Project Management is a deep and well documented practice with many brilliant books, blogs and organizations dedicated to it. However, if you are new to project management and are merely looking to learn some basics for successfully managing a project, we recommend these 6 fundamentals:
1. Know the purpose
It is important to understand what the real goal of the project is. For example, if you are responsible for implementing a new tech-support ticketing system, is the goal to help increase the productivity of your tech support team or is it improve low customer satisfaction scores? Once you understand the real goal of the project and what success looks like you can better determine how to plan and how to execute it.
2. Nail the scope
It is also important to precisely define the project’s scope. Continuing our example, does your project scope include defining the selection criteria and selecting brand new ticketing system software or will that be done prior. Determining what is in scope and what is out of scope will not only have a huge impact on the work required but also how your success will be measured.
3. Detail the deliverables
Once you have defined the scope it will be critical to break the scope down into the things that must be delivered. Furthering our example project of implementing a new tech support ticketing system, one of the things that must be done is to install a new data base. This should be defined in detail so it is clearly understood by the person or team who will deliver this work. You will need to identify all the project deliverables and define them in this way.
4. Plan Properly
With the deliverables properly defined it will be easier to determine what activities, resources and budget will be required for completing the project. To properly plan your project you will need to determine what activities or tasks are required to achieve every deliverable, and you will need to determine the amount of time required to complete each task. It will also be important to identify which task are dependent on other tasks. In our example we may not be able to complete the task of installing the new data base because that task is dependent on another task, procuring new data base hardware. Finally, you will need to put the entire project plan on a schedule by assigning dates to each of the tasks.
5. Share your plan
Now you have a project plan that is a schedule of clearly defined deliverables which have been properly scoped and properly aligned with the business goals. You know the plan very well but it needs to be shared with the project team and stakeholders. Team members will need to know exactly what is expected of them, when it is due and how it interrelates with work others are doing. Communicate the plan often so team members stay focused on the activities they have been assigned.
6. Review progress
When the project is underway, it will be important to monitor the progress of you plan and to report this progress back to your executives. You will need to periodically check the project against its planned cost and schedule. This will allow you to calculate and report the variance between the actual execution and the as-planned execution. Once you identify and understand any variance from the original plan you can make necessary adjustments to the project’s scope, schedule or budget.
New project managers will find that these 6 fundamentals are relevant to any project they are assigned, regardless of size and complexity. Becoming proficient in each of these areas will increase your chances of successfully delivering your project on budget and on time.
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