Project Management Intermediate
Course Code: PM2
Project Management Intermediate
This course deals with Project planning focusing on the various stages of a project plan.
Duration: 45 m.
Author/Source: Giulia Costantino, Lorenzo Costantino (IDP)
Tags: project management, courses, training, volunteering
Starting: 21/11/2012 Ending: 01/01/2014
Module 1: The project plan
DU 1.1 The project plan:
The structure of a Project Plan
Effective planning is key to a successful project.
The Planning phase, which is the second phase in the Project Life Cycle, is devoted to the design of the elements and features of the project, illustrated in the “Project Plan”.
There are no standard forms for the Project Plan, but the following elements should be included in every project:
- Scope and objectives: the context of your organisation; the reason for the project: (a specific need, a challenge, an opportunity) and how your project is the answer to this.
- Results: WHAT you are hoping to acheive by the end of the project. A good Project Plan should also qualify and quantify the results (for example, if you are planning to organize some events to inform the families of a school on a specific issue: a correct identification of results could be: 3 informative events organized with at least 120 parents from school xyz attending).
- Target groups: the persons / organizations directly involved in project activities (not members of the project team), e.g. people attending the seminars. Target groups should be clearly identified and quantified. Example: the families of school xyz, 350 families; the school itself; the 550 pupils of the school. The needs of the target groups are also relevant to the definition of objectives and results.
- Final beneficiaries: who will enjoy a long term benefit from project results (also after the end of the project). Also final beneficiaries should be identified and quantified. Example: all the schools of city XY (they will not take part in project activities, but they will benefit of project results on the long term); the citizens of city XY; the local authorities; the society at large.
- Stakeholders: all persons or organisations with an interest in the project.
- Responsibilities: WHO will be in charge of actually implementing project activities and producing the results. (see below, in the DU dedicated to the Project Team)
- Work Plan: how is the work organized? How long will it take to produce the expected results? (see below, the section dedicated to the Work Breakdown Structure)
- Budget: HOW MUCH will this project cost in terms of all kind of resources (financial, human resources and volunteers, equipment, etc)
DU 1.2 Work Breakdown Structure approach
The Work Breakdown Structure Approach
The Work Breakdown Structure approach is applied to make the work needed to complete a project more manageable, by breaking it into smaller components called “Work Packages”.
Each Work Package (or WP) is further broken down into “Tasks”. The use of the WBS approach entails the following benefits:
During the planning phase:
- you have a comprehensive view of your project, allowing you to plan each component in a rational and logical sequence;
- it will be easier to define the project team through a more precise identification of the skills required;
- the level of accuracy of the project plan will allow you to define the most rational budget
During the executing phase:
- the work to be done, the timing and resources available will be easier to share with the project team, who will understand roles and responsibilities more effectively
- easier internal and external communication of the work done and results produced
During monitoring and control:
- progresses are easier to track
- all elements of the project (results, timing and resources) can be controlled more effectively
DU 1.3 Work Packages and tasks
Identifying the Work Packages
Identifying the tasks
To identify the WPs, you should start by considering the main results (products) of your project. A WP is the work needed to produce that main result. Results are also called “Deliverables”.
Example: if your project is “To build a new communication plan for my organisation”, the main Deliverables will be:
1. A new website;
2. Setting the use of social networks;
3. A regular newsletter
4. A cycle of informative seminars to the final users.
Each of these could lead to the definition of one Work Package. You will also produce intermediate results, but if they are instrumental to the production of one of the main Deliverables they will not lead to the definition of one specific WP.
Example: “Newsletter” . This is a major Deliverable, and can define one WorkPackage. Intermediate, instrumental results could be: the graphic design of the newsletter; the data base of contacts to whom the newsletter will be sent. These will not constitute discrete WPs.
Once identified, WPs are named and numbered, to allow a more rational use.
E.g.: in our example, you would have WP 1 – Website; WP 2 – Social Networks ; WP 3 – Newsletter etc.
|IMPORTANT!!! The WBS does not describe the chronology of the project, but its logic. When identifying the WPs, stay focused on the Deliverables you want to produce, and include in that WP the activities and intermediate results leading to the production of that main Deliverable.|
Beside the “technical” WPs that relate to the very content of your project, you can also identify some “transversal (or horizontal) WPs”.
These are characterized by the fact that:
- They relate to all activities and deliverables
- Very often their duration lasts for the entire duration of the project
Example: one typical “horizontal WP” is “Project Management” activities related to the management of the project that start and end at the same time and impact on all project activities. One more example could be “External communication”.
There is no set number of WPs for a project: it is important, though, that all activities foreseen are included in the WBS, but only once (no overlap!).
Relationship among WPs and Tasks
Work Packages are further broken down into Tasks. A task is a discrete working unit contributing to a WP. Tasks are also named and numbered progressively within their respective WP.
