The project approach is a section in the Project Charter that describes in words the thinking that goes into the creation of the project schedule. There are two benefits to creating an approach section. First, this information will help the client and stakeholders understand how the project will progress without having to interpret the actual schedule.

The other benefit of the project approach is that it allows the project manager and project team to lay out a high-level vision for project execution and use this vision to help create the lower-level schedule. Sometimes the project team finds it hard to build a schedule to complete the work. Creating a high-level approach first can make it easier to create the lower-level schedule second.

There are a number of ways the section can be prepared. Usually, you start off with general content about how the organization and environment will impact the project. Then you walk chronologically through the project, starting at the beginning and going to the end. Of course, you don’t describe the detail at an activity level. You want to stay at the milestone, stage or phase level.

Sometimes it is difficult to get started with this section. The following information gives you more detail and examples of the areas that can be described. You will notice that much of this information may be available elsewhere, but it is in the approach section that you tie everything together in context for the benefit of the reader.

  • Discuss whether any broader company initiatives or strategies impact the structure of this project.
  • Identify any constraints or time-boxes in terms of budget, effort, time or quality, and the impact to the project.
  • Describe any company standards that will impact how the project is executed.
  • Note any company or industry best practices that will have an effect on the project.
  • Describe other options for the overall approach and why you chose the options you did over the others. Note why you think this approach has the best chance of success over the others.
  • Talk about how the deliverables will be supported and maintained after the project ends. Also indicate whether the approach was influenced by support and maintenance implications.
  • Discuss any other related projects that are completed, in progress or pending that influenced the approach for this project and why.
  • Discuss, at a high level, how the project will progress from start to end and the interdependencies between the high-level phases and stages.
  • Discuss any techniques that might be of interest to the reader. For instance, if the requirements will be gathered in a three-day Joint Application Design (JAD) session, you can note this in the approach.
  • Note whether new technology or new processes are being utilized and why.
  • Identify any unusual staffing requirements, such as consultants or outside specialists, and explain why you need them.
  • Describe the use of outsourcers, contractors or vendors, especially if they are doing significant work.
  • Of course, these are ideas for the approach section. You do not need to comment on all of them and many may not be applicable to your project. The purpose of the approach is to describe these factors and the impact they have on the project schedule. This section generally is for the benefit of the reader – the writer already knows the information. There is a tendency to write this section briefly and quickly, therefore providing little value to the reader. If the writer is diligent and provides good context, this section can instead prove to be very valuable for the reader.

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