Project initiation request (PIR) process and the project management board (PMB)

Introduction

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) says that Project Initiation is “… the process of formally authorizing a new project…”(2004, p 43). The (PMBOK® Guide)further describes the project initiation process in terms of an Initiating Processes Group, which includes the project management processes that are linked by the respective inputs and outputs and are performed to authorize and define the scope of a new project. A large number of the initiating processes are typically done outside the project's scope of control by the organization, program, or portfolio processes and those processes provide input to the project's initiating processes group. At Boeing, we support that description and have applied a formal project initiation request process and procedures, that is web-based, with database support, implemented and controlled by our Project Management Board (PMB) or initiating process group, to authorize new projects that support the Company's vision, business plan, and customer requirements.

This paper will provide an overview of the online Project Initiation Request (PIR) Process (a best practice implemented in our shared services business unit) and the Project Management Board (PMB), which is currently in production today and is presented from the viewpoint of a Project Manager practitioner who is applying the art of project management on a daily basis. The purpose of the PIR process is to launch new projects with basic information to facilitate and support the PMB's decision-making process. Other business units are considering implementing the PIR process, as a best practice, in their organization so that all projects proposed are reviewed and approved according to an agreed-upon process, selection criteria and meets their business goals and objectives.

Briefly, customer requests for new projects and project resource support are initiated via an online, web-based project request form that is completed by the customer, stored in the database, and forwarded via email to the project management board (PMB). The PMB will then apply their project analysis, selection, and assignment process. If a project is selected and approved for project management support, then selection and assignment of a project manager is completed based on knowledge, availability, and skills, as required by the customer, and the project is posted on the internal PMB web site.

This paper will include a discussion of the following topics:

  • Project Initiation Request (PIR) Process:
    • Why initiate a project?
    • Benefits of initiating a project
    • Process overview & flow diagram
    • Online PIR form
  • Project Management Board (PMB):
    • Charter and Mission
    • PMB vs. PMO
    • RAA (Responsibility, Accountability, Authority)
    • PMB Process Model:
      • 1.0 Project Request
      • 2.0 Project Assignment & Scope
      • 3.0 Project Resource Planning Process
      • 4.0 Project Execution

Project Initiation Request (PIR) Process

Why initiate a project?

Without a formal PIR process in place to review, measure, and prioritize projects according to similar criteria, including business objectives, projects are usually started on a first-in, first-out basis or some other subjective criteria, such as politics, without considering all of the options and risks that will help or encumber production.

Why initiate a project…….

  • To formally authorize a project;
  • To delegate authority by assigning responsibility to a project manager;
  • To ensure good understanding of the project terms and conditions;
  • To confirm the expectations or requirements of stakeholders; and,
  • To initiate the administrative aspects of project.

Benefits of initiating a project

The key benefits to initiating a project:

  • Common agreement between customer, project manager and project stakeholders.
  • Opportunity to find and bring to light any serious problems or questions that require immediate attention prior to initiation.
  • Prevention of costly mistakes that can accompany the initial excitement of a new project.
  • Clearing up of any false expectations.
  • Confidence that the project manager will be capable of delivering the project.

Process overview and flow diagram

A brief overview of the PIR Process:

  • Customer or sponsor accesses the PMB web site and completes and submits the online PIR form
  • PMB receives the PIR via web-generated email.
  • PIR is processed via the PMB Process Model.
  • If PIR is approved, then the Customer is notified, PM is assigned, and the Project begins.

The PIR process is a Gated-process flow (Exhibit 1) that begins with Gate 1, which requires a customer or sponsor to access the online PIR form (Exhibit 2), complete the required data fields, click the submit button, which in turn sends the data to a database repository and generates an automated email sent to the PMB for action. In Gate 2, the PMB Process Model (Exhibit 3), the review begins with an analysis of the request considering the selection criteria; business needs, customer requirements, and ends with a go or no go decision. If approved, in Gate 3 the Project Manager is assigned, a customer interview is conducted, and the Project charter is completed and signed. Gate 4 is Project Startup with the team assigned and the project-planning phase begins.

PIR Process

Exhibit 1 – PIR Process

Online PIR Form

Exhibit 2 – Online PIR Form

Project Management Board (PMB)

The Project Management Board (PMB) was formed to provide the people and organizations of IT/Shared Services, their suppliers, and customers the highest quality project management support services and to be the resource provider of choice for Project Managers and to grow the profession of project management within the organization.

Charter and Mission

The PMB Charter:

  • To guide Project Management process improvements to achieve full customer satisfaction (e.g. PIR process and PMB Process Model)
  • To be the provider of choice for Project Management services.
  • To manage the profession of Project Management (e.g. Common Processes, Tools, Training)
  • To communicate, train and implement Project Management Standards (e.g. processes, procedures and tools) in support of Company or organization goals and business objectives.

