IPMA International Project Management Association
24 June 2015 / 12:54

Project Canvas – defining projects in a structured way

Canvas is a term not widely known and pretty new to project management. Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canvas) describes it as an extremely durable plain-woven fabric used for making sails, tents, marquees, backpacks, and other items for which sturdiness is required. The same applies to projects, which need a project definition that is sturdy. Over the Fence, an open source service provider in Germany offers technologies for better projects. Among others, they provide the “Project Canvas”, an easy-to-use approach for systematically understanding, designing and starting new projects (http://overthefence.com.de/project-canvas/). The Project Canvas is an easy-to-use tool that supports you in systematically understanding, designing, and initiating new projects. It is available for download and co-creation! A short video compares the adventures of Indiana Jones with the ones in a project, check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ3HizQyXYs&feature=youtu.be

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This canvas elaborates on one page (should ideally be displayed on A0-Posters) and covers the following areas of a project definition:

  • Purpose
  • Customer
  • Result
  • Quality
  • Budget
  • Team
  • Resources
  • Conditions
  • Risks
  • Milestones
  • Time

It uses a neutral language, is easy to access and understand by all stakeholders of a project and can be used independently of a specific project management standard or methodology. Defining the content of the Project Canvas is a creative process, facilitated by the project manager integrating all major stakeholders. It could be used for a face-to-face meeting as well as in a virtual project context. The duration of the session depends on the complexity of the project and the number of people involved. It can be used throughout the project as orientation and visualisation, for monitoring and controlling of the progress and at the end of the project as basis for review and lessons learned. Over the Fence encourages you to try this new tool and report back any experience gained to [email protected]. Would be nice to hear also on this Blog about your experiences…

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Reinhard Wagner

Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defense, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is Past President of IPMA and Chairman of the Council, Honorary Chairman of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH.

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