Project Management Hacks – The buck stops here

Project Management Hacks – The buck stops here

Though everyone connected with the project has a role to play in bringing it to fruition, it is you, as project manager, who is ultimately responsible for its success. You are uniquely placed to see how the different elements fit together, and to drive your team forward towards completion.

Good project management rests on three fundamentals. It’s about having the right systems in place, inspiring high performance through good leadership, and exercising sound judgement when required. These are some of the key things you need.

Process selection

It’s important to use the right tools to cover all the areas of managing a project. Before you begin the project, you will need to decide how you are going to approach planning and scheduling , budgeting and resource planning , risk management , progress monitoring and communication, and evaluation.

Software to help you manage your projects

Software shouldn’t  be too cumbersome: ensure it is appropriate to the size of the project, otherwise you may find yourself working late every evening preparing plans and monitoring reports the nobody reads!

Leadership skills

In modern project management, leadership involves more than just managing your project team. It’s about communicating effectively with all your stakeholders, to build  and gain support for your project.

Accurate, up-to-date information

Juggling these priorities requires the ability to ‘see the big picture’, so that you can zoom in to where action is required. You’ll need to ensure you have reliable information about the status of your project, so that you can use your judgement to make an informed decision –sometimes quickly.

Overview of the stakeholders

From your “control tower”, take a little to reflect on what other stakeholders are doing to help deliver your project, and what  they expect from the project. How well do these expectation fit together? If there is mismatch, these may need resolving-either by discussion or by amending the plan.

Small Wonders: Juggling priorities requires the ability to see the big picture.

Startups – Understand project constraints

Startups – Understand project constraints

Planning your project will involve making a series of assumptions and a consideration of the constraints facing your project. Understanding these factors will help you plan a project that is of the right size and has the appropriate objectives.

The assumptions you might make about a project normally involve things such as:

Scope (scale)

How big is the project? Where does it fit into what your startup is doing? Roughly how much money is likely to be available?

People

Who can I get to help deliver this project?

Physical resources

What equipment and meeting space, for example, will be available?

None of this information has to be 100 per cent (or even 90 per cent) accurate at the outset. Nevertheless, understanding the assumptions around a project is an important first step – even if at this stage there are more questions than answers!

The Project Triangle

A useful way of looking at the constraints faced by projects is known as the ‘project triangle’. This model describes three main things to consider for any project:

Time

How much of it do you have to complete your project?

Cost

What is the available budget?

Quality (or specification)

Are you aiming to deliver something fairly basic, or more of ‘Rolls Royce’ model?

With any project you will face a series of decisions about whereabouts in the triangle you position your project. For example, let’s say you are asked to design your company’s website over a weekend at short notice, and given only a limited budget, you are unlikely to be able to deliver the best results. So the costs and time used will be low, but so will the quality. If you are given more time, the results will be better; if you have more time and bigger budget, they will be better still.

Another dimension often added to this diagram is people. For any given amount of time and money, the greater the skill and motivation of the people involved, the better the results will be. Looked at this way, the triangle becomes a pyramid, with the project manager leading his or her team upward to achieve the best possible results within a given schedule and budget.

Small wonder: For your project, try listing the following in priority order – speed, quality and low cost.