The Art of Project Management

Do we need project managers in change management projects? Of course. Do we need project management in construction developments? Absolutely. But we have to determine the amount of management needed and how to simplify the way we will perform it. It’s an art form.

At its core, project management is about efficiency; being able to correct discrepancies in any work flow and ultimately complete a project on time and under budget. In fact, project management is more or less an art, than it is a process of conventional methodology. The correct mix of formalization and freedom leads to a lovely piece of art and a successful end project.

During our our past project work, our objective was to be the most progressive and client focused project consulting temam. Let’s look at a few approaches to project management and how they can effect a project workflow.

Top-Down Approach

Top-down planning is referred to as strategy. Top-down project planning is focused on keeping the decision making process at the senior level. Goals and quotas are established at the highest level, and those at the top are not often willing to take advice or any guidance from lower level employees. 

With top-down planning, management must choose techniques to align projects and goals. Management holds the sole responsibility for the plans set forth and for the end result. 

It is worth noting that since employees are not included in any of the decision making process and are often only motivated through either fear or incentives, moral can become an issue.

Writer creative imagery

Becoming familiar with project approaches in general is not an easy task. Applying predefined project formats is also not. As a project manager, you can reduce all anxiety in the beginning of the project, by organizing a splendid kick-off meeting. This meeting involves all stakeholders from the very beginning of the project. This is the initial step where everybody gets the feeling of a framework and can offer their insight before the project actually begins.

By doing so, everybody is aware that their actions are related to an available project budget. When the budget starts to steer off course (which happens more than we like to think), addressing it immediately in relation to previous conversations could prove extremely beneficial.

Bottom-Up Approach
Each project is different, as is each objective. You deal with various personalities during the project. Bottom-up planning is referred to as tactics. With bottom-up planning, you give your project deeper focus because you have a larger number of employees involved, each with their own area of expertise. Team members work side-by-side and have input during each stage of the process. Plans are developed at the lowest levels and are then passed on to each next higher level. It then reaches senior management for approval.

Lower-level employees are more likely to take personal stock in a plan that they are involved in planning. Employees are more motivated and morale improves. Although an effective approach, often this can lead to miscommunication and lengthy approval processes.

Divide and Conquer
Formalization to keep control of the issues is really important. But in the middle of the project there’s scheduling conflicts and often times it will be agreed that several parties do not communicate with each other over the course of a few days. This approach resembles the divide and conquer methodology. However, the downfall of this process is tremendous, as the lead project management should ensure that all aspects of the project are running smoothly. When you begin to disrupt the flow of information, the scope of roles will quickly change and ultimately cause more delays. This approach is often a contributing factor to time delays and budget issues when managing a project.

Shades of Scope
Scope discussions always have shades of grey. The blueprint phase is aimed at defining all the client’s needs. This blueprint phase also includes defining the additional out of scope topics. Of course there are formal documents, which should be signed before starting any form of modification. But even if you did all administration effectively, scope discussion can change. There is truly an art to evaluating the scope of work and additional change requests. The key is to remain flexible and become proactive to the impending change of scope.

Project Management Plan
Quality planning should be performed in parallel with the other planning processes. For example, proposed changes in the deliverables to meet identified quality standards may require cost or schedule adjustments and a detailed risk analysis of the impact to plans.

The quality planning techniques discussed here are those used most frequently on projects. There are many others that may be useful on certain projects or in some application areas.

The Scope baseline includes the project scope statement/ description, major project deliverables, and acceptance criteria. The product scope often contains details of technical issues and other concerns that can affect quality planning and that should have been identified as a result of the planning processes in Project Scope Management. The definition of acceptance criteria may significantly increase or decrease quality costs and therefore, project costs. Satisfying all acceptance criteria that the needs of the sponsor and/or customer have been met.
Work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS identifies the deliverables and the work packages used to measure project performance.

The cost baseline documents the accepted time interval being used to measure cost performance.

Other management plans. These plans contribute to the overall project quality and may highlight actionable areas of concern with regard to the project’s quality.

The X factor
The final leg of the race appears when the X factor is born. You have to feel the “soul” of the project. At a certain moment in time you get the feeling that everybody is working in unison within the project. Actions are taken, tests are done. It is the project manager’s responsibility to ensure the close out phase is as smooth as the rest of the project. It’s in this phase where all of the intricate nuances will appear. At this stage the PM will remain open to communication and address all issues and concerns, in the most time efficient capacity with al l stakeholders to ensure an effective completion of the project.

In closing, it is the methodologies to push projects to succeed. However, it is all the subtle nuances and rapport that is built between the members that truly dictates the success of a project.