Not all projects or project managers are created equal. In my experience, few projects require following every element of a detailed project methodology for overall success. Identifying and focusing on the critical components will enable managers be effective, efficient, and successful project leaders. In this article, I will overview the critical components of a simplified approach to project management. I will provide more detail on each component in subsequent articles.
Standard processes for project management are necessary; however, each project has critical components that are vital to planning and implementation. Managers interested in a simplified approach should focus on these components:
The scope of a project defines the goal of the project or what—in specific terms—will be accomplished. More importantly, the scope has to be agreed upon by both the business and the customer. Documenting and receiving signoff on what is in scope and what is not will help ensure the project’s proficient implementation.
Benchmarks & Timeframes
After scope has been defined and agreed upon, the planning process begins. Project managers will determine the tasks that need to be accomplished, the timeframe for those tasks, and possible constraints. An analytical review will help to determine the best approach.
The Team, Stakeholders & End Users
Success in project management is linked to effective leadership, and communication is an important element of leadership. Develop a communication plan that clearly defines team members, stakeholders, and end users. Ensure that the communication plan addresses the following:
- Who is involved,
- Who needs to be addressed,
- When they need to be addressed, and
- How to address them.
Clear and consistent communication in an expected format and timely manner is critical.
Schedule and Deadlines
I have managed projects where each activity was so crucial from a timing perspective that it was recommended that all tasks be broken down into 15-minute increments. Fifteen-minute increments may seem excessive for the installation of a new piece of equipment or an annual lifecycle project, and some projects may not warrant that level of planning to the minute detail.
However, time is critical to the execution and management of a project. For a simplified approach to project management, managers should consider tracking key activities and high-level milestones.
Continued Project Support
Once a project has been implemented—whether large or small—managers must move into a post-production or support state. Before closing the project, managers must ensure key information is documented and transferred to the operations team. Managers should also report lessons learned from this project to benefit the next implementation.
Addressing these critical components presents an option for a simplified approach to project management. I will elaborate further on each of these components in the next several articles in this series.