This interview features major projects PM Karlene Aggard and me discussing how to set up a project correctly and the lessons we have learned. The first 1.30m is me padding while I wait to get Karlene involved in the discussion. But Facebook kept us waiting so we had to wait. You can skip that first 90 seconds!
Below is the transcript, in case that you prefer to read it, but not the first 90 seconds of waffle.
Elizabeth: Hi. It looks like you are on the beach.
Karlene: No. Karlene: No. I am actually in an office right now, but it is a very nice part of the office.
Elizabeth: Yes, it’s been quite pleasant here. It’s a welcome change from the bad weather we’ve experienced in the south of England. It’s not as bad as some other places around the world. We are grateful that you joined us today. We had a great chat the other day and have lots of interesting topics to discuss. It would be a great way to introduce yourself to everyone. Please tell us about yourself and your history.
Karlene: Sure. Thank you for having us here. I have been working in the rail industry for 4 1/2 years. I started my career in safety reporting. Then I moved to change management and then as a risk and valuation analyst for major projects within Network Rail. I enjoyed helping major projects succeed during my time at Network Rail. I believe it is important to start them right from the beginning. I noticed a lot of people in the project management community want to get things done. People will have their own ideas and will look to move forward with them, but they won’t always be able to step back and ask, “What are we really trying to achieve and what is the best way?”
You can value manage by creating a framework. This will help you say, “These is the outcome that we need from the project.” Then you can use this framework to guide you through the project management process to help determine the best option to deliver the outcome you want.
Elizabeth: It’s all about starting it right.
Karlene: Yes, yes. Absolutely. Yes.
Elizabeth: That’s a fair point. I’m certain that you won’t be able to talk about some of the things you work on. That won’t be discussed. You spoke briefly about managing large projects and setting up projects correctly, as well as the value management aspect of things. Although not everyone works on large projects, there are some commonalities. What are the most important things project managers should do at project initiation?
Karlene: It is important to clearly understand the key outcomes you want from this project at the beginning. This should be agreed upon with the project management team. This agreement must be signed by your sponsors and all senior stakeholders in your organization. They will often be the ones that will introduce changes or scope changes later. You have the best chance to get them involved from the beginning.
Functional analysis is a powerful tool for value management. It helps you to understand and define your goals and objectives from the beginning. It’s about clearly defining your core objectives and defining them. It gives you a framework that you can use in many ways. Start with your highest level objectives.