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Project Context



Starting a Project

When a project is initiated, requirements must be established. You need to know what is to be included in the project, and what is not. What the goal or the end product is of this project, and what benefits this project must bring to the organisation. Bearing all this in mind, UX design will need to be adapted to also reflect the benefits for the organisation.

Sometimes the organisation knows exactly what they want and have very specified data analysis tasks for you. Sometimes they want to explore options as whatever they want to achieve hasn’t been done before.

Eddie Obeng’s theory of Types of Projects puts the different types of projects on a matrix:


Fog: Typically, the organisation is attempting to do something different. Something that hasn’t been attempted before. These projects are started because of a change in circumstances

Movie: In this situation, your stakeholders are very certain about how the project should proceed but not what needs to be done. Your organisation has built up significant expertise and capability in the area the project will tackle and has many people committed to the methods needed to deliver the change.

Quest:  If you are involved in this type of project, you will no doubt feel challenged, excited, or single-minded. IT projects tend to fall into this category and are often criticised for cost overruns, being late, or not delivering the expected benefits.

Paint by Numbers: is the type of project where requirements are clear at the beginning and throughout (‘We know what’) and also, we have done this before, the technology is familiar (‘We know how’). He calls this a ‘paint by numbers’ project because the management of it is rather like a children's colouring book of painting a picture with a colour code within the lines. In this case, Obeng says that the challenge of communication for a project manager is to make sure the different skills, teams and disciplines in the project each ‘paint up to the lines’: there are no gaps or overlaps, there is good interface management.

Programmes and Portfolios

Sometimes the project you are involved with is part of a programme or portfolio, hence why it is important to analyse in a greater context than the project itself.

So, let’s say that you are involved with the project ‘Product Design’ yet you see that it is part of Programme B regarding Productivity & Sustainability, this suggests that the core focus of your analysis will have that theme in common with other projects. You might find valuable information in research done for projects within the same Programme or Portfolio. Or your analysis might help other projects too.


Image: Where does your project sit in the organisation’s programmes and portfolio.


Project vs BAU

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