Effective Project Management is a key enabler of this process. The aim must be to provide our project managers with simple processes that can be rigorously and consistently applied to produce predictable results.
Definition: “Project Management is the dynamic process that utilises the appropriate resources of the organisation in a controlled and structured manner, to achieve some clearly efined objectives identified as strategic needs. It is always conducted within a defined set of constraints. ” 1 Learn with this book, written in a question and answer style, containing 21 pieces ofvaluable advice for making your projects a success. Project management in the modern sense began in the 1950s although it has its roots further back in the latter years of the 1 9th century.
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The need for project management was driven by companies that realised the benefits of organising work around projects, and the critical need to communicate and coordinate work across departments and professions. One of the forefathers of project management is still a familiar name today, Henry Gantt (1861-1919) the creator of the Gantt chart. Still in use, one hundred-years from their creation, Gantt charts are one of the project managers’ most valuable tools. In the mid-20th century PERT charts emerged, complex network diagrams that show the critical path of projects.
Soon after this the United States Department of Defense created the Work Breakdown Structure, a tool used to break projects down into manageable pieces. These tools and techniques spread quickly as companies looked for new ways to manage large and omplex activities, evolving into project management as we know it today. It is now sixty years since the birth of project management and much of the early work has been collected and put together into formal methodologies. Although many different methodologies exist, they all work with the same basic principles and good practice.
You may expect we are expert when it comes to running projects, but sixty years on and project failures are still with us, and according to some observers rising in number. Siemens made headlines in the UK when Government systems for new passports were hit by terrible delays. ICL also failed with its system to automate benefit payments; the project was axed with E460m of taxpayers’ money wasted. In 1992, the London Ambulance Service launched a new computer system that slowed its response times to emergency calls.
More recently the E21 bn Eurofighter project has experienced problems caused by ‘delays in bringing the detailed design to 2 full maturity in some areas,’ which prevented flight-tests from starting on time. “Projects go wrong for the same reasons all the time. There are no new sins. We can look at a project in its first two months and know if it will be a success or not. Many organisations are failing to heed painful lessons learned from past projects. ” 2 The biggest sin in project management is not learning the lessons of past projects. When we learn to do this, we will cut the number Of project failures.
What follows is a practical guide to managing projects that will help steer you to a successful result. Good luck! Duncan Haughey. 1 Trevor L. Young, How to be a Better Project Manager (London: Kogan Page Limited, 1998), 16. 2 Nick Dean, Managing Director of Professional Values. 3 The Stages of a Project Good Practice: Typically, the first few weeks of the project will consist Of a mall team of people working on a Project Definition document. During the ‘Definition,’ ‘Initiation’ and ‘Planning’ stages, questions 1 to 10 should be answered. Chapter 1 The Stages Of a project 1.
Definition Before a project starts the project manager must make sure the project goals, objectives, scope, risks, issues, budget, timescale and approach have been defined. This must be communicated to all the stakeholders to get their agreement. Any differences of opinion must be resolved before work starts. 2. Initiation Projects are divided into six stages: Definition. nitiation. Planning. Execution. Monitoring & Control. Closure. Each project stage is characterised by a distinct set of activities that take the project from the first idea to its conclusion.
Each stage is of equal importance and contributes to the overall success of the project. This is perhaps the most important stage of any project as it sets the terms of reference within which the project will be run. If this is not done well, the project will have a high probability of failure. The initiation stage is where the business case is declared, scope of the project decided and stakeholder expectations set. Time spent on planning, refining the business case and ommunicating the expected benefits Will help improve the probability of success.
It is tempting to start work quickly, but a poor initiation stage often leads to problems and even failure. 3. Planning The key to a successful project is in the planning. Creating a project plan is the first task you should do when undertaking any project. Often project planning is ignored in favour of getting on with the work. However, many people fail to realise 5 the value of a project plan in saving time, money and for avoiding many other problems. 4. Execution This is where the work to deliver the product, service or wanted result is arried out.
Most of the work related to the project is realised at this stage and needs complete attention from the project manager. 5. Monitoring & Control Once the project is running it is important the project manager keeps control. This is achieved by regular reporting of issues, risks, progress and the constant checking of the business case to make sure that the expected benefits will be delivered and are still valid. 6. Closure Often neglected, it is important to make sure the project is closed properly. Many projects do not have a clear end-point because there is no formal sign- off.
It is important to get the customers’ agreement that the project has ended, and no more work will be carried out. Once closed, the project manager should review the project and record the good and bad points, so that in the future, successes can be repeated, and failures avoided. A project that is not closed will continue to consume resources. 6 Sponsorship & Leadership 2 Question 1: Do you have adeq uate business sponsorship and leadership? Chapter 2 Question 1: Do You Have Adequate Business Sponsorship And Leadership?
