Templates providing a consistent format for the capture and evaluation of new product and project ideas.
What this is
Templates for creating a brief description of a new project idea, typically used as input to a project portfolio planning process. The goal is to not only capture good ideas for new projects, but also to provide a crisp and consistent format that allows new project ideas to be rapidly and systematically compared with projects already in the start queue or in operation.
Several examples are included to show how a proposal form can be used in the early days of a new project idea. Some proposals are used to get new ideas into consideration as potential projects, even when only the idea and sketchy idea of its potential return is known. Other, more detailed proposals go further to include detailed business justification information and first estimates of costs and benefits, so Executive Management can make decisions about whether to fund the project and when. Examples of both are included.
Why it's useful
An NPP form, often with related rough business case information, lays out the idea for a new project in a quickly digestible form. It provides a sanity check of the project idea—how important is it to the customer and the company—and provides a consistent format for quick evaluation, comparison, and decision-making by senior management on a large number of project proposals. It helps implement the front-end of a project portfolio selection methodology, where new project proposals can be rapidly and systematically compared with projects already in the start queue or in operation. Having a process for submitting these ideas also helps make sure that "stealth" projects aren't sapping your resources. (Do you really know what people are working on?)
How to use it
Encourage everyone to submit new project ideas using a proposal form.
Document any quantitative business justification in the document or in a short, rough business case to go along with the New Project Proposal page. Clearly label assumptions and "guesstimates." A company typically specifies how much business case information should be submitted with the original proposal. Some detail, especially even rough financial estimates, may not be present in the first proposal version.
Feed the proposals into a company system for logging and reviewing new project ideas. The pipeline of new ideas should be reviewed on a regular basis.
For each new idea submitted via NPP, management/ marketing should decide whether to:
Investigate the idea further now: e.g. develop further business case information and rough ideas of project feasibility and scope, before making a decision. This decision would typically launch the "Concept" or "Initiation" phase of a new project. Some companies label this "phase 0."
Kill the idea outright.
Put the idea on hold, to investigate later.
An NPP should get additional investigation as a potential project only if the reviewers of the NPP deem it important enough. (Remember, we're trying to keep from having people scattered across too many project efforts. The NPP review process helps make sure that even at the concept stage, only the most important ideas take up time from scarce resources.)
After an NPP has received further investigation and the new data reviewed, a team may be appointed to take the concept on into a full project.
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