Project Management
Approaches and Strategies

Project management is a tough business. If you only learn one thing about it know that it is the one area that everyone has problems with. It levels the playing field for all.

Project management deals with the

design,

development, and

implementation of systems that have never existed before. This description gives you some idea of the nature of the "beast."

Statistically, only 25% of projects are completed at least on time and on budget. This means that there is a 75% chance that your project will be completed, if at all, either late or over budget, or both.

There are inherent risks and uncertainties involved in projects. There is

Uncertainty in scheduling,

Uncertainty in cost,

Technological uncertainty and more.

Fear of the unknown can cause many project team members to approach their work with less than enthusiasm. When that happens it goes without saying that problems begin to arise.

And, when the project starts to spiral out of control fear will cause many team members to rationalize their failures. Fear of job loss for poor performance, real or not, is a troublesome fear.

In the planning phase of projects economic considerations come into play. Figuring out which project to pursue over other competing projects can be problematic.

Project evaluation methods such as,

the time value of money,

net present value,

internal rate of return,

cost-benefit analysis,

payback period method,

and others in and of themselves complicate project selection and planning. Not many people fully understand all of the financial analysis tools available to evaluate competing projects.

Once the respective project is chosen resources need to be allocated for the project which presents another set of problems. How much is needed? When will resources be needed? Etc., etc.

Matching the right people to tasks or phases of the project is another complicated project within the project. If you think about a professional football team (U.S.A.) with a project to win the Super Bowl you get the feel for what is involved in getting the right "players on the field."

The work breakdown structure is another area of major concern. In each phase of a project work must be completed, often prior to other parts of the project. Diagramming the critical path of the project comes into play here.

Scheduling is a critical part of a project. Careful attention must be given to this phase of planning.

Mapping out the phases of the project is also of primary importance. Project phase mapping is critical.

Perhaps the biggest part of project management is control of the project. Keeping everyone doing what they are suppose to be doing, when they are suppose to be doing it, and how they are suppose to be doing it is a difficult task. It can be done. People do it successfully very often.

Project managers hate the thought, but if the project needs to be terminated that is another project within the project at hand. There should be clear guidelines and procedures to decide when and if a project should be terminated. This planning is done early on, normally in the planning phase of the project.

Implementing project termination takes careful doing. Ideally, if a project is terminated reallocation of people and resources is of utmost importance. People and resources should be reallocated to new projects efficiently.

The following are some strategies and tactics you can use to increase the success of your projects.

#1 - Most projects fail primarily due to lack of communication. Make communication the top priority of the project. Face to face communication is best for working out detailed problems. E-mail can be used to communicate short notes between team members.

#2 - Work as a team. "Together everyone accomplishes more." Getting the right team members assigned to the project makes effective, efficient communication happen.

Good chemistry among team members cannot be faked or created when it is not there. It is either there or it is not. People can jell together, but there first must be jell to jell with.

#3 - Computer software should be used even on the simplest of projects. The more you, as a project manager, work with computer software to aide you in project management the more proficient you will become with it.

Research and compare the various software to determine which one is right for each project. Different computer software may be appropriate for different projects. Software programs are made to manage various types of different projects.

#4 - Just do it! Frustration, despair, and failure thoughts can get the best of everyone at times. Be persistent.

Sometimes you need a break. When things start to get the best of you, take a short break for a few hours or a day and clear your head. Do some things that you enjoy, and that uplift you. You will be able to come back to the project with renewed energy.

Project management experts are worth their weight in gold. Match the right manager to the right project, and you have struck gold.

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