CompTIA IT Project+ Notes
Domain I: Scope Definition (27%)
This domain covers the knowledge required to identify and define high-level business requirements for a project, project stakeholders, desired project outcomes, and criteria for determining project success. Domain I includes knowledge required to define a project manager’s role and authority, to create a scope document that accurately represents the high-level work required to perform the project, a rough schedule and budget for the project, and information related to building stakeholder consensus and obtaining written approval to proceed with a project.
1.1 Given a vague or poorly-worded customer request, determine the appropriate course of action in order to generate and refine a preliminary project concept definition, informally determine the business need and feasibility of the project, identify project sponsors, obtain formal approval by the project sponsor, and confirm management support.
DEFINING THE PROJECT CONCEPT, BUSINESS NEED, AND FEASIBILITY, IDENTIFYING AND OBTAINING APPROVAL FROM PROJECT SPONSORS, AND CONFIRMING SENIOR MANAGEMENT SUPPORT
A major problem with information technology projects is poor scope definition. It is difficult for customers to state their requirements clearly. Nevertheless, it is very important to identify and define high-level business requirements by creating a preliminary project concept definition. The preliminary project concept definition should include the business need and feasibility of the project. It is also crucial to identify stakeholders’ expectations for the project, to obtain formal approval by the project sponsor, and to confirm senior management support for the project.
NEED TO KNOW:
Stakeholders are the people involved in or affected by project activities. It is very important for a project manager to identify stakeholders on a project and understand their unique needs and expectations.
A sponsor provides overall direction and resources for a project. The most important resource on a project is typically people.
Senior managers are important stakeholders on projects. For projects to succeed, they must have support from senior management. Showing how projects meet business needs helps to build senior management support.
A project concept definition allows you to document the high-level business requirements in the early stages of a project. It often takes several meetings with stakeholders to define the project concept. It is important to focus on how the project fits in with the overall business strategy.
The project manager is responsible for managing project activities. The project team is assigned to work on the project.
The primary driver for making decisions on projects should be what can best meet business needs. Many information technology professionals focus too heavily on technical aspects of projects.
ON THE JOB:
Strong starts are very important for projects. Take the time to make sure everyone understands and agrees upon the business requirements for a project. Get formal project approval from the project sponsor and commitment from senior management.
1.2 Given a set of criteria, which outlines an enterprise’s minimal requirements for a project charter, together with stakeholder input, synthesize a project charter.
CREATING A PROJECT CHARTER
TO achieve formal recognition of a project, all projects should have some type of charter. A charter is a document that provides direction on the project’s objectives and management approach. Key project stakeholders should sign the charter to acknowledge agreement on the need for and intent of the project.
NEED TO KNOW:
A project charter is a document that formally recognizes the existence of a project and provides direction on the project’s objectives and management.
Key project stakeholders, such as the sponsor, project manager, and affected functional managers, should sign the project charter to show their agreement on the need for and intent of the project as well as their support for the project.
Key project stakeholders should provide input in developing the project charter.
The project charter should include:
- The project’s title and date of authorization
- The project manager’s name and contact information
- A brief scope statement for the project
- A summary of the planned approach for managing the project
- A roles-and-responsibilities matrix
- A sign-off section for signatures of key project stakeholders
- A comment section in which stakeholders can provide important comments related to the project.
Project charters can take the form of a letter of agreement, a contract, or a short document created using corporate or other guidelines.
ON THE JOB:
To gain formal recognition for a project and make sure you have key stakeholder buy-in, develop a project charter for all projects. The project charter should be short, should clearly define the key goals for the project, and should specify who is responsible for achieving them.
1.3 Recognize and explain the need to obtain formal approval (sign-off) by the project sponsor(s) and confirm other relevant management support to consume organization resources as the project charter is refined and expanded.
GETTING FORMAL APPROVAL AND SENIOR MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT FOR PROJECTS AS THE PROJECT CHARTER IS REFINED AND EXPANDED
Many information technology projects fail because of a lack of executive support. Many projects cross departmental boundaries, involve suppliers and outside consultants, and result in major organizational changes. Due to these conditions, formal approval and commitment from senior management is crucial for projects to succeed, especially as the project charter is refined and expanded and as the project scope becomes clearer.
