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When I have been asked what I would do in the first 90 days of a new project as the Project Manager, my responses have typically included some or all of the following as a “Self-Orientation Start Up Plan”:

1) Gather the latest project documentation available from the following sources:
a) Portfolio Management files for priority, expected Return On Investment,         relative co-dependence on other proposed and active projects
b) Program Management files for direct dependence on other planned or active projects to determine just how much dependence there is on deliverables and work products from other projects
c) Process Management files for guidelines and standards for how projects are expected to be run for this client / customer
d) Project Management Files to determine if there have ever been similar projects run within this organization and for similar purposes
i) Collect available information on the Project’s / Program’s Scope, Objectives, Goals, Known Requirements and Risks from all perspectives
ii) Collect currently active Project Plans, Issues, Risks, Change Logs and Action Items for active related projects
iii) Collect current and recent Status information on all related projects that are under Execution during or before these first 90 days

2) Review the interrelationships between all available documentation AND
Identify the GAPS in this list where they are not available, not practiced by the client organization, or simply overlooked for this particular effort where others have complied more fully to the incumbent expectations
a) Prepare a list of what is missing, incomplete, or inconsistent in the existing documentation
b) Identify an initial set of Risks, Issues, and needed Action Items that should be acted upon before the final approval for this requested project is given to the Project Team
c) And Determine the recommended work required to complete these items OR get agreement that they will not be needed for this particular project (from the Sponsors, Funding Source, and the Steering Committee, at least)

3) Present and discuss what I consider the current ‘status’ and expected outcomes of the proposed project / program with the entire team of Business Sponsors, Targeted User Management, Steering Committee, Funding Sources, potential Team Participants, possible Third Party Vendors (and their current contracts) as a preliminary Kick Off Meeting

4) Come to an agreement on refreshed materials that satisfy the following Subject Titles:
a) Project Charter
b) Project Scope and Objectives
c) Project Requirements (High Level)
d) Project Budget and Schedule
e) Project Quality Review Schedule
f) Project Dependence on:
i) Third Party Vendors
ii) Other Projects and Programs
iii) Continued agreement on Priority and Delivered Value
g) Project Assigned Resources
h) Project Advisory Personnel
i) Project Steering Committee Members

At times, this information can be gathered in less than 90 days and THAT is a very positive sign of the health and potential success of the project that is being request. The longer it takes to find, understand and correlate these materials, the less likely this project is understood and therefore there will need more Risk Identification and Mitigation efforts to identify things we can learn about that might interfere with the desired successful results.

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