Within the initiation phase of project management, project staff works to define the scope and deliverables of the project at a high level within a Statement of Work. At this phase, a project manager may not even be assigned or hired for the project because leaders in the organization may not yet have fully approved the project. So, program staff or a manager in the area in which the project would be housed may be doing all the tasks associated with this phase.
Selection of the Type of Project Management to Use
A state or territory may have an approach or method of project management they prefer, or a project manager may be allowed to select a method for the project at hand. The method chosen is essentially the way the work happens, and the type of project being done may help determine the best project management approach to use.
Most organizations do not use project management approaches in their purist forms, as laid out in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) or in the Agile Manifesto. They use them as a framework for creating a process that works for them and they adapt each approach to meet the needs of the organization. While there are several approaches to project management, the three most often used are defined below.
State Example: North Carolina
In North Carolina, staff within the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Child Development and Early Education often have training in formal project management methodologies, but the method of project management used most often is a custom approach that blends elements of formal and informal project management. For example, the Lead Agency includes many elements that would traditionally be found in a Project Charter in their contracts with implementing partners. Project Charters are covered in the “Planning” section of this Guide. Lead Agency staff report that the blended methodology works well in North Carolina to deal with the unique circumstances that arise in projects that wouldn't allow for strict adherence to formal project management methodologies.
Having this type of attitude when approaching project management in a state or territory is key because the day-to-day environment may not allow for the purist forms of each approach to be used. For example, a project may have a very detailed plan for implementation laid out, and then a change in administrations puts timelines and budgets in jeopardy. As such, states or territories should choose a project management framework that is flexible and adaptive so it doesn’t turn into a bureaucratic obstacle to success.
Waterfall project management is used when there is a clearly defined solution and roadmap to get from project initiation to closeout. It’s called “waterfall” because the project phases largely occur in sequential order and there are few “unknowns” within the work. For example, waterfall may be used in a project to revise the program manual for the child care subsidy program within a state or territory because there is a defined solution and clear steps for revisions and accomplishing the task at hand.
Agile project management is used to conduct shorter bursts or “sprints” of work in iterative cycles. This is useful when there is a higher level of uncertainty in the project. Often, a problem is identified, and one approach is tried during the first iteration. Then, feedback is given and the product is improved upon in each subsequent iteration. For example, Agile could be used in the development of a website to map all child care locations in a community. The first iterations of the project produce a functional site that provides a static map with pinpoints for the locations of child care programs without bells or whistles. Future iterations of the site could add more functionality, such as an interactive map that allows users to tap on a location and get licensing or quality information on the child care program.
As the name suggests, the hybrid approach to project management is a combination of the principles of waterfall and Agile. This approach is used for projects that have some parts that can be planned in advance and some that need the flexibility of Agile to get to a solution. For example, hybrid project management could be used to develop and implement a case management system that supports child care quality rating and improvement. The project manager would work to gather technical requirements for both the case management application and the supporting materials for the system. While the application may be developed using an Agile framework, creation of the user guides and plans for end users to test the system could be done using waterfall because the content of the guides and testing plans will be impacted by the application, but the process for developing those is well-known and follows a predictable pattern of drafting, review, testing, and implementation.
Simplified Statement of Work Example
- Project name: Child Care Licensor Training Curriculum Revision.
- Project purpose or goal: To revise the Child Care Licensor Training Curriculum to account for recent revisions in child care licensing regulations
- Elements that are in scope: Revision of the learning objectives, supporting documents, activities, and training plan for the training of child care licensors
- Elements that are out of scope: Creation of online modules for the content; ongoing delivery of the content
- Deliverable(s): Electronic copies of all materials needed to deliver the training, including the revised curriculum, annotated agenda, participant workbook, and slide deck for delivery of the training; training of five trainers for the curriculum; and a pilot training for the curriculum to 25 licensing staff members
- Cost and schedule estimates: Deliverables will be completed by the end of the current state fiscal year, with a budget for the project of $25,000 for staff time and training delivery costs
- Interested parties:
- Sally Smith, director of licensing, is the executive sponsor of the project. She is accountable for the project to the commissioner of the Lead Agency in the state.
- Saul Torres, licensing policy analyst, has been assigned the responsibility of completing the project
- Geri Avena and Carl Salisburg, licensors, are subject matter experts and have the responsibility of assisting Saul with the curriculum revision and development of training materials
- Nina Blux, trainer, will serve as a consultant on the training material development and delivery to ensure it aligns with standards for the organization. Nina will also train the trainers who will use the curriculum.
- Deena Thelda, budget analyst, will be consulted and informed on matters relating to the Project Budget.
Defining the Work
The Statement of Work for the project is a document that is used to obtain approval for the work at hand. It is meant to be high level and give enough information for a leader within the state or territory to decide on whether to approve the project. It is also used if there is turnover on a project so that new staff can get up to speed with minimal interruption to the project.
A typical Statement of Work includes the following:
- Project name: Should be clear and avoid acronyms or jargon
- Project purpose or goal: Should be specific and measurable so you know when you have achieved it
- Elements that are in scope: Specific tasks, programs, or resources that will be used, changed, or created as part of the project
- Elements that are out of scope: Specific tasks, programs, or resources that will not be addressed in the project
- Deliverable(s): The end product(s) that will be delivered as a result of the project
- Cost and schedule estimates: These will be educated estimates based on previous experience or industry standards, where available
- Interested parties: Consider creating a Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed (RACI) Matrix that lays out the roles for all players who will have Responsibility for, give Approval of, be Consulted on, or be Informed of progress on the tasks within the project. Each individual will have different RACI assignments depending on the task in question. See the Implementation section of this chapter for an example RACI Matrix.
Once a Statement of Work is created, it is shepherded through the vetting and approval processes for the state or territory. This may involve several layers of review and revision before sign-off by an individual in leadership and varies from agency to agency. The person who bears ultimate responsibility for the project’s success and oversight is called the executive sponsor. This person may be the executive in charge of the Lead Agency or someone in a leadership position who reports directly or indirectly to them.
Following the acceptance of the project by the executive sponsor or other leader within the state or territory, a Project Charter may then be created to expand upon some of the concepts that are found at a high level in the Statement of Work (SOW). Some organizations forego the creation of a Statement of Work and move directly to the Project Charter, especially if the project has already been approved or is mandated. Project Charters are covered in the “Planning” section of this guide.
In some organizations, especially on projects that are collaborations between two or more entities, memoranda of understanding (MOU) or memoranda of agreement (MOA) are used to lay out many aspects of the implementation of a project, including decisionmaking protocols, roles, and responsibilities. The name of the document used (MOA, MOU, Charter, or SOW) and the content therein changes from organization to organization and is sometimes determined based on the project at hand.
 Fair, J. (2012). Agile versus Waterfall: approach is right for my ERP project?. Paper presentation]. PMI Global Congress 2012—EMEA, Marseilles, France. Project Management Institute. https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/agile-versus-waterfall-approach-erp-project-6300