NEED TO KNOW:
If a project has formal approval from a respected senior manager, other people involved in the project will be more inclined to support the project.
Project managers need adequate resources, and senior managers can (or cannot) provide them. Organizations have a limited number of resources, so it is important to make sure your project is of value to the organization and will get adequate resources.
Project managers often require timely approval for unique project needs. Senior management can (or cannot) provide this approval.
Project managers must have cooperation from people in other parts of the organization and often from external organizations. If certain functional managers or suppliers are not responding to project managers’ requests for necessary information or support, senior management can step in to encourage their cooperation.
Senior managers can also support projects by mentoring or coaching project managers. Many information technology project managers come from technical positions and are inexperienced as managers. It is important for an experienced senior manager to help develop leadership skills in project managers.
Projects often change as goals become better defined. For a project to succeed, managers from all areas affected by the project need to be involved in further defining the project. Because organizations often have many projects and goals to pursue, senior management may need to step in to ensure resources are being allocated effectively.
ON THE JOB:
Make sure all projects you work on have formal approval and support from senior management. If they do not, ask senior management if the project should be cancelled or redirected. Projects are much more likely to succeed when they have commitment from executives.
1.4 Given a scope definition scenario, demonstrate awareness of the need to get written confirmation of customer expectations regarding the project background, deliverables and the strategy for creating them, targeted completion date, budget dollars available, unacceptable risks, priority of the project, sponsor of the project, predetermined tools or resources, and assumptions that resources will be available as needed.
DEFINING CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS
To meet a customer’s needs for projects, you must understand his/her expectations in several areas. Discuss important project information with the customer and document your understandings.
NEED TO KNOW:
It is important to discuss and document important project information including:
The background of the project. Background includes a problem/opportunity statement, discussion of how the project aligns with organizational goals and other initiatives, and why the project is being initiated at this time.
The deliverables from the project. A deliverable is a product, such as a report or segment of software code, produced as part of the project. It is important to identify and describe in detail all the deliverables of a project. Who will use the product? What will the product look like and be able to do?
The strategy for creating the deliverables. Are there certain industry standards or methodologies that must be used in creating the deliverables?
Targeted completion date and rationale behind the date. What is driving the project schedule? Is the completion date realistic?
Budget dollars available and basis upon which the budget was determined. How much money has the organization set aside or budgeted for the project? How was the budget amount estimated?
Areas of risks that the project client is or is not willing to accept. All projects have some risks. What risks are not acceptable on this project?
The priority of this project as it relates to all other projects being done within the organization. Some organizations keep a prioritized list of all projects. Resource allocations are often related to project priority.
The sponsor of the project. It is crucial to know who will provide the overall direction for the project and make the high-level decisions.
Any predetermined tools or resources and their availability. Are there specific people, hardware, and so on required for the project? Will they be available as needed?
ON THE JOB:
Discuss and document customer requirements for projects in critical areas.
1.5 Given a project scope definition scenario, including a confirmed high-level scope definition and project justification, demonstrate the ability to identify and define the project stakeholders and an all-inclusive set of requirements.
IDENTIFYING AND DEFINING STAKEHOLDERS AND DEVELOPING AN ALL-INCLUSIVE SET OF PROJECT REQUIREMENTS
An important skill of a project manager is the ability to assess different situations, people, and project needs in order to identify and define important ingredients for a successful project. Projects are done by and for people, so it is crucial to identify the right project stakeholders. It is also crucial to define and develop the project scope or requirements as clearly as possible.
NEED TO KNOW:
It is very important for a project manager to make sure that the correct stakeholders are identified. A stakeholder analysis is a tool for identifying stakeholders and how best to work with them. It is a matrix that lists key project stakeholders and their organizations, their roles on the project, unique facts about them, their level of interest, their level of influence, and suggestions on managing relationships with them.
In addition to obvious stakeholders (sponsor, project team, senior management), it is critical to identify and work well with the end users of information technology projects as well as other impacted parties, both internal and external to the organization. For example, suppliers for a project deliverables are stakeholders, as are project managers within the organization who are competing for resources.
In defining project requirements, it is important to develop a comprehensive set of requirements that is presented in specific, definitive terms, including the following:
- Differentiation of mandatory versus optional requirements. Documentation should clearly show what must be done and what is optional.
