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?
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.
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.