Conducting short-term projects

Conducting short-term projects

Very often in our career, we faced theneed to carry out the projects, which we were not able to run from a variety of reasons on our own.We dreamed about an external expert (with no long term commitments and additional costs) which has an independent look at the problem and will be able to run it successfully, withhis experience protectingus from errors in its implementation.


We conduct these projectsusing Traditional (TPM) and Adaptive (APF) methodology.

Traditional project management (TPM)

In the traditional approach to project management to define the scope is the first task in the project.In this phase, the client  and Project Manager agree on important aspects of the project. When the project scope is defined, it must be documented in the POS document (Project Overview Statement). POS is a short document, responding to the following questions:

What problem or opportunity do we describe?
What is the purpose of the project?
What elements do we need to implement to achieve the objective of the project?
How do we assess whether the project was successful?
Are there any risks or difficulties, which may affect the project?

Note that even the best-defined project may be subject to changes during its implementation. They can arise both from a change in the vision of the client, as well as from changes in technology. Project manager must be able to respond to change, documenting the alternative actions to be taken after encountering a change. Such reactions are described in the process response to change.

Project Planning

Often planning is seen as a waste of time or excessive administrative overhead. However, a well-planned project makes the phase of realization much less painful and more predictable. The project plan represents not only the main path of the project, but also alternative solutions in the scope comprising: 

  • Definition of the tasks in the project,
  • Estimation of its implementation,
  • The work schedule,
  •  The requirements for resources.

Project planning has three major advantages: 

Reduces uncertainty - even though we do not expect that the project will run exactly according to the plan, it allows us to assign resources to tasks and to develop ways to measure the effects of a project,

Increased understanding - the planning allows a better understanding of the objectives of the project. Even if the implementation phase will not be running according to plan, its execution will improve understanding of the subject matter and purpose of the project.

Improves performance- when we assess what exactly should be done, we must request for resources for the realization of tasks, as well asparallel individual tasks, shortening the duration of the project.

The project plan is of course dynamic, and we expect the changes in progress, but TPM is not a methodology that is designed for changes. The traditional approach allows  rather cosmetic changes.

Starting the project

In this phase we turn on green light for the project. Recruiting project team is here, while individual team members are assigned tasks. Each team member knows what tasks and what time should perform well and when they can proceed with their implementation.

 Project Control

One element of the project plan is a schedule that determines:

  • What should be done in the project?
  • When should each task to be completed?
  • Persons responsible for specific tasks,
  • What products will be delivered at the end of the project?

 Based on this information, project manager supervises the execution of the project and take appropriate action in case of deviations or changes in the plan.

Closing a project

Closing a project is a formal signal of the completion of all project tasks and delivering it (the effect, purpose) to the client. In the closing phase of the project we will be synthesizing answers to the following questions:

  • Whether and to what extent the objectives of the project are realized?
  • Does the outcome of the project meet the requirements of the customer?
  • Does the execution of the project meet the requirements of project manager?
  • Has the project team completed the project according to plan?
  • How has the chosen methodology proven in the project implementation?
  • What knowledge we have gained, which could be used in future projects?

In this context we pass the collected  materials we pass to the customer as a report on the implementation of the project for further analysis and project settlement.

Method of Adaptive - Adaptive Project Framework (APF)

Methods of APF is the result of work of the project managers frustrated withthe effects of TPM in their projects. APF uses the tools and processes that are used in the traditional approach to project management.This methodology, however, eliminates all the elements of TPM, which are wasting their time on planning tasks which will never be executed. According to theprinciple, the "why planning the future which you don’t know, " in the APF planning is done here and now (but thisshould not be confused with projects such as "element" where adaptability is attributable to misconductof the project).This methodology is used very often in the IT sector, design electronics and many other cases in which the project must be carried out in a multi-stage way, due to the fact that the outcome and experience of one stage has a direct impact on the scope and course of the following stage.

APF is an iterative and adaptive approach. It has been designed for providing maximum value to the customer within a limited timeframe. Delivered value is maximized by adjusting the project scope for each iteration of the project.

