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Project Lifecycle| Do

What is it… In some project lifecycle methodologies the actions of implementation and controlling are separated. Though this is arguably to do with the sheer volume of information – after all this is where the project gets into full swing. You cannot execute (well not effectively at least) without appropriate control. For this reason we combine all the activities here into the Do stage. This stage is where we take our plans developed previously, adjust as necessary and develop and complete our deliverables. All while keeping our stakeholders involved!

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Tip!

A project manager will now become highly visible and in serious demand for progress updates and tackling escalations and issues as they arise (and they will arise). The key now is to ensure effective delegation of tasks and follow the approach set-out in the previous stages.

What are the key steps… 

Step 1Set-up the Team – The team that now need to deliver the project may be a separate group of people than those who have defined the project. This is because the skills though transferable and complimentary do have their differences.

As a consequence the first item on the agenda is to build the team and bring the colleagues together. Bringing the team together and team building may need to be exercises that are regularly planned in, this is particularly the case with projects of a long duration.

It is important within the initial gathering that clear roles and responsibilities are outlined and ways of working for the project team. Knowing one another strengths (and weaknesses) can also be valuable.

Step 2 – Authorising Work Packages – Firstly, a view on what Work Packages are. Work packages consist of activities bundled together to achieve parts of or full deliverables required for a successful project. Work packages are the lowest planning units derived from the WBS.

Authorising work packages ensures that the project delivers against the set plan – and if that set plan needs to change (as will always happen) then they deliver against the revised plan. Maintaining the authority with the project manager ensures an holistic view of all the work and environment is taken into account.

The project manager will:

  1. Ensure there is authorisation to commence the work-package
  2. Any exception plans are agreed
  3. Understand the deliverables of the work package
  4. Understand the costs, resources and time required
  5. Set the tolerances (agree them in the acceptance – step 3, see below)
  6. Any unique quality requirements and associated controls
  7. Define the approval method
  8. Agree with delivery manager the work package delivery requirements

Step 3 – Accept a Work Package –  Post the agreement with the Project Manager on the delivery requirements comes accepting the work package with a range of activities to  work through:

  1. Review the agreed work package – so here the delivery manager will look at reference documentation, clarify any delivery points, agree the tolerance
  2. Understand the following:
    1. Reporting obligations
    2. Approval for deliverables
    3. Handover approach
  3. Produce the team plan
  4. Risk review and inform the project manager of any movements
  5. Agree the delivery against the above

In some instances the project manager could be all encompassing and be required to do part of the delivery – i.e. a work package or two. It is still advisable to deliver the above approach – though of course the setting and agreement of targets requires no outside party.

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Tip!

You may find yourself in a position where project governance isn’t followed or the set structure laid out is either not in existence or the approach is less formal. Our advice here is to still follow the above actions within the suggested steps. i.e. if your project has no risk register still take the time to consider them, socialise them and act on them. This will ensure whether you are taking over or accepting to deliver an item you have considered and asked the relevant questions. This will safeguard your part of the delivery.

Step 4 – Complete, Monitor and Review –  First and foremost we now get on with delivering the work package items. This is where we start to see changes happen, what happens here now will depend on the project that you are delivering. However, the following are common items regardless of what is being delivered:

Delivery of the activities as defined within the work package adhering to:

  1. The quality standards
  2. The set tolerances and escalation paths
  3. Capture, management and recording the resources deployed
  4. Manage and amend the plan as required
  5. Respond to and capture risks and issues
  6. Obtain approvals for delivery
  7. Delivery following the set reporting requirements
    1. Highlight reports
    2. Checkpoint reports
    3. Plan forecasts and actuals

Whilst we are implementing we take a regular assessment of the project. Remember the golden rule ‘No surprises’.  The regularity and depth of the assessment will depend on the level of risk and other associated factors such as costs. This will though be defined ahead of the work package commencing and will be monitored to ensure it remains appropriate.

This might seem like we are bulking together the crux of the work with two additional items – but without robust monitoring and reviewing we will not be aware of how implementation is performing and if we are going to deliver the requirements.

On monitoring and reviewing the following may be resultant actions:

  1. Escalation of critical items
  2. Seek additional Steering Committee – approval, guidance
  3. Invoke corrective actions
  4. Revise and update RAID logs
  5. Update planning and forecasts – for costs and resources
  6. Communicate project status and progress – as per the communication plan

Step 5 – Work package completion – This step comes into play as the work package is completed. In the same way that the work package was accepted the notification and acceptance of a work package must now take place. 

The delivery manager will need to ensure the following before handing over to the project manager:

  1. Check against quality requirements – has the activity delivered against the quality standards set-out?
  2. Ensure there is approval / acceptance of the work that has been delivered – depending on the project setting this could be formally with an internal or external customer or simply an email/verbal agreement
  3. Update all plans to show completion
  4. Inform the project manager of it’s completion and notify if there are any outstanding items which must be delivered against

The project manager will then need to do the following to close out the activity:

  1. Check that the said items have been completed to the quality standard set-out
  2. Ensure the required approvals have been delivered as set-out in the work package
  3. Ensure all project collateral has been updated
  4. Update project plans, resourcing plans, cost estimates etc with actuals and show the progress
  5. Resolve any outstanding items
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Tip!

Multi-tasking, delegation and organisation are 3 key traits of successful project managers, and they will strongly come into play during this phase. As will focus. Relentlessly staying focused on the items which really matter will pay dividends in this stage – know what they are and ensure the right effort, resource and priority is allocated to their completion.

Step 6 – Repeat, update, progress – This is less of a sequential step (though in some cases it will be) as work packages can be delivered in tandem. This is more of a reference to the point that throughout the Do stage the cycle will repeat over and parts of a project will be progressing at different stages according to the plan.

The trick lies in staying on top of what is happening and evolving the plan to deliver and keeping stakeholders aware of what is happening.

Step 7 – Approve the Project Stage – Each work package will be approved as outlined in step 5 above. When all work packages are completed you will be ready to move on the the final project close stage.

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Tip!

Ensure you take the time to take a step back and assess where the project is going overall. When in the Do Stage with conflicting priorities, management of stakeholders and escalations as things go off plan it can become difficult to step out of the detail. So schedule time to purposely do just that and make those sessions immovable.

Key Deliverables of the Do Stage

  1. Wok packages completed
  2. Updated project collateral
  3. Updated plans with actuals financials, and resources
  4. Project monitored and controlled
  5. Project activities / products implemented

Project Lifecycle Do Stage FAQ’S

What does implementation mean?

Implementation in a project context simply means putting the plan into effect. So delivering against that plan.

What is an Escalation?

Escalations in projects are common place and to be encouraged to ensure there are no surprises. An escalation is used to elevate a decision up a level often to the steering committee or Senior Responsible Owner.

What is a Checkpoint Report?

A Checkpoint Report is a progress report of the information gathered at a checkpoint meeting given by the team manager to the project and delivery manager/owner on the progress of a work package.

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