Getting to the bottom line of the project

Momentum manages the complex process of gathering and translating a client’s thoughts, goals, and aspirations, aligning these elements with an organization’s core values and mission, and translating these ideas and concepts into a new facility. Boiled down, we are essentially managing projects. In order to ensure success with any project, we help a project sponsor address three basic issues, the Why, the How, and the When. This logic can be applied with equal success to projects outside of the facilities realm.

  1. The Why goes beyond statements such as, “We are out of space at our main office” or “we must add redundancy to our data server”. Project sponsors need to identify and set appropriate project requirements that are linked to specific business objectives and goals. At the end of a project, reaching these business objectives will demonstrate a project’s success. Objectives can be motivational, and should be viewed from an emotional perspective as well. Taking the time to create a detailed explanation of what a project means to your team and your organization greatly heightens the probability that a successful outcome will be delivered.

Setting project requirements that are directly linked to success statements will help the project sponsor ensure delivery of intended outcomes. “Our new retail location will be a tool in improving the financial lives of our members”, “Our staff will be more focused on the strategic direction of the credit union”, and “We will ensure uninterrupted online services for our members” are examples of success statements that provide clarity around why an organization would embark on a project.

  1. Identifying the How is the next step in initiating a successful project. The investment in a project can yield a return in many shapes. It could be described as reaching a financial benchmark, but it could be less tangible or abstract, taking the form of expressed civic pride, enhanced employee wellbeing, or improved workplace function. The key is ensuring that these measures support the Why, and the project sponsor conveys these metrics to the team. Here are a few examples of How:
  • “We will improve uninterrupted online member account access by implementing a new data server location that provides redundancy while meeting financial industry best practice standards. We will measure success in terms of improving the percentage of time that member accounts access is available.”
  • “We will support a more engaged staff team by developing a renovated workplace that provides easier access to management and executive team leaders. We will measure success in terms of improvement in our workplace effectiveness survey results.”
  • “We will roll out a new retail branch facility with an environment that is geared towards promoting a higher level of engagement with our members. We will measure this success in terms of increased product penetration per member.”
  1. The When clearly defines the timeframe for realizing a return on a project investment. This timeline is accompanied by a communication plan, and the plan should address a few basic issues such as:
  • When will the project team be assigned?
  • When will the project kick-off?
  • How will information be shared amongst team members?
  • What is the time commitment of the team members?
  • When and how often will the team meet?
  • When will the project be delivered?

There is nothing wrong with asking about and identifying key project milestones, even abstract ones, in the early stages of a project. The team should also understand and openly discuss the final overall delivery date. This ensures that team members can accurately commit the resources required to achieve the stated timeline, or advocate for either additional resources or an altered timeline if the milestones are unattainable.

Once a project sponsor has taken the time to work through the Why, How, and When, of a project initiation phase, subsequent work in project planning logically falls in to place. Project stakeholders are quickly identified, requirements (the What ) are easy to catalog and are appropriate to the project mission, a better understanding of the amount of work that will go in to a project is achieved, and risk can be assessed.   In addition, it is at this stage that detailed cost and schedule forecasts can be created with a high degree of accuracy. Through a determined and structured project initiation process, project sponsors can be assured that they have established the foundation for a successful delivery.

Bob Saunders

Bob Saunders

Bob is a founding partner of Momentum (, which is a national provider of strategic facilities services to the financial industry, as well as higher education. Strategic operations ... Web: Details