For the past 20 years, I have managed quite a number of projects, both cultural and technological, for many different clients worldwide. Throughout this experience I have developed a particular sense to envision the project from start to finish, and developed the motivation and resilience needed to bring them to success without going over budget or schedule.
Understanding processes, earned value management for forecasting, effectively resource allocations, knowing the capabilities of the team members, appropriate budget estimation and fast response ability in assessing changes, are some of the practical strategies and tools that can be applied to any size or type of project, and will drive it to successfully satisfy goals and meet objectives.
AGILITY FOR COMPLEXITY
Our life and our projects are part of complex systems where variables are often interconnected. Complexity is the science that analyzes the phenomena that emerge from a collection of numerous elements interacting in numerous forms within a system. The behavior of complex systems such as the human brain, Earth climate, socio-economic organizations (ie. cities, businesses), are difficult to model due to the interdependencies, relationships, and interactions between their parts and with its particular environment. They have distinct properties that arise from these relationships, such as nonlinearity, emergence, spontaneous order, adaptation and others.
Complexity can be distinguished as disorganized complexity, and organized complexity. In disorganized complex systems interactions can be seen as largely random, the properties of the system as a whole can be understood by using probability and statistical methods. Organized complex systems involves non-random, or correlated, interaction between the parts. These correlated relationships create a differentiated structure that can, as a system, interact with other systems. The coordinated system manifests properties not carried or dictated by individual parts, it can be said to "emerge," without any "guiding hand".
Poor planning is one of the top reasons projects fail. Realistic project estimations need a level of analysis and planning. You need to know the full scope of work your team will be doing before you can even begin to consider an estimate. A project management is divided into 4 phases, including:
- PHASE 1. SCOPE MANAGEMENT: Project conception and initiation; Start at the end, clearly defining the scope of the project, specifying the project goals and objectives expected to be deliver and when are they expected to be delivered.
- PHASE 2: PROJECT CHARTER: Project definition and planning; Set guidelines and rules to be followed and develop an action plan, organize, and control or activities. Foresee risk and problems. Determining the budget and time required. Outline steps and quality plans to achieve the project goals.
- PHASE 3: PROJECT EXECUTION: Project launch; Coordinate and monitor the development of activities attending the restrictions are the time, scope, limitations, quality and budget.
- PHASE 4: PROJECT CONCLUSION: Project performance and control, to reach the point where the project was defined as successfully finished in the first phase. Project Delivery.
Once the Project Management Plan has been developed, Earned Value Management (EVM) helps project managers to measure project performance. It is a systematic process used to find variances in projects based on the comparison of worked performed and work planned. EVM is used on the cost and schedule control and can be very useful in project forecasting.
“If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?”
– Steve Maraboli
SUCCESSFUL PROJECT MANAGER PERSONAL SKILLS AND TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE
The Project Management Book of Knowledge of the Project Management Institute informs of what are the tasks, skills and knowledge needed for a successful project manager and specifies the performance areas (domains) considered more important, critical, and relevant to manage each stage of the project. However there are certain skills that are a must have for a successful project manager:
✓ Business acumen ✓Organizational and operational awareness ✓Time management/Prioritization ✓Situational awareness ✓Benefits realization ✓ Decision making ✓ Delegation techniques ✓ Presentation abilities ✓ Emotional intelligence ✓Interpersonal skills ✓Active listening ✓Problem-solving abilities ✓Coaching, mentoring, training, and motivational techniques ✓Communication channels, tools, techniques, and methods ✓Configuration management ✓Conflict resolution ✓Facilitation ✓Relationship management ✓Diversity and cultural sensitivity ✓Generational sensitivity and diversity ✓Leadership tools, techniques, and skills ✓Negotiation and influencing skills
On the other hand, a skillful project manager should have specific technical knowledge:
✓Management techniques ✓Project finance principles ✓Knowledge management ✓Meeting management techniques ✓Brainstorming techniques ✓Team-building techniques✓Applicable laws and regulations ✓Peer-review processes ✓Data gathering techniques ✓Customer satisfaction metrics ✓Expert judgment technique ✓Risk assessment techniques ✓Change management techniques ✓Quality assurance and control techniques ✓Information management tools, techniques, and methods ✓Virtual/remote team management techniques ✓Stakeholder management techniques
TASKS AND SPECIFIC SKILLS FOR EACH STAGE OF THE PROJECT
STAGE 1 :: INITIATING A PROJECT:
In this early phase of the project, it is necessary to apply knowledge and skills of strategic management, putting into play both, analytical skills and benefit analysis techniques. It is also need to be aware of the elements of the project charter and estimation tools and techniques.
- Perform project assessment based upon available information, lessons learned from previous projects, and meetings with relevant stakeholders in order to support the evaluation of the feasibility of new products or services within the given assumptions and/or constraints.
- Identify key deliverables based on the business requirements in order to manage customer expectations and direct the achievement of project goals.
- Perform stakeholder analysis using appropriate tools and techniques in order to align expectations and gain support for the project.
- Identify high level risks, assumptions, and constraints based on the current environment, organizational factors, historical data, and expert judgment, in order to propose an implementation strategy.
- Participate in the development of the project charter by compiling and analyzing gathered information in order to ensure project stakeholders are in agreement on its elements.
- Obtain project charter approval from the sponsor, in order to formalize the authority assigned to the project manager and gain commitment and acceptance for the project.
- Conduct benefit analysis with relevant stakeholders to validate project alignment with organizational strategy and expected business value.
- Inform stakeholders of the approved project charter to ensure common understanding of the key deliverables, milestones, and their roles and responsibilities.
