A brief summary of important aspects of project management. Written primarily to serve myself as a quick checklist after reading the book mentioned below, but perhaps also useful for other people.
In this document I will present a brief abstract of the book "On time/on budget - A step-by-step guide for managing any project" by Sunny Baker & Kim Baker. This book is available from the Central Library. It contains a practical approach to project management, and uses two example projects to illustrate the concepts and approaches in the book.
Note: I'm writing this abstract from a certain perspective. Therefor I will emphasize those components that are important for me, and hardly say anything about some of the other components. Generally, my projects do not involve as many people, and there are not many budget limitations. Your mileage might vary (and you should read the book anyway...)
The process: overview
- Project conceptualization phase
- Project planning phase
- Define and chart the work and task sequences
- Establish the required resources (people, equipment)
- Create a schedule
- Develop a budget
- Project implementation phase
- Initiate work on the project and assess ongoing progress
- Monitor work and resources
- Recognize problems and make midcourse corrections
- Project termination phase
- Complete the project and evaluate the results
- Draft the final report on the project
Project conceptualization phase
Get started by listing the projects you are involved in
The first step is to list all the projects you are involved in. You should list all projects to avoid overplanning your time. An example list might be:
Project name Project plan Size of project Project Date Target (Y/N) (S/M/L) manager started Date --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Write Abstract No Small Hans Aug 1st Aug 2nd
If you have listed more projects than you can work on, then you should select a number of processes. The following steps make up the Project Selection Proces:
- List all current projects of project ideas
- Establish the need or opportunity for each project
- Establish the rough delivery dates and budgets for each project
- Establish feasability for each of the projects
- Establish the risk associated with each project
- Review the project list and objectives with line management and other members of the potential project team to gain consensus on the goals
- Eliminate projects that are inappropriate of infeasible
- Prioritize the remaining projects for planning and implementation
- Select the projects that will be acted on now
An example list could be:
Project Need Target Rough Feasibility Risk Priority date budget 1-10 H/M/L H/M/L/C ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Write Abstract Clarify Aug 2nd $0 9 L C material
An example of priority levels could be Backburner, Low, Medium, High, Critical.
This sounds strange, but the goals of a project are often not clear. There always is some sort of goal, but does it adhere to these criteria?
- The goals must be specific
- The goals must be realistic
- The goals must have a time component
- The goals must be measurable (see Deliverables)
- The goals must be agreed upon
- Responsibility for achieving the project goals must be defined
This paragraph describes methods for describing the tasks and work flow. There are a number of things the project manager must accomplish when developing the work plan:
- Break the work into manageable "tasks" that can be assigned to appropriate people and resources.
- Define the work as independant elements that can be sequenced, scheduled, and monitored.
- Integrate the work elements into a total system with a beginning and an end.
- Present the sequence of tasks in a form that can be easily communicated to people involved in the project.
- Define the tasks at a level of detail appropriate for the length and complexity of the project.
- Verify that the completion of the tasks will result in the attainment of the project goals.
A WBS can be developed to identify the tasks in a project. The number of levels in a WBS will depend on the size and complexity of the project.
The following steps will help you to create a network diagram:
- List the tasks, using the WBS as a guide.
- Establish the interrelationships between the tasks.
- Identify the milestones you want to specify in your network.
- Layout the tasks and milestones as a network.
- Review the logic of the network.
There are three well-known methods for network diagrams: PERT (Performance Evaluation and Review Technique), CPM (Critical Path Method), and Precedence diagramming.
- Avoid the pet project syndrome
- A project is a unique venture with a beginning and an end, undertaken by people to meet established goals with defined constraints of time, resources, and quality.
- Project Management
- The combination of systems, techniques, and people required to complete a project within established goals of time, budget, and quality. Project management is also referred to as "program management" in the U.S. Department of Defense, "construction management" in large construction projects, and "product management" in consumer-oriented industries. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), a professional organization dedicated to promoting and improving project management practices, project management requires coordinating nine areas of expertise: cost, time, scope, quality, communications, human resources, contracts, supplies, and risk management.
- Project deliverables are the physical items or measurable services that are identified as part of the end result of a project. Deliverables can also be specified for individual tasks within a project. Deliverables are always measurable because they can be counted or observed.
- SOW (The Statement Of Work)
- Usually a written description of the goals, constraints, and assumptions about a project. This project description is used for initiating the rest of the project planning process.
- WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)
- A hierarchical approach to defining project work components. The WBS can be presented as a tree diagram, organizational chart, or outline.
- The logical order of tasks that defines the sequence of work in a project. Networks are usually drawn from left to right, with lines drawn between tasks to indicate the precedences between tasks.
- When one task must be completed before another task can be started, the first task is said to have precendence over the other.
- Concurrent Tasks
- Tasks in a project that can be worked on at the same time are called concurrent tasks.
- Lead time and lag time
- The more complex precedence relationships are called lead and lag times. Lead time is the time required by one task befoe another task can begin. Lag time exists when a task must start a certain period after another task.