Your First Project
By Ron Rosenhead
So, your boss has just given you your first project. You know that there are some processes and points you should cover in delivering the project but you are unsure where to go next.
Here are some pointers to help you deliver on time and to budget and make that good impression!
- Define your project
One of the first things we do is ask the question “what are your objectives?” This needs to be your starting point. Maybe your boss has spoken to you about the project, or has given you a written brief. Discuss with your manager and key players what is expected and turn these into realistic written agreed objectives.
Clarify project roles and have a clear project management structure
What role do you and others play in this project? We have found that having clearly prescribed roles really helps in delivering what is required. Write down what each role holder should do and discuss through the project to ensure roles are adhered to.
Identify and manage risks
Many projects are derailed because something “unexpected” happens. A simple assessment of what is likely to go wrong will help identify the most likely events that could affect the project. Identify the level of risk and make sure you review all of your risks on a regular basis. Something that is not a risk now may become so in say a month’s time.
Don’t forget the people
Identify and manage project stakeholders (people with an interest in the project and those who will be impacted by the project.) Identify what their requirements are and what you need from them. You should also identify the perceived attitudes these groups and individuals will have to the project. Once done, you can then identify actions to take to manage the individuals or group. Like risk analysis, you should continue this process all the way through the project.
Develop a robust project plan
Ensure your project plan is credible. How? Identify all of the activities you need to carry out putting cost and time estimates against them. Use post-it notes to show the order in which the tasks will be done and produce a Gantt chart or milestone chart.
Use percentages to help you estimate more accurately e.g. ask yourself how confident you are of achieving the activity in the time given or against the identified budget. If you are less than 80% confident then recalculate until you get to the 80% figure.
Deliver what you say you will deliver
Develop a monitoring and control system early in the life of the project. Be clear what role your senior manager plays and ensure you do not get too bogged down with completing project reports. Use simple highlight reports to show progress. Hold brief project meetings (which should be on your project plan) and challenge and support each other to ensure you are going to deliver when you should.
Dealing with project changes
Beware of project changes! Ensure you have a system in place for dealing with them. Identify the impact of the change before agreeing to it and ensure you are clear who can agree to any major changes e.g. in budget or objectives.
Formally close your project
You need to plan to hold a project closure meeting putting it onto your Gantt chart to ensure it happens. Use a facilitator to ensure all of the learning is shared among project team members and those in the organization and formally close the project.
So, the boss has just given you a significant project and I hope some of the points here will help you. Of course in such a brief article we can only skim over a much deeper topic.
Ron Rosenhead is a trainer, consultant speaker and coach all in the area of project management. He has vast consultancy and training experience and you can read his blog at http://www.ronrosenhead.co.uk