Inside the Barrel

Project in Progress

Project in Progress

Project Management best practices such as PMBOK and PRINCE2 encourage the creation of important artifacts during early stages of a project's life. These artifacts, such as a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Project Management Plan, or Project Controls are intended to be referenced and updated throughout the project lifecycle, guiding the execution.

BUT...What happens if you are assigned to work on a project in progress and thesefoundationalprojectelements do not exist, are incomplete, or lack fidelity?

First, understand that gathering information not already documented about the past execution of a project in progress is a waste of resources.Not only is it impossible to recreate the initial conditions of the project's initiation, but the data required to fill in planning artifacts from this stage probably do not exist.It does not matter; it's in the past. Treat the moment in time one enters a project in progress as a singularity; a point from which all subsequent activities cannot be predicted.The challenge is capturing the present details surrounding the singularity, and carving out a new and hopefully better future for the project. Focus on identifying project artifacts that do not exist.Once missing project artifacts are identified, evaluate whether or not they will provide value to the project now that it is out of the initiating/planning stage.For example, a Project Charter may be helpful in providing an overview of the project team and communication structure, but a project in progress may already have these elements in working order.Therefore, developing a Charter would merely be documenting processes that the team currently uses.Alternatively, if the project does not have a Requirements Traceability Matrix, one may wonder what agreement was made about the project's goals during initiation.If there are no documented objectives for a project, then how does one know if they are providing value to the organization or when the project ends (remember projects are temporary). Information gaps related to the project's purpose, goals, and requirements are worth investigating and resolving in coordination with project stakeholders. While producing the project artifacts that will provide the most value to the project from the singularity point, one must also capture project controls related to cost, schedule, and performance in a baseline.If the project already has a baseline, conduct a baseline review with applicable stakeholders to verify its accuracy. If the project does not have a baseline, take a snapshot of existing project information at whatever fidelity is available, forming a "