Generally speaking the sponsor (usually a senior member of the firm or maybe the partnership board as a whole) will indicate the broad scope of the project to be undertaken. A good way to get the project off to an enthusiastic start is for the project leader, with the team, to prepare a clear objective and performance criteria that can then be agreed with the sponsor. I believe that it is important for the team to make a major contribution to defining goals and standards by which the project can be assessed rather than simply to accept a directive from the sponsor. Better motivation, and therefore results, is likely to occur if team members, the project team leader and the sponsor are all in full agreement on these matters.
The project objective is a statement of the purpose of the project. Here is an example:
To formulate a new pay policy that rewards corporate, team and individual performance and is capable of attracting and retaining first-class people.
Performance criteria for most professional service projects cover quality, cost and time. Here are examples of quality criteria for the pay policy project:
The partnership board and full partners’ meeting accept the recommendations without the need for modification.
Attitude surveys, among the staff, produce an average of 4 out of 5 or better on rating scales used for assessing the enthusiasm for the proposals.
As far as cost is concerned the project will be rated a success if the budget for expenses, supplies and project team members’ time has not been exceeded. (It is a useful, but rare, discipline to budget for the opportunity cost, that is the time normally devoted to professional work that has to be given up for project tasks and meetings.) An element in the cost budget for the time to be given to project activities also helps to reinforce the commitment for such work that is so necessary but frequently difficult to secure.
As far as time is concerned the project will be considered a success if the outcomes are delivered by the target date for completion. For relatively large and complicated projects, meeting milestones that mark the end of particular phases will also be an indication of progress.