The beginning stages of any project may not be the most interesting or fun part in the project management life cycle, but is such a fundamental process to the overall success of managing a project. The first steps I take in managing a project is specifying the fine details of the project and determine the business value so the project can begin on the right foot. Some of the steps I take during this initial stage in the project life cycle process are:
1) Describe the purpose, aims, and deliverables for the project.
2) Determine the parameters, such as timescales, budget, range, scope, territory, authority to make decisions.
3) Determine who will be involved and the way the team will work. Set the frequency of meetings, decision-making process.
4) Establish the “break-points” at which to review and check the progress and how the progress and results will be measured.
5) Define what is the current process/solution used today vs. what this project will hopefully achieve in the end result. Developing a flow chart, something visual always help everyone understand the whole project to gain the best input to help find the best end results in a project.
6) Put together the right team and get the expertise you need. A suggestion would be to use a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) which a results-oriented family tree that captures all of the work of the project in a very organized way. You can Google this diagram for further information.
For each project I management, I create a project specification document that contains the title of the project, table of contents, executive summary, current process, proposed end process/result of project, implementation process, project timeline, and list cross-functional team members. While I may not have all of this information for my first initial cross-functional meeting to go over, I have a start to handout to the team. This provides structure, like an agenda, where I can simply insert content and organize the project so it can be manageable. Some items to avoid that can result in failure in a project are:
- Scope-less is hopeless. If you don’t decide fully define the scope of the project to determine what you are doing, you’ll end up just throwing money at a problem.
- Focus on time and cost, not quality. Make time to check on the quality of the work so people are not cutting corners, so you implement a good end product.
- Know the right thing to do and not taking time to analyze problems. It is important to listen to experts and the needs of your customer.
- Don’t thank the team, just push them harder. It is important to acknowledge the hard work your team members are doing so they know their work is appreciated.
- Don’t waste time with planning, people ought to know what to do. It is important to plan as people don’t know what they need to do, unless you list out each person’s tasks to complete in the project.
- Avoid big problems. It is important to acknowledge all problems, small and large. This will help reduce or eliminate the number of fires that need to be put out in the end implementation of the project.