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Project Lifecycle| Justify

What is it… The Justify Stage is the second stage within our Project Lifecycle. At this point the project has moved beyond the Proposed stage and is now classified as ‘In-Progress’. The project could however become terminated or suspended as it progresses through the stage (as is the case for all the remaining stages within the project lifecycle). The project is now under the Direct and Manage a Project management procedure.

In short, this stage is intended to be a quick assessment of the opportunity or requirement and determine how that opportunity could be addressed.  This stage also provides a baseline for which the project will be assessed. An initial business case steps out a potential range of solutions.

How long should the Justify Stage take?

As with the previous Identify Stage the Justify Stage is not intended to be long winded. Though there are now more project artefacts to produce, these are about healthy governance and not intended as time consumers.

What are the key steps… 

Step 1Mobilise the Team – To begin to manage as a project the first step of this stage is to mobilise the project team. Any project to succeed requires the right people in place performing the right activities with the appropriate authority and knowledge.

At this stage the project team will be limited to what is required within this stage. This activity will include:

  1. Estimating the time and effort required
  2. Identify candidates for each of the roles outlined (not all will be known so at this stage is more about defining the job descriptions and requirements)
  3. Confirm availability of key people (and timelines where person unknown)
  4. Acceptance of roles – ensure all are aware of what they are signing on to before on-boarding
  5. Add any risks associated with resource to the RAID log

 

Step 2Initial Investigation – Now we have the right people in place we can start to investigate the value of the project. A starting place for this is with the organisations Lessons Learned log. This helps the project to prevent making the same mistakes but also gives guidance into what could be possible.

Here the team will evaluate the ways in which the project can be delivered and select the preferred approach to be scoped out within the Define Stage.

Step 3Develop the Project Brief and Initial Business Case – The project brief develops on from the Identify stage and the Initial Business Case is developed.

This ensures that the project focuses on the outcomes desired and not just the who and the how. The term Initial in initial business case is key here. The IBC may well only contain a high-level view. Below are common items within the IBC:

  1. Project Mandate developed into a set of objectives
  2. Description of the project
  3. Strategic alignment to organisational goals
  4. Funding mechanism – perhaps including staged funding. So at this point do we have enough funding to progress to the next stage?
  5. Lessons Learned are incorporated
  6. Any background information
  7. Customers quality requirements
  8. Outline Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies

The IBC will require signing off as part of the stage approval.

From here the remainder of the project brief is developed. Which includes:

  1. Possible delivery solutions – in-house, external etc
  2. Corporate programme standards to be applied – think of project tolerances (sign-off levels and authority), governance material
  3. The scope and constraints
  4. The project user (s) and other interested parties
    1. Stakeholder Engagement
  5. Review of the project management team
    1. Resource requirements
Z

Tip!

If the project looking to be deployed is in an area new to the organisation then there is justification for seeking external support from those who have the relevant capability and experience. They will be able to share previous lessons learned and provide guidance on best ways to approach – such as time frames and capability required.

Step 4Approve the Project Stage – Ahead of the project stage being approved the plan for the Define Stage is developed and presented along with the IBC and updated Project Brief. This ensures the next stage has a ready set of actions and a direction from the offset (if approved). 

Key Deliverables of the Justify Stage

  1. Mobilised the Team
  2. Initial Business Case
  3. Reviewed Lessons Learned
  4. Updated Project Brief
  5. RAID log
  6. Next Stage Plan
Z

Tip!

The Justify stage helps to ensure that time is not wasted commencing a project that is based on unfit information. So the investment in this stage can pay dividends even if the decision is ultimately not to proceed. If this is the case think of it as months of project work saved rather than a couple of weeks lost in the Justify Stage.

Project Lifecycle Justify Stage FAQ’S

What is a RACI?

A RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) is a matrix tool which supports stakeholder engagement and understanding of the roles and responsibilities.

How many times have you been involved in a project or activity and there is confusion over who does what – or worse a lack of traction or ownership.

This is where a RACI (Responsible; Accountable; Consulted; Informed) or a RASCI (as RACI but with an additional S standing for Support) comes into play

  • Responsible – The performer. This is the person who performs the task (s) or activity (ies).
  • Accountable – The decision maker. This is the person who is held to account for the success. The accountability cannot be delegated
  • Consulted – The subject matter experts. These are the people who need to be consulted (asked) before proceeding. They provide the advice and steer that the project can decide to act upon
  • Informed – The informed. These are who we let know activities are on-going or once they are completed
What are Lessons Learned?

Lessons Learned is a process created throughout a project whereby lessons are recorded in a log for the benefit of future delivery and future projects. When a new project starts up one of the areas they should seek out is previous lessons learned.

Lessons learned can and should cover a myriad of actions across the project lifecycle, including but not limited to:

  • Strengths and weaknesses of procedures/processes
  • Resources
  • Capabilities
  • Timing and phasing
  • Departmental attributes
What is the Initial Business Case (IBC)?

Initial Business Case (sometime referred to as the Outline Business Case) is an early stage view of the opportunity and may provide funding to further exploit the opportunity

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