Planning for the APF is different than in TPM. First, the high-levelplan is carried out, at the level (stages, the objective function or functionality of the system). The plan divided into individual tasks, which in the TPM is performed in the planning phase, in the APF occurs only in the phase of each iteration.


The APF project takes place in iterations. Each iteration allows the customer and the project team meet new experiences. APF was prepared to give the opportunity to achieve benefits from these experiences.

Adaptive Project Framework consists of the following five phases:

  • Scope version,
  • Cycle planning,
  • Cycle building,
  • Client checkpoint,
  • Version review,
  • Version range.

APF starts with defining the business problem. The starting point is the same asin the traditional approach. Therefore, the POS document defining the conditions for project success is formulated.This document include:

  • Definitions of the problem or opportunity (i.e. thereason for undertakingthe project),
  • Definitions of the project’s target (what will be implemented under the project),
  • Tasks definitions (description of the way in which the goal is to be achieved),
  • Measurable outcomes of the project,
  • Comments such as risks or obstacles to succeed in the project.

POS document is the first expected product of this phase. The second product is a list of required functionalities (results) with the assigned priorities. Both sides are aware that the list of features can vary, but at this stage of the project itreflects the state of knowledge atits inception.

The third phase is the product of a generalized structure of the work breakdown (WBS). Work incorporated in an attempt to create a detailed work breakdown structure at this stage would be a waste of time.

Cycle planning

This phase will be repeated at each iteration, until the project is completed. Document  POS, the scope of the triangle together with the assigned priorities, a set of features included in the cycle and work breakdown structure receive the first occurrence of the planning phase of the cycle on the input.Another instance of this phase receive additionally input range of the bank, which includes requirements for design changes and ideas for functional project expansion.

Cycle building

In this phase, detailed planning of the implementation of the functionality assigned to the current cycle is carried out. Then begins the work on a cycle, which is monitored and adjusted. The cycleends when the time for its execution passes.All unfinished features are transferred to the scope's bank and reach the next cycle.

Customer checkpoint

Client, together with design team, review the quality of the functionality provided in the last cycle . Product is compared with the objective of the business and amendments or changes to the high-level project plan are introduced.

Checkpoint is an important review, which takes place after each execution of the project. In the phase of building  the cycle both the client and design team use the teachings and experience of previous cycles. These experiences affect the changes or alternative approach to the delivered functionality. In this phase, it is clearly seenthat the APF encourages the client to engage in the project as a second project manager.

Version overview

In the phase of defining the scope of version, we have defined measurable outcomes of the project. Some of the functionality that was planned to deliver, could only remain in phase plans. The main task of the version review is to check and meet the criteria for success of the project,documenting what we have learned and start planning the range for the next version. At this stage we need to answer three questions:

  • Has the expected business purpose been carried out?
  • What have we learnedand how we can use this experience to improve the solution?
  • What have we learnedand how it can be used to correct the efficiency of APF?

The same logic applies during the transition from cycle to cycle. If during the implementation of version, we realize that it does not meet the requirements, it'd better get to end it than take the wrong path.

Adaptive Project Framework brings together several key values ​​that are unchanging in this methodology and must be practised in every project:

  • Customer focus - it is best reflected by the term "go into the skin of the customer",
  • Control of customer - APF involves the client in the project. The client is not only the originator of the project, but actively participates in its implementation, having influence on the direction of development,
  • partial results early and often-according to the idea of prototyping, we want to provide a functioning product to the customer as soon as possible. The first iteration will have very limited functionality, but will still present  the customer an early vision of the final product. In some cases, the first iteration will be a proof of a concept,
  • Ask and inspire (introspection) - building solutions in an iterative way provides many opportunities to use creativity. It gives the possibility of exploitation of discoveries and ideas in subsequent phases. The design team must use the principle of openness. None of the participants in the project should be afraid to submit ideas and proposals for new products.
  • Change is the way to a better solution - a reflection of the value of APF is the sentence "a disciple of the previous day is the next one",
  • Do not speculate about the future - APF cut off all the tasks that do not bring business value. Guessing the future changes to the project does not involve such a value. If something you are not able to specify now, leave it for the next iteration.