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Project Identification
By Chuck Tryon

Introduction

The key feature of this activity is recognizing that identifying candidate projects is something that an organization should do on a regular basis, not just once each year. Further, when examining projects for approval, it is vital to also examine the resource capacities and capabilities available for assignment. It is futile to assign a major new project requiring extensive discovery of business requirements if no business analysts are available.

Project Identification proceeds Project Initiation.

Process Description

Project Identification is a repeatable process for documenting, validating, ranking and approving candidate projects within an organization.

Process Purpose

Due to the changing financial conditions within the total organization, it is necessary to establish a stable process for approving projects for initiation. This process will…

  • Validate the business reason for each candidate project.
  • Provide the base information for more informed financial commitments to projects.
  • Establish a more objective ranking of candidate projects.
  • Allow a more effective matching of skilled resources to the right project.
  • Avoid over-allocating limited skilled resources.
  • Anticipate future human resource quantities and skills.
  • Provide a valid basis for staff training.
  • Make Project Initiation faster and more efficient.

Because priorities, finances and resources may change at any time, it is critical that this process be well-defined and easy to follow. It is also important that its value is understood and supported by corporate leaders and the business organization.

Use Criteria

This process is intended for proposed projects that…

  • Are of significant size and will require a significant amount of time to complete.
  • Must be tightly coordinated with other active projects.
  • Will use new or emerging technology.
  • Will require a new work process.
  • Are intended for a new customer or unproven market.
  • Will impact numerous departments or organizations.
  • Are highly critical to the success of the business.
  • Are a known high risk.

This process is not intended for operational requests (Type 3) that may be handled directly by the IT Help Desk or small initiatives (Type 2) that are routed to IT Managers for immediate scheduling and execution.

Process Flow

  • 1.0 CERTIFY BUSINESS CASE
    • 1.1 Document Business Case

      Evaluate all Candidate Project Information that has been provided by the requesting organization or that has been gathered by a technical analyst. If additional information is needed, issue an Information Request to the requester. Format this information into a Business Case. Assign the Candidate Project a new Project Code.

    • 1.2 Review Business Case

      The Business Case will be examined by an screening body with the corporate authority to accept or reject a Candidate Project. When a Business Case is accepted, the Candidate Project is captured in a repository for ranking and selection. If additional information is required on a Business Case, note it as “pending” and issue an Information Request to the requester. If a Business Case is rejected, send the information to the requester with an
      explanation for the rejection. Remain this information in a repository.

    • 1.3 Update Business Case

      When additional information is received on a Candidate Project, obtain the pending Business Case from the repository and revise the data. This Business Case should now be reconsidered by process 1.2.

  • 2.0 Rank Candidate Projects

    When requested, all Candidate Projects that are in the repository should be objectively ranked in order of significance. The ranking criteria should include…

    • Target due dates
    • Impact on the total business
    • Impact on the technology architecture
    • Impact on other applications
    • Project size, cost and duration
    • Project risk

    It will be helpful to rank projects against each of these criteria separately and then compile a single ranking that weights each of these criteria against each other. This ranking process is typically used to feed quarterly budget decisions but may be requested at any time.

  • 3.0 Evaluate Resources

    An updated Skills Inventory should be maintained for all corporate (Business Unit and Information Technology Department) resources that are available for project assignment.

    Additionally, an inventory of available contract resources should also be captured. The purpose of this Skills Inventory is to understand the true capabilities and capacities of these resources.

  • 4.0 Determine Resource Needs

    By evaluating the Skills Inventory and the Candidate Project repository, this process will identify anticipated requirements for quantities and capabilities of future resources. This information will provide…

    • The identification of critical training needs
    • A basis for employment opportunities
    • Criteria for contract personal

    This process should be reviewed on a regular basis by Resource Managers within the organization and can be used for staff career counciling.

  • 5.0 Approve Project
    • 5.1 Select Project

      Based on the information provided by the ranking process, the Core Process Owners of the business will authorize a specific project for initiation. This project should now be removed as a Candidate Project.

    • 5.2 Assign Resources

      Even though a project has been selected, it does not become an “active” project until resources are approved and deployed against it. It is critical to remember that when resources are assigned from the Skills Inventory, this deployment has a proportionate impact on the resource’s availability. The organization must be very careful to not over-commit limited resources in an attempt to “look” more productive.

Glossary

  • Business Case – A formal collection of information that defines a candidate project.
  • Candidate Project Information – A collection of base information that provides initial data about a potential project. This data may be derived from a Service Request or a preliminary study. It will be used to create a Business Case for the project.
  • Core Process Owner – The individual who has corporate authority over a specific business process. A process may cross multiple department areas.
  • Information Request – A request for additional information to complete the profile on a candidate project.
  • Project Code – A unique identifier that is assigned to any Type 1 or Type2 initiative. This code is used to track all cost and other information about this initiative.
  • Resource Manager – The individual who provides administrative support (salary administration, career development, etc.) for project resources. This individual does not have functional support for these resources. That is provided by the Project Manager.
  • Skill Inventory – A collection of information about all human resources that are available for project work. The skill types and skill levels for each person is captured here.

Templates and Tools

A Project Identification Diagram as well as a Business Case Template can be found here (in PDF format) and may be used to document a candidate project.

Chuck Tryon is a nationally respected educator and popular symposium speaker. He founded Tryon and Associates in 1986 to provide seminar training and consulting that helps organizations and individuals develop predictable and repeatable approaches to modern project management, knowledge management and business requirements. The strategies presented in Mr. Tryon’s seminars are used by thousands of professionals in hundreds of organizations across the United States, Europe and Canada. His client list includes many top 100 companies.

Chuck has authored 10 multi-day seminars and is working on several new writing projects. He is a frequent speaker at Project Management Institute meetings symposiums across the country. Chuck also serves as the coordinator and moderator for the annual Knowledge and Project Management Symposium (www.kipanet.org) that is held each August in Tulsa.

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