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Getting a project done in time: Managing people, time and results

19 May 2014 05:11 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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In any organisation, only two aspects of work exist—on-going operations and projects. The on-going operations constitute an organisation’s repetitive activities, such as accounting, marketing, HR, production, etc. The projects are the unique, temporary endeavours with each having a specific beginning and end. The projects are initiated by organisations for a variety of reasons, such as to meet a business need, attain a strategic objective or meet a market demand.

Project management usually involves making sure that a wide variety of activities happen in the right order and on time. This guarantees that the desired end result is achieved. The more complex the undertaking, the more activities have to be coordinated. A typical project may involve many different people, money and usage of resources in order to create a final end. Examples are large construction project, (e.g.  Multi-storied office complex), complicated piece of machinery (e.g. production line of a company), writing a complex software (e.g. stock control system).



Phases
There are different schools of thought when considering a phased approach to project management. All in all, it is reasonable to adopt the most suitable approach depending on industry type or project scope. Projects may be big or small, constrained by cost and time often complex and therefore it is important to take a structured and defined approach to managing them through their entire lifecycle.

Let’s take a look at the essential phases.

Project initiation phase
The project initiation phase is the critical phase within the project lifecycle. It is also called the project pre-planning phase and about stating the basic characteristics of the project. To successfully initiate a project, you need to which basics steps are required to carry out to develop a business case, undertake a feasibility study, develop a project charter and others.

Here are the basic steps of the project initiation phase:

Step #1: Create a business case. A business case document is the formal start of the project when the project sponsor (or the project initiator) gives a description of the business problem/opportunity. The business case document will include the business problem and potential costs associated with the project implementation.

Step #2: Make a feasibility study. A feasibility study is a research conducted to determine whether the project can be accomplished and to identify the likelihood of the alternative solutions. The feasibility study investigates whether the benefits stated in the business case can be delivered.

Step #3: Develop project charter. The next step is to develop a project charter which describes what the project sets out to solve the business problem and what the boundaries of the project will be. It specifies the project vision, goals and objectives.

Step #4: Assign project management team. The management team is appointed to take the primary responsibility for the planning and implementation of the project. The project committee is then established and the project manager should be assigned. Then the project manager will work on recruiting the project team and making project assignments.

Step #5: Perform project review. The review stage should be conducted to ensure that the project is successfully initiated – this means all of the initiation activities are completed.





Project planning phase
The project planning phase is the second phase in the project lifecycle. It involves creating of a set of plans to help guide your team through the execution and closure phases of the project. There are five main planning steps one needs to take to complete the project ‘planning’ process.


Step #1: Create project plan
A project plan sets out the phases, activities and tasks needed to deliver a project. The timeframes required to deliver the project, along with the resources and milestones, are also shown in the project plan.

The plan needs to identify all of the phases, activities and tasks, sum up the effort needed to complete those tasks, document all of the project inter-dependencies, list the planning assumptions and constraints and create a detailed project planning schedule.

The project plan is the most important document in the project, as it provides the project manager with a roadmap ahead and it tells them during the journey whether they are on-track. Using a project plan template such as milestone charts, GANTT charts, the project manager can create a comprehensive project management plan for the project.

The plans created during this phase will help the management to economise and manage time, cost, quality, change, risk and issues. They will also help the management handle efficiently staff and external suppliers, to ensure that the project is delivered on time and within budget.


Step #2: Create project resource management plan
A resource plan summarizes the level of resources needed to complete a project. A properly documented resource plan will specify the exact quantities of labour, equipment and materials needed to complete your project.

A resource planning model will help you identify the types of labour required for the project, roles and key responsibilities for each labour type, the number of people required to fill each role, items of equipment to be used and their purposes, types and quantities of equipment needed and the total amount of materials needed.



Step #3: Create a financial plan
A financial plan identifies the project finance (i.e. money) needed to meet specific objectives. The financial plan defines all of the various types of expenses that a project will incur (labour, equipment, materials and administration costs) along with an estimation of the value of each expense. The financial plan also summarizes the total expense to be incurred across the project and this total expense becomes the project budget. As part of the financial planning exercise, a schedule is provided which states the amount of money needed during each stage of the project.

The financial plan twill help you to identify the types of labour costs to be incurred during the project, items of equipment needed to deliver the project, various materials needed by the project, unit costs for labour, equipment and materials, other costs types such as administration and the amount of contingency needed.


Step #4: Create a quality plan
A quality plan helps you schedule all of the tasks needed to make sure that your project meets the needs of your customer. It comprises two parts; the quality assurance plan lists the independent reviews needed and the quality control plan lists the internal reviews needed to meet your quality targets. A good quality plan will identify the customers’ requirements, list the project deliverables to be produced, set quality criteria for these deliverables, define quality standards for the deliverables and gain your customers’ agreement with the targets set.


Step #5: Create a risk plan
A risk plan helps you to foresee risks, identify actions to prevent them from occurring and reduce their impact should they eventuate. The risk management plan is created as part of the risk planning process. It lists of all foreseeable risks, their ranking and priority, the preventative and contingent actions, along with a process for tracking them.

Risk planning will help you to identify risks within your project, categorize and prioritize each risk, determine the likelihood of the risks occurring and identify the impact on the project if risk does occur.

(To be continued next week)
(Lionel Wijesiri, a corporate director with over 25 years’ senior managerial experience, can be contacted at lionwije@live.com)

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