• Bibian Okoye

How to properly manage a project

Project management is just one section of an entire company’s operation. It’s a system that is governed by a detailed plan and executed by a team for the purposes of accomplishing a goal, whatever that goal might be.

In many ways, project management is just like the engine of a car. There are series of events, carried out by many moving parts, that must all happen within a particular timeframe in order for the engine to run optimally.

Without the proper mixture of fuel, air, and spark, or the proper timing of these key component, the engine won’t fire. A project is Identical. Without the correct scope, personnel, money, and resources, a project will never succeed. Project managers guaranty that all of these factors are handled, accounted for, and used when they are required.

Project management is used in various industries, each with their own unique styles and technique for completing tasks and achieving goals.

Project management is very important to business. All activities that a company or organization goes through, requires all aspects of project management. Whether your organization deals with one project at a time or various set goals to achieve, the core principles of project management remain the same.

How to develop your own project management plan

Developing a project management plan requires you to review many moving parts before you even begin writing out your first draft.

Here are the five project management steps to get you on your way to building the perfect project management plan that will keep you and your business on track and please your clients or stakeholders.

Step 1: Have a meeting with the project stakeholders

The first step toward developing a project management plan is to set up an opportunity for some face time with the stakeholders. Project stakeholders are those who are impacted by the outcome of your project, therefore they are the ones you will report back to about any progress.

During this meeting, these five points should be discussed:

  • The "what" for the project: What is the purpose of the project, and what problems are you trying to solve?

  • Project goals: How successful would the project when it is completed?

  • Project budget: How much money are you willing to spend, how do you propose that money should be allocated, and what kind of budget range do you have in mind to work with?

  • List of deliverables: What outcomes are expected upon completion of this project?

  • The tentative schedule: What timeframe are you looking at in order to complete this project?

This is an opportunity for you to discuss any potential pain points or bottleneck you may encounter with this project. This way, initial expectations are set before you begin.

Step 2: Set goals and define project success

Now that you understand what is required, it’s time to list out the various needs and set goals around them. These goals have to be achievable and measurable using key performance indicators (KPIs) that will allow you to assess the rate of success and shortcomings of your project.

These KPIs can include:

  • Time spent: The total time spent by each individual team member on the project.

  • On-time completion: The rate at which various project tasks were completed by the given deadline.

  • Planned hours vs. time spent: The total time spent on tasks, as well as on the overall project versus the estimated time to complete it.

  • Number of schedule adjustments: How many times did the team shift deadlines?

  • Cost performance index: A comparison between the budgeted cost of work already done and the actual amount already spent.

  • Budget line items: Detailed list of individual expenses.

  • Return on investment (ROI): Estimating the value of a project against its overall cost.

Using these KPIs, along with others, you can set some measurable goals that will even help you determine the effectiveness of some future projects. Remember, you aren’t glued to these KPIs. These measurable goals are subject to change as you move along the project execution process and are meant as a starting point.

Step 3: Define the roles and responsibilities in the project

now it’s time to assemble your perfect team to help execute this project:

  • Project Manager: Build, execute, and manage the project.

  • Project Sponsor(s): Fund the project, Review and approval responsibilities for all project tasks and goals.

  • Project Team: They will execute the project tasks, In most cases, they will not have review and approval responsibilities.

  • Industry Experts: They will help develop the project scope and set the requirements for the project.

  • Risk Analysts: They will assess the risks and challenges associated with taking on this project.

This is not a complete list of all potential project roles. No two projects are exactly the same, and all have various needs, so feel free to create new roles as you see fit. Once you have gotten your team, it’s time to enforce the remaining project details.

Step 4: Develop a project schedule and cost estimates

Once you have established your deliverables, your goals, and your team, it is now time to put together your project plan: the schedule and the budget.

This can be accomplished through a seven-step process:

  1. Identification of the tasks that is to be completed, as well as their dependencies.

  2. Determination of the resources needed to complete each task.

  3. Estimation of the time needed to complete each task and dependency.

  4. Development of a critical path for completion of the project using tasks and their dependencies.

  5. Development of an estimate for the cost of each task, this includes materials and hourly rates for those involved.

  6. Developing a project schedule that includes the tasks and all of their time estimates.

  7. Establishing an initial project budget.

Step 5: Presenting your plan to the stakeholders

Once everything you need in your project plan is ready, be sure to go back to the stakeholders and outline the processes to them. If at any point a correction is needed to be made, this will be no big deal. Just make a note of the various changes, reassess the project plan, then come back with the adjustments for approval from your stakeholders. There will likely be several instances where your project management plan will require alterations and additions.

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