As a project manager, you understand the importance of scope in your project management process. Too many organizations forego any formal project classification in favor of straight project prioritization. In small- to medium-sized project organizations, this can be appropriate. But as your project organization grows in both size and complexity, and the number of projects the organization takes on increases, having a sound classification system can help project managers and sponsors find common ground around project scope, funding, and staffing.

Here are a few things to consider when helping your organization define a project classification system.

  1. Size. How big is this project? When you are trying to answer this question, think beyond the simple rules of dollars and headcount. Instead, ask yourself what the strategic importance of the project is to the organization. Is the project enterprise-wide, or localized to a smaller group or division? Is it for a key current or potential customer? Will the project include customer team members or full extended teams from other divisions?
  2. Risk. What are the business and technical risks to the organization for taking on this project? Where does the risk come from? You might find that the biggest risk comes from your own internal culture not accepting the project justification. In this case, does the project have a key executive sponsor and champion? Finally, what are the risks of not taking on the project?
  3. Time. Planning takes time. Based on the size and scope of the project, the breadth of the project’s impact on the organization, and the level of risk involved, how much time will you and your team be involved in the project planning process? The answer to this question will be supported in detail by the number of team members and expertise needed, number of deliverables in the final project plan, size and detail of the Work Breakdown Structure, and granularity of schedule. Micro or small projects might involve 2-3 people and a 1-hour meeting to develop the project plan. In contrast, an enterprise-wide software implementation might require 15,000 hours or more, with core and extended teams.

As you are defining your organization’s classification system, remember this: the key to successful classification is documentation at a level appropriate for the project.

Prefer working in a system that works? Graduates of the Cadence Project Management seminar gain extensive experience in planning projects that deliver results. Bring your projects, and your teams to the next public project management seminar and get your projects on the right track!