Assessment 2 – 1750 word project brief is apart of course: Business of Managing Projects
I have attached weekly course notes and readings for guidance on writing this order. There is a course textbook assigned for this course and assessments (Zwikael, Ofer
and Smyrk, John: Project Management for the Creation of Organisational Value. Springer, London, 2011, ISBN: 978-1-84996-515-6).
Please see attachment – Assignment 2 for order criteria
Assessment Item 2 is the first of three written assessment items, all of which are focussed on project initiation as described in Zwikael & Smyrk, pp86-89. Zwikael &
Smyrk identify four global phases of project management: Initiation, planning, execution and outcomes realisation (text book page 85). The connection between business
objectives and project outcomes is forged in the initiation and planning phases of a project. All three of the written assessment items therefore focus on the
initiation and planning phases of a project.
Assessment Item 2 seeks to reinforce students’ grasp of the foundational notion that projects don’t just happen or arrive fully formed but derive from ideas generated
by creative and imaginative people about how specific to business objectives might be realised. To this end you should prepare for Assessment Item 2 (project brief) by
familiarising yourself with the idea of project conceptualisation as described by Zwikael & Smyrk (pp138-139).
Assessment Item 2 (project brief) requires you, firstly, to conceive of a business idea that lends itself to development as a project and, secondly, to prepare a 1750
word project brief aimed at obtaining approval for you to invest the time and effort required to assemble a business case.
The project brief should explain simply and clearly why an idea for realising business objectives warrants further exploration as a potential project. The project
brief is not intended to justify the project as such. Nor is it intended to obtain funding for the project, nor to offer any cost benefit analysis – these are all
matter for the business case (Assessment Item 3 – I will place additional writing order after this Assessment 2 order).
The project that you select for the Project Brief (Assessment item 2) will serve later in the course as the focus for your Project Business Case (Assessment item 3)
and their Project Plan (Assessment item 4 – I will place additional writing order after Assessment 2 and 3 are complete). Hence you should select a project that you
can relate directly to business objectives and avoid sub-projects that are merely ancillary to the main project. The test here is whether the project you select will
enable you to demonstrate their grasp of the Input-Transform-Outcome model of a project described by Zwikael & Smyrk on pp22-28 of the text book.
Let me illustrate this with a Defence Force example: an idea for development and procurement of hovercraft to improve surveillance of Australia’s northern maritime
approaches would be suitable for Assessment item 2 because it could help Navy realise a core ADF business objective (effective maritime surveillance) and national
outcome (credible sovereign control of Australia’s northern maritime approaches). Conversely, an idea for a new gun for the existing Armidale Class patrol boats would
be less suitable for Assessment item 2 because it would do little to improve Navy’s contribution to the ADF objective of effective maritime surveillance (patrol boats
rarely fire their guns) and little to improve sovereign control of the nation’s northern maritime approaches.
Additional guidance for Assessment item 2 and marking criteria for Assessment Item 2 are provided at Appendix 2 to this assessment brief.
Project Initiation is the first of three written assignments that comprise the individual assessment components of the course. It is to be prepared in accordance with
the guidance in Chapter 5 of Zwikael & Smyrk. In assessment item 2 you will explore the relationship between a project, the business portfolio and the program of
business objectives. The project selected for assessment 2 will be basis of the business case (assessment item 3) and the project plan (assessment item 4). You are to
act as project champions and write 1750 words seeking management agreement to invest the time and effort required to prepare, initially, a project business case
(assessment item 3) and, subsequently, a project plan (assessment item 4).
Selecting the right project:
Ensure that the project you select and the way you describe it is likely to enable you to demonstrate your grasp of what is involved in preparing a business case and,
later, a project plan.
