More than Milestones – Project Management Success

More than Milestones – Project Management Success

Project management is a complex structure of time frames, objectives and delegation. With the intricate charts and time management programmes available, choosing the right dynamic to planning can be almost as frustrating as getting stakeholders to agree on a common schedule. Is the best Project Management approach just another milestone, or is there something else hidden that can have an even greater, long-term impact?

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Project Management Tools and Tips

While a Gantt chart illustrates a project schedule by using a bar and a time line, its strength shows the relationship of current activity with past and future. Named after its inventor, Henry Gantt, the chart was born in 1910 and forms the basis of Microsoft’s modern Outlook Diary. It’s advantage of showing both start and finish dates and summary elements of the project, makes it one of the most widely used and best system for Time Management.

You can even try a work management software (like Paymo) to create Gantt Charts and keep track of your time from the same place.

For design brilliance, the more sophisticated PERT Diagram was first used by the US Navy in the 1950’s while working on the Polaris missile project during the Cold War (or Program Evaluation Review Technique). A plan (or Work Breakdown Structure) is outlined in clear numbered steps with a time frame between each. The numbers are then placed inside separate circles and joined by the length of time or Critical Path.

The Flow Chart works well for loading information which can accommodate variable outcomes. For example, listing the steps and Critical Path in a linear direction, risks could be taken into account at various stages should something not meet a deadline or an outcome. This chart is particularly useful when there are multiple teams combining their efforts where risk accounts for responsibility and has very strong supporters in those who need open communication and specific designations.

Identifying and planning for Risk

Which leads into the most important component. The supporting work invested in the Risk Identification (R.I.) list which can be invaluable to assessing risks as diverse as the weather to the most rudimentary effect of ineffective delivery schedules. This R.I. list combines the Risk Descriptor with Probability and Impact, both rated from 1-5 for strength. Based on the strength given to each a clear Response Plan is developed. This pre-planned effort can dramatically shape milestones, critical paths and delegation. Although most would consider their plan, in whatever format they choose, as being a singular effort to success, it is the identification and planning of Risks that will be the factor whether the Project is a success.

Identifying Risks is the fourth dimension and a rewarding experience for all involved. Making others accountable for their areas can ensure a more thoughtful and accurate summary of available resources and support mechanisms. The key is to have the solutions for all risks clearly designated to an individual or a process. The rating system (1-5) for Probability and Impact will ensure a higher degree of awareness for all those involved. The aftershocks of a project that is managed like this will be the subtle learning and development that involves each participant. The next Project becomes even better as the learning process continually widens with experience. Projects are far more than just achieving milestones.

Raise the Brand – Investing in your Skills

Raise the Brand – Investing in your skills

Have you ever felt like you were going nowhere in your job? No matter how much energy you expel, you just seem to be on a treadmill. For most it can be like fibre in our diet – bland and difficult to swallow. Maybe we want a win, the protein of success. Something for us to savour. Feeling depleted can tax our personal resilience, and dilute our sense of purpose. Maybe we need a better perspective instead? To see how even the most routine effort can maintain or raise the value of the brand we represent. [Note the author of this post is part of a team delivering professional training courses to business users on a daily basis to help improve efficiency and productivity]

What do you represent?

Imagine you are an apprentice, learning a trade in panel beating and spray painting. Working for a wage that barely compensates the long hard hours. However, your investment is building a reservoir of knowledge and skills. Perfection in the smallest detail is the relentless pursuit of your supervisor as you spend years reshaping damaged metal. The eagerness to do the real work is a daily frustration as you practice to perfect the running weld or the arc of a spray gun.

Finally, after years of intense focus on the basics you are challenged with your first autonomous efforts. Over time you successfully complete more complex tasks until the reward of a Certificate of Trade confirms ‘Craftsman’ and you are signed off at an industry standard. Yet more has been achieved than you may have realised.

Achieving this level for one of the most recognised brands on the planet, the trades-person with specialised skills has now become a market-place prize. Years of honing perfection and exacting detail, have transformed the apprentice into a master. Workmanship and quality go hand-in hand with the brand.

The brand which gives you an identity, is recognised as one of the leaders in the car manufacturing industry. The brand that sets the highest build quality and customer expectations.  Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lotus, McClaren.

Stands to reason.

Consider how much the brand you represent increases your professional worth. Like a football player who enjoys an association with Manchester United or Manchester City or Chelsea. They are worth more because of the standards that are expected. The elite of their profession, the best of the best.

Those long tedious hours going through the motions are an investment of your time and energy into perfecting the skills that define your brand. With each passing day, the brand raises in value and as it does, so does yours. They both work hand in hand.

Everyone matters

I was told of a friend who visited the amazing facilities of NASA who was struck by how clean and polished the amenities were. When he crossed paths with a cleaner he was quick to remark how superb the cleaning efforts were. The professional in the smart uniform responds – they take pride in their efforts, after all, he is part of the team that put the first man on the moon. How much do you think that attitude to the brand is worth in the market place today? Is he a Cleaner you would hire and how much would you be willing to pay?

Consider now the employee who can’t wait to tell his friends, or log onto the world of social media, and tell everyone how bad his company is. The one he toils at every day. He may point out that the company denies the efforts of a great worker, is constantly letting clients down and delivers bad service. How much might that brand be worth? How much will the employee be worth? Stands to reason.

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