- Success criteria upon which the deliverable will be measured. Is leaving boxed computers on a loading dock satisfactory delivery, or do the computers need to be unpacked and operating on each user’s desk?
- Completion criteria. How does the team know when an information technology project is complete? Is it complete when the new system is live for three months, or when it has passed a user acceptance test?
- Requirements that are excluded from the project. It often helps to clarify what needs to be done by also stating what does not need to be done.
ON THE JOB:
Knowing who key stakeholders are on a project is crucial to success, as is clearly stating the project scope via detailed requirements.
1.6 cont. Given a project scope definition scenario, including a confirmed high-level scope definition and project justification, demonstrate the ability to identify and define the targeted completion date, the anticipated budget, the priorities assigned to scope, time, and cost goals, and key project assumptions.
IDENTIFYING AND DEFINING TARGETED COMPLETION DATE; ANTICIPATED BUDGET; PRIORITIES OF SCOPE, TIME, AND COST GOALS; AND THE KEY ASSUMPTIONS
In addition to understanding project stakeholders and the scope or requirements for a project, it is critical that the project manager clearly identify and define the project’s time and cost goals. The project manager must also ascertain the project client’s priorities for scope, time, and cost goals and understand the assumptions related to meeting project goals.
NEED TO KNOW:
All projects are finite by definition, so it is crucial that the targeted completion date for a project and the consequences of not meeting it be clearly defined.
Some projects have a set completion date regardless of the project’s start date, and others are driven by start dates. Project managers must understand the nature of the project’s completion date and how it should be expressed (for example, as a specific date in month/day/year format, as a range of dates, or as a specific quarter and year).
Project managers should also understand the anticipated budget for a project, including any plus or minus tolerance, contingency funds or management reserves.
Contingency funds are dollars above the project cost estimate available to reduce the risk of an overrun. For example, a project may be estimated to cost $1 million, but $1.1 million may be in the budget. The additional $0.1 million is contingency funds.
Management reserves are funds held by the project sponsor that can be allocated to various projects on the basis of need.
Project managers should understand the consequences if the project budget is not met. In some cases, there are no additional funds and the scope must be changed. In other cases, additional funds may be available.
It is very difficult to meet scope, time, and cost goals exactly as planned for information technology projects. It is important for project managers to understand the priorities of these three goals when making project decisions.
In order to define goals, assumptions must be made. Project managers should clearly articulate these assumptions.
1.7 Given a project scope definition scenario, including the client’s highest priority among quality, time, and budget goals, estimate the potential impact of satisfying the client’s highest priority at the expense of the other two, develop a worse case scenario targeted completion date, budget, and quality-level, and estimate confidence in meeting project goals.
ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF SATISFYING THE CLIENT’S HIGHEST-PRIORITY GOALS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE OTHER TWO, PREPARING WORSE-CASE SCENARIOS, AND ASSESSING CONFIDENCE IN MEETING PROJECT GOALS
Project managers must manage scope, time, and cost goals for projects. These three often-competing goals are known as the triple constraint of project management. Project managers must assess which goals are most important and understand the relationships among these goals.
NEED TO KNOW:
The triple constraint involves balancing a project’s scope, time, and cost goals.
Some references refer to meeting quality goals instead of scope goals because quality is an important consideration related to scope.
All projects should have targeted scope, time, and cost goals, but normally one or two of these goals are most important. A project to build a new system in support of a special marketing promotion might have time as its most important goal since the system may be useless if it’s not delivered on time. Another project might emphasize meeting scope or quality goals, and still another project’s most important goal might be cost.
A change to one project goal often affects other project goals. Increasing a project’s scope or quality requirements may require more time and money. Decreasing budget may decrease the amount of work that can be accomplished or the quality of the work. It is important to assess the trade-offs among project goals.
The project manager should discuss project goals with the sponsor and understand what the highest-priority goals are. If the project team focuses on meeting cost goals at the expense of quality when quality was most important to the client, there will be problems.
Project teams may develop different scenarios for projects. A worse-case scenario can help you identify potential risks related to the project.
It is important to include a confidence level along with estimates for project completion dates, budgets, and scope goals. For example, if a project team is only 10% confident in meeting projected completion dates, the project manager may suggest renegotiating the schedule goal.
