Projects just don't happen by themselves. Before projects begin, the underlying "concept" must be proposed, evaluated and approved. This is project selection, and as a process, it must be designed to ensure that project proposals are evaluated fairly and objectively, with a focus on business value and project viability. That's the goal - now how is it accomplished? Read on for more.
As a management process, project selection is accomplished through standardized practices that establish parameters and boundaries for how projects are to be proposed and selected. Standardized practices set the stage through pre-defined steps and related “viability criteria” - forming the basis which all proposals are evaluated and measured. This paves the way to consistent, informed and timely decision making (a.k.a the ultimate goal).
What is a project proposal? The project proposal is the initiating trigger of the project selection process. Whether it comes in the form of a verbal proposal, simple project request form, or documented business case, the project proposal is the vehicle by which the initial project "concept" is presented.
Every project begins with a proposal, but not every proposal can or should become a project. In a world of limited resources, choices have to be made. Not every project has viability. And, amongst those that do, any limited resources, (including people, time, money and equipment), must be applied judiciously. Consider the risks if resources are misapplied:
To maximize available resources, and avoid potential failures, project proposals must be evaluated and selected on the basis of overall viability. In a business sense, project viability is the degree to which a given project will provide the expected return on investment. Viability can be measured by three key variables:
In order to develop selection practices that are fully “defined, aligned and approved” the following questions must be considered and addressed:
Project selection is a cog in the project management lifecycle, but informed, effective selection decisions are essential to management success and the ability to deliver on time, on budget projects. Selection steps kick things off, providing the basis for all of the planning and decision making that lies ahead. You can never be reluctant to re-examine selection decisions as time passes and project circumstances change. That’s the whole point of a lifecycle approach to managing projects.
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There's no doubt about it - projects are risky propositions. Surrounding conditions are unpredictable - sometimes capabilities meet demands, and sometimes they don't But one thing is for sure -- you are always expected to deliver. That's what strategic fast tracking is for -- to make sure you can deliver even when project conditions are not what you need them to be.