Project management

You will need to implement the changes you wish to introduce. Project management is a useful tool to help you keep track of the actions you want to implement.

Project management is a process of defining and planning an intervention, putting these plans into action, and monitoring the performance thereof. It is an inherently complex process. This section aims at simplifying the project management process. It is loosely based on the Berenschot project management model.

Project life cycle

The four project stages are discussed in detail below:

Project life cycle

The four project stages are discussed in detail below.

Definition

  • Determine the feasibility of the project in solving the problem identified. Fully define the problem you are trying to solve. Determine the solution you envisage to address the problem. Determine if the solution solves the problem.
  • Define the project purpose or project scope. What are you trying to achieve? What are the project deliverables? What benefits will derive from the project? What are the objectives and goals of the project? What is included in the project and what is not included? How will project success be measured?
  • Determine who is impacted by, or can impact, the project viability. These are your project stakeholders. These could be your employees or stakeholders external to the organization, such as customers, suppliers, and funders. Have a plan in place on how you are going to manage the impact of stakeholders on the project. This is in effect your change management plan – a critical component of getting a project implemented. (See Stakeholder management and communications plan template download tab).
  • Determine a project business case where you can explore the benefits of the projects against the anticipated costs.
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Design

  • Once you have defined what you want from the project, you can define how you want to go about delivering it. This becomes the project plan and includes actions or tasks, responsibilities, and timelines.
    • All projects with some degree of complexity will consist of several sub-projects. A useful starting point is to define these. You need to fully understand the relationships between these sub-projects.
    • Break each sub-project into tasks. It is useful for each task to have a specific, measurable outcome or deliverable (See the Project plan template download tab). Alternatively, there are several project management apps available on the internet you can use.
    • Once the tasks are defined, allocate start and end dates for the completion of each task. Review your tasks and timelines and make sure that they are achievable, and that the order of tasks makes practical sense.
    • Decide on who is going to be responsible for the delivery of each task.
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  • Review your project scope while planning and determining what resources you will need to deliver the project. Who do you need to deliver the project? Will they deliver the project in addition to doing their regular jobs? Will you need additional people? What other resources (equipment, facilities, hardware, and software, etc.) do you need to complete the project?
  • Knowing the resources required will help you to define a project budget. You can review the project budget against the benefits you expect from the project and then decide whether to go ahead with the project or not.
  • The quality of project output is always a challenge. How are you going to ensure a quality end deliverable from the project?
  • All projects potentially face risks that can negatively impact the outcome of the project. Undertake a project risk analysis and determine how you are going to mitigate the identified risks. (See the Risk management matrix download tab).
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  • Document your plans in a Project Charter. The project charter will serve as a reference point as the project progresses. A project charter should not be a long, written document, but rather define the key points from your deliberations during your project definition. Your project charter will consist of the project scope, the project plan, the project budget including required resources (people and other), the quality management approach, the project risks and mitigation strategies, and the project stakeholder management and communications plan. Even better if you can summarize all these points in a 1-page project charter.
  • Get your project team together and launch the project. Once you have appointed your project team, let them fully understand the project and report back to you their understanding of what they are trying to achieve and how they are going to deliver the project. Make sure they have sufficient skills and resources to successfully deliver the project and that they are not going to be overworked.

Execution

There are four repetitive steps to managing any project. These are:

There are four repetitive steps to managing any project

You want to ensure that the project is going to deliver what you envisaged, on time, and within budget. You can help this happening through regular report back meetings with the team where you discuss and review:

  • Their progress against the project objectives, plans and budget.
  • Their outputs and the quality thereof.
  • Stakeholder management and communication.
  • Any project roadblocks and risks and the solutions to these.
  • Expenditure against the project budget.

Celebrate key milestones with the team and recognize their contribution and the success of the project.

After-care

Many projects fail post-implementation. It is easy for people to slip back into old ways of doing things rather than changing how they do them. Not all interventions are going to work as planned. It is essential to continually monitor the implementation of the intervention and take action as appropriate.

Adapted from: Key Management Models

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