A sponsor, usually a senior executive, will establish both the need for a programme or project to be undertaken, and outline the strategic outcome for a programme or the expected results for a project. The sponsor will provide a specification for the programme manager or for the project skills and experience. They will also secure a budget to resource the project team.
The sponsor will establish and lead a steering committee or group that includes senior stakeholders to engage, manage and help remove blocks.
The sponsor is also responsible for writing the programme or project business and having the business case approved. The business case defines both the problem to be solved and the expected benefits.
Level 1 outlined the most common project methodologies for systems development, process re-engineering, or product development. Depending on the size, scope and duration of the project, and the capabilities and experience of the project manager and team, the programme or project manager will determine which method will be used.
The method selected will determine how the project is planned, phases or sprints defined, and resources allocated. Business process re-engineering tools such as Lean and Six Sigma are often used as part of the problem solving and design stages of the project.
Projects may be further broken down into work streams that allow more complex tasks to be compartmentalised to help scope, manage, and complete them. Where there are several work streams, the project manager will designate a work stream lead to manage and report on progress.
Project managers plan how their project will be delivered on time, within scope, and to the budget.
If the project forms part of a programme, the programme managers will collate the individual projects into a strategic programme plan that shows how the individual projects deliver the proposed strategic result.
Planning should not be neglected or underestimated. Most programmes and projects that cannot meet their objectives are caused first by poor planning, and then by poor execution and implementation.
Gantt charts are one of the most widely used project management tools and are named after Henry Gantt who revolutionised project management in the early part of the twentieth century with this tool. Originally they were handwritten, and had to be redrawn if something changed, but with computers being introduced in the 1980s they became software that is now increasingly complex and elaborate. However, the easiest software for simple projects is Microsoft Excel.
Gantt charts are a visualisation tool and not a replacement for trained project managers. Programme and project managers create and use Gantt charts to visualise the project plan. Tasks, their start and end dates, and the time required to complete them are entered on the left-hand side. The software creates a ‘bar’ that allows the project manager to show progress (the darker blue section of the bar) in completing the task.
Key milestones, such as a review to approve the design before development and coding starts are shown as ‘diamonds’. It can also show dependencies between tasks and who, from the project team, is assigned to complete the task.
Note: this example (Operations Sample Gannt) is for demonstration and follows a ‘waterfall’ method. A project plan and Gantt chart for a project following an Agile method would look very different.