In part 1, we looked at the purpose of project proposal and then reviewed few roles who are sometimes tasked with writing project proposal. The discussion conitues below…
The IT Manager: In case of projects with significant IT work, the IT Manager are the most common ones writing project profiles. This is especially true in organization with low project portfolio management maturity. They will do a really good job with rough cost estimate and risk identification. They cannot identify source of funding unless the monies are coming from IT approved funding bucket in which case they know the source already. They can do a reasonable job with estimating cost savings and breakeven. They may do a reasonable job with aligning project to corporate strategic plan and an average response to identifying the benefits to the organization.
The Project Portfolio Manager: Project Portfolio managers are more generalist and so they will tend to put in more generic information. They possibly cannot fully identify the benefits and their impact on the organization. They can do a reasonable job in aligning project to strategic objectives as they have full understanding of strategic direction. Perhaps high level cost estimate will be reasonable. Risk identification will be their main strength. Because of their exposure they can very quickly identify several risks that will give a real good picture to the approving body. They are a good source to identify source of funding especially because they have access to much wider information.
and the last one is…
The Project Manager: is the best source to have a really good cost estimate and identified risks as this is their bread and butter. If experienced in the organization, they can quickly identify project alignment with strategic direction as well as enumerate benefits to the business as they have been doing it project after project. However they cannot identify source of funding by themselves.
So the question is who should write the project proposal? I think Project Manager should own and create the project proposal. If the person get the input from business leader and users on benefits to the organization and strategic alignment and also review risks and estimates with IT manager and portfolio manager, they can produce an outstanding document.
You may say that any one of the above can do that. That is get input from others and produce an excellent project proposal. Yes that is true someone might do as good a job as project manager but there are couple of reasons I believe makes them best choice.
Who is responsible for project delivery? Who envisions, plans, executes and controls the project? Who, most of the times, is held responsible for failure to deliver the benefits expected out of a project? Who has to justify the cost and time spent on the project? In 99.9 times out of 100, its the Project Manager.
Here is a typical scenario. A project manager gets assigned to the project and receives project proposal/profile to start project initiation phase. His/her first comment usually is “Who wrote this proposal? It is unrealistic”. This project profile is the starting document for the project as funding and project approval may have been obtained using this document. Now the project manager is stuck with a document that has set unrealistic expectations. It is an uphill battle right from the start. The energy that should be directed to intitiation and planning activities and team building is spent on resetting stakeholder expectations. Not a pretty scenario. Right?
There are two advantages of having a project manager write the proposal. One, as the delivery person, the one in trenches, project manager will be more realistic than anyone else in estimating time and cost as well as much more critical in clarifying scope. And two, as a person that may be asked to deliver the project, the project manager will be as much as or more concerned with setting right expectations through profile than only focused on receiving approval of the profile.
So, I believe that project manager should be the one who writes the project proposal or profile but should solicit input from line manager and project portfolio manager as well as from users and business lead. The result should be a proposal that presents a true picture of the project to the executives and make it eaiser for them to review the proposal.