Effective Project Management: How to Plan and Manage any Project Successfully
Imagine you work at a large company that needs to relocate to new premises. Your boss asks you to organise the refurbishment of the new office and arrange to move all the people and equipment from old to new premises. The budget is $75,000. The lease on the existing office expires in three months’ time, so everyone must move before then.
Where do you start? How do you make the plan? How will you ensure it all gets done successfully, on time and within the budget?
The good news is: You don't need to panic.
This work is a Project and there is a discipline called Project Management that will help you to set clear objectives for the relocation project, create a realistic plan, and work together with your team to see the plan through to successful completion.
More good news is that completing a project like this is a very satisfying and rewarding challenge that will help you in many areas of your life and career.
Projects have three phases: Initiation, Planning, and Execution. Let's take a look at each stage to see how we can use some simple techniques to help with planning and managing the relocation project.
1. Initiate the Project - Get off to the best possible start
Authorisation to Proceed
Get your authorisation written down, and sent to as many people as possible in the company. You want everyone to know that you have been entrusted to take charge of the project, you have authority to spend the budget, make decisions, and you will be held accountable for the results.
Write down a list of all the people who are involved in the relocation, or could use their influence over the project. This is a list of project stakeholders and it is your job to manage their expectations.
The Kick-Off Meeting
A proven tip to get things off to a great start is to hold a kick-off meeting. This is where you can explain the overall requirements to your team members and their managers, and to motivate everyone at the start.
2. Plan the Project - Create a realistic plan to run your project
Create a Work Breakdown Structure
Get a list of requirements for the relocation project and call your team together to detail all the work that needs to be done; for example “Refurbish Office”, “Purchase new Equipment” etc. and then break these down into smaller pieces of work that can be realistically planned and managed. This is a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), and is the foundation for all the planning to come.
Estimate Time and Cost
Use the Work Breakdown Structure to estimate the time and cost to get each piece of work done, including costs for people and equipment. Add up all the costs and durations. Is this within the time and cost limits? If not, then you need to take action to re-plan and save cost or time.
Plan for Risks
What could go wrong? What could go very well? Brainstorm with the team to come up with a list of risks that might affect the project. Think about the impact of a risk if it occurs, and the probability that it might occur, and decide what to do about the risks.
Get your plan approved, and we can move on to project execution.
3. Execute the Project - Get the work done
Your job now is to keep your team motivated and committed to your project, and to continue to manage the stakeholder’s expectations.
Make sure you manage at the right level. You need to know what every member of the team is doing, without micro-managing them. Give regular status reports so that everyone knows how well your team is progressing. Track any issues that need to be fixed before they become problems. Reward people when they perform better than expected, even if the reward is a simple "thank-you".
After the relocation project has finished, hold a review meeting where you document all the lessons-learned for the benefit of future planning, and you're done.
Many projects fail because the person in charge doesn't follow a step-by-step process with standard tools and techniques like the ones outlined here. They simply jump in and get going without any plan, and end up reacting to problems and trying to recover from situations that should have been foreseen from the beginning.
Follow these simple steps, and you will be well on the way to running a successful project.
Contributed by Peter James Gilliland
Peter is a Director and Founding Partner of ePM Training Services Pte Ltd. He is an experienced professional consultant, trainer and facilitator with over 25 years of experience leading complex engineering projects in the mobile radio and telecoms infrastructure industry. Peter and his partners provide consultancy and training services to help companies and individuals complete their projects on schedule, within budget, to achieve their goals and maximize customer satisfaction.