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Project Management Made Simple



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Project management A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling - Ninth edition
Harold Kerzner
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Introduction

Successful project management plays a key role in the lifespan of a project. It can determine if the project is efficient, effective, and successful. At its core, project management is about making the vision to reality with the available resources. Learning how to manage a project, it often becomes overwhelming. Fortunately, successful project management can be divided into three main points: Planning, execution, and closure.

 

Planning

Planning serves as the foundation of the project. Poor project planning with a good team can be compared to building a skyscraper without a foundation. You just hope it will not collapse. There are four basic reasons for project planning: To reduce uncertainty, improve efficiency, better understanding of the objectives, and improving monitoring and controlling work. (Kerzner 2006, 398.)

1. Minimising Uncertainty: The cornerstone of any project’s planning phase is to diminish uncertainties that accompany every project. Early identification of potential risks, challenges, and constraints allows for the formulation of strategies to address these concerns preemptively. Such a forward-thinking approach promotes a more fluid execution of the project, safeguarding the project’s scope, budget, and schedule.

2. Enhancing Efficiency: Strategic project planning enhances the execution efficiency by mapping out tasks, allocating resources, and establishing achievable deadlines. Knowledge of their specific roles and available resources prevents team members from unnecessary confusion, leading to time savings. The ability to execute projects more swiftly and often within budget constraints signifies the project’s efficiency and success.

3. Clarifying Objectives: Comprehensive planning clarifies the project’s goals and expected results for everyone involved. This understanding aligns all efforts towards the shared objectives. Furthermore, recognising the significance of their contributions towards these goals can boost team members’ motivation and dedication to the project’s successful completion.

4. Optimising Monitoring and Control: A detailed plan enables project managers to more accurately track the project’s progress in comparison to the predefined standards for scope, schedule, costs, and quality. Continuous assessment facilitates early detection of any discrepancies, allowing for timely adjustments. Such effective oversight is essential to maintain the project’s direction and ensure that the ultimate outputs satisfy expectations.

If you are not planning, you are planning to fail. Planning creates the foundation, but also guides the project through its lifecycle. Without detailed planning, even the most talented teams can struggle to achieve the expected objectives.

 

Execution

Turning plans into action. Every project plan is irrelevant if no action is taken. What is the role of project manager when transitioning from a plan to taking action?

1. Guiding the Team to Achievement

Central to the project manager’s role during execution is the guidance of the team towards the realisation of project goals. How does the project manager ensure this guidance is both effective and unerring? It necessitates an ongoing dialogue, clearly delineating responsibilities, timelines, and expectations, all the while remaining flexible enough to re coordinate plans as the project evolves.

2. Ensuring Fluid Communication

The bedrock of successful project execution lies in seamless communication. But what tactics do project managers employ to cultivate an atmosphere of open and constructive dialogue? Creating an environment where team members are encouraged to exchange insights, challenges, and wins is important. This might involve scheduling regular check-ins, creating a culture of transparency, and being responsible for all project-related information to ensure the harmony of the team as a whole.

3. Addressing Challenges with Agility

The execution phase often faces many challenges. How does the project manager lead the team to overcome these issues? Being proactive and focused on solutions is essential, as is the ability to foresee problems and work together with the team to find solutions. It’s crucial for the project manager to stay calm and make clear decisions under pressure, guiding the team effectively through difficult situations.

4. Maintaining The Project Course

How does the project manager ensure the project stays on track and within its planned scope? It’s important to closely monitor the project’s progress compared to its planned milestones and be prepared to make adjustments when there are differences. This careful monitoring helps to quickly correct any deviations, reducing potential delays.

 

Closure

When the action has been taken and the project is reaching the end of its lifecycle, there is still things to be done. When the work is finished, there is still 7 steps to take to insure the satisfaction of the team. According to the Lucid Content Team from Ludichart, these steps are:

1. Formally transfer all deliverables: The initial step involves verifying that all project outcomes are finalised, approved, and officially transferred to either the client or the end users. This marks the project’s physical and operational conclusion, signifying the start of the closure phase.

2.Confirm project completion: It’s imperative to obtain formal approval from all stakeholders to confirm that the project fulfills the predefined standards and goals. This validation is crucial for the formal acknowledgment of project completion.

3.Review all contracts and documentation: A thorough review of all related documentation and contracts is necessary to ensure that all financial and legal responsibilities have been satisfied, setting the stage for a seamless project closure.

4. Release resources: Officially concluding the involvement of project resources, including team members, contractors, and suppliers, is essential. This step helps in acknowledging their contributions and preparing them for future projects.

5. Conduct a post-mortem: An integral part of closure, this review assesses the project’s performance by highlighting what went well and identifying challenges for improvement. This reflective process is vital for learning and enhancing the effectiveness of future projects.

6. Archive documentation: Properly organising and storing project documentation ensures that critical information and insights are preserved for future reference, supporting ongoing learning and development efforts.

7. Celebrate: Recognising the effort and success of the project team is critical for morale and promotes a culture of appreciation and teamwork.

Project managers underscore the importance of reflection at the end of each project. Through a thorough post-project analysis, they lead their teams in identifying what was successful and what could be improved. This process is not just about accountability but about creating a roadmap for continuous improvement. By actively engaging in this reflective practice, project managers enable their teams to apply these insights to future projects, continuously refining their approach to project management

 

Conclusion

Planning, execution, and closure key to get the project done and to maximise the value. The lack of planning leads to problems when trying to complete the project objectives. A project never reaching closure has significantly less value than a project with closure. Completing project objectives offers a way to learn, but without a debrief or reflections, it is hard to truly learn. This may lead to past mistakes being made again, which causes its own problems. When the three key points are valued, the project has better chances at succeeding and being a true learning opportunity. 

 

References:

Get it done: Nailing the project management closure process. (n.d). Lucidchart.com. https://www.lucidchart.com/blog/nailing-the-project-management-closure-process

Kerzner, H. (2006). Project management A systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling (9th ed.) John Wiley & Sons Inc.

 

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