In preparing the assessment brief I must say I had in mind, preparing a brief for a future project that you would then unfold through the successive stages of business
case and project plan. I recognise that this may well entail substantial “imagineering” of the data required for, eg, the WBS, resources, budgets and schedules. Hence
some students may find it useful and/or preferable to quarry an existing project for such data. While this is OK by me I would only caution that in my experience those
resorting to this expedient run the risk of becoming lost in detail and losing sight of the intent (which, to repeat, is to demonstrate your grasp of what is involved
in preparing a business case and a project plan in the initiation/planning phase of a project).
The intent of assessment item 2 is for you to demonstrate the grasp of the relationship between projects and business strategy by choosing a suitable project and
explaining how it will help realise business objectives. Focusing on a newly formed or emergent project in which you are involved sounds to me like a good place to
start working up your project brief. Just bear in mind that the project you select needs to enable you to identify and explain a causal link between project outputs
(typically an artefact), project outcomes (typically a measurable effect) and business objectives.
The intent of assessment items 3 and 4 is for you to demonstrate the grasp of what is involved in preparing, along the lines advocated in the text book and having
regard to the templates provided in the assessment brief, a project business case and a project plan respectively. To achieve this intent I do not need you to read the
project management literature exhaustively. What I do need is for you to reflect carefully about the generic approach suggested in the text book and how, perhaps with
the aid of some carefully chosen articles, that generic approach might be adapted to the specific requirements of the project you have chosen. You should acknowledge
(I suggest in a footnote) when you use the literature to inform their preparation of their project brief, business case and/or project plan.
Additional guidance for Assessment Item 2 (Project Brief)
You are to select a format of their Project Brief having regard to the style of the business involved. To illustrate: for an Australian government official, the
Project Brief might take the form of a submission to the Minister or a memo to, say, a two star officer; for a very large company the project brief might take the form
of a letter to the Business Development Manager; for a mid-size company, the Project Brief might take the form of a memo to the CEO; for a small company the Project
Brief might take the form of an email to the owner. As a broad guide, the Project Brief might include, for example:
• An addressee who can approve the preparation of a business case (eg “Deputy Chief of Navy (Capability)”;
• A title which captures the nub of the idea in a few words (eg “Proposed hovercraft for enhanced maritime surveillance”)
• A statement of purpose (eg “ This submission seeks your agreement to the preparation of a business case for enhancing maritime surveillance by acquiring hovercraft.”
• A summary of the relevant background (eg the existing Armidale Class patrol boats are approaching life of type; the new Government is calling for more effective
surveillance of Australia’s northern maritime approaches etc etc);
• An indication of what the proposed business case will provide, who will prepare it, by when and what will happen to it;
• The action you are recommending that the addressee take.
Additional info regarding References for footnotes, word count and appendixes:
I am not setting a minimum requirement for references in the assessment items. This is because the focus of the assessment is on students’ capacity to demonstrate
their grasp of what is involved in preparing a plausible project brief, persuasive business case and robust project plan.
With regard to including references that might help the project funder/project sponsor’s understand/interpret the project brief, project business case and project
plan. I assume this would mean, for example, you’re including a footnote reference to the Defence White Paper for a more detailed discussion of a capability
requirement (thereby conserving the word count in the main text). I like this idea, provided that (1) the associated footnotes don’t develop into a separate narrative
running in parallel to the main text. (2) I can access the material so referenced and (3) the main text retains its coherence on a standalone basis.
I do not intend to include footnotes in the word count for the main assessment text. But the above caveat applies: this is not an invitation to construct an
You also made the point that 1750 words is a tight constraint and sought confirmation that the appendixes are not included in the word count. The appendix is a device
to enable students to provide supporting detail which, if contained in the main text of their project brief, business case or project plan would hinder the project
funder/owner in grasping the point of the student’s argument and blow out the word count without adding materially to the case being argued. Hence I do not intend to
include the words in the appendices in the overall word count for the assessment. Again, however, students should not bury their argument in appendices: The main text
needs to stand as a coherent integrated document.
Addition marking criteria attached to this order.
relate this brief to Australian projects ideas and strictly use the 1750 word count (-+10% if required).