Portfolio 101 –
Six “Validates” to Authorize Projects
When projects get approved they should be placed on a pipeline until the organization has the capacity to staff the project. It might seem that once a project makes it through the approval process there is a commitment to start immediately. This is not the case. There is one more step that has to happen before a project can actually start – authorization.
All of the approved projects cannot start at the same time. There are usually not enough resources and business focus to work on everything al the same time. Authorization takes place when a previously approved project is actually ready to start. This is the point where the budget is actually allocated to the project, a project manager is assigned, and the work is ready to begin. The authorize step to make sure that the project is still viable. There are a number of things that need to be validated before the project begins.
- Validate the Business Case. The time lag between approval and when the project is ready to start may have changed the Business Case. For instance, it is possible that a competitive opportunity has come and gone.
- Validate sponsorship. It is possible that the customer and sponsor are no longer committed to the project. This could happen with changing priorities and it could also happen with a changing of the sponsor.
- Validate staff. You should not start a project without staff availability. It is possible that the resources that were going to work on the project are no longer available.
- Validate budget. It is possible that budget cuts, or overruns from other projects, have resulted in a lack of funding for the project.
- Validate detailed estimates. Once the project manager is assigned, the project planning process begins. This will result in an estimate of effort, schedule and cost at a greater level of accuracy than when the Business Case was created. It is possible that the more accurate estimates prepared at this time will result in the project no longer being viable.
- Validate priorities. It may be that nothing has changed on a project that was approved. However, business changes during the year may have resulted in a number of new projects with high priorities. These new projects may take the funding that was originally allocated to another project.
You can now see that there are a lot of reasons why a previously approved project may no longer make sense by the time it is ready to be staffed. It is usually the case that the shorter the timeline between approval and authorization, the more likely it is that the project will in fact proceed as envisioned. Likewise, the longer the lag between the project approval and readiness to begin, the more likely it is that the project will no longer make sense. If the project no longer makes sense, then it should not be authorized.