What does ‘project’ imply to you? Is it something you feel you’re associated with starting from Monday morning blues to chilled Friday evenings? Projects are integral part of our lives. And here I am not talking about all working professionals. Getting admission in nursery class is a project; moving from primary school to high school is a project; graduating is a project; organizing party is a project; going on a shopping spree is a project
Project Management is an integral element in being a successful professional. I have been part of various projects wherein no scope was defined, no planning was done and communication flow was abysmal. All projects have three naughty students – COST, TIME & SCOPE and one strict teacher – QUALITY. I called the students are naughty because any slight change in their behavior hampers their curriculum- the PROJECT. I called the QUALITY as teacher as it keeps governing the naughty students to see if they’re doing their work in right manner and in the stipulated guideline frame.
The PMBOK(Project Management Book of Knowledge) defines project management with sectional segments:
- Project Scope Management (exactly what we need to do and MOST important what we do not need to do)
- Project Time Management (scheduling, identifying critical path activities, making baseline schedule for identifying variances and trends )
- Project Cost Management (budgeting, cost baseline, finding variances and trends, reserves and contingencies)
- Project Quality Management (Project does what it actually intended to do and only what it intended)
- Project Human Resource Management (managing the drivers of the project)
- Project Communications Management (bad communication is No.1 problem-DISCUSS DISCUSS DISCUSS-SHARE SHARE SHARE!!!)
- Project Risk Management (fighting the known unknowns and unknown unknowns that we may meet in our journey)
- Project Procurement Management (making friends with contractors, suppliers, subcontractors, types of contracts, terms and conditions)
- Professional and Social Responsibility (supporting the integrity and ethical code of conduct while achieving our pursuits of success)
- Project Integration Management (Remember it takes -ALL to TANGO….see to it the project doesn’t becomes a jigsaw puzzle)
I have my own school of thoughts regarding Project Management (referred as PM henceforth). I feel any kind of project-short, long, international, fixed term – can be made a success by hard core concentration on two elements – PLANNING AND CONTROLLING. Rest of the elements are part of these two only.
If I were to define Planning I’d say in simple terms as – ‘where we are and where we want to go?’
Planning involves defining where we stand and where we need to go, what course of path should we follow, what obstacles we need to tackle, what assumptions we need to make, what constraints we will face, who will be with us, who will do what, who will get what, what will be shared, when will we do it, how will we do it.
Planning involves heavy self and stake holder’s questioning, the harder you question- the better results you’ll reap. It is pertinent to involve as many inputs as you can.
DISCUSS DISCUSS AND DISCUSS! SHARE SHARE AND SHARE!
Anybody’s input can be crucial to the project and sharing with all will garner response and will lead to brainstorming- just what MEETINGS are all about.
Planning should not try; rather should aim at achieving making plans for our fellow team members and have a slightly higher level of knowledge then those around us. Project Manager is after all the first point of contact for any query. The project manager should visualize the entire flow of what needs to be done. The mind should run a motion picture in his mind showing exactly what is done, who is doing it, where its been done, how its been done and when its been done.
Sharing information is the LIFELINE of the project. Keep everybody informed-but see to it that no unnecessary triggers are alarmed off especially to those who are not concerned. Don’t confuse people- just communicate with them. Take feedback – Act on feedback – Gain trust.
Clear your terms and conditions before you commit any work. Written communication is THE word. Word of mouth promises are for lovers not for managers!
Be smart freak not control freak- see to it that the events conform to the plan. If your planning was effective make sure to check the dough rising by monitoring the workflow. See what ever you’d seen in your motion picture and you’d drafted in your script-is it happening in reality? Are the baselines far from reality? Are the planned resources enough? Are the objectives been met? Are we missing milestones? Are we delivering on time? Are we all aware? The failure to answer this is not a MESSY situation. It calls for PLANNING. Plan again-where you went wrong, what was left, do we need workaround planning, assess risks.
The best and the simplest management tool was popularized by Dr. W. Edwards Deming in form of a PDCA cycle. PDCA cycle was originally created by Walter A. Shewhart. The tool is the most valid tool that stands in the plethora of fancy modern quality tools and its simplicity is something that makes it so relevant. It stands in all worlds- corporate, profit making, social, non profit making, personal- just any.
Project Management gives a deep insightful probe into what goes into the SUCCESS/FAILURE of any project.
I will be writing more on the individual topics.