ON THE JOB:
Discuss which goal has the highest priority and how these goals are related. Develop confidence level estimates in meeting goals and consider developing a worse-case scenario.
1.8 Given a scope definition scenario, recognize and explain the need to investigate specific industry regulations requirements for their impact on the project scope definition and project plan.
INVESTIGATING REQUIREMENTS OF SPECIFIC INDUSTRY REGULATIONS
In order to produce quality products, it is important to identify relevant industry regulations. Some products must meet specific quality standards, which will impact the amount of the time it takes to do the work. Some software-development projects must follow specific regulations or methodologies, which will also impact scope. These scope requirements will in turn affect the cost and schedule estimates for the project.
NEED TO KNOW:
Projects are done for different organizations, and organizations often have unique requirements.
Some organizations follow internal standards or methodologies. If you are working on a project that must follow these standards or methodologies, you must consider the impact of doing so on the project’s scope.
Some projects must follow external standards or methodologies. For example, government software projects must often adhere to specific regulations. If you are working on a project that must follow these regulations, you must consider the impact of doing so.
Some projects must meet certain quality requirements or standards, such as ISO 9000.
Some projects for certain industries must satisfy specific industry regulations requirements.
It is very important to investigate all relevant standards, regulations, and requirements related to specific products and projects.
Following specific standards, regulations, and requirements will affect project scope.
Scope often increases when there are industry-specific regulations requirements.
ON THE JOB:
Investigating specific industry regulations requirements as well as other standards or methodologies that might affect a project is an important part of planning for success. These considerations will impact project scope.
1.9 Identify important roles and responsibilities that should be determined during the definition of project scope, including the role of the customer, major skills required in the project team, the type of team structure, and the role of the project manager.
IDENTIFYING ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES IN SCOPE DEFINITION
It is important to have a clear definition of the roles and responsibilities of project stakeholders as part of the scope definition process.
NEED TO KNOW:
Project managers should understand the role of the customers or sponsors and how their roles relate to each other. Project team members need to understand who is in charge of what. Most project managers prefer to have the project customers or sponsors make requests through them, so that the managers can then pass those requests on to the project team.
It is important to define communications procedures. A communications plan or communications management plan is a document for defining project communications, purposes, recipients, and frequencies.
Since people estimate and accomplish work, it is critical to define the major skills required in the project team. Estimates can vary tremendously, depending on the skills of the team, especially for highly technical projects.
There are several types of team structures:
- Many project teams consist of people in matrix organizations. A matrix organization is one where personnel report to both a functional boss and a project boss.
- In a functional organization, personnel report to a functional boss (for example, engineering marketing, information technology, and so on).
- In a project organization, personnel report to a project boss.
Project team members can also be consultants or independent contractors who are not employees of the main organization. Project team members can be assigned to projects full-time or part-time. It is often easier to manage people assigned full-time to projects.
The project manager must understand the nature of the project team and his or her responsibilities, accountabilities, and authority. Since people often do not report directly to a project manager, he or she must often use informal authority.
The project manager should also understand the performance appraisal process relative to the project. Does the project manager write appraisals for all team members? Who does the appraisal for the project manager?
ON THE JOB:
Clearly identify roles and responsibilities for key project stakeholders.
1.10 Given a proposed scope definition and based on the scope components, assess the viability of a given project component against a pre-determined list of constraints.
ASSESSING PROJECT VIABILITY, GIVEN CONSTRAINTS
All projects have constraints, and it is important to understand those constraints and how they will affect the ability to meet project goals. Several constraints are having clear definitions of the project end date, monetary resources, product requirements, completion criteria, defined priorities, cost, schedule, and scope priorities, project ownership, mandated tools, personnel and other resources, vendor or company terms and conditions, a best-practices life cycle for this type of project, and required reviews of deliverables by stakeholders and approvals by sponsors.
NEED TO KNOW:
Projects are done in organizations, and it is important to understand the numerous constraints put on a project by the organization. Some constraints will increase the likelihood of project success, and others may impede success.
Some constraints are based on how clearly the project is defined. It is usually more difficult for a project to succeed if scope, time, and cost goals are not well defined. These goals must be realistic and prioritized, too. It is also important to have clearly defined completion criteria and priorities for a project and understand who owns the project.