Good Practice A senior business sponsor should be identified at the highest possible level in he organisation, and named in the Project Definition document. A Steering Committee must be set up and become operational from the beginning of the project. The Steering Committee is responsible for taking all key decisions about the project and should be composed of senior managers from the business. The chair of the Steering Committee has ultimate responsibility for the project. The Project Manager leads the project and is fully accountable for delivering the project described in the Project Definition document.
In his article ‘Six Ways to Give Proper Project Leadership,’ Dr. Keith Mathis ffers this advice: Create an atmosphere of trust. Build the right team. Spell-everything-out for your team upfront. Monitor and give feedback. Keep communication open. Keep the end goal clearly in mind. 8 “The project sponsor is perhaps the second most influential person on the project, after the project manager and in some cases may even wield more influence on project results. ” Dave Nielsen. Common Mistakes## Wasting time and money on projects that do not have enough sponsorship, commitment or leadership to succeed. Hoping that people who do not commit early, will find time later. Not involving the sponsor with setting direction and keeping the project on track. Note Before you start your project, find a committed project sponsor who has enough clout in your organisation. Your project sponsor will prove invaluable in helping you overcome organisational roadblocks as they arise. put simply, a project without a senior busi ness sponsor is at serious risk of failure. 9 Defining the Business Objectives & Benefits Question 2: Have you defined and understood the business objectives and benefits?
Chapter 3 Question 2: Have You Defined And understood The Business Objectives And Benefits? A Project Definition document should be prepared early in the project and formally signed off by the Steering Committee. This document defines the goals, objectives, benefits, deliverables, exclusions, assumptions, business sponsors, responsibilities, estimated costs, timescale and serves the following purposes: 1. Clearly defines the objectives and scope of the project. 2. Provides management and team members with a common view and clear understanding. 3.
Provides a good starting point for the subsequent definition of more detailed documents, such as, the Project Plan, Project Budget and Functional Requirements Specification. In a nutshell, “The single best payoff in-terms-of project success comes from having good project definition early. ” RAND Corporation. Common Mistakes Start focusing on solutions, how to achieve something, before gaining a clear understanding of the business objectives that you want to achieve and identifying the 11 business sponsors needed to help achieve these objectives. Not returning to the Benefits Statement during the project to make sure they are still valid and achievable. Quotes “The number of projects that set out confidently with little or no idea of hat they are supposed to achieve is truly astounding. ” “Some projects start out with a clear idea, but lose track of it by the time they’re into the project. ” “Many proud, objective-oriented managers have a list of goals that are, on closer inspection, technology driven, and not business driven. They are headed for a ‘successful’ project whose results will never be used. “Keep in mind that the aim of a project is ‘results delivery’ not, as is-often- the-case, ‘construction activity,’ This means thinking about the products the project is in business to deliver. ‘ 12 Planning the Project Question 3: Have you developed a detailed project plan? Chapter 4 A detailed project plan should be developed and signed off by the Steering Committee. It provides the following benefits: 1 . Translates the high-level business objectives into a detailed ‘roadmap’ of concrete deliverables. . Provides a detailed list of resource requirements. Question 3: Have You Developed A Detailed Project Plan? 3. Provides a realistic assessment of project timescales. 4. Allows estimated project costs to be further validated. 5. Allows for issues to be identified early on, such as, tasks taking longer than xpected, slippage in target dates and team members not being productive. Base the plan on known metrics, how long did an earlier similar project take? Involve all team members, notjust senior management.
Develop a plan in iterations over several weeks, by consulting team members and drawing on their experience. Having no project plan. 14 Having a wrong project plan. Do not be swayed by a sexy looking project plan that has been produced to give the Steering Committee a warm, comfortable feeling, but which is not based on reality. A wrong project plan is worse than having no project plan at all. As with all methodologies, a healthy dose of common sense and pragmatism is required. Do not be too religious, for example, a 5-day project does not need a detailed project plan. alfiuay there before you leave; too little, and you will turn up at the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone without passports. In a nutshell, “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week. ” General George S. Patton, JR. Warning Sign! When successive project milestones are missed this is a sure sign of a project that is failing. Do not lose sight of what the project is trying to achieve. Traditional project management techniques can encourage over planning and an excessive focus on micro-level tasks at the cost of the overall objective. Disbelieving evidence from past projects and insisting the current project be done faster with fewer people. Committing to, or baselining project plans too early. Trying to manage a large and complex project without a project plan is like trying to cross an unknown continent without a map, you are running blind. The key thing to get right is the balance between planning and action. Take the example of driving from London to Paris: too much planning and other ars will be 15 Ensuring the Project is a Manageable Size Question 4: Is your project a manageable size?
Chapter 5 Ensuring the Project is a Manageable Size Question 4: Is Your Project A Manageable Size? A large project should be cut up into more manageable subprojects, which only depend on completed sub-projects. The project planning methodology provides a good tool to subdivide major projects into more manageable sub- projects with shortterm deliverables. Each project plan should itself be subdivided into a number of key milestones.