Project Management

As a member of the Project Management Institute, we are able to offer dedicate Project Management staff to meet your needs.

With over 20 years experience in the area of project management, our staff are able to utilize the most popular tools and methodologies to enable us to see your project through successful completion.

Project Management - How to Get Started and Stay on Track

Many times we start each work day by tackling the mundane issues of running a business without setting aside enough time to take on the most important work facing us. But to be most productive you have to set aside time for both types of work-the routine and the special projects.

One way to do this is to make a schedule. Make your first task of each day the most important thing you have to do. Since you can't always tell what your time demands will be in advance, set aside a couple hours of each day to deal with unexpected issues or for catching up. At the end of each day, make your schedule for the next day. If you find you don't have enough time to do everything on your schedule, pare it back. Focus on the activities that will most help you accomplish your goals.

When you have a big project to do, try following these simple steps to get started and stay on track:

  • Break the project into smaller pieces and take them on one at a time.
  • Set deadlines to keep moving at a steady pace.
  • Set milestones and metrics, and reward yourself when you reach them.
  • Identify the key processes for your project and focus attention on them. Problems here can spillover into other areas
  • If you start falling behind, check your to do list and delegate less important work to those who are capable of handling it. If there is no one else, consider subcontracting out or hiring help.
  • Make sure you have all the information you need to do the task. Hold-ups in work are often due to missing info.

Getting started on a big project is often the hardest thing to do, but remember, the sooner you get behind, the more time you have to catch up!

Planning for Successful Project Management

Stan and his associates in the engineering department were in a real crunch. Their director had just organized them as a special team to implement one of their company's most important and lucrative projects ever. The time frames were tight, but the rewards could be awesome if the project was done right. As team leader, Stan must now focus the group's energies and get this project organized.

Experienced project managers know the exhilaration of completing a project on time and on budget, especially a project that is really meaningful to their organization. But they also know that their success was largely determined by the effort that was put into the planning stage.

The steps of project planning are sensible and logical. But in many cases, project managers believe that they can skip some of these important steps in an effort to conserve time and money. Failing to plan effectively creates the seeds of project failure. Let's explore these key steps in project planning.

1. Create the blueprint.

This step represents the results of an environmental scan, as the strategic planners call it. The process requires the asking of lots of hard questions about the project and the organization's ability to achieve it and the available resources. Some of the questions that must be asked at this stage include:

Will our customers support the outcomes of the project? How will this project affect our competitiveness and our competition? What changes will be required in the organization as a result of this project? How will we measure the successful completion of this project? What level of resource commitment will be required? What cross-functional efforts will be required and are the parties prepared to work together? What will be the authority structure involved in implementing the project plan?

2. Create the Work Breakdown.

Once the overall direction is determined and the organization commits to the project fundamentals, it is time to begin the detailed planning. This process involves identifying the key steps in the process, determining the relationships between these steps and the timing involved. The major questions to be answered in this stage of the planning include:

What are the discrete tasks involved in this project? Which of these tasks are most important and which must be done before or after others? How long will the various tasks take to complete? What resources can be assigned to this project and at what stages? What will the project cost? What is the overall time taken by the project? Can we meet the deadline recommended in the project charter?

3. Chart the Project Plan.

Take the information developed in the work breakdown and chart it graphically in a PERT chart and determine the critical path. Then display the recommended implementation schedule in a Gantt Chart. Make good use of project management software in creating these detailed planning documents.

4. Fine Tune the Project.

Based on your task breakdown and project plans, go back and fine tune them based on the vision of the overall project. Ensure that you are meeting the guidelines established when the project was assigned. If not, then negotiate new expectations. Particularly, the project manager should look at the trade-offs. What things will not be done if this project is done well? Will other priorities suffer, and if so, is the result what the organization wants?

5. Establish the Monitoring Program.

This part of the process involves determining how the project will be tracked and how resource usage will be monitored. Often, the monitoring programs for projects only look at time and money. But culture and human process should also be monitored and the people rewarded along the way. The parties responsible for monitoring must also have responsibility for adjusting the project plan based on unforeseen delays or opportunities for efficiencies along the way.

Taking the time and investing the energy in excellent planning will have significant impact on the quality of the final result of the project. "Beginning with the end in mind," as Steven Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, will bear fruit in the project management process.

The Eight Keys to Project Management Failure

Project managers are always looking for success in their projects. No matter how simple or how complex, the project must be designed for success. But sometimes, in the execution of the project, we forget to maintain the path toward success.

But if, by chance, a project manager wants to fail, these are the keys! If you want to succeed instead, then use this list as a checkpoint to make sure that what you are doing doesn't appear on this list.

1. Take Your Time.

Project managers who are bent on failing should let their team know that there is no rush. Letting the project become the victim of competing priorities for team members is a step toward disaster.

2. Give Responsibility But Not Authority.

Project managers are adept at taking responsibility, but not delegating authority to them as well invites failure. Having to check at every step along the way with superiors for resources and to make decisions will so hamstring the manager as to make his or her job nearly impossible,

3. Project Sponsors Must Be Passive Participants.

To attempt to engage sponsors, stakeholders and others in the implementation of the project is too open and communicative. Sponsors should be kept in the dark all along the way in order to keep a project destined for collapse.

4. Once the Project Starts, Stop Planning.

For a project to flop, the planning process should stop when the project begins. To continue to modify the project plan based on realities during implementation is too flexible. To ensure difficulties, refuse to adjust the plan to reality.

5. Focus on Process, Not People.

It does not take good people to doom a project. They are only essential if you want to succeed. Find the poorest people you can, and then put stumbling blocks in their way to test their abilities. Making the process cumbersome and spending valuable time on bureaucratic procedures is a project death knell.

6. Forget About Quality.

Everyone knows that project are all about time and budget. Do whatever it takes to meet these factors, and ignore the need for a quality output. Quality is tough to measure, anyway. Measuring inputs is easy and defensible.

7. Avoid Being Specific as to Outcomes.

If you are vague in your definitions of the projects deliverables, you cannot be held accountable for not meeting them. Scrimping on the time to give definition to the project up front will give you more time to correct mistakes later.

8. Operate in a Vacuum.

With multiple projects underway in an organization at any given time, a project team may be pulled in many different directions. By ignoring these other projects and working the one that is most important to you will engender resentment and inaction for the team members with multiple duties. When your project is unresponsive to others, it also will be the lowest priority.

Operating in this way will ensure that project managers have projects that fail, and that they will not be asked again to manage an important project. Success has always been vastly overrated anyway!


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