IMPMO: What can project management do for You when it’s not an IT project?

In My Project Manager’s Opinion – Let’s take a moment to clear the air on what project management is all about. The purpose behind project management is to plan and organize an organization’s resources (i.e. money, people, equipment, processes) in order to achieve a specific task, lead a new venture, or create something new and bring it to full completion. Examples of projects that may utilize the project management discipline include:

  • Prepare for a 1-Day Diversity Training

  • Minimize emergency room wait times from 115 minutes to 32 minutes

  • Organize a golf tournament

  • Implement new business process to improve patient registration check-in.

If you noticed, I didn’t mention an Information Technology (IT) project. Yet, when I assist my students in their job search, the IT project management positions abound. Or when I indicate my service offerings to a company, they automatically want to direct me to their IT department. Project management can add so much value to all initiatives, not just for IT projects. Perhaps it would help to map out core principles of project management.

Set the vision. Project management professionals work with their clients to outline the vision of the project. What are the goals? What is it that we are trying to achieve? How does it align with the organization’s strategic plan? What does success look like? Only by setting the vision for the project in the beginning can you map out the blueprint for success. This is a key role for the project manager, and of course, this applies to any business project. All of this information is can be provided in the project charter.

Develop a plan. Once the vision is established, then you can start to develop a project plan that will contain your schedule, budget, communications plan, and planned deliverables or outcome. Once you know what you are trying to accomplish, the project manager will work with you to develop a schedule and timeline to move the project along to completion. As the project timeline is developed, it’s good to note milestones in the process so that you can see how you are progressing toward meeting your goals. At this stage, the project manager will work with you to establish clear communication guidelines to keep you up to date on each stage of the project. A budget should be established so that the stakeholders are aware of the investment that is involved. Lastly, your project must have a clear set of deliverables or outcomes. At each stage or milestone in the schedule, there should be a clear expectation of results. These are important to review because if the project is off schedule or a deliverable is missed, it may be time for a course correction.

Establish periodic communication check points. Consistent communication is the cornerstone of keeping a project on track. Emails, status meetings, and/or newsletters enable you to stay up to date on all aspects in the project, including any adjustments that may have been made to the plan. The project manager needs to ensure s/he is using the communication methods and tools that best fit the organizational culture. Regular communication check points raise the confidence level of the project manager and the client that the project is being effectively managed and project goals are being met.

Close the project. Officially closing the project, either formally or informally is good practice. This is the opportunity for the project manager to acknowledge key team members and stakeholders for their contribution to the project. And closing the project allows the project manager to pause and take note of lessons learned, obtain feedback from the stakeholders, and gain insight from team members regarding the project manager’s effectiveness in leading the initiative.

While there is so much more to project management, I thought it might be helpful to provide fundamental concepts to the novice project manager who is suddenly tasked with managing the next big initiative. The above is intended to be a road map of core project management good practices.

Now that we can agree project management is a useful discipline for many of your organization’s initiatives, consider working with a project manager on your next business project, regardless if it is for an IT solution or business process improvement.

Crystal Richards is the Principal & Owner of Mosaic Resource Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping project management professionals better themselves in all things project management, communications, and leadership. Crystal provides training and professional development for people who manage projects from the novice project manager to the senior project leader.

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How to contact Crystal: ☏ 240-203-9177 ✉ info@mosaicresourcegroup.com.

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