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Entrepreneurs Project Management

What is a project?

A project has a specific timeframe. It is inter-dependent on events with defined outcome and unique characteristics.

A specific timeframe means a temporary undertaking. The timeframe is usually from days to years (usually maximum 1 year). It is worthy to note that all projects must end and have deliverables along the project.

What does inter-dependent events means? Projects have series of events, one event lead to another and sometimes we have multi events. If it is a single event then it is not a project. A project might be so complex, that you might need a software to manage the project. Projects have defined outcome and unique characteristics? At the end of the project there will be some thing worthwhile. The project will have an end objective but along the way there will be several other objectives to get to this one. Some people call these milestones, phases, tasks or subtasks. Even if you have done a similar project it will always be different from the last one.

What is project management?

Project management is a set of principles, methods and techniques used for planning and controlling a project.

Why project management?

We project management in order to complete on time, within budget, inline with guidelines and objectives. So the project is optimized in time, cost and quality.

History of project management

Project management has been around all ages, project management started to get recognition in the 1950s. But today it is a premier tool in business

What is good project management?

  • Be aware of what you are doing.
  • Do your homework.
  • Be prepared for stumbling blocks.
  • Go deep into the problem.
  • Be able to change.

How to manage a project?

  • Use project management tools.
  • Be able to take and give feedback.
  • Be open for new ways and ideas.
  • Good time management.
  • Effective meetings.
  • Be able to make decisions.
  • Have a sense of humour.

How not to manage a project?

  • Not addressing a problem quickly.
  • Changing timeline too frequently.
  • Ignoring quality to reach milestones.
  • Focusing on administration work.
  • Micromanaging.
  • Using new tools readily.
  • Not monitoring regularly.

Project Planning

  • Must prepare a project plan.
  • The project plan is the governing document.
  • Project methods and resources.
  • Project tools.
  • Most people say it is a waste of time.
  • People spend only 5 % of the time on planning.
  • Should spend at least 25 % on planning and rest on execution.
  • Planning should be done through out the project.

Elements of Planning

  • Problem or opportunity statement.
    • Get a clear understanding from your supervisor what is the problem to be solved. Understand their needs and wants. Get background on current status. Understand the motivation of the supervisor for taking this project.
  • Define objectives.
    • Project objectives must be specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and timely (SMART) and the Ps.
  • Write the plan.
    • Several times you write the plan and carry out a conceptual review. Is it in line with your objectives? You must be having feasibility review. Is it realistic? Benefit-Cost Review, is it cost effective? Profitability Review, is it profitable? Alternative Review is there any other way to do it? Opportunity Review, is there any opportunity? Risk Review, is there any risk? Outcome Review is to proceed or not?
    • Breakdown down these objectives into manageable activities.
    • Estimate the time and cost of these activities.
    • Logical sequencing of activities.
      • Bar Charts – Gantt charts.
      • Network Diagrams.
      • Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) or Activity-on-node.
      • Next we need to calculate the critical path for the project.

–         Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT).

  • Provides three estimates.

–         Mostly (m), Optimistic (o), Pessimistic (p).

»         Estimated time = (o + 4m + p ) / 6

–         Critical Path Method (CPM).

  • Now using the CPM on the network diagram to calculate the critical path.

–         CPM calculations include Early Start, Late Start, Early Finish, and Late Finish.

  • Preparing Schedules using Gantt Charts.
  • Crashing Schedules happens when change in resources, activities and objectives.
  • Resource Planning includes identifying skills by recruiting and assigning. Adjust project schedule.
  • Get approval for finance
  • Setup controls to monitor. Must have a formal process and don’t micro manage. Elevate problems to the lowest management in order to ensure on schedule. Must rank projects
  • How to setup monitoring and control? Determine information needed. Determine data collection method and frequency.
  • Start the project.
    • Formal start off with meeting to agree parameters, roles and other project related activities and communicate to all stakeholder
  • Controlling project objectives.
    • Network diagrams, schedules and budget are not only for planning but used as control for time, cost, scope and quality and resource.
    • Tools used to control are Inspection, Statistical Sampling, Flow charting, Control charts, Trend analysis, Pareto diagrams, Cause and effect diagrams and Earned Value Analysis.
  • Reporting Project
    • Reports are for communications to others. This can be in graphical reports, Reporting percent progressed, Sample Reporting, Status Report, Schedule, Cost and Scope
  • Take action or re-plan if not in line with original plan.
    • During the course of the project there will be minor or major changes. Not all changes are bad. Too many changes may indicate poor planning. Must have formal and regular checks for parameters change i.e. requirement, budget etc.
  • Project Evaluations.
    • Periodic evaluation must be done to ensure accomplishment of the project.
    • Project plan is like a map it tells you where you are.
    • Evaluation also motivates the team.
    • When to evaluate? On Going Reviews, Periodic Inspections, Milestone Evaluations and Final Project Audit.
    • Consider in evaluation, Quality of Work, Team Performance and Project Status.
  • Managing Risk.
    • Identify Possible Cause. This can be Technical, Administrative, Financial etc
    • You must Assessing these risk and respond by planning. The possible solution for these risk can be avoiding, transferring, mitigation or accepting the risk.
  • Close Project.
    • Good projects have a formal closure to ensure the job is done.
    • Time to recognize efforts.
    • Complete individual, vendor and customer satisfaction evaluation.

Project Management Software

Due to complexity of project you can use software for Planning, Initiating, Tracking, Monitoring, Reports, Charts and Communication. The following vendors supply project management software Vendors PlanView, Primavera, Microsoft, Dekker, Welcome, Artemus, Quick Gantt, Milestone Simplicity and Project Vision.

Please note it is beyond the scope or intention of this article to make you a project management expert you will need to do that by attending a program or buy a book which specializes in project management.

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