Posts Tagged ‘SP2’

Phase Zero

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

I had an email from a guy in Europe who was being asked to manage a project he was convinced would fail. What should he do? He had been an avid reader of the white papers on our site, and said they seemed to be written from a very pragmatic viewpoint. He was looking for some common sense advice about his situation. Should he resign?
Fortunately for Kurt, the answer was a little less drastic. We make available a phase of our Software Package Selection Process – SP2 on our site to show the product to potential purchasers. The phase is Phase Zero which examines if a project is ready to start, and identifies where it is likely to fail. I pointed him to the site, and he used the material there to run his own Phase Zero. The result was the project was postponed indefinitely.
Problems included

  • A lack of clarity as to what the project was trying to achieve
  • Disagreement amongst the key stakeholders as to what would be delivered
  • Business resources not available
  • Unrealistic expectations as to what it would cost.

The last point was interesting in that a senior executive estimated the budget could be completed for a particular amount of money.  She also believed it would need 4 people full time for a period of 6 months.  Simple maths to calculate the cost of four people for the 6 month, was double what she estimated the total cost of the project would be.  That was before the equipment to be purchased as part of the project was factored in.  When it was pointed out that the cost would be four times what she was estimating, she immediately wanted the project cancelled.

Phase Zero is critical to the success of any project.  It requires little effort and can avoid the organisation wasting considerable time, money and effort.  To read more about Phase Zero in our Software Package Selection Process click here

Press Release – Software Package Selection Process launch

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

For anyone who is interested, we have just put out a press release for the launch of SP2.  SP2 is our new product that will enable an organisation to select a software package quickly, at less cost, and with less risk.  It is a web based methodology that can be tailored for each company to meet your own requirements.  Included are templates, reference documents and links to white papers that will assist.

You can read the press release at PR Web

Phase Zero

Friday, March 20th, 2009

A less known project management term is Phase Zero. I have heard it off and on over a decade or more but most people are not clear what it is all about. In fact it turned up in an early draft of the new international project management standard – ISO 21500. Phase Zero is the phase you carry out before the project starts. It is work to establish if the project is ready to start.

The goal is to understand the following:

  • Does everyone have the same picture of what the project is all about.  The same view of the business problem it is trying to address and the expected outcome.
  • Do we have everying we need in place to start the project?  In particular, do we have the resources we need, available to start when we need them.
  • Who are the key stakeholders, and what is their view of their role in the project.  For example do we have two or more people who believe they should be the Sponsor.
  • Are the expectations of the project realistic?
  • Are there any areas of conflict or inconsistency that need to be resolved prior to the project starting?  For example differences in the view of what is in or out of scope.

As you can see this is not a feasibility phase.  We are not looking at financial justification.  This is a project manager trying to fix the obvious problems that will cause pain down the track.  Many failed projects failed for reasons that in retrospect, were visible on day one.  Until the conflicts and inconsistencies are resolved, the project should not start.

As an example, I did three Phase Zeros last year for a company.  They resulted in one of the projects being cancelled, one deferred for a year, and one proceeding after almost a month of negotiation around the scope and availability of resources.

Many years ago I did a Phase Zero and ended up in front of the board explaining what they needed to do to successfully replace an ERP system.  They had no idea until we started identifying the business resource requirements, and how long they would be taken out of their day to day roles.  We did propose alternatives but the board decided they could not allocate the resource effort at that point.  It was deferred and five years passed before they reconsidered it in a different economic environment.

As part of our Software Package Selection Process (SP2) we have made available the Phase Zero section of the methodology.  It has all the instructions, templates and references to enable you to carry out a Phase Zero for any project.  Before you start your next project, take the time to do a Phase Zero.  You will be surprised at what it uncovers.