May 26, 2017
How would you build the Pyramids and an underground railway system? Part 1 of 3.
By: Suraj Rai

In which we explore what our projects are and key players for success.  

Congratulations you’ve got the promotion. Your new job title is the “Time Travelling Project Manager”. You’ve been given a license to time travel and you’re now member of the council of time travelling project managers.

It’s a coveted role and as a test to new members the board have given you two projects. To build the Pyramids and build an underground railway system simultaneously. Time travelling in between of course.

Image 1

In the historical responsible, accountable, consulted and informed chart (RACI) you are now both responsible and accountable for the correct and timely delivery of these wonders.

To clarify it’s not you physically building them but rather the teams who you’ll manage. On the line is your new licence to time travel, the historical importance of the projects and the status of your role.

Of course, you probably already know best, but let’s think about how you might need to go about this task.

Step 1 — The Requirements phase.

In which we understand to deliver something we’re going to need to understand what it is we need to deliver.

This phase introduces key players into our projects. We’re going to refer to them as stakeholders. What you’re after here is essentially to get clarity on some key who, what, where, when and why questions.

Who is going to be using it? What does it look like when finished? Where is it going to be? When do you expect this? Why do you want it? The last question is particularly important to understand as it’s the guiding motivation for why you are building something.

Our stakeholders could be divided in all manner of categories and they would also sit within our RACI. In our scenarios, they’ll be the ones who will be affected by and ultimately use what we create. We’re going to talk to them to find out what they’d like to build.

Image 2

Travelling back in time to Egypt you meet with your biggest stakeholder, the big boss, the Pharaoh.

His absolute mandate means we can pretty much focus our time on him. Across a week you record his answers to your many questions on your papyrus project plan.

From your conversations, it becomes clear that the Pharaoh is after classically shaped Pyramids for himself. He’s not worried about what stone it’s built with but it is important that it needs to be a few miles overlooking the Nile and built in 5 years to commemorate a personal anniversary. Eventually, it’ll be his resting place before his journey to the underworld.

A single decisive and powerful stakeholder has outlined their expectations and requirements for the Pyramids.

Image 3

Leaving your Egyptian garments for more modern attire you travel in time to the underground railway project. Here the numbers of stakeholders for your requirements have grown, significantly.

Some of these stakeholders will hold higher priority than others for the success of the project. So, your invites and meetings will have to vary. They range from the city’s Mayor, businesses, commuters, school children, tourists, to government ministers, home owners, pets, engineers and more.

The list you gather from all these stakeholders is long. Possibly containing items ranging from seat comfort, to stop locations, to the shape of the tunnels. Similar to stakeholders some requirements will be of higher priority to address than others.

From these meetings, we can get an overall idea of what we’re going to build; an efficient underground transport system for lots of people. However, the city’s infrastructure, population and the technology it uses is continuing to change rapidly. This change is going put pressure on you by shifting the priority of your requirements and generating new ones continuously.

This is something we’ll address in the next phase.

In this post, we’ve seen the first steps of the project by meeting our stakeholders and thinking about what the projects mean. In the next post, we’ll look at how to setup a project for success by planning. 

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