Posted by: kenwbudd | May 11, 2010

Project Management: Keeping your Ducks in a row

Project Management is all about getting your ducks in a row – leading and managing a number of complex tasks in a single project, whilst keeping it flowing along smoothly and calmly.

Where do we begin?
The basic premise of project management is that you must have a project plan to have a successful project implementation. This is the basis for any project management process, guideline, model or framework.

Simply stated,project management is about planning the work and then working to the plan. So why is it that so many projects with a plan are failing?

Clealy, the problem must have to do with the plan and how it was developed. Having said that, there are many problems that can occur during the development of a project plan but the most fundamental problem is how the project is started and how the plan is developed.

Open a fully functional project management tool or drop a good project methodology book and it’ll probably fall open at the task list page. So, the PM is compelled to be task orientated from the off, also known as ‘bottom up’ development.

Unfortunately, most successful project planning requires the opposite approach ‘top down’ development, the Work Breakdown Structure or WBS.

Some PMs will forceably argue that entering tasks into the project management tool means they are creating the WBS, and this may appear acceptable to the lay person. However, from a true project management standpoint, they are not designing the WBS from the top down, it is being designed from the inside out.

The problem is not the tool or the methodology but the interpretation of both by the PM and they way he/she chooses to use these tools and methids for the development the project plan.

The only way to start from a good footing is to have a well managed workshop. Gather the technical experts together in a large room with a blank wall and start brainstorming.

Together, under the leadership of a good, unbiased project manager, using sticky notes and marker pens, create the WBS from the top down. Once this is established it can be refined and entered into the tool of choice. This use of PM methodology will produce a much more accurate, effective and collaborative plan.

Much of project management success has to do with the fundamentals. Often these fundamentals are forgotten or over-ridden by the eagerness to use some new, sophisticated tool, to the detriment of the project. Keeping it simple will bring you a greater success rate.

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