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Project Management Handbook

Version 1.1 - July 2006

Wouter Baars


Henk Harmsen

Rutger Kramer

Laurents Sesink

Joris van Zundert


DANS – Data Archiving and Networked Services

PO Box 93067

2509 AB The Hague
T +31 (0)70-3494450

F +31 (0)70-3494451



ISBN 90 6984 496 6

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-
Non-Commercial-Share-Alike 2.5 License.
To view a copy of this license, visit: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/
or send a letter to:

Creative Commons

543 Howard Street – 5th floor

San Francisco, CA 94105


Table of Contents


1 The six phases of project management

2 Managing a project

3 Project reporting

4 The sales representative and the politician

5 Waterfall versus cyclical project management

6 DANS software-development working methods

7 Programme management


1. Top 11 causes of delays in IT projects

2. Roles within a project

3. Helpful resources for project management

4. License for this handbook

5. About DANS and the producers of this handbook

6. Sample action-and-decision list

7. Sample issue log

8. Sample risk log

9. Sample meeting report

10. Sample project plan

11. Sample budget

12. Sample financial statement

Literature and Internet sources


Anyone who has ever worked on a project will agree that making a project succeed is no simple task. The difficulties manifest themselves in (extreme) delays, (extreme) budget over-runs, inadequate results, dissatisfied customers, high stress among the project team and other undesirable outcomes. What is the cause of all of these problems?

Projects are characterised by four features: a group of people, a goal, limited time and money and a certain level of uncertainty regarding whether the goals will be achieved. Project managers are involved with all of these aspects. Supervising and directing a project is thus anything but an easy task.

Projects are becoming increasingly common. Project-based working methods have also found their way into non-profit organisations, including DANS.1 The rules of the game for projects in non-profit organisations differ from those in commercial organisations. Political factors play a particularly important role in non-profit organisations. This makes it even more difficult for projects to succeed, compared to projects in which commercial aspects play a part. Project leaders should be aware of this and be able to play the game of politics.

After several years of experience with IT projects, the authors of this handbook have become even more keenly aware of how IT projects differ from ‘regular’ projects. Most importantly, projects are more dynamic, and that has both advantages and disadvantages. We have established that IT projects require an approach that differs – at least partly - from the approaches that are appropriate for construction, re-organisations or other types of projects.

This handbook is intended for projects that are conducted by DANS. The first section describes a working method that can be followed for ‘traditional’ projects. The second section describes the working method for IT projects, particularly those that involve software development. This handbook presents a practical model that will allow project members, project leaders, project managers, general managers, programme managers, customers and project partners to play their roles within DANS better.

It is impossible to learn all there is to know about the field of project management. Theoretical development and practical experience are continually producing new insights. This handbook is therefore incomplete, and it will grow along with new developments in the area of project management. To make this possible, we have chosen to publish the text under a creative-commons license. This means that anyone is free to use, copy or change the text.2 Most importantly, it means that anyone who feels that the text is in need of additions or improvement should not hesitate to do just that!

Henk Harmsen

Deputy Director


The Hague, May 2006


This project management handbook is intended for anyone who is involved in or will be involved in projects that take place within or are conducted in association with DANS. The text, however, has been prepared in such a way that it can be used by other organisations, particularly those in the non-profit sector, that use project-based working methods.

The book is comprised of several sections. The first section (Chapters 1 through 4) provides an overview of project management. These chapters address the theory of the waterfall method, which is applicable to most projects. The second section of this book (beginning with Chapter 5), addresses ‘cyclical’ forms of project management, which are more appropriate to IT-related projects. These methods are particularly well suited for software development and other creative IT projects. The penultimate chapter addresses the working methods of DANS. This method is a combination of elements from both the waterfall and the cyclical methods. The last chapter of this handbook discusses how organisations can manage the dynamics of carrying out several projects at once. The most important difficulties are addressed, along with strategies for dealing with these problems.

'This document includes a number of standard documents that can be used for directing projects, as well as a number of references to open-source project instruments developed by third parties. A literature list is included at the end of this book for those who wish to delve more deeply into the broad field of project management.

1.The six phases of project management

This chapter provides a sketch of the traditional method of project management. The model that is discussed here forms the basis for all methods of project management. Later chapters go into more depth regarding a model that is particularly appropriate for IT-related projects.

Dividing a project into phases makes it possible to lead it in the best possible direction. Through this organisation into phases, the total work load of a project is divided into smaller components, thus making it easier to monitor. The following paragraphs describe a phasing model that has been useful in practice. It includes six phases:

  1. Initiation phase

  2. Definition phase

  3. Design phase

  4. Development phase

  5. Implementation phase

  6. Follow-up phase

Figure 1: Project management in six phases, with the central theme of each phase

Initiation phase

The initiation phase is the beginning of the project. In this phase, the idea for the project is explored and elaborated. The goal of this phase is to examine the feasibility of the project. In addition, decisions are made concerning who is to carry out the project, which party (or parties) will be involved and whether the project has an adequate base of support among those who are involved.

In this phase, the current or prospective project leader writes a proposal, which contains a description of the above-mentioned matters. Examples of this type of project proposal include business plans and grant applications. The prospective sponsors of the project evaluate the proposal and, upon approval, provide the necessary financing. The project officially begins at the time of approval. Questions to be answered in the initiation phase include the following:

The ability to say ‘no’ is an important quality in a project leader. Projects tend to expand once people have become excited about them. The underlying thought is, ’While we’re at it, we might as well …’ Projects to which people keep adding objectives and projects that keep expanding are nearly certain to go off schedule, and they are unlikely to achieve their original goals.

In the initiation phase, the project partners enter a (temporary) relationship with each other. To prevent the development of false expectations concerning the results of the project, it makes sense to explicitly agree on the type of project that is being started:

The choice for a particular type of project largely determines its results. For example, a research and development project delivers a report that examines the technological feasibility of an application. A project in which a prototype is developed delivers all of the functionalities of an application, but they need not be suitable for use in a particular context (e.g. by hundreds of users). A project that delivers a working product must also consider matters of maintenance, instructions and the operational management of the application.

Many misunderstandings and conflicts arise because the parties that are involved in a project are not clear on these matters. Customers may expect a working product, while the members of the project team think they are developing a prototype. A sponsor may think that the project will produce a working piece of software, while the members of the project team must first examine whether the idea itself is technically feasible.
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Project Management Handbook
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