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Make Project Management Simple

Project management is a term that in some respects appears ubiquitous, but in practice, it seems to still be fairly confined to huge organization. Even though this might be the case, the underpinnings of project management are truly fairly basic and can be adapted by virtually any person. But, prior to we get too far down this path I feel it really is crucial to look at what project management is…and what it can be not.

First, project management is really a methodology. At its core can be a framework that enables for efficient use of time, but a lot more importantly this methodology/framework assists make certain that the objective of the project is actually achieved. Second, it ought to be understood that to be regarded as a project, there has to be a certain “start date” and “end date.” If the project has no official beginning or distinct date to end, by definition it’s a process. It’s crucial to differentiate between the two. A project is undertaken to meet a particular objective or requirement, inside a specified time frame. As an example, should you are planning a wedding you would want to use a project management methodology. This is simply because if certain things are not pulled together by the wedding day, proverbial heads are going to roll. A process, however, could possibly be thought of as a repeatable group of activities and tasks which will be done over and over once more. Creating coffee could be a great example of a process. Coordinating every little thing to pull off a effective wedding, nevertheless, can be a project.

You can find a few project management methodologies, but for our purposes we will take a look at the basis of very good project management. Our objective would be to apply the principles of solid project management, as opposed to attempt and memorize a certain methodology.

In my experience, it’s typically thought that projects have to be somewhat complicated in nature so that you can use project management. The beauty of project management though is that even if there is small complexity to deal with, these principles will still be of fantastic value to the individual applying them. At its core, project management is as much about efficiency as it is about bringing to fruition some thing that doesn’t currently exist. Let’s get began by defining several points.

You’ll find typically five phases to any project. Some phases could only have a couple of issues that happen within them, but there are about five phases nonetheless. The phases are Initiation, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Closing. We’ll take them 1 at a time, and keep in mind, it is much more about the methodology than anything else. Powerful project management usually seeks to break down the enormity of the project into manageable parts. These manageable parts are called phases.

One far more factor just before we begin…at times it’s less difficult to apply a scenario or hypothetical scenario to help us comprehend a concept. We will use “Planning a Wedding” as our scenario to help us understand a variety of points or concepts.

The Initiation Phase

Project Charter

This can be a very critical component of the project which is usually overlooked. Think of the Project Charter as your “Permission” to continue. Why do you will need permission you could ask? Due to the fact 80% of project failures occur from a lack of communication. Have you ever had your boss tell you what they required from you and then ask you to some thing fully different? I’ll bet that not only did you clarify specifically what they wanted, but you spent an enormous amount of time developing it. Only within the end to have them tell you that you simply should have misunderstood. A Project Charter is actually your protection against this kind of mismanagement and miscommunication.

What you put within the Charter is basically the objective of the project, the scope of the project, what things will probably be carried out to complete the project, and who it can be that wants to formally authorize the project. And, the best portion of the Charter is that if it is not within the Charter, you can’t do it. This keeps your boss and other people from continuously changing their minds and not letting you finish what you began.

So far as the mechanics of the Charter, here are some definitions. The “objective” is actually just stating what the project should accomplish. The scope of the project is simply defining the parameters or boundaries of what is going to be done to accomplish the project. The issues that should be done to make the project a success are known as deliverables. These are packages of work that have to be accomplished, either individually or collectively, for the project to move along as planned. Finally, the authorizers are the ones that have the authority to say yes or no to the project and ultimately the ones which are going to pay for it. The authorizers are also called Stakeholders…not simply because they enjoy beef, but simply because these are really the people that have the highest “stake” within the project becoming completed proper. Sticking with our wedding planning theme, the stakeholders might be the Bride, Groom, Parents and also the minister.

The Planning Phase

This will be the quite beginning of the project where you begin to brainstorm about what you believe will should happen in order for the project to come together. For instance, using our wedding planning theme, we know that you will find numerous issues that must occur so that you can make this wedding come together seamlessly…so you start listing them. There ought to be somewhere to have it, an individual to open and close the facility, catering ought to be determined, what exactly is the anticipated spending budget or price that the family is seeking to spend, etc. In reality, this can just be a list of items or bullet points that you simply know will have to be broken down a lot more granularly later. Remember, this is just brainstorming to see what the primary “things” are that must occur for the project to be accomplished correctly. This is where we look at how to start adding shape to this wedding. We need to somehow bring it from conceptualization to reality, from thought process to paper. This is the rough framework of what we know will happen or at least what we believe requirements to occur. The planning phase is essential for obtaining started, but not vital for being 100% right. We will refine as we go.

The planning phase is genuinely just acquiring the key individuals together that may own part of the project work and planning how they will do it and what they’ll need to get it done. Inside the organization world, these are the Subject Matter Experts. A project manager doesn’t should be an expert in everything, but the project manager does must find those that are and get those Subject Matter Experts on their team. This phase is also where you assign beginning dates and ending dates to particular tasks. This is vital to the project’s success. There will likely be tasks which will occur at the same time that could or may not be related. But, some of those tasks will end later than others simply because they are going to just take longer to complete. Begin and stop dates also give you a way of ensuring that every little thing gets completed on time. This makes sense since the project has a specific quit date (otherwise it’s a process), so all tasks have to end sometime. A word of caution, you’re still within the “planning” phase here. Don’t get overwhelmed with the lack of details. Each house requirements a frame just before it might be built. But, prior to the frame is constructed there is certainly a rough concept of the total square footage of the property, how numerous rooms, bathrooms, etc. that there will probably be. That’s what the planning phase if for…to establish how this factor really should look.

