Project Issues Every Manager Should Prepare For

861513_interviewDelayed Project Launching
The date on which a project must start should happen on that date otherwise timelines and deadlines will be affected. If it cannot be met the deadline should be moved or additional resources are to be added in order to compensate for the crunched timeframe.

Failing to Report Critical Problems at First Notice
Some members who noticed some discrepancy on the data they are working on may fail to report it to the project manager. They will just wait for the other to notice it and at that time it may already be irreparable. Another reason why a member may fail to report critical problems is they may think that they can resolve it on their own and asking help may seem the person is weak.

There are many ways to address this problem, first is to inform the team that they shouldn’t be resolving issues all by themselves. Inform them that it is a team effort and failures and successes of a project is the result of teamwork. Two heads are better than one as the old saying goes, so it is best to inform every one of any problems encountered on its onset.

Critical Members Leaving the Team
Members of the project who have significant share on project load leaving the team is a disaster. The project will have delays while searching for a replacement. Sometimes these critical members of the team have skills that are rare that is why they are important.

If instances like these are not included in projects plans it is important to have a list of contractual specialist who can give their expertise while you are searching for a replacement. It is also advisable to assign an assistant to one of your experts so the assistant can at least take over when the critical member went on AWOL. The assistant has more knowledge than the rest of the team to take over what’s left to do. It is also advisable to know all the details of the task of your critical member to lessen the learning curve needed on taking over.

These issues are much better included in contingency plans on the project management plan.

Photo courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/

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Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 3:37 am  Comments (1)  
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Managing Successful Projects

33012_workflowMany new project managers are struggling to cope up with the overwhelming responsibilities of planning, monitoring and leading. The list of tools and advices on how to manage successful projects is as overwhelming as the tasks at hand. In the end the steps to do on how to achieve the end goal will still depend on the manager. It is up to the manager on what steps to do that will fit the structure of their project. However, there are general guidelines that every project manager must know and the manager can just fine-tune those strategies according to their needs.

Guidelines to success for project managers

Scope Project Specifications
This is somewhat similar to a business plan. All pertinent information about the project should be written down thoroughly and accurately. On the project specifications the manager must define the purpose, goals and deliverables. In the specification, limitations should also be set such as timescales and budget. The people involved should also be specified along with their duties and responsibilities on the project. Another important specification to add is ways to measure quality and performance. Lastly, set a definite time for reviewing project status.

These specifications should also be consulted with the people involved in the project to get an insight on their end. An agreement must be made between parties involved regarding the specifications then announce to the team the final plan.

Project Planning
This is putting the project specification in detail. Planning involved identifying the tasks to be done to achieve the goals specified within the timeframe allowed. After identifying the tasks that needs to be done, identify the best candidate from the team to execute the task and set due dates. Identify tasks that are a prerequisite to another task and put it in the timeline accordingly. Lastly, it is important to plan project contingencies because there will be some tasks that will not be done by the due date. Project contingencies is important in order for the project to move on even if a certain task is delayed.

Launch and Execute the Project
After setting the project specifications and planning out the details of the project, the manager can now launch it. A project handbook based on the specifications and plan is usable and should be created and distributed to the team in order for them to check on the plan if they feel they are losing track. While the project is being executed the manager will have to monitor progress, encourage and motivate employees, keep the team on the right track, and inform the team of their progress. The project manager will have to check against the project specifications and plan while the project is in progress in order to check that the team is on the right track. The project manager can use project management software in order to execute and monitor the project well.

Review Project Performance
Reviewing project performance is vital in order for managers to make necessary changes to the plan while they still have time. Monitoring team performance is also important to check whether the members are up to the tasks delegated to them.

Project Completion and Documentation
Upon project completion, a project report is necessary in order to document the outcome of the project. Include in the report goals that are met and not met, difficulties encountered and how were the problems encountered solved. On this report an analysis on why the project was successful or why it failed should also be included. Lastly, a recommendation on the how the project could be improved in the future should also be added.

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Published in: on November 16, 2008 at 3:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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Writing a Project Plan

A project plan is similar to a business plan. The plan should cover all nitty-gritty details of the project. This plan is crucial to the success or failure of a project.

Writing an in-depth project plan is a skill that anyone can develop. As you write more and more project plans you will find it easier to draft a plan and the fewer mistakes you will make.

Start with a draft of all the headings of your plan then expound on each heading. Your headings can be the following; description, who are involved, design details, materials, supplies, tools, schedule, workday instructions, financial plan, workers, safety, contingency, tasks and the list goes on. Think of all the aspects that your project will involve, do not try to think hard, and just write down all possibilities. When you are giving further details on your headings this is the time to eliminate topics that you believe are not necessary.

Developing the details of your heading should also be done in the same manner as writing down your headings. Indicate all details even if you feel it is not necessary. You will later on drill down the details to the most important information that you will need for the project plan. Do not discard all your draft ideas; it may be handy when finalizing your project plan.

Below is a simple and effective heading for a project plan.

PROJECT GOALS
Indicate what you want to achieve for the project, this is a way to measure your success or failure.

DELIVERABLES
Indicate in detail what are the tasks involved in achieving your goals. This is a way to establish control to the project by mentioning specific tasks to be completed by each member.

SCHEDULE
A project will never run forever so a well-thought out schedule should be put in place. A project schedule should indicate the due dates for your deliverables.

SUPPORTING PLAN
Indicate members of the project. Point out how communications will be conducted. Show also any difficulties you think will happen and mention how to handle it. Provide structure to the project by work day plan, and task allocation. Put a way to measure quality in the work being done.

The outline mentioned above is the most common points to put on a project plan. Every project is different so additional details needed for your project should be added. Managing a project can be really complicated at times so it is best to use a project management software to aid a manager.

Published in: on November 12, 2008 at 3:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Time Management for Project Managers

1089143_e_i_g_h_tProject managers are often faced with the dilemma of managing their time. The influx of tasks to be done at the same time can be very distressing. Most of these tasks have the same level of priority which can make a project manager baffled on how and where to start.

Effective time management is the key to handling multiple tasks easily. This is a skill that every project managers should exercise at all times.

Time and Goal Awareness
First thing that a project manager should do is to be aware of his/her use of time. Being aware not only means knowing but also analyzing. Analyze how time is spent during the day at during the week. Find out if there is an emerging pattern. Find out how much time was spent doing the tasks needed to complete a project. List down each task and the time spent doing it. Then list down any patterns transpiring during the week. Check those tasks done in a week if it leads to completing project goals.

Planning Time to Meet Project Goals
Start planning time to meet project goals by eliminating tasks that can be delegated. Combine recurring tasks done everyday that can be done in a few hours a day. Tasks should be scheduled in chronological order in order to eliminate going back and forth doing it. Allot a day in a week to schedule meetings. Allot time for answering queries from members and colleagues and inform them about it. Allot a few hours of free time which serves as contingency. Allot time in a week for reviewing tasks completed and plan for the next week’s agenda.

Time management in the workplace is crucial in the success or failure of a project or a leader. Analyzing and planning time is just the beginning. A project manager should follow the plan and learn how to deal with tasks that is not on schedule. A project manager can use a project management software to schedule and manage his/her time.

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Published in: on November 10, 2008 at 3:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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