STAGE 2 :: PLANNING OF THE PROJECT:
For this stage the project manager needs to be aware of the appropriate techniques for cost management planning, including project budgeting tools, change management planning, Communications planning, Contract types and selection criteri, Estimation tools and techniques, Human resource planning, Lean and efficiency principles, Procurement planning, Quality management planning, Requirements gathering techniques (e.g., planning sessions, brainstorming, and focus groups), Regulatory and environmental impacts assessment planning, Risk management planning, Scope deconstruction (e.g., WBS, Scope backlog) tools and techniques, Scope management planning, Stakeholder management planning, Time management planning, including scheduling tools, and Workflow diagramming techniques.
- Review and assess detailed project requirements, constraints, and assumptions with stakeholders based on the project charter by using requirement gathering techniques in order to establish detailed project deliverables.
- Develop a scope management plan, based on the approved project scope and using scope management techniques, in order to define, maintain, and manage the scope of the project.
- Develop the cost management plan based on project scope, schedule, resources, approved project charter and other information, using estimating techniques, to manage project costs.
- Develop the project schedule based on the approved project deliverables and milestones, scope, and resource management plans in order to manage timely completion of the project.
- Develop the human resource management plan by defining the roles and responsibilities of the project team members in order to create a project organizational structure and provide guidance regarding how resources will be assigned and managed.
- Develop the communications management plan based on the project organizational structure and stakeholder requirements, in order to define and manage the flow of project information.
- Develop the procurement management plan based on the project scope, budget, and schedule, in order to ensure that the required project resources will be available.
- Develop the quality management plan and define the quality standards for the project and its products, based on the project scope, risks, and requirements, in order to prevent the occurrence of defects and control the cost of quality.
- Develop the change management plan by defining how changes will be addressed and controlled in order to track and manage change.
- Plan for risk management by developing a risk management plan; identifying, analyzing, and prioritizing project risk; creating the risk register; and defining risk response strategies in order to manage uncertainty and opportunity throughout the project life cycle.
- Present the project management plan to the relevant stakeholders according to applicable policies and procedures in order to obtain approval to proceed with project execution.
- Conduct kick-off meeting, communicating the start of the project, key milestones, and other relevant information in order to inform and engage stakeholders and gain commitment.
- Develop the stakeholder management plan by analyzing needs, interests, and potential impact in order to effectively manage stakeholders' expectations and engage them in project decisions.
STAGE 3 :: EXECUTING OF THE PROJECT:
During the execution phase, it is necessary to keep continuous improvement processes, pay close attention to the Elements of a statement of work and the Interdependencies among project elements, Project budgeting tools, Contract management, Quality standard tools and Vendor management techniques.
- Acquire and manage project resources by following the human resource and procurement management plans in order to meet project requirements.
- Manage task execution based on the project management plan by leading and developing the project team in order to achieve project deliverables.
- Implement the quality management plan using the appropriate tools and techniques in order to ensure that work is performed in accordance with required quality standards.
- Implement approved changes and corrective actions by following the change management plan in order to meet project requirements.
- Implement approved actions by following the risk management plan in order to minimize the impact of the risks and take advantage of opportunities on the project.
- Manage the flow of information by following the communications plan in order to keep stakeholders engaged and informed.
- Maintain stakeholder relationships by following the stakeholder management plan in order to receive continued support and manage expectations.
STAGE 4 :: MONITORING AND CONTROLLING THE PROJECT DEVELOPMENT
In this stage, the project manager will measure performance measurement through tracking techniques (e.g., EV, CPM, PERT, Trend Analysis), and process analysis techniques (e.g., LEAN, Kanban, Six Sigma), as well as pay close attention to the financing of the project principles, the project control limits (e.g., thresholds, tolerance), implement project monitoring tools and techniques and best practices and quality standards (e.g., ISO, BS, CMMI, IEEE), quality validation and verification techniques, through quality measurement tools (e.g., statistical sampling, control charts, flowcharting, inspection, assessment). It will also be necessary to identify and analyze risks and prepare risk response.
- Measure project performance using appropriate tools and techniques in order to identify and quantify any variances and corrective actions.
- Manage changes to the project by following the change management plan in order to ensure that project goals remain aligned with business needs.
- Verify that project deliverables conform to the quality standards established in the quality management plan by using appropriate tools and techniques to meet project requirements and business needs.
- Monitor and assess risk by determining whether exposure has changed and evaluating the effectiveness of response strategies in order to manage the impact of risks and opportunities on the project.
- Review the issue log, update if necessary, and determine corrective actions by using appropriate tools and techniques in order to minimize the impact on the project.
- Capture, analyze, and manage lessons learned, using lessons learned management techniques in order to enable continuous improvement.
- Monitor procurement activities according to the procurement plan in order to verify compliance with project objectives.
STAGE 5 :: CLOSING THE PROJECT
For this last stage, the project manager will use techniques for project review techniques and transition planning, such as archiving practices and statutes, compliance (statute/organization), contracts closure requirements, close-out procedures, performance measurement techniques (KPI and key success factors) and feedback.
- Obtain final acceptance of the project deliverables from relevant stakeholders in order to confirm that project scope and deliverables were achieved.
- Transfer the ownership of deliverables to the assigned stakeholders in accordance with the project plan in order to facilitate project closure.
- Obtain financial, legal, and administrative closure using generally accepted practices and policies in order to communicate formal project closure and ensure transfer of liability.
- Prepare and share the final project report according to the communications management plan in order to document and convey project performance and assist in project evaluation.
- Collate lessons learned that were documented throughout the project and conduct a comprehensive project review in order to update the organization's knowledge base.
- Archive project documents and materials using generally accepted practices in order to comply with statutory requirements and for potential use in future projects and audits.
- Obtain feedback from relevant stakeholders using appropriate tools and techniques and based on the stakeholder management plan in order to evaluate their satisfaction.
Source: ©2015 Project Management Institute, Inc.