Project Mission Statements

It’s often easy for people to focus on differences. Skinny and round. Tall and short. Political party or no party. It can be easy to fall into the trap of observing the divide between any two things.

A good project manager is an excellent study of human nature. They know how to guide their stakeholders to success around obstacles like these and build the bridges and networks that will allow all the people involved to be successful. One way to keep everyone on the same page is to create a project mission statement.
Mission statements are helpful because they document a shared set of values and a shared goal for both the development team and the client. This allows each team member (regardless of team) to make decisions to move the project forward.
Good mission statements are written to answer the who, what, when, how, and why of a project. Early client agreement to a mission statement is key and references back to the mission statement during client presentations is expected.
One example of a mission statement is: “On an ongoing basis, the Project Team will use best practices to maintain, design, and develop application features to sustain and increase utility, user satisfaction, and scalability of XXX CLIENT.”

I usually team PM’s to draft up the mission statement early in assuming the project and refer to the client for final approval of its wording. Once its wording is agreed upon all the stakeholders involved in the project can refer back to the mission statement anytime they’re faced with something ambiguous. This saves the PM from a deluge of phone calls as the project evolves.

In one project our lead engineer was working abnormal hours to sync with the company’s world wide development team. The PM was asleep. When questions would come up from either the lead or the remote developers they were able to refer to the mission statement and press forward. They didn’t lose a single hour of productivity in the project. Similarly, the PM was able to guide the team using the mission statement and reduce the number of ad-hoc client meetings.

A missions statement sounds like a simple thing, but it can build bridges and give focus to the wide variety of stakeholders involved in the project. That focus directly translates to project momentum and success.

Build your project’s momentum. Write a mission statement.