Project Management Essentials


There are probably thousands of articles and papers written about what is essential in managing a project. This article will focus on gaining a semblance of control.

Projects are complex constructs that for the most part drives us into the unknown (see Project Management – 101 to make sure you have a project). I believe that the PMBOK ® is one of the most comprehensive descriptions of the art and skill known as project management.

However, my writings are focussed on the learning and growing project management practitioners (maybe even some professionals) out there that may consider advice from someone doing this for a living.

For controlling or managing projects the 9 knowledge areas defined are:

pmbok 9 knowledge areas

So if you are starting out – this must be daunting, even intimidating.

Let’s have a look at what would be absolute minimum that you would need to deliver any sort of project successfully.

  • Why? – You need to understand (not necessarily document) why this project exists in the first place.
  • What? – What is the intended result (s)? (This you definitely need to document)
  • When? – The intended result is needed by a specific time for a reason (Document)
  • How? – Is there some planning or though in existence as to how the result should / must be achieved? (Document)
  • Who? – This is a multi-layered question as it includes: (Document)
    • Intended recipients – the people who needs to live with the consequences
    • Sponsor(s) – People or organisation paying for the project
    • Team – People or organisation that will make it happen
    • Stakeholders – Everybody affected in any way with either the project or the consequences of the project
  • How Much? – Cost is one of the most important aspects of project management and is a success / fail criteria that will be applied to measure the project (Document)

Remember the rule – Good, Fast, Cheap: You Can Only Pick Two!

GOOD-FAST-CHEAP

Ok from the info you should have now you can create all the documentation and processes you need to effectively manage a project.

RULE: Size matters in Project Management – The bigger, the more documentation, controls and management you will need to manage the beast!!!

Documentation:

(I use interchangeable descriptors of documents that do vastly different things in a formal environment to explain the functionality that needs to be achieved.)

  • Most important is a Project Charter / Project Scope / Specification document – This is simply a written agreement between you and all the people involved that describes what has to be achieved, by what time, using which resources and costing X much. (Sponsors usually have to sign this to ensure that they pay for it.)
  • Project Plan / Schedule / Deliverables list with delivery dates – This describes what has to be done by what time, by whom, costing this much. Usually described as tasks or work packages, it is an attempt to guess what would happen in the future.
  • Billing / Payment agreement – You have to ensure that you can get the funds required before you need it.
  • Pay-out mechanism – You need to be able to pay those that render services and goods to your project.
  • Communication plan / strategy – Communication and reporting are essential to the success of almost any project. Make sure you understand how you need to communicate to whom by when with what content.

This would make up the absolute minimum documentation, controls and management processes you need to control a project.

 

Controlling the project from this basis becomes much easier.

 

 

triple-constraint

All you have to do is make sure everybody does what they are supposed to do, communicate to those that requires it and DELIVER BABY – DELIVER…

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4 thoughts on “Project Management Essentials

  1. They added a tenth knowledge area (Stakeholder management) in the new PMBoK, Anton. I think you should update! And the PMBoK do not say much about the WHY (http://www.projecttimes.com/why-management-the-ultimate-knowledge-area.html written in 2009 – but still true)…. and was not around when they built the Golden Bridge. Not sure something that has 400 pages + is about the essential. My humble opinion. I suggest you have a look at John Croft’s model (http://transitionculture.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/SuccessfulProjects.ppt and http://transitionculture.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/NextLevel.ppt) ; those look more like the essentials to me. Cheers. Claude

    • …and your post is a very good one. In fact all you say is essential and do not need the reference to anything other than your fine experience. PMBoK is daunting even for the old timer ! 🙂

    • Our aims are aligned :). Visit me sometimes ( claudeemond.com ). I’ll launch next week. Still a little book about my vision of the agile mindset to complete to start it right. Have a awesome day too, Anton. Cheers from Montreal 🙂

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