Project management is something that people usually associate with the construction industry. However, the term project management is fairly simple and doesn’t need to be limited to any particular industry. All businesses have projects that they have to handle and complete within a given time period to a given quality standard. Project management, thus, can be simply seen as the planned management of a project so as to achieve the desirable objectives. The steps involved in such a task are usually devised before in a project management plan.
Creating a project management plan can be very beneficial for a business even when it comes to smaller projects. Project management plans are commonly used by the Project Management Consultants (PMCs) that handle large construction projects in the vein of huge refineries, malls, and development projects.
However, even though the project management plans created by these PMCs are highly elaborate and complex with multiple milestones, you don’t have to go into such details for smaller projects. Here is a step by step guide on how you can use basic PMC principles to create and implement a small project management plan in your own office.
Project Management Plan Step #1: Match Resources with Objectives
Creating a project management plan requires unique evaluation of the situation. Project management plans are, essentially, about achieving the predefined objectives within the restrictions and constraints based on the available resources. Typically, project management planning is about maximum efficiency.
The matchup between the objectives and objectives needs to be realistic. You cannot plan to create a 250 annual report from scratch in a single day with a team of only two people. It just wouldn’t be possible. Therefore, the first step to creating a project management plan is to match the available resources with the targeted objectives.
Project Management Plan Step #2: Organise Resources; Create Roadmap
Allocation is a very important component in project management. Every PMC in the world devotes the maximum chunk of its time on allocating the available resources in the right manner so that every stage of the project is completed smoothly. The trick is to allocate and reallocate in the right manner.
For instance, if you are creating an annual report for your business, you can have the same designer deployed on different aspects of the report. A designer could begin by creating the cover and then be re-deployed on designing individual pages, once his job is done. He doesn’t have to focus on the cover design throughout the next month.
His re-assignment can only be accomplished smoothly, if there is a roadmap for every employee on the project to follow. The idea is to allow individuals to know how much time they have and which aspect of the project they have to move onto after completing the first tasks.
Such a plan can also help individuals plan out their days well in advance and feel more comfortable with their work. Therefore, the second step of creating a project management plan is to organise the available resources and create a roadmap where every employee and department knows its role.
Project Management Plan Step #3: Create Milestones for Every Variable & Stage
Great things are only achieved by setting targets and then working towards them. In a project management plan, there is a final target i.e. the overall objective and then there are smaller targets i.e. milestones. Setting milestones for every variable involved in the project can make it easier for the employees or departments to plan their work.
Moreover, setting milestones for every stage of a project can also help bring urgency to long term work. Take the example of the annual report again. In such a project spanning a month, quarterly milestones can be set.
For instance, the content team can be required to prepare a quarter of the content every five days while the design team can be required to incorporate that content into a fully designed page in the same period. The result of this would be the whole report being ready on day 25 with the last five days being used for reviews and revisions.
Project Management Plan Step #4: Establish a Monitoring System
Incorporating milestones in a project management plan in the previous step has another benefit. This is the fact that milestones allow for easier monitoring of a project’s progress. When every individual and stage is assigned a milestone and the milestone is not achieved in the given time period, then the team will know that they need to work harder to recoup lost time in the next period.
More importantly, the leader of the team will also be able to figure out why the delay was caused. The reasons could be lower efficiency levels, insufficient resources, or even unrealistic targets. Establishing such a monitoring system is a crucial aspect of creating a project management plan because it allows for modifications and revisions to be made.
Project Management Plan Step #5: Incorporate Contingencies and Safety Nets
An annual report is an internal project for a business. What if the project is external in nature? What if the business has to create some sort of a report for an important client? In such a situation, modifications and revisions can only be made to how the project management plan is structured and not to the available time.
This is why monitoring the progress of a project is important. The monitoring aspect of a project management plan gives the project leader the chance to make changes to the project if the milestones are not being met. In fact, it is recommended for a project manager to make sure that contingencies and safety nets are already incorporated into the overall plan.
These types of measures can come into play when delays or lack of productivity is noticed in the project. Therefore, it is a good idea to incorporate contingencies and safety nets into any project management plan.
Project Management Plan Step #6: Review, Refine, Rehash
Assignments and projects that most businesses handle tend to be repetitive in nature. This means that the same projects and assignments either need to be implemented at regular intervals or similar projects and assignments need to be undertaken at regular intervals.
Therefore, the final step of creating and implementing a project management plan is to review, refine, and rehash the entire project management plan. Reviewing the project management plan will help the business pinpoint weak links in the entire system.
The objective of refining the plan is to get rid of these weak links, and rehashing means that the same plan can be used again and again. Doing this will allow the business to have a system in place for the long haul. In fact, a repetitive project management plan will actually free businesses from relying on individuals and their skills. Instead, the businesses will start relying on systems which is a highly desirable place to be for any business from the perspective of sustainability.