Originally published here April 2002.
This page updated June, 2003

Introduction | A Generic 3rd Level Model | The Whole Project and Nothing but
Including Management by Projects | A Game of Two Halves | The Next Generation

The Whole Project and Nothing but the Whole Project

Anyone who has ever worked on a sizeable project knows that the model above lacks the most nerve-racking, heart breaking and stress-inducing phase — "Sanction". Sanction, also known as board approval, capital authorization, etc., deserves a special mention. It is the effective corporate milestone between Plan and Do, it is both the end of Planning and the start of Doing, but is beyond the direct control of the project team.

The definition of "audit" earlier suggests that once the customer is satisfied the project has finished. Again, real life appears to be different, usually with documentation to file and archive, training to complete, invoices to be paid and a myriad of other minor but significant activities. This clearly implies that there is a technical completion and an administrative completion to the project that do not coincide.

These two points hint at two further concepts. The first is that the WBS should have two branches, one based on the technical elements and another based on the administrative elements, something that is beyond the current discussion. The second point is that there is an administrative lifecycle running in tandem with the technical lifecycle.

If the phase of Sanction is inserted between Plan and Do, or Define and Execute, or Design and Construct with a phase called "Close-out" added as the final phase the model becomes extremely robust. Thus, the administrative lifecycle appears from under the technical lifecycle and a true picture of the project lifecycle emerges. By adding these two steps the simple two-for-one subdivision is lost, but the reason is clear, there are administrative processes that run behind the technical timing of the project. This time lag is a function of the scale and effectiveness of the communication systems of the project.

The life of a single project can now be given a simple generic third level model. The elegance of this generic third level is the intrinsic stage-gate definition that it brings to the project lifecycle. This can be best be displayed diagrammatically:

Thus, the Planning (sub)phases define the stage-gate criteria for the corresponding Doing (sub)phases. Design produces the objectives for Check while Discovery sets them for Close-out. The same principle applies to the intermediate phases. Thus, each Doing phases becomes an opportunity for the instigating department of the organization to confirm its intentions in the Planning phase have been met.

It is worth of noting at this point that the Design phase, and occasionally the Functionality phase are subdivided according to the number of levels on the WBS, and hence so are the Review and Audit phases.

As an aside for those from the pharmaceutical industry that read this, Design Qualification (DQ) is a quality assurance method that does not apply across the lifecycle, but measures the design against an "external" standard. Equally, Process Validation is more likely to be removed from the Audit phase and become a project in its own right, with the names of the phase suitably altered.

A Generic Third Level Model  A Generic Third Level Model

Including Management by Projects  Including Management by Projects

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