Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Layers of Project Management

I have often heard the complaint that if a project manager does all the project management stuff they are supposed to do, they won’t have time left to do the project.  I agree that applying all of the project management processes on some projects is overkill.  But the answer is not to ignore the project management processes, but rather to decide what aspects of project management will be most effective on your project.  Based upon project and organizational considerations, some aspects of project management should be emphasized and others de-emphasized.

I am going to divide project management processes into four layers of project management.  A rigorous and detailed project management approach will conduct a thorough application of project management processes in all four areas.  More likely, you will select one or two to emphasize and treat the other areas of project management lightly.
These are the four layers, or aspects of project management, that are applied to plan and control projects:
·         High-level project plan
·         Detailed project plan
·         Project risk management
·         Project control
A rigorous and robust project management methodology will diligently apply all four layers.  However, this will also take a great deal of project management effort.  Normally, based upon project constraints and organizational culture, one or two of the layers are emphasized and the others are only addressed lightly. 

Selecting Layers for Rigor and Emphasis

·         High Level Plan.  The high level project plan is quick and relatively easy.  Its strength is communicating the big picture to managers and stakeholders.  Its weakness is lack of detail.  Use this approach when there are many stakeholders and alignment is likely to be a problem.
·         Detailed Plan.  The detailed plan provides clear instructions and expectations to project team members.  Its weakness is that, when there are areas of high uncertainty, it must make numerous assumptions – some of which will be wrong.  Then when changing the plan for the correct status of the assumption, many team members becomes confused and frustrated.  Use this approach when there are many inexperienced team members and the work is well understood or defined.
·         Risk Management.  The project risk management layer emphasizes the uncertainty and unknown elements in the project and focuses on finding and responding to them.  The weakness with this approach is that the team is regularly “fighting fires” and the plan changes frequently to accommodate the risk response.  Use this approach when there are many high risk elements to the project or a high degree of project uncertainty.
·         Project Control.  The project control approach emphasizes pulsing and tracking project progress in real-time.  The weakness of this approach is that it feels like micro-management to the team because the project manager is constantly checking on them.  Use this approach on a very urgent project or when there is a limited or weak plan.
I have drawn the graphic of these layers as a set of concentric circles with gaps in them.  Even if you apply the project management processes of a layer in rigorous and robust fashion, it may still miss something.  And obviously if you only use a minimalist approach to one of the layers it will miss project problems.  The likelihood of project success goes up as the rigor of each later is increased, but also, the project management effort and bureaucracy will be increasing.  Therefore, the project team should decide, based upon the complexity of the project and proficiency of the organization and the team, which layers to emphasize. 

As I mentioned, I try to do at least two of them well – which two varies based upon the project.  And on large complex projects I will work hard at all four. 

3 comments:

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    Agile Project Management

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    1. Tag: PM202A54. Let me share all of you about #5 Tips for Project Management Success,, I hope you enjoy it

      1. Plan your day using time management techniques

      As a project manager, time management skills are essential because you are dealing with a wide range of tasks that demand a quick turnaround time. Planning your day will go a long way in keeping you organized and increasing your productivity. Assist your task planning by using project management software which helps you track the work of you and your team.

      If you are not very tech savvy, a simple to-do list can also be a great organizational tool. Prioritize your most important tasks by putting them at the top of the list and less important ones at the bottom. Having a visual plan of your daily tasks helps to keep you on track and aware of time.

      Related post: Free ebook 104 secrets to become a great project manager

      2. Include stakeholders in important project conversations

      While you will have plenty of responsibilities regarding the project, don’t neglect your clients.

      Good communication is essential is keeping both parties informed of project progression, curtailing scope creep, and apprised of changing requirements. Some clients may have different expectations when it comes to communication, so make sure to establish the frequency and type of communication (like emails, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations) at the beginning of your project.

      Establishing communication expectations early helps alleviate stakeholder uncertainty about communication frequency and delivery.

      3. Regularly communicate with your team

      Daily team communication helps keep misunderstandings and unclear requirements under control. Keeping your team informed in every step of the project is essential to project management success.

      For example, a study published by Procedia Technology found that good communication skills were the cornerstone of project management. The study examined over 300 “construction project managers, architects, construction managers, engineers and quantity surveyors” and their successes and failures on various construction projects.

      4. Anticipate project setbacks

      Even the best-laid plans often go awry.

      Remember that even with a high amount of planning and attention to detail, your project may still encounter some challenges. Pay attention to complaints from stakeholders or colleagues, and other warning signs, like a missed deadline or cost overrun, that there may be a problem.

      Preventing a crisis will keep your project running smoothly, save you a lot of time, and keep you, your team, and your stakeholders confident in progressing with the project.

      Unfortunately not every complication can be avoided. Crisis management skills are essential for dealing with the unexpected. Project managers need to be flexible and pragmatic. Improvise and make sharp decisions when needed.

      Related post: 92 free project management templates

      5. Stay focused on the details

      A common problem project managers encounter is having the project aims not aligned with the organization’s objectives. A great project manager will strategize a plan for the project to lead back to the overall success of the business.

      Know your project’s scope by heart and avoid wandering outside of the project’s requirements. It’s too easy to get lost in minor details and forget what your focus is, so a well-planned project scope is essential for success.

      And final, you should use KPI to measure effectiveness of the project, here are full list: 76 project management KPIs


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