To set the stage for project success, project managers should know whether if there are mandated tools, personnel, and other resources for the project. These mandates will impact estimated scope, time, and cost goals.
Many information technology projects suffer from scope creep, the tendency for scope to keep getting bigger and bigger. Some projects attempt to minimize scope creep by including a constraint stating that a project’s scope can change only by using approved change control procedures. The project manager must know if there is a requirement that scope will change only per change control.
Vendor or company terms and conditions are also important constraints that project managers must understand if projects are to be well managed.
Some projects are required to follow a “best practices” life cycle. For example, some software development projects must use specific methodologies, software, or development processes.
Some projects require reviews of deliverables by stakeholders and official approvals by sponsors to increase the likelihood of success.
ON THE JOB:
Review project constraints and understand how they can help or hurt the likelihood of project success. Try to influence constraints to improve the ability to meet project goals.
1.11 Recognize and explain the need to obtain formal approval (sign-off) by the project sponsor(s) and confirm other relevant management support to consume organization resources as the project scope statement is being developed.
GETTING FORMAL APPROVAL AND SENIOR MANAGEMENT COMMITMENT FOR PROJECTS AS THE SCOPE STATEMENT IS BEING DEVELOPED
Scope statements can be very long and detailed documents, and it takes time and coordination to develop good ones. It is important to understand what type of scope statement is needed for a project and the best way to obtain formal approvals and management support as the scope statement is being developed.
NEED TO KNOW:
A scope statement is a document used to develop and confirm a common understanding of the project scope.
The scope statement should include a project justification, a brief description of the project’s products, a summary of all project deliverables, and a statement of what determines project success.
Government projects often include a scope statement known as a Statement of Work (SOW). Some SOWs are hundreds of pages long, particularly if they include detailed product specifications.
If a project has formal approval from a respected senior manager at the beginning of the project and as the project progresses, it is much more likely to succeed. Other people involved in the project will be more inclined to support the project if it has formal approval.
Senior management commitment is important throughout the life of a project. There are often many issues raised while developing the scope statement, and it is important for senior managers to provide these resources and to continue to support the project as it progresses.
Projects may change as goals become better defined and as other changes occur in the organization. It is important for senior managers to ensure that projects continue to focus on meeting organizational goals.
ON THE JOB:
Continue to get formal approval and support from senior management as projects progress.
1.12 Given an incomplete project scope definition, complete or rewrite the definition to reflect all necessary scope components or explicitly state what is included in the project and what is not included.
COMPLETING OR REWRITING A PROJECT SCOPE DEFINITION
Even if a project has a scope definition, it may be unclear what work is to be done. The scope must be clear enough to allow estimation of how much it will cost to do the work and how long it will take. It is often very difficult to write a good scope statement, but there are guidelines that list components that should be included.
NEED TO KNOW:
Necessary components of a good project scope definition include the following:
- Project size. Project size can be defined as the number of computers, number of people, number of lines of code, and so on.
- Project cost. The total budget for the project should be detailed in dollars or other monetary units.
- Projected schedule and window of opportunity. The project should have a projected start and end date. Many projects also have a window of opportunity, or time within which the work must be completed for it to be of value.
- Stakeholders, their roles and authorities. As described in previous objectives, you must define key project stakeholders and their roles and responsibilities on the project.
- The project manager’s role and authority. The scope definition should identify who the project manager is and describe his or her role and authority on the project, especially in terms of hiring or assigning personnel and of authorizing expenditures.
- Completion criteria. The project scope definition should clearly describe criteria for determining when specific deliverables and the entire project are complete.
- Methodologies to be followed. If the project requires the use of specific methodologies, they must be documented.
- Mandated tools, personnel, and other resources. The project scope definition should clearly state the requirement to use mandated tools, people or other resources.
- Industry or government regulations that apply to the project.
ON THE JOB:
Do not accept an incomplete or poor project scope definition. Rewrite it to make sure everyone is clear on the scope of the project.
1.13 Identify possible elements of a requirements change control process in a final project scope definition and the circumstances in which they would be appropriate.
IDENTIFYING THE NEED FOR A REQUIREMENTS CHANGE CONTROL PROCESS IN THE PROJECT SCOPE DEFINITION
In addition to clearly defining project requirements, it is also important to evaluate the need for a change control process, should requirements change. This process should include information on how to request a change, how to analyze the impact of the change on the project, and how to obtain additional funds or time to implement the change.
