So you’ve been named the Project Manager! Now What?

“So you’re the Project Manager?!”

Have you ever heard those words and thought “Yes, and I know exactly what I am doing,” or maybe something more along the lines of, “Help me! I don’t know where to start!” During my long career in project management, I have experienced both sentiments, regardless of my training or experience. A new project can be intimidating even to experienced project managers. Sometimes we are thrown into a project management role without training or experience. This is the first installment in a series of four blogs on project management and will explore the four components that are critical to the success of a project. The series is intended to be a starting point to help identify where a project manager may need to bone up, or a review for those who have extensive experience.

The 4 topics to be covered in the series are:

  1. Project Management Overview
  2. The Project Charter
  3. Risk Management
  4. Change Management

The Project Management profession is growing extremely fast.  It is both a science and an art and follows a systematic process. I selected the aforementioned topics because they are often overlooked, yet are critical to the success of any project. Let’s get started with the first topic and discuss what project management is and why it’s important.

Why put effort into project management? First of all, there are thousands of “projects” initiated each year, all begun with the best of intentions, however, research shows that most fail. What is the definition of a project failure? In terms of project management, failure means that one misses the target for scope, schedule/timeframe, budgeted cost, or the outcome/end result. If you evaluate projects in your organization, you may find that they are considered a failure due to cost over-runs, a postponed go-live, or change in scope.

The 4 Components of Project Management

  1. Clarity of Objective – Vision: This should come from the executives at the organization. They should define the vision for the project and approve the work. A project should not begin unless the executives have granted the authority to do so and have clearly defined the vision for the project. This is a critical component!
  2. Research & Planning: Planning for a project is a huge phase for the PM. At this point in the project, the Charter is started and the scope is defined. Additionally, the PM needs to determine how the project will be run, including the organizational chart for the project, risk management, quality management, resource management etc. If your organization has used project management before, there may be historical documents and lessons learned from previous projects that can help in research and planning.
  3. Project Execution: At this stage in the project, team members do the work that has been defined. The PM will monitor that the work follows all the management plans, documents issues and risks, and puts mitigation plans in place. If planning has been done well, this phase is about monitoring, not putting processes in place that were missed. Your teams will have a road map to follow, which should ease anxiety and frustration.
  4. Project Closure: This final phase of a project is often overlooked or short-changed but is critically important. Lessons learned meetings and sessions should occur to identify what went well and what the teams, PM, and leadership can learn from the project. This is also a time for celebration! Yahoo! The project was completed!

There are many resources available to you to help you plan and monitor your project. Hopefully, this guide has helped you identify the importance of project management for your organization and your project. Tune in to the next three blogs to learn more! See Jacobus Consulting’s project management solutions here or contact us