Jay Fridkis, Raffa Technology
We can all benefit from better organization in the office, and some of the core principles of Project Management can provide excellent guidance on how to better organize and manage many of the tasks we perform. Whether the activity is a regular work task or a special project, some Project Management basics will help you to be more successful.
Try following the proscribed path of Initiate->Plan->Execute->Monitor->Close when working on your next assignment:
- Initiate: It is important to start an exercise, assignment or project off with focus.
- Define the scope of the task. What are the real needs? What’s to be included? Ensure that others cannot add to the exercise down the line without an appropriate “change order” that extends the timeline.
- Who is affected? Who should be involved (the stakeholders)? These people, inside and outside of your organization, are critical to the success of the assignment. Make sure that they have input and “buy-in” to the proposed solution.
- Who’s paying for the project?
- Plan: This is often the most overlooked step because we’re always so busy. Good planning is an investment that will always pay dividends down the road. Think about the following:
- Prepare a schedule and budget—no matter how basic. Make sure that all participants are in accord.
- Plan for contingencies so that a small problem discovered down the road won’t derail the entire task.
- How will you communicate the progress of the assignment? Do meetings need to be scheduled? How often do you need to keep the stakeholders informed?
- What are the potential risks? Ask others to chime in on this critical question.
- Execute: Ensure that materials and resources are available for each task/stage to avoid unnecessary delays. Prepare for and communicate changes when they arise.
- Monitor: How will you know if you (and the group) are on task? Who decides? What data do you need to collect along the way to ensure that all is progressing on schedule? Think about time AND quality.
- Close: Present the results and get approvals from the stakeholders. Prepare a final summary of the work, noting successes, challenges and other lessons learned.
No matter if your task is small enough to be handled on your own in a day, or it becomes a project that involves a group of people over weeks or months, the elements of good project planning will help to guide you as a leader and ensure a good resolution.
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