NEED TO KNOW:
Many information technology projects require a requirements change control process. No matter how well requirements are defined, there are often good reasons for them to change as technology changes, competition increases, and the business environment changes.
Some projects are undertaken knowing that requirements will be developed as the project progresses. There may not be a need for a formal change control process in these cases.
Important elements of a requirements change control process include the following:
- How to request a change. Many projects have specific change request forms that are reviewed by a group known as a Change Control Board.
- How to analyze the impact of the change. Most changes in requirements also cause changes in time and cost estimates for the project. It is important to understand how one change affects other aspects of the project.
- How to obtain approval for the additional funds or time to implement the change. Many change control forms include estimates of how much additional money or time the change will require. It is also important to define who can approve these additional funds or time.
- Not all requirements changes increase costs or time estimates. Some changes can decrease costs or time on a project. The requirements change control process should allow for quick decisions on changes that can help achieve project goals faster or less expensively.
- Document how changes will be communicated to affected stakeholders.
ON THE JOB:
Determine whether or not a requirements change control process is needed for projects. If it is, include information about this process in the project scope definition.
1.14 Identify strategies for building consensus among project stakeholders. Given a project kick-off scenario, select an appropriate course of action involving negotiation or interviewing strategies, meetings, memos, etc.
IDENTIFYING STRATEGIES FOR BUILDING CONSENSUS
Once a project officially starts, it is a good idea to hold a project kick-off meeting. An important goal of this meeting is to build consensus among project stakeholders about the goals of the project and how it will be managed.
NEED TO KNOW:
A kick-off meeting is a meeting held at the beginning of a project or project phase, at which all major stakeholders discuss project objectives and plans.
It is often a good idea to start building relationships with project stakeholders before the project kick-off meeting. Preplanning can help the kick-off meeting run more smoothly.
Strategies for building consensus include the following:
- Negotiation: Project managers should strive for a win-win approach to negotiations, in which both parties benefit from decisions. To negotiate effectively, you must understand individual stakeholders.
- Interviewing strategies: The best way to understand stakeholder needs and expectations is often through interviews. There are several types of interviews, so it is important to evaluate what works best in each situation. Face-to-face interviews are often most effective.
- Meetings: It is important to have meetings with various project stakeholders to build consensus. It is also important to write memos well and choose words carefully.
Information technology personnel sometimes neglect the importance of building relationships with project stakeholders. It is important to develop and emphasize this skill within the project team.
ON THE JOB:
Don’t neglect the importance of building good relationships with key project stakeholders. Plan for kick-off meetings so relationships run smoothly.
1.15 Recognize and explain the need to build management buy-in and approval into the structure of the project and describe strategies for doing so.
BUILDING MANAGEMENT BUY-IN AND APPROVAL INTO THE STRUCTURE OF THE PROJECT
You cannot force management buy-in or approval for a project, but you can structure a project to promote better management support. Project managers should involve senior management in developing project charters and important scope documents, reviewing and approving key project deliverables, and acting as spokespersons/advocates for the project.
NEED TO KNOW:
Recent studies show that senior management support is the most important factor for success on information technology projects.
There are several ways to get senior management support. Senior managers can initiate projects, guide projects, fund projects, and act as project sponsors.
Project managers can structure their projects to help build and maintain senior management support by using several strategies:
- Involving management in up-front definitions of the project concept and charter. It is important to get senior management involved in a project as early as possible. Senior managers should be influential in defining the project concept and should sign off on the project charter.
- Involving management in defining and approving project scope. Senior managers should attend important meetings related to scope definition and sign off on important scope-related documents.
- Involving management in reviewing and approving key project deliverables as they evolve. Projects can be structured to require senior management review and approval of project deliverables. This strategy will help to keep management involved in the project and aware of its progress.
- Providing a role for management as spokespersons/advocates for the project, for team-member participation, and for deliverables. Project managers can ask for one senior manager to act as spokesperson-advocate for their project. This manager could provide introductory comments at important project meetings, sign important documents, and so on. Senior managers should also be asked to participate in important team meetings to review important project deliverables.
ON THE JOB:
Senior management support is crucial to the success of information technology projects. Structure projects to promote senior management buy-in and approval.