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Project management can be demystified with today’s techniques

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Continued from last week


Now that a solid project plan is done, the team can begin executing the project against their assigned tasks. This is the stage where everyone actually starts doing the work. You’ll want to officially kick-off the execution stage with in-person meetings to ensure everyone has what they need to begin executing his or her part of the project. Getting the team started on the right track is integral to project success so articulate the schedule and communications plan clearly.

In the execution phase the project deliverable is developed and completed, adhering to the plan as developed in the previous phase. The project execution and project monitoring and control are the two phases that mostly occur simultaneously. A lot of project management tasks during this phase capture project metrics through tasks like status meetings and project development updates, status reports, human resource development and performance reports.

This is the stage of development of the work itself. This stage is the responsibility of the contractor, supervised by the client. During the execution of the work, emphasis should be placed on communication in order to make decisions as quickly as possible if problems arise. Thus, the project can be accelerated by setting up a communication plan, e.g., through: (a) the use of a dashboard that graphically displays the results of the project, allowing the project manager to arbitrate in the case of deviations. (e.g. Gantt charts, PERT charts, etc.) and comprehensive progress reports that allow all involved in the project to be informed of the actions in progress and completed. Generally, “reporting” includes the entire preparation and submission of activity reports.

Furthermore, meetings should be regularly organised (weekly, preferably) in order to manage the project team, i.e., regularly discuss the progress of the project and determine the priorities for the following weeks.

To enable to effectively monitor and control the project during this phase, a range of management processes should be implemented. These processes help to manage time, cost, quality, change, risks and other issues.

If you are the project manager, how would you handle it?


Time management process

To deliver a project successfully, it is critical that you monitor and control the time spent by the workers. The easiest way to measure time is to ask staff to complete a timesheet. This timesheet form enables staff to record their hours worked, activities and tasks undertaken and the percentage of each task completed. By using a time management process, you can ensure the completion of timesheets, measure actual time spent on the project and identify any potential task slippage early. You will also be able to keep your project plan up-to-date by recording the total time spent against each task listed.


Cost management process

To ensure that the project is delivered within budget, you need to have a rigorous process for the management of costs/expenses. To control costs, it is necessary to ask staff to complete an expense form. This form lists the full details of the expense and should be handed to the project manager for approval. By using this pre-defined form, you will be able to control the way that project expenditure is allocated. This process will help you to avoid excess spending and will therefore save you money.


Quality management process

To ensure that your deliverables meet the customer’s requirements, you need to implement a rigorous quality management process. This process defines the quality assurance reviews and quality control techniques required to assess the level of deliverable and process quality within the project. Quality review form helps you to measure the current level of quality of project deliverables and processes, against the quality targets set for the project. Any quality deviations are identified and a set of quality improvement actions are undertaken.

The ‘deliverables register’ is the central log against which the progress of each project deliverable is recorded. The purpose of the register is to identify the current status of each deliverable to determine whether it meets the quality targets set and is therefore ready for customer signoff.


Risk management process

This process enables you to identify, quantify and manage risks within your project. You will also be able to identify mitigating actions required to reduce the likelihood of each risk occurring. To enable staff to raise a project risk, you need to use a suitable risk form. This form allows staff to describe the risk in detail and rate its likelihood of occurring and potential impact on the project. A suite of actions are recommended to reduce the likelihood of the risk occurring and reduce the impact on the project should it actually eventuate.


Issue management process

Nothing makes a project easier to manage, than having a simple and clear issue management process. This process allows project staff to raise issues to be addressed by the project manager. By using this process, project issues will be raised, monitored and controlled in a clear and efficient manner.


To enable to effectively monitor and control the project during this phase, a range of management processes should be implemented. These processes help to manage time, cost, quality, change, risks and other issues


To allow staff to raise project issues in a formal manner, you need a well-structured issue form. This form can be used by staff to describe the issue identified, the current impact on the project and the recommendations for resolving the issue immediately.


Procurement management process

Most project managers at some point need to procure goods and services from external suppliers. To do this efficiently, a procurement management process is identified. This process defines in detail the procedures for ordering, delivering and approving goods and services from suppliers. Furthermore, it describes how supplier performance will be managed against the supplier contract.

The process of keeping track of purchase orders can often be a headache. To control the progress of purchase orders in a stress-free manner, you should log all purchase orders within a procurement register. This register records the full product and supplier details of each order as well as the delivery and payment status.


Communication management process

The most important regular communications event within the project is the release of the project status report. This report helps you document the status of the project schedule, expenses, deliverables, risks, issues and changes to ensure that all key project stakeholders are kept properly informed throughout the project.


Project close

Closing a project is not as easy as it seems. You need to first ensure that the project closure criteria have been fully satisfied and that there are no outstanding items remaining. You then need to identify a release plan for the project deliverables, documentation, supplier contracts and resources. Finally, you will want to initiate a communication plan to inform all project stakeholders that the project has now been closed.

Following the closure of any project, you should always review its overall success by undertaking a post-implementation review. This review helps you to determine whether the project delivered the business benefits, met the customer’s requirements and remained within scope and budget.

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