As tempting as it is to jump in and get on with things, the cause of most project failures is a result of insufficient front-end work. Generally, there are 5 stages to Project Management
- Monitor & Review
Step 1 – Initiation
There is a need to clearly articulate what the project is, it’s goals, business case, benefits and the problems it will solve. In addition, you need to define the scope of what it addresses and more importantly what it doesn’t. You need to identify what the project will deliver and more important of all you need to identify and understand the role of each of your stakeholders.
Stakeholders are those who have a say, provide support or are impacted by your project. Managed correctly, they can provide expertise, identify and reduce risk, increase project success and help with project acceptance. You need to keep them onboard throughout the duration of the project as otherwise any withdrawal of their support could severely compromise if not terminate the project.
Step 2 – Planning
After you’ve determined what the project should achieve, you can start to identify your deliverables, dependencies, risks and assumptions. At this early stage, you’ll put together resources, a budget, and a timeline, including major milestones and deadlines. You cannot underestimate how important your planning phase is.
Step 3 – Execution
The execution phase is where the work gets done and is the longest and most demanding phase of the project. Planned activities need to be carefully managed to ensure individual tasks kick off and finish on time to minimize knock on effects at a later date. It is best summed up as follows:
- Delegate tasks across team
- Empower team to make decisions
- Be open to new ideas
- Manage communications
- Measure progress regularly
- Control the scope
- Ensure the quality of the output
- Review all deliverables with the stakeholders
Step 4 – Monitor & Review
There is a need to not only monitor activities but to also ensure elements such as the budget, scope, schedule and resources are as expected. It is vital to gather the right data and use the best tools to help identify and address obstacles and issues in advance. Accurate and effective monitoring helps you make informed decisions and stay with your published timeline. Regular retrospective reviews allow for lessons to be learned and taken on board to avoid subsequent repeat.
Step 5 – Closure
Project Closure is one of two things. A positive handing over the deliverables, documentation, releasing staff and equipment projects and informing stakeholders of the successful closure of the project. Alternately it is a recognition that the project is unable to deliver on what was expected and is to be cancelled forthwith.
All project close-outs should have formal Lesson Learned sessions with key stakeholder and any learnings from those sessions should be documented and passed to other project leaders.
The purpose of this blog is to highlight the value of PM techniques on projects involving teams as small as 3 to 4 people. It is so easy to fall into the trap of managing Tasks and hoping everything comes together but in reality, the success of a project is often defined by the efforts and decisions made at the Project Initiation and Planning stages. Incredibly these are aspects of PM often ignored by many so called PM products. Products who by design encourage inexperienced PM’s to jump into Task Management.