Project Management for Dummies

28 November 2010

Are you new to project management? Want to learn the basics of managing projects? Then read this newsletter about...

Project Management for Dummies

You can manage any type of project, by taking these 5 steps:

Step 1: Set the goals

The 1st step is to gather your team together on site and set the goals. This means stating clearly what they have to achieve, by when and how they are going to do it. At this meeting, you need everyone on board, offering you their full support. Get them pumped and ready for action!

Ask your customer to come to the meeting and explain why the solution that the project will deliver is critical to their business. Get your customer to explain why the timescales are also important and the level of quality that must be achieved. Only with an understanding of the solution, timescale and quality targets will the team fully realise what it is that they have to achieve and be motivated by it.

Tip 2: Plan, plan, plan

The next step is to plan a course of action to achieve your goals. Work with your entire team to identify all of the major tasks that need to be completed. Estimate how long each task will take and create your project schedule. Then assign resource to each task so that everyone in the team knows what has to be done and by when.

Run the plan past your customer to get their feedback. Only with a rock solid plan will the team have clear direction going forward.

Tip 3: Measure, Monitor and Control

Then start measuring progress against your plan and monitoring it weekly to ensure you’re always on track.

You also need to control any change requests. This is when someone requests changes to your scope or deliverables. They might be a great idea at the time, but unless they are going to save you time or money, then wherever possible try and park them and move on. Changes to project scope often kill the best laid plans.

Tip 4: Communicate clearly

You know whether you’re a head, on track or behind - but do your team? You need to keep them and your customer properly informed, if you want their full buy-in and motivation.

Also, report your project status to your customer weekly. Hold regular project status meetings with your team to keep them informed of progress against the goalposts and what lies ahead.

Tip 5: Work Smart

You have limited time and resources to deliver your project, so you need to work smart. Manage your time carefully. Use “To Do Lists” to prioritise your work. Limit the number of meetings you have and keep telephone calls short. Only work on prioritized tasks. If something arises that is non-critical then keep a record of it and move on.

Work smart by using clever tools. Use project management templates to help you deliver your project.