The PMB Mission:

  • To coordinate project management and supporting processes for all Projects;
  • To reduce cost through shared resources and common methods;
  • To improve customer satisfaction through improved interfaces;
  • To define common project management methods and tools; and,
  • To enhance professional Project Manager development.
PMB vs. PMO

The PMB supports a single organization or business unit, whereas a typical PMO supports an entire organization or company and is the project focal point between IT/IS and the business. The PMB is limited to receiving project initiation requests from potential customers/sponsors, whereas a PMO not only receives requests for new projects, but can offer guidance in developing project proposals. The PMB ensures that a standard suite of project management processes and tools are provided, whereas a typical PMO not only provides a standard suite of processes and tools but can offer standard services that include estimation, resource management, metrics methodologies for project tracking, and auditing. The PMB is not responsible for conducting post-mortems or lessons learned reviews with project sponsors and executive management, whereas in a typical PMO will utilize standard procedures, such as setting risk standards and escalation points, to facilitate post-mortems with the project sponsors to measure the project's success and provide guidance for continuous quality improvements to existing processes, methodologies and tools.

RAA (Responsibility, Accountability, and Authority)

The principal roles and responsibilities of the PMB include the following, which are used as performance measures:

  • Maintain ownership and sponsorship of the PIR Process and PMB Process Model;
  • Customers satisfied with metrics aimed at project management parameters;
  • Provide PM services, both internal and external to the organization;
  • Manage PM profession with common tools, processes, & training;
  • Manage the Project Management Incentive Program to reward performance;
  • Organize and facilitate recognition events to celebrate PM & Team contributions;
  • Support a functional project management mentoring program;
  • Develop skilled PMs by providing growth and training opportunities;
  • Assure that project charter are completed and signed prior to project startup;
  • Provide a clear, well-defined PMB charter and mission statement; and,
  • Provide PM communication via PMB web site to view and update projects.

The PMB has accountability to the membership, employees, sponsors and stakeholders. They have complete authority and ownership of the online PIR process and tool and are responsible for implementing, monitoring and controlling the PIR process, procedures and database.

PMB Process Model

The PMB Process Model includes four distinct process steps that not only supports the PIR process, but also supports the PMB's charter, mission, and other roles and responsibilities.

PMB Process Model

Exhibit 3 – PMB Process Model

1.0 Project Request

Process step 1.0 begins with the receipt of the customer or sponsor generated online Project request form. A PMB focal receives the request for a new Project via an automated email message. The focal contacts the requestor to acknowledge receipt and to clarify any data points on the form. The focal declares the request is understood and complete, then schedules it for review with the PMB and action (2.0).

2.0 Project Assignment & Scope

Process step 2.0 begins with a review of the Project request at a PMB meeting. The request is classified to determine which organization has jurisdiction as either a PMB Project or non-PMB Project. If it is a non-PMB Project, then the request is transferred to the appropriate business unit or organization. If it is a PMB Project, then the analysis and selection criteria are considered, business case and customer needs are reviewed, and if approved a Project Manager is assigned.

3.0 Project Resource Planning Process

Process step 3.0 involves the assignment of the resources and subject matter experts needed to complete the project. The PMB has developed a Resource Plan and maintains a resource pool for assigning resources enterprise wide, as needed. Project Manager development, Skills management, and future resource planning are elements of this process step.

4.0 Project Execution

Process step 4.0, the Project has been initiated, team members assigned, and the Project planning phase has started based on the Project's purpose, objectives, scope, deliverables and timeline that is documented in the signed charter.

Conclusion

An online, web-enabled PIR process that utilizes a 24 hour/7 days-a-week project request data entry form has been proven to serve as a value-added, time and cost saving tool for initiating, assigning and categorizing new Projects. The PMB board, which owns the online PIR process, manages the profession of Project Management in the IT/Shared Services organization. Executive Sponsorship is critical to the success of implementing a PIR process for initiating and approving new Projects.

Flexibility is critical for a successful project initiation process. Thresholds must be set within the PIR process for project size, business need, cost, etc. Once the framework for the PIR process is set, analysis and decision criteria should then be set and matched with minimum required information. Easy access for users and stakeholders to project data and the online PIR form, as well as training to use the tool, is critical to making the PIR all-encompassing within an organization. A central location makes it possible to track proposals through the process, manage workflow and analyze the project request every step of the way. Our automated PIR process tool makes the process more effective, including the tracking of project data for metrics. Solid practices in project initiation can start a chain reaction that strengthens processes in other areas.

References

PMI (2004) A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). Newtown Square, PA, USA: Project Management Institute

Visitacion, Margo (2003, May) Giga World IT Forum 2003 – The Project Initiation Process: Developing Practices to Optimize Project Selection. Web Site: http://www.planview.com/docs/Giga_PIP.pdf

Boeing Project Sponsor Interview Process (2002), Document no. 194–02-07 (May 7, 2002).

Boeing Information Technology Services Project Management Board (PMB) Process (2003), Document no. 194–02-018 (August 6, 2003).

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

© 2005, Craig Smith, PMP
Originally published as a part of 2005 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – EMEA

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