STEP-BY-STEP APPROACH TO PROJECT MANAGEMENT
The failure of many projects have been blamed on decisions that were made on the spur of the moment, leading to resources and costs that became too much to handle. This is because they were not able to create a project plan or, even if they did, the plan was not well-made or subsequently implemented. This is the problem with many organizations that are pressed for time: they want to get on with the work, so they skip over the project planning part and immediately launch into it. The result? Too much waste. Very little to no results. A failed project.
The output of project planning is the project plan, which outlines all the tasks, activities, dependencies and the applicable timeframes. Here we will look at its contents:
What are the goals of the project? What does it ultimately want to achieve upon its closing?
You have to take into account the needs of the stakeholders, or the people who have an interest in your project and its results. Will the project’s completion mean the satisfaction of their needs? Will it be able to provide a solution to their problems? Obviously, before you can set your project goals, you have to:
- Identify your stakeholders. They may be your investors or sponsors of the project, the employees or members of the organization, the customers or end-users, or the general public as a whole.
- Identify the needs of these stakeholders. Keep in mind that stakeholders have differences, and that includes their needs. The needs of the investors, for example, will be different from that of the customers. This may done through surveys and interviews.
- Rank the needs from most important to least important. This is a way to set priorities, so you will know which ones to address first. The list will then enable you to set goals.
The goals you set must be CLEAR and ATTAINABLE. There must be no grey areas and all the members of the project team must be fully aware of the goals, and understand their respective roles in achieving them.
What are the things that are expected to be delivered by the project team? Of course, these deliverables must be in accordance with the project goals.
Along with the project deliverables, you also have to indicate the estimated dates of delivery of these outputs.
When you were talking about the project deliverables, you merely gave an estimate of the delivery dates. It is time to zero in on the exact dates of delivery.
Each project deliverable has corresponding tasks that must be accomplished in order for the deliverables to be obtained. In your project schedule, indicate:
- The specific tasks that must be accomplished
- The estimated length of time (in hours, days or weeks) of performing and completing the task
- The costs and other resources required to perform and complete the task
- The target delivery date of the deliverables
When scheduling, be careful to keep things realistic. You do not want to set too tight deadlines, but you do not want it to be so slack that you’ll end up having idle time. Of course, it is a given that there is a chance you will end up needing more time. This can be fixed by going over your schedule and making the necessary adjustments if, and when, possible. With a carefully prepared project schedule, it will be easier for you to justify asking for more time or resources.
The project plan may be standalone, but it does not hurt at all to have supporting plans to prop it up a bit. Examples of such plans are:
- Risk Management Plan, where risks that may be encountered by the project are identified and possible responses are prepared.
- Human Resource Plan, where the roles and responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, of all members of the organization are clearly defined and described. This will aid the project manager in recruiting members to include in the project team.
- Communication Plan, because it is inevitable for project teams to collaborate with other teams. By coming up with this plan, there is a clearer picture of how information is transmitted or exchanged among the teams. This also includes reportorial responsibilities.