that both business and IT are represented. If only management and team leads are invited, there must be followup exercises with all other team members to communicate the processes put into place.
Should the prenatal exercises be documented in some fashion?
Yes! The agreements made and the information imparted should be kept for future reference. The exercise sets some fundamental ground rules that can be referred to if there are questions about how some aspect of the project is run. Store all information in a shared directory that all team members can review as needed. Make sure to version-control the documents to track any changes that are made to them.
Should a list of agreements be created for team members to sign?
Again, this would depend on your company and how well the participants know each other. In a case where team members know little about one another and there is an uncertainty about how the team will interact, it may be a good idea to have people commit, in writing, to agreements made. If team members share in the development of the processes, there is usually a "buy-in" that would make signatures unnecessary.
So now that we have talked about how a prenatal exercise should be conducted and who should participate, let's look at what information should be shared. For starters, focus on the following four areas during the prenatal exercises. As you tailor these exercises for your company, you will need to add or modify this list.
1) Definition of the communications plan
For any project to be a success, it is crucial to get the right information to the right person at the right time. It can be very frustrating for individuals on a team to find out about some new requirement well after it was approved. This can lead to frustration and resentment among team members, not to mention rework and delays. This situation can be ameliorated with a communications plan. A communications plan lists the type of communications needed for the project, who is responsible for creation and distribution of the communication, and who will receive the different types of communication and under what circumstances. Below is an example of a communication plan.
Column header definitions:
- Responsibility to Report Information: This is the person who will be sending out the communication.
- Member(s) Receiving Information: The names of all the people who need to receive the information.
- Receiving Information Mechanism: How will the communication be delivered? Will it be an email, phone call, etc.?
- Objective: What is the main purpose of the communication?
- Medium Used: Email, paper, a meeting, etc.
- Frequency: How often the recipients will receive this communication.
- Approved By: Depending on the project, some communications need to be reviewed and approved before distribution.
2) Introduction of the project's sponsor and stakeholder(s)
It is also important to introduce the sponsor and stakeholder(s) who will be supporting the project. The sponsor is the person in the company, either inside or outside the IT group, who is ultimately responsible and accountable for the success of the project…and is usually paying the bill for the project activities. This person should attend the prenatal exercises to share their convictions and explain the business needs associated with the project.
Any and all stakeholders should also attend the exercises if possible. Stakeholders are people who have a stake in the success of the project, or whose department is affected by the results of the project. When members of the project team understand the importance of their project from a business perspective, it helps them to look outside their myopic view and