Never has a clear definition been more important. Managing a project, making an analysis of a project or emulating a project for development purposes is so much easier if you are clear about a basic definition. Can you simply and easily define a project?
Here is a common explanation. A project is a specific task or series of tasks which, when completed, will produce a desired result. A project occurs when you have a goal and a plan to achieve that goal. The journey, how you get there, is part of that project.
All sorts of people are involved in a project. It needs to be designed, to be managed, monitored and reviewed.
Note that the tasks involved in a project need to be clearly and comprehensively defined before the project begins. A failure to understand the requirements and desired end result can produce a failed project. There are several factors as part of every successful project and the first one is knowing exactly what is involved.
A project can be of almost any size from massive to minute. It can take weeks, months or even years to complete or could be finished in a day.
Most projects contain these basic characteristics.
- They have a specific objective
- They have an agreed upon time span
- They involve something new or unique
- They have certain requirements such as cost and a method of achievement
Most projects follow certain stages or steps. Here is a check-list for running a new project. As an experienced project operator, how do the following steps sit with the way you do business?
- Who is in charge? Name the person or group of people running the project.
- List the goals and objectives of the project.
- List all the tasks which are required in the project.
- List all the resources needed for each task.
- Draw up a timetable showing the estimated time each task will take to complete.
- List the personnel required for each task and their time commitment – full time, part time, consultant, etc.
- List company resources required for the project and how long each resource will be required.
- Describe the monitoring process to be used to check on the project.
- List all possible risks within the project and what action will be taken should any risk become a reality.
- Produce a detailed budget for the entire project.
- Describe how you will test the quality and reliability of the project.
- Describe how you will put the project into practice.
- Describe your marketing plan for the launch of the project.
- Describe your on-going plan for the life of the project.
Within every project the importance of a manager cannot be over emphasized. The PM [Project Manager] takes responsibility for the overall running of the entire operation. They may have a committee in close attendance and this person or group has a bird’s-eye view of all that is happening.
Projects fail for any number of reasons. Projects succeed when the basic steps are taken in order and with due diligence. Of course expertise and experience are vital but so too is knowledge of the process and a determination to follow it.
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