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Project Management

Project Management (PM) in simple terms

Ten suggestions to ensure the essence of successful project.

1. On a Clear Day… - Project Definition

Your project vision should not be a vague haze on the horizon. Bring clarity with a simple one-page document capturing team agreement on why you're doing the project, what the customer needs, and the overall scope. Easiest/fastest way to complete it: Draft it yourself first, then review and update it in a room with the person paying for the project and the most important 'customers' of whatever your project is producing. Clear things up and get agreement on the scope and deliverables.

2. Whose On First? - Team Roles and Responsibilities List

Keep your team straight with a simple roster that outlines who is doing what, even if there are just a few of you. And are you sure it's just a few? Who's doing research? Who's writing the documentation? Who has to agree the project is done? Easiest/fastest way to complete it: Draft the list, then review it with team members and ask, "Who are we forgetting? What work are we forgetting and who do we need to do it

3. Didn't You Get That Memo? - Action Item List Formats

Just start writing things down as soon as there is even one other person working on this project!

Use the project action item list as a springboard for creating your team meeting agendas, speeding up both your meetings and the preliminary work they require.

4. Unless you’ve got a Three-Sided Coin - Project Flexibility Matrix

Even on a small project, you'll have to make some choices; and since the project is due next week, you won't really have time to stall. Get your key stakeholders together and ask them to pick between two factors at a time. Many people struggle to prioritize two things, but they'll be able to say whether the scope or schedule matters more.

Bonus suggestion: Resist the temptation to handle this one in an email thread. A one to one conversation will be much more efficient.

5. Do You Feel Lucky? Well, Do You? - Risk Assessment and Mitigation

Fancy title, to be sure, but what it really means is "what could come up and bite us when we're not looking?" If you're not thinking about the risks to your project, then your project is only as successful as you are lucky. Not exactly a reassuring thought. Tackle risk head on

6. Phenomenal Cosmic Powers

Managing a project doesn't require complicated charts or graphs, just common sense and agreement on what needs to be done. Ask when and why, and specify a way to measure progress. Focus on project tracking that keeps the tasks highly visible. Also, track the related critical milestones which should includes completion criteria and success factors

7. Show Me the Money - Project Budget

Project budgets, even for small projects, should be drafted while you're making project scope decisions, not in the middle of the hallway as your manager is suddenly questioning the spike in department expenses this month! It needn't be a book-length document—the PM is not complete without a budget. Easiest way to complete this document: Begin drafting budget estimates as soon as you start outlining scope and continue refining it as you build the plan. Include your high-level driver tasks to ensure that all project work and associated costs are included.

8. All Things Trite and Trivial - Team Meeting Agenda

Good meetings can make a project, and bad ones can break it. Keep your meetings on track and on schedule by creating usable agendas—and sticking to them! The agenda should emphasize using meeting objectives and time slots to keep your meetings effective.

Take your best shot when you need to have your first project get-together. (Consult your Action Item List if you've started one.) Review the objectives for each item during the meeting and make sure you've got agreement from the team. Then stick to your guns and don't get mired in trivia that can be handled outside the meeting.

9. Test Your Deliverable, Not Your Patience - Project Overview Test Plan

Even if your project doesn't require testing in the technical sense, the idea of a final deliverable overview—"testing" against the customer requirements and original vision—is something every project lead should think through. Develop a high level to show how your deliverable will be examined and who will be involved.

10. Project Status Reports

Status reports are the bane of many PM's existence, but you don't need to suffer through an excruciating five-page weekly report (and neither does your manager). Use simple formats –not lengthy report - for summarizing and communicating project status. Identify alert conditions and suggest solutions/actions to take care of these conditions.

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