Activities and Tasks

Project plans are produced to track activities and tasks. It could be easier to think of a project plan as an Excel spreadsheet with as small as four columns (Task Name; Commence Date; End Date; Assigned To). This gives each and every activity and task the ability to be formally tracked and completed. You may be wondering what the difference is between an activity plus a job. Simply put, an activity will be the culmination of 1 or a lot more tasks. As an example, let’s take drinking a cup of coffee inside the morning. In the event you like coffee, drinking a cup within the morning is an activity you appreciate. Even so, for that activity to happen, you need to total several tasks. As an example, you need to clean the coffee maker; put inside the coffee filter; scoop inside the coffee; fill the coffee maker with water; get a clean cup…you get the concept. Now, just simply because there are many tasks in generating a cup of coffee doesn’t mean which you need to incorporate them all in a project strategy. You need to go deep sufficient into the activity to make certain it gets completed on time, but you do not should list all 15-20 tasks to make a cup of coffee. Bear in mind, these are tasks and not procedures. The final rule of thumb is that tasks ought to constantly be able to be accomplished…yes or no items…did you do it or not? This means that tasks are intentionally named using action verbs. So, the activity is making a cup of coffee. The tasks that make up this activity we’ve already discussed. We could name 1 of these tasks “Scoop the coffee into the filter”. Now we have a job that is action oriented and can be tracked.

Milestones

This is really a way of rolling up or categorizing activities and tasks into their highest component. As an example, perhaps coffee is truly a component of a milestone named Supplied Beverages for All Age Groups. The milestone is there to make sure that all the beverages are bought and ready for when the guests arrive. Inside the “Provided Beverages for All Age Groups” milestone then, you may have activities and tasks for Water; Punch and Soda, Iced Tea, Coffee, and Ice. Together (as soon as bought, delivered, and ready to be served to the guests) they total the Provided Beverages for All Age Groups milestone for the project. Milestones provide you with the capacity to track project completion at a greater level. This makes it simpler for both reporting and tracking purposes.

The Execution Phase

This is where the activities and tasks are becoming completed according to the start and stop dates. You’ve moved out of the planning phase and into the executing (performing) phase. Here is where you, as the project manager, track others progress in completing their assigned tasks. Remember, although you’re not responsible for completing the tasks themselves, you may have to do some hand holding to assist guarantee that others are completing their tasks accordingly. Completion of the tasks, activities, milestones, and ultimately the whole project falls on you.

The Controlling Phase

Once you have begun to execute the project tasks and activities, you may begin controlling the work and the times it takes to complete it. Controlling the project is not as hard as it sounds in case you have good management support. Once again, attempt and remember that your resources (those performing the work) are responsible to the stakeholders and management to make certain that they are completing their assigned function, on time. Your role would be to ensure that every person knows what tasks and activities they’re supposed to be working on and tracking that completion on the project strategy. From there, at regular intervals, you should report progress to management. Management will not normally wish to know each job that’s being accomplished, but they are going to must be apprised of what tasks are behind schedule. You always have to have a “point of escalation” strategy in case points go south. It is a fantastic thought to also set up a weekly meeting with all of your resources to discuss tasks, completion, issues along with other items affecting the project. This becomes your leveraging tool for managing folks not in your region and not under your direct management. This also allows a forum to be in location to ensure that everybody is on the identical page when issues or questions arise about tasks and activities.

The Closing Phase

Feel of this as the winding down phase. Tasks, activities, and milestones are virtually all completed. The project is officially coming to an end…perhaps you’ll find some tasks still becoming performed to ensure that everything is running accordingly, but for probably the most portion the project is coming to a close. This will usually be a fairly low resource constraint for you. You may be updating any essential project materials and making sure that the deliverables match the Charter that you defined this project by. This is also where resources will go back to their usual daily activities as was regular before your project began.

No project need to end with out a close out meeting where people are praised for their efforts and thanked for their project dedication. This is really a tag-team effort and everybody deserves credit.

Lessons Learned

Apart from the Charter, lessons learned is probably the other most neglected part of a project. It really is reasonable to believe that given that projects are new there will probably be unanticipated obstacles that you simply run into. Those obstacles, regardless of how small, will somehow be resolved. Lessons learned is your opportunity to capture what the Subject Matter Experts learned to resolve or look out for when working on the project. These should be documented and given to management, also as kept for your self. From a reasonableness perspective, you could manage a project inside the future that has comparable characteristics of the project you just finished. How inefficient would it be to drive a project team into the identical issues and obstacles that you already encountered and make the new team come up with their own resolutions? Lessons learned becomes the project FYI which will help a new project team plan better and be a lot more efficient since they’re conscious and have planned for specific obstacles ahead of time. All this simply because you were wise enough to capture this info from past experience.

Summary

In conclusion, whilst there is certainly a lot more to formal project management along with the memorization and application of proven methodologies, we hope that this may benefit you to some degree and that possibly you might even have a take away to apply to your own project. And we also wish you all the very best within your project management endeavors.

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