Project Management Ownership in Federal Agencies
Projects exist to solve problems and bring ideas into reality. Instead of limiting their focus to scope, deliverables, schedule, work breakdown structure, and change management, project managers can feel empowered to take ownership of a project by answering these three questions:
- Why does the project exist?
- What are the key activities and milestones?
- How will the project plan be executed?
Why does the project exist?
One of the leadership philosophies prominent in the military is commander’s intent — how the chain of command envisions the successful execution of a task or mission and explains why it is being done. The project charter, business case, and sponsor’s strategic intent define the purpose, business benefit, and risks associated with failing to complete the project. Understanding a project’s purpose significantly affects operational and strategic planning. And it helps motivate the project team to stay engaged through completion.
What are the key activities and milestones?
Once we understand the scope and purpose of the project, we can take ownership in mapping out where we want the project to go by defining its deliverables, key activities, and milestones — completing a deliverable at a specific time with specific resources to bring value through the project. Some examples of key deliverables and milestones include the following:
- Select the project approach to synchronize, manage resources, and produce deliverables.
- Perform high-level decomposition of deliverables into tasks.
- Estimate time and financial, human, and physical resource requirements.
- After defining deliverables, assess project risks.
Owning these milestones helps prevent scope creep. Remaining cognizant of the project’s purpose aids in the next step, execution.
Empowered by their understanding of the project’s purpose and milestones, project teams move toward execution.
In this critical project stage, stakeholders and project teams leverage subject-matter experts to plan stakeholder engagements, refine resource needs, and assess risks.
Isn’t a project merely an abstract idea that becomes a tangible reality through critical thinking and collaboration? Clearly defining the intended purpose and desired result of a project from the beginning invites project teams to take ownership. This status makes them better able to delineate their tasks, maintain focus, and strive for project completion because they are fueled by a shared sense of purpose — a concrete connection to an outcome that matters. Consider reframing your projects this way to maximize understanding and engagement.
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