Chapter 6Write the Rules: Key Documents to Manage Expectations and Define Success


Every project is different. Different schedules, different products, and different people are involved. And, on any given project, the various stakeholders may have differing ideas about what the project is about. Your job, as project manager, is to make sure that everyone involved understands the project and agrees on what success will look like. The term project rules is not in any project management text or glossary. But clarifying the rules of the game for a new project is exactly what skilled managers need to do. And before they can communicate these rules to the players, they must be absolutely sure of them themselves. As in any new game, a project manager might ask: Who is on my side? How will we keep score? What is the reward? Seasoned project managers know that a new project can be as different from its predecessor as ice hockey is from gymnastics.

The need for project rules is part of the challenge of each new project. Since each one is different, you have to re-create the basic roles and processes of management every time a project begins. A close parallel is what happens in a reorganization of a company. After a reorg, the typical questions are: Who is responsible for what? How will we communicate? Who has authority? If these questions are not answered, the organization will fall apart; the same holds true for projects.

Project Rules are the Foundation

Remember the five ...

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