Example: in the WP 3 “Newsletter”, you can identify the following tasks: T 3.1: defining the graphical layout of the newsletter; T 3.2: data base (verifying the entries you already have + collecting new entries); T 3.3: outlining the type of content you will feed your newsletter with; T 3.4: defining the technical specifications.
Again for Tasks, as for WPs, there is no standard minimum or maximum number, but this is determined by the logic of the project. One important rule, though, is that each task will produce one Deliverable, and each deliverable should be produced by one single task: so, again, no overlap!
Do not think of WPs and tasks as the representation of the project in subsequent units!
WPs and tasks can be carried out simultaneously, depending on the logic behind them and also on the interdependencies among them. When possible, it is a good idea to bring forward all tasks that can be advanced.
In our examples, if the availability of human resources allows it, T 3.1 (the graphic design of the newsletter) and T 3.2 (the definition of data base) can be carried out at the same time.
Deliverables are named and numbered on the basis of the Task producing them: e.g.: D 3.1: graphic layout of the newsletter; D 3.2: updated and complete database.
The WBS in the Project Plan
Once WPs and Tasks have been identified, it is very easy to define the Milestones of the project, that is, the most relevant events in the project.
They represent relevant tools for monitoring and control, and are also be used as “go/no go” steps in the project; this helps to evaluate what has been accomplished so far and revise what still needs to be done by applying corrective measures (e.g. if we’re spending too much compared to the planned budget, or if we’re behind schedule in one task)
WPs, Tasks and milestone will be illustrated in the Project Plan in a narrative way, together with a description of the (main) Deliverables. The narrative description can be completed by a list of WPs, Tasks, Milestones and deliverables, again for more effective internal and external communication.
|WP3 - Newsletter|
|Start date: March 1, 2012|
|End Date: May 31, 2012 |
Description: the newsletter is part of our external communication campaign
T 3.1. development of Graphic Layout
T 3.2 update of Data Base
T 3.3 outline standard content
D 3.1 Graphic Layout defined
D 3.2 data base with at least 350 entries defined
D 3.3 standard content defined
|Person in Charge |
NB: this is only one of the many different ways in which a WP can be described. You can find many templates online, or create the one that answers to the needs and habits of your organisation.
DU 1.4 Graphic tools for Project Planning
The Flow Diagram
The Gantt chart
You can use a Flow Diagram to represent WBSs in different ways: Hierarchical relationship; interdependencies and logical sequence among WPs.
In simple projects you might not need a diagram, as a list of WPs and tasks can suffice.
An example of a diagram showing the following WPs:
Technical WPs: they are closely interrelated, as the results of each WP feed the subsequent WP
: Identification of Success Factors
WP 2: Design Training Cycle
WP 3: Perform Training
Transversal WPs: they relate to each WP throughout the project, and are carried out simultaneously to the technical WPs.
WP 4: Evaluation and Finetuning
WP 5: Communication
WP 6: Project Management
The Gantt chart represents the workplan of the project against time. It is also called “bar chart” as the length of each tasks is represented by a bar.
On the left hand side of the chart you insert the number and titles of WPs and Tasks; on the right end side, each column represents a time unit (it can be days, weeks, months depending on the scope, length and size of your project).
By filling in the squares, you indicate when a tasks starts and ends, and how long it lasts.
A Gantt chart represents only the length of tasks, not their interdependencies (even though when the Gantt complements a Flow Diagram, and in any event when WPs are described in the text of the Project Plan you get the clear picture).
Hereafter the Gantt chart of the project used as an example of the Flow Diagram.
The black lines represent the Milestones.
Module 2: The project team
DU 2.1 The project team
Selecting the team
Managing the project team
The success of a project depends on a sound and realistic planning; on an effective Project manager; and largely on the team members. The first important step is that of creating a good project team. If the Project Manager has a clear vision of the project, the tasks and results, the timing, it can be an easy job to select the right team. This is not always realistic, though, as we will see later in this Section. The most rational way of selecting a team is to create a “Skills Matrix” or Skills Inventory, based on the tasks identified. For each task you define exactly which sort of skills would be the best, then try to match the available human resources to the inventory.
Experience / Training
3.1 Graphic layout of Newsletter
Graphic Design; Communication and Marketing know-how; IT knowledge
No formal training needed
3.2 Definition Data base
Use of Microsoft Access, Excel or similar
At least one previous experience in DB management
3.3 Outline standard content
Knowledge of final users and of mission of our NGO
Experience in drafting formal documents / trained as journalist or communication expert
On the basis of this matrix, you will select your team among the resources available within your organisation.
