Project Vision Statement
By Michael D. Taylor
Selecting new projects within a corporation should not be made in a “vacuum.” There was a reason the company was formed and this reason is usually reflected in a clear vision statement.
Reaching agreement on which new products to pursue can be a monumental task because each contributor wants whatever favors their interests most. The financial members want projects that are lucrative, technical members want a product that can be designed easily, production managers products that can be manufactured easily. In the end, everyone needs to agree on the vision statement.
In order to reach a united agreement, the Project Selection Team (PST) must first establish selection criteria. Each criterion must then be assigned a specific “weight” indicating its degree of importance. Several techniques can be adopted for this purpose. These include:
- Scoring Models: These are models which can be developed on any commercial spreadsheet. Their strength lies in establishing definitions for the various scoring levels.
- Rank & Rate Models: This is a simplified model which ranks and rates each alternative but has no limit to the total weight of the decision.
- Analytic Hierarchy Process Models: AHP is a comprehensive technique which allows the decision model to be decomposed into very low levels. Teams that are not familiar with AHP models may be overwhelmed at first.
- Kepner-Tregoe Decision Models: A very popular decision making technique, KTA employs simplicity and flexibility. It has the advantages of scoring models, rank-rate models, and to some degree, AHP models.
The project manager plays a vital role as a member of the PST. While every member of the team provides a specific input to the project selections, the project manager generally fulfills at least the following functions:
- A proposed product design concept that meets the targeted market need.
- An estimate of how long the project will take.
- An estimate of how much the project will cost (budget).
- Identification of the major project risks and risk mitigations.
Since many new products must be introduced into the market by a specific time in order to meet a “market window of opportunity,” it is critical that project selections be made expeditiously. To do otherwise might compress the project schedule and in some cases render the scope undoable within the allotted time. To prevent such unnecessary delays the project manager must be a “catalyst” in expediting the project selections.
MICHAEL D. TAYLOR, M.S. in systems management, B.S. in electrical engineering, has more than 30 years of project, outsourcing, and engineering experience. He is principal of Systems Management Services, and has conducted project management training at the University of California, Santa Cruz Extension in their PPM Certificate program for over 13 years, and at companies such as Sun Microsystems, GTE, Siemens, TRW, Loral, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and Inprise. He also taught courses in the UCSC Extension Leadership and Management Program (LAMP), and was a guest speaker at the 2001 Santa Cruz Technology Symposium. His website is www.projectmgt.com.