Companies translate their business plans into a series of projects. Some of the projects are relatively simple and others quite complex and involve multiple departments, activities and suppliers. But all need to be led and managed. Most companies have project managers to head up these projects. Actually, what is really needed to lead teams and manage projects are project leaders. Leaders who have the responsibility to make the team effective in delivering the objective of the project, solving the problem that has been identified and delivering the results that compensate for the expenditure of human and financial resources. Leaders!!!
The reality is most projects have become administrative nightmares for the project managers and team members. Instead of having a laser sharp focus on the project and what needs to get done, the focus has blurred and is buried in layers of administrivia. Gantt charts, status reports, teleconferences, updates, meetings and forms have become the norm. Some of these are necessary but are they effective? Tracking projects is taking up too much of the leader’s time. Often progress is less than originally expected and costs are higher.
So how do successful companies utilize project management effectively?
We have been working with a colleague who has a great deal of experience in leading projects and with project leaders. Dr. Margery Mayer is part of the 4Views, a consulting group, in which we also are Principals. She created a simple form that forces the thinking up front and keeps the daily focus on the action that needs to take place and not on the massive reports.
Margery created and has used the one page Project Charter found below. It is developed by the Project Leader and Sponsor before the project gets started and is used by the leader, the team, the sponsor, the finance organization and anyone else involved up through the executive team, if need be, to drive action and maintain focus. You will note the emphasis on one page. This forces crispness of thinking and keeps the team from being led off track by “add ons” or other distractions. It provides a snapshot of what is expected, when it is expected and the progress being made. If the team should fall behind, the appropriate action and effect on the project are clear. The team time is spent in thinking, and taking action for success and not in administrivia of report writing or updating. This does not replace Gantt charts as they have a more granular level of detail. This is a quick snapshot of how the project is progressing.
Feel free to copy the format and use it on your next project. We have seen success with it across a broad range of industries. Let us know how you use it.
The Project Charter Template
Project Name ________________ Date____Revision # ____
A concise simple statement of the objective of the project to ensure that everyone is clear and the information is consistent. This object should support the goals and objectives of the company.
State exactly is the problem that the project will solve.
The specific revenue, profit, cost savings, efficiency increase etc that will result from this project
What is going to be included? This also may detail what is not included. The more extensive is the scope, the greater the cost and risks.
Clearly specify what will be achieved, what is the expected result or outcome.
Deliverables and Major Milestones
# ……When…………… What……………………….. Date complete
This could include among other items:
- What resources will be provided and by whom? Availability of members, etc.
- Changes to scope or resources may incur additional costs
- Turn around time for approvals must be stated
- Escalation process might be identified
Responsibility …………………Name …………………….Contact Info
The Responsibility can be any of the following:
- Project Leader
- Customer Service
- Revisions – reexamine, alter or correct existing work
- Change orders – substitute one thing for another, add new ideas or concepts, variation on original work or idea.
Changes bring costs and these are to be documented.
Change Order # ……………….Date …………………$
You can also download the Project Charter Template in PDF Format, courtesy of Dr. Margery Mayer and The 4Views consulting group.
© Dr Margery Mayer
John Maver and Dr. Margery Mayer are Principals in The 4Views consulting group. The 4 Views is a team of senior consultants who provide clients with breakthrough business results by identifying the root causes of problems and then providing the solutions that drive profitability. Our systematic approach covering plans, processes, people and profits (the 4 Views) generates measurable results across a broad range of industries. Leading change that drives efficiency and profitability has led to the creation of upgrades across the organization such as increasing the impact of project management.
John Maver has been President or General Manager of Divisions with Procter & Gamble and the Clorox Company, CEO of a healthcare company and has broad based consulting experience with both domestic and international success. John has the business skills to quickly provide analysis of the issues and opportunities companies face and then to create plans and execution that deliver success. His breadth of experience brings fresh ideas and creative ways to accelerate the business of his clients. As a business advisor to CEOs, COOs and other senior executives, John has the knowledge to serve as their trusted guide.
Dr. Margery Mayer, as a Behavioral Scientist, combines her research with clear communication in working with leaders and teams. Her experience comes from many years of directing departments in large corporations and founding, building and selling her own ventures. She is the Director for the COO Forum and has served as an interim COO. She has published two books: “The Virtual Edge: Embracing Technology for Distributed Project Team Success” and “Executive Accountability; Creating the Environment for Business Value from Technology”. Her published UMI PhD study is, “Skills, Motivations and Behaviors of Serial Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley”.