Claudia Eggers November 17, 2020 Project Management
To start we will be clear that we are not going to deal here with repetitive implementation / rollout projects where a template plan has been refined over a series of projects and becomes a standard checklist for project management (for example for COTS - commercial off-the-shelf software). This article is about those one off (or initial template try-out) projects. These projects may be within organisations small, medium and large.
One of the features of checklists is that they can be designed to extend hierarchically, such that a sub-checklist could be developed to facilitate any or all of the checks above (e.g. a stakeholder analysis checklist or a risk management checklist). The PMI, training firms and PMOs would do well to promote checklists more strongly - project managers like to use checklists; not many want to read through an overweight methodology. And managers like checklists because they improve quality and instill consistency.
The business requirements state what is required but do not specify how the deliverable will actually work. So in many projects with a tangible and technically sophisticated deliverable, it is very common to produce additional documentation about the look and feel of the end product. The functional specification describes not only how the end product will look but also how an end-user will actually use it and what the user-experience will be like. This document should contain sections that specifically relate to each of the requirements in the business requirements document so that every functional item can be tracked back to an original business need.
The next phase is the execution phase. Here the project must be monitored and managed. A schedule is derived which includes work breakdown, followed by allocation of tasks to people, allocation of resources and finally setting up deadlines for tasks. It is very important to have both a short-term goal and a long-term goal. While the long term goal is to get the product done, the short goals must be imposed by the project manager, who helps in guiding and motivating the members of the team working on the plan. Two important documents namely the issue log and the risk log which are both maintained by the project manager. The issue log keeps track of issues raised by the stakeholders and the risk log considers the vulnerabilities of a system.
A detailed schedule is one of the best tools that a project manager can have. By scheduling yourself in advance to do all of the necessary management tasks, you stay much more organized throughout your project. You know exactly what you need to do to get started, what you need to do for the planning stage, and so on. Plus, before you commence work on your project, you can ask yourself: how often do I want to meet with my team? how often do I want to conduct project reviews? and schedule yourself to do these periodic tasks.
Can Project Managers prevent projects from slipping? Ask a techie to come up with a schedule for a specific list of activities, and more often than not, he/she will present a fairly accurate estimate. Some activities might be underestimated, others overestimated, but overall, the plan will be fairly accurate. However, something happens to these estimates between the time the techie writes them down and the time the Project Manager publishes a baseline project schedule. That "something" is why projects slip.
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