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‘What’ into ‘how’

Design is similar in some respects to a feasibility study.
It assumes that project approval has been agreed via a suitable feasibility study.
It starts to put meat on the bones of the original idea or concept once more information, regarding the specification detail, is available.

Whereas the feasibility study is designed to provide evidence in support of the original concept the design phase is all about how to convert that idea into the finished product.

Once the final product is known and the specification is complete the project management team must decide how to go about producing the product.
Deciding on which strategy to use is defining the Project Approach.

The Project Approach is part of the PRINCE2® 2005 methodology and is carried out as part of the process ‘Starting up a Project’ as the sub-process Defining Project Approach (SU5).

It is part of the Project Initiation Document.

The task involves:

  • Reviewing the strategies and testing

Such strategies might include the consideration of:

  • Can it be ‘bought off the shelf’?
  • Can it be ‘made to measure’?
  • Can it be developed in-house?
  • Will it be contracted to third parties?
  • Is it based upon an existing product?
  • Will it be built from scratch?
  • Is it based upon specific technologies?

PRINCE2 [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’] does not describe the technique of S.W.O.T. which is discussed elsewhere.

Several design test methods

The design phase may appear in a variety of guises depending on the type of project and how the project management team envisage the design phase.

  • Plans (Gantt charts)

A Gantt chart is usually the representation of all of the project tasks including a time element in a schedule.
The Gantt chart is a common way of viewing this schedule.
They are usually prepared in detail over a short period and in less detail over extended periods.
This has been termed horizon planning [see ‘The Complete Risk Management package’].

  • Working model or Prototype

A working model or prototype that demonstrates the principle involved and can be used to judge differing strategies.
Make sure the prototype is not suddenly mistaken for the end product.
It is what it says, a prototype.
Once the prototype has been completed remove it so no one mistakes it for the end product.

  • Detailed specification

Initial design work may lead to a more detailed specification once more data is available.

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