A recent conversation went along the lines of:
- “There’s a major new project being kicked off in the business, so the PMO is going to get them to write a PID.” [PMO = Project Management Office; PID = Project Initiation Document]
- “Does the project team know what a PID is, or why they might need one?“
- “Probably not and they’re not really familiar with what they’ll probably see as management-speak.“
- “So, how much do we think they’ll welcome being asked to write a PID?“
- “Err, not a lot!“
The issue at the heart of this is how do we ensure projects get initiated in a way that gives everyone clarity of purpose? What we don’t (necessarily) need to do is “fill in a PID template”. If you’re working in a “project-mature” organisation, then going straight to a PID is more likely to be the right way to go, but even then, it’s the conversations about the purpose of the project that matter, rather than has the template been completed.
In “project-immature” organisations, where people either don’t understand project management (jargon), or it’s just not their normal way of working, asking them to fill in a template is unlikely to be met with overwhelming enthusiasm. If it’s being “done” by the PMO, it also risks raising barriers where the PMO will be held at arms-length from the project and not engaged as a helpful friend.
If you’re in the latter situation, think about how the people in the project like to work. If they’re not very structured, it might be more appropriate to work with them to build a pictorial view of the project, perhaps using a mindmap. With some of the software available today, it’s easy to do this collaboratively, with the project team. I’m a fan of iThoughtsHD on the iPad and the mindmap below is my “starter for ten” map for gathering information about a project. Then, when it’s appropriate, it can be turned into a PID.