Sunday, March 9, 2014

Simple Steps to Project Management

A project exists to improve or create something. Joseph Juran’s definition is “A project is a problem scheduled for solution.” The phases of project management are: define, plan, implement, and complete.

Project management phases:

1. Define
2. Plan
3. Implement
4. Complete

Project Definition

Involve the project manager, the team, and key stakeholders in project defining meetings. Creative thinking could lead to a breakthrough or novel idea. For example, a laboratory expansion project could include all possibilities at this point without worrying about the viability of those ideas. Using nonrestrictive brainstorming techniques during project definition can foster creative solutions.

Next, project constraints in terms of cost, process, people, or time should be identified. The main constraint is called the limiting factor. Lack of available adjacent real estate could be the limiting factor in a plant expansion project.

Also included in project definition are the deadline, performance measurements, major milestones, and project scope. Project scope defines the boundaries of the project. Without a definition of scope, some projects tend to creep and are never completed thus expanding the timeline and expense. For example, a project to install a water purification unit in a laboratory should spell out who has the responsibility to tie in existing water pipes to the unit. Is it plant engineering or the unit installer?

In another example, the design of a website can include launching the site on the internet or providing a file of code to be launched by the customer. 

Lastly, write up the project definition proposal for review and approval by all stakeholders.

Project Definition List:

1. Develop project definition in collaboration with stakeholders
2. Identify project constraints and the limiting factor

3. Determine the project deadline
4. Describe performance measurements
5. Pinpoint major milestones
6. Assign project manager
7. Define project scope
8. Document project definition proposal
9. Secure final project definition approval by all stakeholders

Project Planning

Planning expands on the project definition by listing tasks, refining milestones, identifying required resources and budgeting. During the planning stage, information should be gathered from those with experience in similar projects. The project team is selected and training and team building can begin.

Scheduling of project tasks is determined. (Project scheduling is an involved topic to be addressed at a later time.)

Rules, policies, and procedures are implemented. A schedule of project meetings is arranged. Tasks are assigned. A contingency plan is developed. Scope creep is monitored.
Documentation of project plans is organized in a Project Management Plan. This information is reviewed with all stakeholders. Plans are revised per feedback.

Project Planning List:

1. List tasks
2. Refine milestones
3. List resources
4. Gather historical information
5. Review budget
6. Select project team
7. Plan project team training
8. Organize project team building activities
9. Develop project schedule
10. Document and implement rules, policies, and procedures
11. Schedule project meetings
12. Assign project tasks
13. Develop contingency plan
14. Review plans for scope creep
15. Document Project Management Plan
16. Review Project Plans with Stakeholders

Project Implementation

Project implementation is following the tasks and timeline developed in the planning phase. Use project meetings and procedures outlined in the planning phase to check progress and resolve issues.

The more thorough the planning phase, the easier the project progresses.

Project Completion

There are important steps to complete at the end of a project. Meet with the project team to evaluate lessons learned during the project, identify successful processes, and identify areas needing improvement. Document this information for the project file.

Project completion tasks:

1. Insure customer is satisfied
2. Generate final reports and other documents for distribution
3. File essential project documents
4. Return equipment and perform housekeeping
5. Obtain final payment (if applicable)
6. Perform final accounting and ensure project budget is up-to-date
7. Disband team and assist in reassignment
8. Celebrate and recognize team members

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