What to undertake in order to deliver a project? What are the PMs duties for the successful performance and how the project delivery mechanism works?
Hey Crizpers, we have already discussed who the Project Managers are, read in the first article. Now we’ll talk about the day-to-day project manager’s activities and accountabilities. Knowing what are the PMs duties on a high-level we could understand how the projects are delivered and how this mechanism works.
Why am I raising this topic? Provided information would be useful for those, who are just considering a possibility of becoming a project manager. It will help them to define whether my professional field is interesting and feasible for them. Now, let’s cut to the chase!
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INITIATION: Where everything starts?
We have an Idea!
To begin with, what is needed to kick off? All starts from an idea and grows further into a plan. Therefore, to initiate a project we need to have an idea and the requirements for the final outcome. The essential part here is to get these stuff from the one who orders the project – a project owner, and from the stakeholders. Every project has its’ stakeholders. Remember, a stakeholder is a person who could influence OR could be influenced by the project. For that reason, not only the owner could provide important details and information.
Based on the requirements received we are creating a plan to implement this innovation. This plan usually contains multiple documents, such as Project Charter, Project Communication Plan, Risk Register, Issue Log, Resources Allocation Plan and so on. This set of documents will become an overall Project Plan which we will be following and keeping up-to-date. These docs will help to keep track of actions and to reach the defined goals through the set and documented objectives.
How will we deliver things?
According to the project requirements that are described in our project documentation, we are going to add another paragraph or even a separate paper to the great folder. This will be our Scope of Work, a.k.a. a list of deliverables the project consists of. And also its decomposition into the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). With this we will know what activities should be undertaken in order to get the work done.
How much does it cost?
The two major questions that you are most likely going to be asked: “How much?” and “When?”. In order to reply to the first one we need to take our WBS and estimate it. Considering the given estimates, known risks and necessary reserves we will calculate the project cost.
When all will be done?
We have the Scope of Work, the list of activities (WBS) and estimates. Taking into account the appropriate sequence of the activities, we are building a project timeline. We need to know, when everything is going to be done. And believe me, all the stakeholders would like to know that too.
EXECUTION: Who will do the work?
You need RESOURCES
Usually most of the work is done by humans, so you need to engage a team. The project team is a set of human resources. You need to monitor and maintain its’ work capacity and efficiency.
One of the PM’s responsibilities is to motivate the team and to keep people tuned and happy to work on the project. I would say, that contribution to the team is one of the generic activities a manager should execute on a daily basis. The collaboration approach depends on the project management methodology that is chosen, on the project itself and on the company policies.
There are multiple tips and hints on how to keep the team engaged, I guess I would devote a separate topic to enhance this idea (How to DRIVE Team Engagement). Just keep in mind, that it will be your accountability to maintain your people engaged and motivated, to review their performance, help with evolvement of their capabilities and to care whether the team has everything required for the efficient progress.
To the same pool of responsibilities we can put the management of the material resources. This could be the project environment or tools, no matter should this be a shovel or a task tracking program. Your job is to make sure all the required resources are provided and accessible on the anticipated time.
Additionally, part of the projects will require procurements. This could be extra resources, human, when we need to outsource some work. And material resources that we need to purchase, lease or rent to conduct certain works.
MONITORING & CONTROLLING: How not to tear your pants?
Do not have your head in clouds, all the projects have risks. Anticipate it. Moreover, some of the risks could grow up into issues. To be able to minimize and mitigate them, you should have a clear and effective Risk Response plan. By the way, not all the risks are negative. Basically, risk is a negative OR a positive event that is likely to occur. According to the risk probability we are building a plan to react. Positive risks could be welcomed and accepted. Negative risks require a mitigation plan and possibly a contingency reserve to respond.
Communication is paramount
You will need to engage with the stakeholders on multiple levels. No matter, whether you are on a client-facing project or it is an internal modification. Your work is to make sure the project stakeholders are satisfied and timely informed about the relevant updates. Remember, you will be communicating both positive and negative news in order to perform efficiently and proactively.
Project CLOSURE: Are we done yet?
Are we making something of a high quality? How good is that?
Once we have all the resources, we need to ensure the works will be done with the appropriate level of quality. Initially, we are putting together the acceptance criteria to comply with. Our Quality Assurance plan will be crafted to meet these acceptance criteria. It should contain the steps to constantly verify that we are aligned with the desired quality level and the expected outcome. You could refer to the Quality in Projects article.
Is this the end?
Once the output quality is confirmed and we have verified that the final product meets the Scope of Work, we are to deliver our treasure to the big world. Launching the product through all the stages of deployment and transferring it to maintenance. The process is usually accompanied with the project documentation update, instructions creation and budget closure. We need to clean up our tails and to make sure that we do not have any skeletons in the closet. Besides, we want our lessons learned to be documented and acknowledged so that we can perform even better next time.
We are still not over. Let’s not forget of the other regular activities we are conducting in order to keep the projects on track. Here also are the recurring reports, demos and change requests that need to be timely pulled into the project scope. Besides, there might be additional procedures to follow that are specific to the company you are working for, don’t forget to handle it too!
As a summary, what I am about to say…
PROJECT MANAGEMENT IS A LOT OF FUN!
If you are willing to dive into all this, you will have a calm and settled day almost never. At the same time, if you are keen on achieving challenging goals while making the work done at a top-notch standard, this life style is for you.
Let me know if this topic clears up the mystery of the project management duties.