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5 July 2013

How to Manage a project

This is the third part of a 5 part series on kicking off a project. It's a basic check-list of things to consider. The purpose of sharing this is to point you in the right direction to get started. The series starts here.

There are two aspects to managing a project; doing the work (executing in the jargon) and monitoring what is going on so you can correct course if you need to (controlling in the jargon).

Executing

  • Have you got systems and processes that help the team stay aligned and connected?
  • Are your people working with these systems or despite them?
  • Have you got a system for ensuring continuous improvement throughout the project lifecycle?
  • A lot of this comes down to communication through systematic conversations, meetings and activities
  • Initiate any service contracts with supply partners

Monitor and control

  • Are you doing the right work? 
    • Consider feedback systems that bring you back to your customer as frequently as possible so they can manage the direction of the project with you.
    • Traditionally people want to see are we tracking to plan. A more modern approach is, "Are we tracking towards value?"
    • How will you measure value? What qualitative and quantitative systems do you need to have in place?
  • Are you doing it well enough? 
    • Ensure you get feedback frequently on your work from users in as close to a real environment as possible, so they can tell if your solutions are working/workable in the real world.
    • Will you be done on time? 
    • If you are tracking to forecasts and schedule or budget constraints, you should track progress on the work being done to see whether you are going to meet goals.
    • Don’t track activity, track to outcomes that the customers/stakeholders care about
    • Hopefully the planned work was initially defined in your planning phase and you are keeping your plans aligned to your evolving understanding of the goals and constraints.
    • Have a look at tools like Trello or my mate Mark's Agile Bench to track work progress
  • Use your comms plan as a way of publishing your performance against goals and expectations
  • Make regular time to keep reviewing and updating your plan. Do your planning activity with as many of your stakeholders and team members as is viable. The more collaborative the more effective it will be.
  • Pay attention to finances and financial reporting. If finance isn’t your strong point bring in someone who can help.