There are two major components that help lead the project manager and team to successful completion of the project: Definition and Control. When proper attention and detail is given to these two areas, then you can know that the project is well laid out, well planned out, and is being closely controlled and monitored. Other than miracles happening, there's not much more you can ask for when trying to guide your engagement toward a usable end solution. We are going to look at the act of defining the project and controlling the project
.There are 4 key components to consider when setting out to fully and properly define the undertaking before you. These are:
What is the expectation? Why is the project being undertaken, and what conclusions or answers should it produce? Things that need to be confirmed before starting include: are the stakeholders all in agreement on the purpose, is there adequate staffing available for the project, and is there proper authority behind the money needed to start AND finish this undertaking. There will be more discussion of this in the budget section below.
How can a large project be broken down into a series of short-term progress steps? Remember, although a big project may be overwhelming, smaller portions can be methodically attacked and completed according to a schedule. Always try to keep tasks to two weeks or less whenever possible. Tasks that take longer than two weeks likely need to be broken down with some review or checkpoint milestone built in.
What is the final deadline? And with that deadline in mind, how can a series of smaller tasks be arranged, maintained, and scheduled? Proper scheduling of tasks on a week-to-week basis is the key to meeting a long-term deadline. Be sure to utilize proper project management software that will fit the needs of your team and your customer. Not everyone wants to use or has access to expensive MS Project software. If possible, go with a more economical and readily available option like Seavus Project Viewer software.
How much should the project cost? Will the company have to invest money in research, capital equipment, promotion, or market testing? What expenses should be planned for, and how much money should be set aside to allow for successful completion? These are key points to think about. Likely much of this has been done for the project manager by Sales or the account manager who closed the deal with the customer. But it's still important information for the project manager and team to consider - especially during early planning meetings with the customer. That is the perfect time to add any of these needed items into change orders so everything is in place when it's needed.
We looked at the 4 key components to consider when defining the project. In the rest of this article, we are going to look at the 5 key components to consider when controlling the project.
The rest of this article is intended for the project managers to consider when working to control various aspects of the engagement. These are:
As a project manager, you will need to gather the necessary team - or as in many organizations have it assigned to you after you put in your detailed requests for the skill sets and positions you need filled. You may have to borrow resources from other departments, or use all or part of your own staff if you are already a resource manager. But you can't build the team until you know the purpose, schedule, and budget for the project.
By its very nature, a project demands consistent management. Committees don't work well if they're overly democratic, so as project manager you must be responsible for coordinating the efforts of everyone on the team. This can't be left to chance - the project manager leads, assigns, delegates, and monitors and must do these things well in order to be successful.
Your schedule and budget will succeed only if you are able to spot emerging problems and correct them; delegating work to others or creating a control system aren't enough. You also need to track the indicators that tell you whether the project is on schedule and within budget and if the purpose is being achieved at each step along the way. Your budget and schedule are easier to correct if they are 5% off rather than 40% off. The only way you're going to catch either at the 5% mark is if you're closely monitoring them and keeping your team and customer up-to-date on status.
If you find that problems are developing, you will need to take action to correct them. If your team is falling behind schedule, you must accelerate the pace of work. If they're exceeding budget, costs and expenses must be brought under control and further variances eliminated or reduced. This is possible only if you can follow up on discovered problems before they get out of hand. The project manager must be the leader and up to the challenge of taking action on these types of issues.
Even if a project is well managed and kept on schedule for 99 percent of the time period, if that last step isn't taken, the deadline won't be met. Even well run projects sometimes prove difficult to close out. That final report, the last conclusion, the commitment to paper often prove to be the hardest parts of the entire project. Getting that final signoff means everything, make sure that all the 'i's' are dotted and the 't's' are crossed and that you're delivering a successful solution to the customer to gain timely signoff and finalization of the project.