As a Certified Associate in Project Management with experience in a PMO environment, I know how important it is to plan & execute projects.
Tracking and Control
The purpose of implementing or executing a project plan is to deliver expected results.
As the project manager, you have to deal with any problem at the implementation stage the moment you know about it. The best way to approach problem-solving is by looking forward to what can be done, not in hindsight to what could have been done to thwart it. You must identify and understand the problem if you want to find the best solution.
People management and control are the two critical parts of managing a project at the implementation stage. They are interlinked; a problem in one of them may create or lead to a problem in the other one.
You manage how a project is carried out by monitoring, reviewing, and replanning. You must also manage people and procedures.
Monitoring means overseeing activities that are in progress to ensure they are on course and on schedule to reach the overall performance target. Objectives define what is to be achieved and when and how it will be done.
You monitor the implementation of the project plan by using tools to collect information about the progress on a regular basis.
You establish methods of managing variables in a desirable way. These methods are called monitoring mechanisms. For this to happen, you must describe:
- The kind of information that is required.
- The amount and detail of information required.
- The formal and informal methods for getting information such as observation, talking to subject matter experts, meetings, and reports.
- The delivery of the information, whether it is going to be verbal or in writing, face-to-face, by phone, mail, email, or in a virtual meeting.
You measure progress by comparing information about progress with the plan regarding the three limitations of quality, schedule, and cost:
- The quality of the work completed.
- The date of completion.
- The cost of the work.
Once you have good monitoring systems in place and you are receiving regular information, you can measure the progress of the project against time, cost, and quality of the work to be done.
Most software packages let you measure progress by remembering the ‘baseline’ information, i.e., information at the starting point. Once you enter the new data, the computer will display it against the baseline plan so you can compare and analyze progress.
Replanning: Plan Again or in a Different Way
You have to replan when the review process shows an inconsistency between the planned and the actual completions at any time or when the objectives of the project change.
You examine any problem in the execution stage from the human and technical sides as they affect each other. It is useful to resolve a problem swiftly because even a simple problem can get worse and compromise the successful completion of the whole project.
You want to avoid adopting a high-risk solution to a problem if it lacks a backup in case something goes wrong, as this will jeopardize the execution of the project.
When replanning, you would change the main objective of the project only as a last option. When we change the main objective, we might be led to something called a ‘scope creep,’ which is considered damaging.
A project scope is the shared understanding among stakeholders about what goes into a project and what defines its success. Scope is the well-defined characteristics and functions of a product or the work required to finish a project.
A scope creep implies constant or frenzied changes in the main objective any time after the project begins. This can happen when the scope is not defined, documented, or controlled in an appropriate manner.
You have to refer any change in the scope to the project sponsor who must approve it first.
The monitoring, reviewing, and replanning process are to last for the duration of the project.
Replanning is required when the project is clearly not reaching its objectives or if the objectives have changed. This is the situation when you have to use What-if scenarios (see my Project Management Principles article 2 of 3) about the tasks and activities that still have to be done.
You, as the project manager, are responsible for the project. You accept the responsibility for the day-to-day running of the project, as well as handling your team and dealing with disagreements.
If a problem arises, avoid the temptation of looking for a scapegoat as it could delay finding a solution. As a general rule, it is better to negotiate than to confront when you deal with a problem.
You lead the team effectively when you clarify the role and responsibilities of each team member, clarify levels of authority and responsibility, set realistic expectations, provide support for team members, and make decisions that are realistic.
You motivate your team members effectively when you involve them in decision making, delegate without micro-managing, set realistic personal targets for the team and each team member, and reward contributions.
You negotiate by enquiring to find the nature of competing demands, knowing that these demands are valid, discussing solutions with the team, presenting the benefits and weaknesses of alternative solutions, explaining why and how a procedure was adopted to deal with a situation, and understanding unmistakably the global aim of the project.
You connect by creating communications and monitoring systems, managing the flow of information within the team, sharing information with the team, the project sponsor, and all stakeholders, asking for feedback on all communication and involving the team in making decisions to increase their motivation to own their work.
Personal Action Plan
Project management does not have to be on a grand scale. It is not limited to big projects such as constructing a new train station or improving an existing one.
You can use some of the information presented in my three Project Management Principles articles to develop a personal action plan. You could, for example, decide on three areas in your life that you think would benefit from some improvement.
Write down your objectives in a manner that is clear to you, set yourself realistic timetables and simple but effective procedures to monitor, and review your progress.
I would love to hear from you about a personal project you intend to undertake and to which you might apply some of the information provided in my three articles.
Project Management: Defining Objectives
- Project Management: Defining Objectives
The practice of project management is well established. It has a stretched-out range in varied industries, including marketing, finance, product development, consumer services, and government.
Project Management: Planning
- Project Management: Planning
Planning is important to find the best course of action, clarify what needs to be done, check what is outside our area of expertise, and know how to delegate and set work for others.