South East Training - The Project Management Toolkit

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Understanding the Rationale

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It is often said that there is only one constant in today's business environment - and this is change. There is an inevitability about change, as no organisation, neither public nor private, is isolated from the factors creating pressures for change. The factors that create pressures for change are called drivers.

A project is an organisation’s response to a driver for change.

Although it might sound obvious, the project team should have a clear understanding of what is driving the need for the project. There are two main reasons:

  • To ensure the project has the right focus
  • To ensure the correct decisions are made if the drivers change.

Typically we consider drivers in two categories:

  • Those originating externally, which we refer to as Macro Drivers, and
  • Those originating internally, which we refer to as Micro Drivers.

Macro Drivers

Macro drivers fit into six categories, conveniently labelled by the acronym PESTLE. 


Directives from the Government, European Union, etc.


Economic factors such as growth, recession, external competition, the cost of borrowing and stock market performance.


Pressures that result from social change, e.g. changing demographics, moves toward greater social inclusion, growing public expectations, changing population densities.


Demands made on organisations to become more sophisticated in their use of technology to meet the sophistication of their customers, e.g. demand for on-line services, growth in the use of mobile communications, faster access to good and services.


Requirements made of all organisations to comply with and keep up to date with statute from a number of sources, e.g. equal opportunities, health and safety, employment law.


Pressures from Government, customers and the public at large to operate in a greener way by reducing consumption, recycling, reuse and purchasing products from sustainable sources.

Micro Drivers

Internal factors may include:

  • Business goals
  • Management priorities
  • Process inefficiencies
  • Staff feedback
  • Etc.

Being Aware of the Drivers

One of the main reasons for being aware of the drivers for any project and monitoring these throughout the project duration is so that you can adapt quickly if they change. For example, a change in government policy or departmental funding could have a major impact on any projects that have strong political drivers. Similarly, if your project is driven by management priorities, a change at the top could mean your project gaining enhanced exposure or being consigned to the dustbin. 

Even if there is little likelihood of the drivers changing over the life of the project, it is still important to be clear what they are. It is almost inevitable that there will be pressures on the scope of the project and the necessity to make hard decision about what must stay and what must go. In these situations, having a clear understanding of the rationale will ensure you make the right decision.