An Introduction to Managing Projects

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Investment: $285 per person
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INCLUDES: One-on-One Telephone Coaching

When most people think of project management, they often think of the process of managing the construction of a 50-storey apartment complex, or the development of a new mobile phone, or automobile. When it comes to completing activities that cost millions of dollars, the use of project management techniques makes a lot of sense. However, you don’t need to be working on a multi-million dollar project to use project management techniques. Something as simple as organising your company’s Christmas party can involve simple project management techniques.

While a subject itself is quite complex, there are some aspects of project management that you can learn and apply the simplest of tasks that you are expected to do a work.

That’s the purpose of today’s short program.

What is Project Management?
As you will discover today, project management is both an art and a science. Because there are many schools of thought relating to project management, many people have their own ideas about defining project management. If you were to speak to twelve people and you would probably receive twelve different answers. So how about yours?

What Defines a Project?
As you just discovered, many people make a critical mistake when defining a project. Sometimes tasks and activities that could be categorised as a “program” or “process” are given the incorrectly titled “project”. It is important from the outset that you have a clear understanding of the difference.

Whether your project lasts only 3 days or three months, it will have these critical characteristics.

Why Projects Fail
In the perfect world every project would be completed to exact specifications, on time and would be under budget. In the real world almost every project experiences some problems.

Scoping a Project
In the story Alice in Wonderland, Alice gets lost and is looking for a way out. In her travels she meets a Cheshire Cat. She asks the cat which way to she should travel. In the book, the cat responds, “Alice that depends. If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”

The first and probably the most important phase of a project lifecycle is the defining (or scoping) phase. You must go to a project well if you have any chance of understanding what your client wants and expect you to produce at the end of the project completion.

Questions That You Must Ask

  • Who is sponsoring this project? Who does the sponsor report to? Who is driving the project?
  • What is the exact problem, need or opportunity as the sponsor sees it?
  • What is the exact problem, need or opportunity as we see it?
  • What do we already know about its history and background?
  • What don’t we know about its history and background that would be helpful?
  • Who are the major and minor stakeholders? What are their needs?
  • What are the main objectives of this project (at this moment)?

– Time Objectives
– Cost Objectives
– Specification Objectives
– Quality Objectives

  • What are the main constraints of this project (at this moment)?

– Time (the Client is limited by time)
– Cost (the Client is limited by money)
– Specification (the Client is limited by specifications)
– Resources (either the Client or ourselves)

  • From the sponsors point-of-view, what is the project’s priority (relative to any other projects or work they have on)?
  • From our point-of-view, what is the project’s priority (relative to any other projects or work that we are undertaking at the moment)?
  • What is the clients funding strategy for this project?
  • What authority and latitude must the project manager have?
  • What are the known risks (at this time) of this project (consider time, money, specifications and resources)?
  • What are our assumptions (at this time) of this project?
  • From the sponsors point-of-view, what are the obstacles standing in the way of this project succeeding?
  • From our point-of view, what are the obstacles standing in the way of this project succeeding?
  • Can we identify the customer’s criteria for excepting the final results of the project?
  • What are the consequences of this project failing in any way?

Using a WBS
A Work Breakdown Structure (or WBS) is the backbone of a project plan. It is not simply an “Action” list of every possible thing that needs to be done in the project, but it is a set of assignments that ultimately will hold project members of your project team accountable for delivering their results. Developing a successful effective WBS requires a great deal of thinking, brainstorming and collaboration.