The Project Canvas
A practical tool to develop ideas into concrete projects together with your team
There is a chance that you already are familiar with Osterwalder’s ‘Business Model Canvas’. It is a powerful tool to map a new business model in a transparent and clear way, examine it and make it easy to communicate. But not every idea results in the development of a new business. After a creative facilitation session on idea generation, we often end up with a project that needs to be executed within the existing organization. And that is why we have designed the Project Canvas. As powerful, clear and transparent as the Business Model Canvas but specifically designed for the set up and execution of a project.
Accurately defining a project is critical for its success. The Project Canvas visualizes, simplifies, integrates and actively involves people in the project. Research by Gartner in 2012 has shown that 50% of the reasons why projects fail are related to an insufficient set up of the project:
- Insufficient stakeholder management
- Inefficient communication
- Insufficient project initiation and planning of all phases
- Limited identification of restrictions
- Lack of risk management
During the start of a project, a lot of critical decisions have to be taken that determine the focus, scope and targets of the project. But quite often the project already derails in this early phase which is a pity when it is a new, exciting and innovative idea.
So it is essential to have a thorough start. A start in which the projectleader brings all those who are involved together , uses their complementary knowledge and creates buy in for the project and its targets.
The Project Canvas visualizes, simplifies, integrates and involves people in the project
How can a projectleader involve the broader organization in a project?
By working visually and co-creatively. The BEDENK Project Canvas can help with that. Its most important characteristics are:
- A simple and visual way to plan and communicate projects
- A simplification and integration of the best practices from Project methodologies like Prince2, PMI and Scrum
- A method to involve people from the start and have clear agreements
- A new way to kick off projects together and to implement afterwards
- Visual, co-creative, iterative and holistic in its approach. Which makes it very useful to shape unclear and unspecific projects.
What are the most important reasons to use the Project Canvas?
- Create commitment and buy in
The visual design makes it engaging for groups, facilitates discussion and easily results in a common decision. It stimulates the general communication regarding the project.
- Appeal to the collective intelligence
Involving people from different functional areas and angles gives broader insights. More risks and opportunities can be detected which increases the success rate.
- An easy and flexible approach
It allows you to shape the most important elements of the project in an easy way and arrange collective information. This in contrast to most project management tools that are very complex because of all the added functionalities. On top of that, the relations between the different parts of the project are much clearer than in a classic, linear and extensive project document.
- Enlarge the chance of success
All reasons above contribute to the success of the project. It allows you to generate clear insights and capture agreements at the start of the project. And it helps you to adjust if necessary because you use visual management.
It allows you to shape the most important elements of the project in an easy way and arrange collective information
The BEDENK Project Canvas consists of 10 elements
What is a must have and what is a nice to have? What should you do if possible and just as essential: what elements are out of scope?
Identify the most important user groups. Who is the project meant for?
What are the problems that will be solved through this project?
Who are the stakeholders and what is their opinion about this project?
What future events could have a negative impact? How can you bend them?
Who is the sponsor, the steering committee, the projectlead, projectteam and sounding board?
What and who do we need to make this project work?
What are the most important benefits and costs?
What do we have to do to actually launch this project?
What are the milestones and actions to achieve these milestones?
We mainly use the Project Canvas in preparation of the realization phase of an idea or project, as part of the innovation of creative process. It is the bridge between concept and realization. It is printed on A0 size and fixed to the wall where it can be used to guide and facilitate discussions during the project kick off.
The project canvas is a dynamic instrument that can be used to:
- Map a project: both during the initiation phase as well as in a phase when it risks to derail and you need a clear overview.
- To start the dialogue: have a constructive discussion on the kick off of the project and you need to gather all the insights.
- To communicate: a simple and clear way to inform people about the existence the project.
- To improve: gradually adjust and adapt when needed, keeping an eye on the most critical elements