The Streamlined Project Management Process

One of the challenges of explaining project management to people unfamiliar with the approach is that the descriptions are often so high level as to make no sense or so detailed as to be overwhelming. Over the years, I have come to use a model as a framework for presenting and discussing project management tools and techniques. It can be used as the basis for a five-minute explanation of what project management entails, but also as an outline for more detailed discussions. (The actual model can be found on the Key Consulting website under free templates and information.)

Below is a brief description of each step:

team up

The project planning team will meet, including appropriate representation from clients/clients and sometimes from subcontractors and suppliers. Initial roles and responsibilities will be defined.

Deliverables: initial configuration documentation of the project.

Define the objective of the project

With the project team established, the overall purpose of the project will be verified and detailed project objectives will be developed. A phase exit review will be carried out to ensure that the project is ready to move to the next phase, which is planning.

Deliverables: project charter, phase-out review checklist.

Define Project Scope

An appropriately detailed Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) will be developed to ensure that all stakeholders agree and correctly understand the scope of the project. This also allows the entire project to be divided into appropriate subprojects and/or phases.

Deliverables: Project work breakdown structure.

Build an initial plan

Once tasks of a suitable level have been identified on the WBS, the project team will organize them into logical network diagrams, with estimated durations. This allows the project manager to predict when activities will be completed, assess the feasibility of target dates, and identify the critical path for the project.

Deliverables: Initial work plan.

Add resources, costs, risks, etc.

Certain project resources can be defined as critical resources. In particular, the project manager may suspect that key project personnel are facing too much work. If so, the estimated resource usage information can be added to the project plan to enable resource forecasting. Obviously, cost is critical as well, and expenses can be added to the plan to create estimated cash flow requirements. Risk management can also be used in projects to provide a framework to better manage events that occur beyond the control of the project team.

Deliverables: Availability of resources and commitment profiles, risk identification and control strategies, cash flow forecasts.

Gain stakeholder buy-in

To ensure that the project is implemented in the best possible way, with the support of the parties involved, it will be necessary to review the initial plans with all the main stakeholders of the project and seek their acceptance. A phase exit review will be carried out to ensure that the project is ready to move to the next phase, which is control.

Deliverables: Final plan approved, checklist for phase out review.

Publish the Plan

Once plans are agreed, they need to be effectively communicated to all stakeholders. This can be done in hard copy or electronically, depending on available resources. On most projects, a communications plan will be developed and the distribution of the plans will follow the guidelines set forth in the communications plan.

Deliverables: Plan published to all interested parties.

Collect progress information

On a regular basis, the project manager will collect information on progress that has been reported by the project team. This will allow the compilation of progress reports, such as:

  • Activities completed in the last two weeks
  • Forecast of activities for the next two weeks with a focus on activities on the critical path
  • Funds spent vs. Fund Expenditure Forecast
  • Priority Issues Report

Metrics can also be developed to measure project progress in other ways, such as earned value or floating activity statistics. If the project manager reviews the progress data and concludes that the project is complete, an exit review will be completed to confirm that all objectives have been met before moving to the final closeout phase.

Deliverables: Progress Report Set, Exception Report Set, Metrics Report (Phase Exit Review Checklist).

Analyze the current state

By analyzing the progress information received, the project manager will be able to augment previous reports with information about which areas of the project are of concern and where problems are likely to occur in the future. This allows managers to focus on the important/critical areas of the project.

Deliverables: Project evaluation report(s).

Adjust the plan and manage project change

Based on the analysis and with the support of the project team, the project manager will make adjustments to the plan to help reduce risks, accommodate scope changes, or compensate for activities not being performed as scheduled. Once this has happened, the plan will be republished and the cycle will repeat until the project is complete.

Deliverables: Change request forms, updated plan.

close project

When the project objectives have been achieved, the project manager will close the project. This will involve some financial closing tasks as well as archiving of project materials. A lessons learned document will be developed to benefit future projects and, if possible, a project team celebration will be held.

Deliverables: Final report of the project that includes the lessons learned.

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