IT Project Launch in APAC

About the Course

Major IT projects fail on a daily basis. Big things go bad from the start, not only in new or troubled firms, but also in mature ones with veteran managers. Why?

New technologies, changing regulations, shifts in the market, and competition are all factors, but the root cause seems to be the deeply ambitious business strategies of today's organizations. These strategies they deploy by launching major IT projects, often in bundles, or portfolios linked to other organizations. For this reason, any single IT project begins life in a tangled matrix of other such projects, each in the context of it's own firm's dynamic strategies, aiming to win in its competitive sector, in hugely populous regions, in flux, economically and politically. For these reasons and more, IT projects are hyper-complex, conflict is impossible to avoid, and turbulence is certain.

Not every project manager can handle such challenges. Especially tough is getting off to a good start. The project manager may be a fine technical person or team leader, but when cultural differences, ambitious business plans, or competing internal agendas get in the picture, projects become difficult to define at the front end, harder to plan, and then impossible to deliver.

What is needed is a systemic foundation for the pre-planning stage of projects, a stage that may also be called concept, definition, or initiation. 21st Century project management offers such a foundation. This course is designed to provide participants with this foundation and with practical know-how in using it.

Participants study two Asia-Pacific firms that contract on an IT project critical to their futures. Both are moving into new markets and with leading edge technologies, so the assignment goes to a veteran project manager. Feel his pain as things get off to a rocky start, and then, get worse. What has happened? Where did the project manager go wrong? And, were there problems beyond project management? Work with colleagues to understand the case. Decide how you could do better. Then, with your group, build the project management work products that are needed. By doing so, you will learn the key concepts, processes, and tools of initiation. The next time you launch a project in the region, you'll know how, and you'll give your firm a better chance to succeed.


Early- to mid-career professionals involved in project launches as a(n):

  • General manager wanting more project experience and know-how
  • IT professional wishing to enhance general management and/or leadership skills
  • An SME coping with unknown unknowns of global projects
  • A project manager who wants a professional framework for working with sponsors at the big bang moment of assignment
  • A team leader wishing for better rapport with key stakeholders and a more systemic basis for creating a project community early on


12 hrs: 3 - 4 Sessions

Class Size

Participant Minimum = 6; Maximum = 12


  • Provided: Workbook (c. 30 pages)
  • Recommended (not provided): any recent PMBOK® Guide


  • Continued learning plan re PMBOK® Guide
    • customized during session
    • by individual, team, organization


Part 1 How to Fail: Project Case Study

  • Orientation: Systems Models of Organizations
  • Prioritize Challenges at Project Assignment
  • Evaluate Management of Project Launch
  • Analyze Chartering Document

Part 2 How to Not: Business Case Analysis

  • Model Venture Organizations
  • Analyze a Contract
  • Get Advice on Business Case
  • Decide to Proceed or Not

Part 3 How to Not: Project Initiation

  • Model a Project Community
  • Model Stakeholders
  • Develop Chartering Document

Part 4 How to Not: Development Approach

  • Model Risk
  • Plan Stakeholder Engagement
  • Plan-driven, Hybrid, or Agile?
  • Plan Knowledge Management


All Cogent Language courses are built according to a consistent design pattern: they have a learning path that is "cogent" to the needs of participants. We have found that, for our participants, a learning path is cogent when it is constructive, collaborative, cumulative, fast-paced, visual, and personal. Here's what makes this course cogent.


Looking at the business background of the case project and the manager's practice, participants construct an analysis of what went wrong in project selection and management. After being introduced to the 21st Century practice, they take on, sequentially, the roles of project sponsors and project manager, and in those roles, try to build the work products that are crucial to launching projects successfully today, products starting with an appropriate contract.


During this case study, participants construct many of the analyses and work products in a pair or team context.


In this course, the main learning activities are not topics presented by the instructor - they are tasks participants do. Each task builds on previous tasks and topics, with participants incorporating the work of teammates and accumulating knowledge in concrete project management outputs pertinent to the case.


The case study on which the class is based is short. Cogent Language is happy to provide it in advance of the class, and we recommend that participants have access to it. In order to frame, address, and relate the topics of the ambitious agenda above, this class moves quickly. For individual review and follow up, the workbook provides references to the current PMBOK® Guide and other resources.


Explanations and task work for the course are scaffolded by diagrams, tables, and other structural models in the class workbook and in the presentation of the instructor. The task-based learning process of the class makes extensive use of sketching and whiteboards.


For each group, the facilitator customizes agenda and interaction. Group size is kept small so individuals can benefit from coaching. By way of coaching and interaction, each participant can identify the gap(s) in her project initiation practice that s/he cares about. S/he can develop a continued learning plan to bridge these gaps by way of the templates in the workbook, including references to specific sections of the current PMBOK® Guide and other sources informing project initiation practice going forward.