one person or several people filling it, an individual may fulfil more than one role.

What is important is that the right people are chosen for each role, and this would include the individualís knowledge, skills, experience, authority, credibility, commitment and availability.

PRINCE2 has a reserved term for the project board, project manager, and some optional roles, and this term is called the Project Management Team. A PRINCE2 project always have three primary categories of stakeholder, and these must always be included if the project is to be successful.

The three primary interests that make up the project board are the Business interest Ė the Business Case should provide value for money, the User interest Ė these will use the projectís outputs either to realise the benefits, they may operate, maintain or support the project outputs, and these outputs will impact them, and the Supplier interest Ė these supply the resources and skills to produce a projectís products.

There are four levels of a PRINCE2 organisation:

1. Corporate or programme management, these are outside of the project management team, and are responsible for the Project Mandate, naming the Executive, and defining the project-level tolerances.

2. The Project Board is responsible for providing the overall direction and are accountable for the success of the project

3. The Project Manager is responsible for the day-to-day management of the project within the constraints laid down by the Project Board.

4. Team members are responsible for delivering the project products within quality, time and cost

The Project Board responsibilities include being accountable for the success or failure of the project, providing unified direction, providing the resources and authorising the project funding, and ensuring effective decision-making.

The Project Board should have the right level of authority, be credible, have the ability to delegate, and be available for whenever that decisions and directions are needed.

The Project Board Executive is ultimately accountable for the project success and has the veto on any decision making. The executive is responsible for the Business Case.

The Senior User role represents those who will use the projectís products and also those who will use the products to achieve an objective or deliver benefits. The Senior User specifies the benefits and is held to account by corporate or programme management.

The Senior Supplier role represents those who will design, develop, facilitate, procure, and implement the projectís products. This role is responsible for the technical integrity of the project.

Each Project Board member is responsible for their own assurance, business, user and supplier. Collectively, this role is called Project Assurance. Each project board member can perform their own project assurance, or they may choose to delegate it.

Project assurance must be independent of the Project Manager and the team and are also responsible for supporting the project manager by giving advice and guidance.

If the project is likely to have many change requests, then the project board during the initiation stage, need to decide whether they have the time to make decisions on these changes, or whether they wish to set up a Change Authority who will act upon their behalf. They would need to agree to Ďrules of engagementí.

For example, the project board may only deal with changes above a certain monetary value. The Project Board may also wish to consider allocating a separate change budget to pay for such changes.

The Project Board should not exceed six to eight people otherwise decision-making can be slowed, it is a good idea to consider having off-line supplier and user meetings, and bring a representative back to the project board to act on their behalf..

The project manager is responsible for day-to-day management of the project and will delegate responsibility for the creation of products to the team manager or specialist team members themselves.

If the team manager is appointed, then the project manager will give the Work Packages to the team manager, and the team manager will give the project manager regular Checkpoint Reports. The Team Manager will therefore perform the daily management of the team members.

Another optional role is the use of Project Support. This group will provide administrative services to the project, give advice and guidance on the use of project management tools, and will normally provide configuration management. It project support is not available, then the project manager will have to do it themselves.

The project board use the Directing a Project process to provide direction and authorisation to the project at key points. This enables the project board to be accountable for the projectís success by ensuring that key decisions are made while exercising overall control.

The project board delegate day-to-day management of the project to the project manager, and release the project to the project manager one stage at a time.

Directing the project has six key objectives, and they ensure that:

1. There is appropriate authority to initiate the project

2. There is authority to deliver the project products

3. The project remains viable and management direction and control are in place throughout the projects life.

4. The project board executive Interface is regularly with corporate or programme management

5. There is authority to close the project

6. A benefit review plan for realising the post project benefits is created, managed and reviewed.

Directing a project contains four activity points where key decisions are made. Authorising Initiation, Authorizing a Project, Authorizing a Stage or Exception Plan, and Authorizing project closure.

The fifth activity point is used primarily for communication between the project board, the project manager and other key stakeholders. This is called Give ad-hoc direction.

The Directing a Project process starts when the Starting Up a Project process is completed and is triggered by the request from the project manager to initiate a project.

The project board uses the technique management by exception. It monitors via reports and provides control via a number of the decision points.

For management by exception to work, the project board must set tolerance,
and if at any point this is forecasted to be exceeded, the project manager will inform the project board via an Exception Report to bring the situation to the project boardís attention.

With management by exception there is no need for progress meetings. As already mentioned there must be an information conduit between the project board and corporate or programme management (Give ad-hoc direction), how this is to occur should be documented in the Communication Management Strategy.

Although it is the executive of the project board who has the veto on any decisions and direction given, the project board should provide a unified direction and guidance to the project manager and other key stakeholders.

The project board is responsible for assuring that there is continued business justification, and this is why the project Board Executive owns the project Business Case.

The five activities within Directing a Project are:

1. Authorise initiation

2. Authorise the project

3. Authorise a stage or exception plan

4. Give ad hoc direction

5. Authorise project closure

For more information on setting up an effective project board, go to [url][/url]
Get Your Online Training for Project Managers here: [url][/url]
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