The UK Civil Service

Facts, Analysis and Comment.

Project Management

Initiation & Planning

Before you do anything else, sit down and think hard about the following issues:

You should also think hard, up front, about the following three critical factors for successful delivery.

Critical Success Factor 1: The right scope:  Any investment of time or money must be linked to clear outcomes that support strategic objectives.  And goals must be realistic and based on knowledge of what is achievable.

Critical Success Factor 2: Adequate skills and resources, matched to the demands of the program/project.

Critical Success Factor 3: Good processes for delivery based on approaches that are likely to work.

Planning for Delivery

Once you have thought long and hard about the above issues, you must make sure that Ministers and other key stakeholders agree with your conclusions before you settle down to detailed planning. The following are the nine main questions you will need to answer. You should therefore prepare and circulate, including to Ministers, a detailed plan which answers each of these questions.

1: What is the scope?  What is to be delivered - and when?
2: What resources and capabilities (people, physical resources and funding) will you need?
3: What are the potential sources of such capabilities?
4: Who will carry out the required processes and policies?
5: Who will be accountable for what?
6: Which similar projects have succeeded – and why?
7: What is an acceptable balance of cost, benefit and risk?– and how should they be managed?
8: How you will work with other delivery agents and stakeholders to share information and knowledge?
9: How will you monitor and report progress?  What performance measures and incentives will you need?

Click here to access more detailed advice on each of these nine questions.

Finally, remember the very well known frequent causes of failure:

They won’t happen on your watch, will they!


Martin Stanley