If the available people don’t match the skills required, you have a number of options:
- Hiring external people (depending on: available financial budget, need for very specific skills, size and relevance of project)
- Outsourcing the entire task to an external organisation (e.g. paying a web designer for T 3.1; in this case, the person will not be a member of the project team, but a supplier of services)
- Training internal resources to build the capacity and acquire the skills you organisation lacks (this is usually a very good option as you will enhance the internal capacity of the organisation on the long term)
- Trying to do the best with the available resources, maybe reducing the quality or quantity of the results set.
Communicating correctly the roles and responsibilities of the members of the project team is of the utmost importance. At the beginning of project implementation you should organize a kick off meeting to share the vision of the project, not only on the organizational point of view but also on the commitment you expect from team members. It is also a very good idea to meet each member of the project team in a 1-o-1 meeting, to make sure each person: a. gets the right attention from the Project Manager; b. understands correctly his/her role and responsibility; c. has the opportunity of sharing and solving his/her doubts .
Throughout the project, a good Project Manager:
- Has no secrets on the Project
- Communicates openly with all team members
- Recognizes and celebrates the success and the accomplishments of the project team or its members individually
- Is available for all team members to discuss their doubts or problems
Module 3: Internal and External communication
DU 3.1 Internal and External Communication
Internal communication is key to keep the interest and the motivation of the team, and to let internal stakeholders follow the implementation of the project.
Some tools for effective internal communication:
- Project meetings; beside the kick off meeting, which represents the formal start of the project, it is important to hold project meetings on a regular basis (again, depending on the size and relevance of the project, on the location of team members, etc, the interval may vary). Meetings are a fantastic opportunity to keep team members motivated and on track, especially if they are invited to present the results of the tasks for which they are responsible. Meetings are also the opportunity for the project manager to raise the motivation of team members, by communicating relevant results accomplished, individual or team success, external recognition of a specific results and so on.
- Internal mailing list: make sure you set clear rules on the use of the internal mailing communication. If overused or misused, people will soon lose any possible interest in the messages sent. Make it clear that mails should only be used to communicate relevant messages. Also the use of the “reply to all” unction should be limited to relevant cases.
- Informal communication is also very important to keep the team motivated. Profit of each opportunity to let people feel at ease and happy with their role in the project. make the project “our project”
- Celebrate the success: to motivate team members, it is very important to recognize and celebrate openly their success (making it clear this is also a success for the project). It is not necessary to organize big events: a short speech during a project meeting, a toast or a “coffee and cake break” suffice most of the times.
“If they know nothing of what you’re doing…they suspect you’re doing nothing” (Robert J. Graham, in “Understanding Project Management”).
External Communication should target to:
- External stakeholders
- Funders of the project (they want to know their money was worth spending)
- The final users: you want them to know what you are developing and producing for their benefit
- The general public, the market, your competitors, your colleagues: you want your world to know what tour organisation achieved.
Depending on your environment, the size, scope and relevance of the project, there are many different ways of communicating. You should choose the most appropriate, taking into consideration not only the results of this communication effort, but also their costs (and not only the costs linked to setting up the communication action, but also to maintain it, e.g.: consider the availability required by making use of Twitter).
The most common communication activities and tools include:
- Web site
- Newsletters, press releases
- Social networks
- Specifically targeted communication (letters; flyers; restricted events)
If your project includes a specific WP “Communication” or “Dissemination” you should also keep track of the results of these activities, by collecting the data related to each action. This can also be used to measure the success of the project.
- Harold Kerzner (2003), Project Management: A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling, and Controlling (8th Ed. e.d.). Wiley, ISBN 0-471-22577-0.
Body of Knowledge 5th edition, Association for Project Management, 2006, ISBN 1-903494-13-3.
Russell D. Archibald (2003), Managing High-Technology Programs and Projects (3rd edition), Wiley, ISBN: 978-0-471-26557-3.
Bjarne Kousholt (2007), Project Management – Theory and practice. Nyt Teknisk Fortag. ISBN 87-571-2603-8.
Sebastian Nokes (2007), The Definitive Guide to Project Management, 2nd Ed.n., London (Financial Times / Prentice Hall), ISBN 978-0-273-71097-4.
Martin Stevens (2002), Project Management Pathways. Association for Project Management. APM Publishing Limited, 2002, ISBN 1-903494-01-X.
Paul C. Dinsmore et al (2005), The right projects done right!, John Wiley and Sons, 2005, ISBN 0-7879.7113-8.
Lewis R. Ireland (2006), Project Management, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006, ISBN 0-07-147160-X.
Dennis Lock (2007), Project Management (9th edition), Gower Publishing Ltd., 2007, ISBN 0-566-08772-3.
Morgen Witzel (2003), Fifty key figures in management. Routledge, 2003. ISBN 0-415-36977-0 Joseph Phillips (2003), PMP Project Management Professional Study Guide, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2003. ISBN 0-07-223062-2